#2 Wrestlemania 34 – Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon Vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (watch the full match here)
Ok, so this is a bit of a time jump, but I wanted to highlight a few recent matches, and focus on the changes in Shane over time.
After a seven-year absence, Shane returned to WWE in 2016, and in July was named as Commissioner of Smackdown. Shane quickly appointed Daniel Bryan as General Manager. Shane had been having issues with Kevin Owens for a few months, and Sami Zayn sided with his old friend. Shane and Bryan initially clashed over how to deal with Owens and Zayn but Bryan made this match, after being medically cleared to return to in-ring action after a two-year absence, following Owens and Zayn attacking them both. Bryan fired both Owens and Zayn, with a condition of them being re-hired if they could win at Wrestlemania. At the time of the match, Shane was recovering from diverticulitis, a staph infection, and an umbilical hernia.
Zayn and Owens attack Bryan and Shane from behind before the bell and Shane is sent stomach-first over the barricade into his family. Bryan is powerbombed on to the ring apron by Owens – a move that had been putting people on the injured list for a while – leaving Shane alone against Owens and Zayn. Shane opens up with a series of punches and kicks on both men as well as a flying back-elbow on Owens. Owens capitalises with a kick to Shane’s stomach, and Owens and Zayn take charge, with Owens especially focusing on Shane’s midsection.
Shane manages to avoid a Helluva Kick and ties Sami to the tree of woe in his corner. After throwing Owens out of the ring, Shane then climbs to the neutral corner, and goes coast-to-coast with a dropkick to Zayn! Shane goes for a pin, but Owens breaks it up with a senton to Shane’s stomach. Owens follows up with a frog splash, but Bryan makes it back in to break up the pin. Shane manages to get the hot tag after hitting a belly-to-back suplex on Zayn. Bryan takes charge, with a series of running dropkicks, a flying knee off the apron, and a top rope frankensteiner. Owens grabs Bryan’s ankle, allowing Zayn to hit a Helluva Kick. Owens then superkicks Shane off the apron, sending him back first into the barrier. Bryan kicks out of Owens’ Pop-Up Powerbomb. Shane low-bridges Owens out of the ring, and hits a diving clothesline from the apron. Bryan lights up Zayn with a series of slaps and then the Yes Kicks. After hitting a running knee, Bryan locks in the Yes Lock, and Zayn taps out.
OK, so this match is about the return of Daniel Bryan more than Shane, but Shane’s involvement shows what he will do to push a story. Despite his recent injuries and the risk of aggravating them, Shane still took on the match and took the fight to his opponents. He even did it on his own for the first part of the match to sell Bryan’s injury from the apron-bomb. He may not have been as “active” as he has been in other matches, but his ability to sell the story of the match was superb.