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31 Days of Wrestling (12/21/17) : Kurt Angle Joins The Shield for the TLC Main Event


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

Today we talk about how the WWE managed to make the most out of a bad situation, and turn it into one of the most memorable returns of any beloved WWE Superstar. Of course, we're talking about the main event of this year's TLC.

Leading up to the match itself, it was the in-ring reunion of The Shield that was the focal point of everything: Ambrose being saved by Rollins when he was attacked by the Miztourage, repairing the broken trust between the two that led to them becoming the RAW Tag Team Champions, Reigns being attacked by The Bar in his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz, his former teammates offering him the chance to reunite as The Shield, coming out the following week in their old uniforms, and the inevitable formation of the handicap match to settle the issue once and for all.

You had all of this buildup, all those months of storytelling... derailed by a viral infection.



What made this match worthy of inclusion in our list? We actually have two reasons.

First and foremost, this marks the reunion of The Shield since it quietly disbanded back in 2014. 



October 22 was supposed to be the day that The Shield would get back together. Reigns' bout with meningitis had other plans. What should have been the perfect setting for their return was moved back to an episode of RAW in November. Nevertheless, the main event of TLC at least showed the spirit of its reunion. Despite the unfortunate incident with Reigns so close to the day of the event, the ending was an absolute treat. This is where the real message gets driven in. By all accounts, The Miz should've tapped to the Ankle Lock. Sure, it wasn't the grapevine version, but this submission had it's own sheen of legend to it. The beauty lies in how this match wasn't about Kurt Angle's return. No, the focal point was and always will be the reunion of The Shield. It was the Triple Powerbomb, the team's finisher, that sealed the deal. It still had the final say in this whole match. The one doing the move wasn't Reigns, but this was a welcome alternative nonetheless. The Shield, one of the most dominant forces in the recent history of RAW, was back.


The second reason, albeit a last minute addition, was the sudden announcement of of Kurt Angle into the match, replacing Roman Reigns. What a way to welcome Kurt Angle back into the WWE ring. Much props to him for taking the kind of bumps that he did, especially in his first match after more than seven months. We wouldn't have blamed him for the Running Powerbomb spot being written as a way to take him out of the match, but dammit, he shocked everyone by coming back to finish the match. He showed the WWE Universe that this old man's still got it. It also opened the gate to seeing more of him in the ring in the future. He eventually wrestled as part of the RAW Men's Survivor Series team as its captain. It would be safe to assume that he could suit up again in notable PPVs as well. 



As far as handicap matches go, especially with how stacked the larger team was, they sure played with our emotions quite a bit. From the initial implications of a numbers game to the surprise mid-match conflict between Strowman and Kane (which eventually led to the end of Strowman's role in the match). I thoroughly enjoyed that part, not just because of the image of Strowman being disposed in such a manner, but because it added a level of depth to the whole story. Kane and Strowman should be above the petty squabbles of men such as Miz. An alliance with someone like him was never going to last because those two had bigger targets to deal with: each other. 




This match, as last-minute as it was, proved to be a great kick off for other storylines down the road. It provided a starting point for what happens after this match, given how it was already a hodgepodge of stories and personalities all thrown into a thoroughly enjoyable match.  Losing Roman Reigns from this match dealt a huge blow to the storyline, as it mixed the reunion of The Shield with an angle (no pun intended) wherein the GM had to get himself involved. What we can all take away from this match, however, is that when the need arises, the RAW Creative team has the chops to make the most of a bad situation.



But please, we hope it doesn't have to come to another case of meningitis to motivate them.

Photos from WWE

*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

Read our previous entries:

1. The Okada/Omega Trilogy
2. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
3. The Mae Young Classic Finals
4. Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
5. WarGames
6. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)
7. Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship (SummerSlam)
8. Manami Toyota's Retirement
9. Jinder Mahal Wins the WWE Championship
10. Roman Reigns Tries To Take The Torch (No Mercy 2017)
11. Hanzello Shilva vs. Aldrin Richards (MWF Balikbayan 2017)
12. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega (G1 Climax 27 Finals)
13. The Implosion of #DIY
14. Ubusan ng Lahi (PWR Vendetta 2017)
15. The First (and Second) Women's Money in the Bank
16. Cody Rhodes Wins the Ring of Honor World Championship
17. The Beginning of the Zo Train Era

18. Killshot vs. Dante Fox, Hell Of War (Ultima Lucha Tres)
19. John Cena's 16-time Champion
20. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii, G1 Special

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