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WWE: A Comic Book Tale Wrapped In A Family Feud by Marc Madison

Family values as a term is meant to reflect things that are wholesome, things that are purely good. The roles of all involved seemingly mesh together well, without anything awkward or out of place. But in the WWE, valuing family takes on a whole new perspective. We aren’t talking about manners or valuing others over yourself, but rather, what would you do for those closest to you? We would protect those closest to us; we would stand by them and lay down our lives for them. The difference in the wrestling world is that, while self-sacrifice does take place, there are also instances of proactively doing harm to others in the name of protecting those we love. When considering the current feud between the Wyatt Family and Reigns &Ambrose, there is the notion of a family member taking steps to protect another. However, the feud itself is not only a family feud, but rather one that contains elements of a superhero comic book. The booking has come under question, but really shouldn’t have. In fact, it’s opened possibilities for both sides that may not have been they’re prior. Let’s explore the value that a family feud will provide for all involved.

The Elevation of Both Patriarchs

At the forefront of this feud is the use of Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt. Both men are different in both their style and character. Leading into this feud, Reigns had been subject to a lot of criticism about certain aspects of his character and ability to promo. Whether it’s his use in an anti-bullying campaign, or past promos with corny one-liners that aren’t reflective of his character, he was chastised by fans. Wyatt’s criticism from fans has been focused more on his booking, but overall fans appear more forgiving of him. This feud has focused on elevating both men, regardless of match results.

As the fictional patriarchs of their respective ‘families,’ they have both been given opportunities to shine. Wyatt has used everything, including toying with Roman’s own family to taunt him. While some may see Roman as weak, I, as a parent see him as being protective, and unwilling to surrender to Wyatt. Wyatt’s continuous ‘anyone, but you’ cries to Reigns left him bewildered early. However, as the feud went on Reigns continued to show a sense of vulnerability. While many don’t like that quality, I’d compare that to how many superheroes today are viewed in films and television. Sure, they are able to comeback, but it’s the constant uphill battle that they need to face in order to comeback. Whether it’s Superman, Batman, Arrow, or Iron Man, they all have faced obstacles standing in their way. The same could easily be said for Reigns. Reigns character is vulnerable, while physically he is able to receive an incredible amount of punishment. He is often built up as the fallen hero that must overcome these odds in order to achieve success.

Inclusion of Supporting Characters

After Wyatt prevented Reigns from capturing the Money in the Bank briefcase, their feud slowly evolved to include others. Just as it appeared that Reigns was going to be victorious over Wyatt, a hooded Luke Harper appeared. Harper was last seen alongside Erick Rowan, and wasn’t being used much due to Rowan’s injury. Harper’s in ring work, imposing look and underrated ability to promo make him a great fit alongside Wyatt. The ‘Prodigal Son’ returning has helped to further along this feud and once again stacked the odds against Reigns. The dark and creepy figure will sacrifice himself for the betterment of his leader. Much like any villain that often cheats to achieve success, Wyatt invoked the aid of Harper to ensure his desired outcome would come true. The inclusion of Harper also meant that Reigns would need reinforcements.

Much like a superhero has a sidekick, Batman would now have his Robin. Dean Ambrose, who has had history with Wyatt and Harper, as well as Reigns has been added to even the odds. Ambrose’s relationship with Reigns has remained just as strong as it was when they were together in The Shield. He is the unsettling family member, like that crazy uncle or comic book sidekick character, and is a reflection of Harper’s character on the Wyatt Family side. The lengths Ambrose goes to, by sacrificing himself to protect his brethren, unquestionably reveals a selfless side, indicative of a family bond. The fraternal relationship between Ambrose and Reigns work very well. Despite a speculated split between the two that didn’t come to fruition, the booking decision to continue to have Reigns and Ambrose aligned sets up the potential for doing more rather than have them split apart.

Added Depth to the Feud

A family that stays together is stronger than any friendship. That strength becomes apparent when new family members come to the forefront and change the complexion of a feud. And, despite the notoriety of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy’s, there was no family member that stood as physically imposing as BraunStrowman, who is listed a 6’8″ and 335 pounds. His sheer size alone would make a normal person tremble at their feet. While he doesn’t make Ambrose or Reigns tremble, he certainly does manage to eviscerate their potential threat. To see Reigns dwarfed in comparison to Strowman is a striking image, and enhances the feud. During his debut the day after SummerSlam,Strowman withstood the attempted attacks by Reigns and Ambrose and demolished them. It was much like a fly attempting to swat The Hulk and being smashed in the process. There really was nothing that neither Ambrose nor Reigns could do. In fact, when Reigns and Strowman faced each other the following week on Raw, even a chair shot to the back of Abigail’s ‘Black Sheep’ could not weaken the giant of a man.

Strowman’s addition has now meant that odds are firmly in the Wyatt’s’ favour. This, however, may lead to an addition to even the odds that is somewhat sketchy. Until this point, the idea of family, and the relationship within each faction was the core of the feud. The clear ‘brotherhood’ between Ambrose and Reigns, and the family allegiance between Wyatt, Harper and now Strowman, made sense. But the recent attack on Randy Orton, and his inclusion in this feud, is peculiar. Perhaps one could argue that any affinity a wrestler has with Roman makes him subject to an attack by the Wyatt Family. But this seems like a selection by chance; Randy isn’t tied to any feuds at the moment as he’s just ended a program with Sheamus.

The problem here was, outside the three on one attack, there has never been any reason for Orton to want to battle the Wyatts. To be the one chosen to add depth to the feud, just to even the odds, doesn’t seem like something that benefits Orton. From a booking perspective, perhaps the main concern wasn’t about his character’s motive, but rather how he as a wrestler could help to elevate others within the feud. The addition of a Viper does bring to mind Spider-Man’s enemy Venom, the symbiote who has in the past controlled the web-slinger, adding to the comic book element in the story.

A number of people have speculated about Erick Rowan being used to fill the role as the third member to join Ambrose and Reigns. If that ends up being the case, it could be portrayed as the cast out family member that no longer has a place of belonging. Rowan was last seen a few months ago alongside Luke Harper as a tag team and due to an injury he’s been unable to compete. But if Harper can surely find his place back in the arms of Wyatt, there isn’t any reason why Rowan couldn’t as well. This leads me to believe if Rowan is in fact placed in the position of teaming withAmbrose and Reigns, he could very well want to prove his worth to Bray and do whatever was necessary to prove his allegiance and once again follow the buzzards. Trust may be difficult to come by for Ambrose and Reigns, but much like any family, you accept them for what they are and do not lament what they are not. Rowan could very well turn his back on Ambrose and Reigns and align himself once again with Wyatt.

While this is all speculative, the only ‘family’ connection that could very well be employed is the return of The Usos to join Ambrose and Reigns. With their legitimate family ties to Reigns, a true family versus family feud has the potential of being played out. Much like Erick Rowan is soon to return, JeyUso, or at the very least Jimmy Uso, could help to further along this feud. Jey was injured around the same time as Rowan and his inclusion could very well bring brothers, or rather cousins, back together. The idea of their addition isn’t just about evening the odds, but rather demonstrating the heart and the sacrifice of actual family members for one another in order to fight the villainous Wyatt family contingent. The Usos had a terrific program against Harper and Rowan in the past, so their inclusion in this feud makes sense. It also sets up the opportunity for a Survivor Series type match pitting four on four to compete against one another.

Where exactly do the family values feud leave wrestling fans? Despite the belief that Wyatt has continued to be poorly booked and Reigns has been overbooked, the feud between them has worked. It hasn’t gone stagnant, and continues to add new and fresh elements each week. Just as it appears as though the continued animosity has reached a fever pitch. Another level is added. Regardless of which family prevails, the true winners are those that have the opportunity to see the storyline unfold.

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