June 2, 2014: A day that for wrestling fans will live on in infamy. The day Seth Rollins took a steel chair to the back of Roman Reigns, and more importantly took a steel chair to our hearts as he singlehandedly dismantled The Shield, the most dominant and entertaining faction WWE had seen in a decade. And despite the months of “you sold out!” chants directed his way, Seth never gave us a concrete explanation as to why he did what he did, outside of “buying in” to The Authority’s promise of riches.
WWE: Then. Now. Forever. is a 20 page story explaining just what happened in the days leading up to the Chairshot Heard Round the World. And it turns out what happened is an absolutely ridiculous chain of events, in the best way possible.
WWE: Then. Now. Forever. (BOOM! Studios)
After catching us up to the events that actually did play out on TV, Dennis Hopeless is tasked with penning the story of how we got there that we didn’t get to see. And that story starts off where all great stories do: On a rooftop, with everyone shirtless, grilling steaks. Dean Ambrose also tops off his master grill work with a “Cool! Creamy! Delicious!” like he’s JR screaming about how much he loves Skittles.
This comic is all kinds of silly, but in the way that the best pro wrestling is silly. It makes you want to suspend your disbelief to be surprised, enthralled and captivated by the story, whether it’s grounded in reality or not. Things in this story sort of run the gamut there: from the Wyatt Family attempting vehicular homicide with a Mack truck to a clandestine meeting between Rollins and Triple H at a fancy gala, there are equal parts “I could totally see this being weaved into the storyline on Raw” and “what the hell did I just read?!”.
It’s a story any wrestling fan will get a kick out of. One of the main complaints of today’s WWE is stories are not fleshed out enough and too many things happen “just because”–even one of the most emotionally impactful heel turns in modern history, Rollins turning on The Shield. This comic provides a fun backstory to what went into Rollins’ decision, and the machinations that made Triple H’s now-infamous “Plan B” come to be. If you have even a mild interest in WWE: read this comic. You’ll have a lot of fun. I know I did.
The artwork is really good, too. Each wrestler looks like their real-life counterpart, even if there are plenty of fish-out-of-water moments where they just seem out of place. I popped for the “why is his hair so wet?” question about Rollins at the party. That’s definitely someone outside the confines of a wrestling ring would ask of any member of The Shield. Dan Mora and Daniel Bayliss invoke a distinct style while keeping everyone easily recognizable. Triple H and Rollins himself look especially great, and the backgrounds–from the actual arenas and rings to the gala–are rendered pleasantly.
This comic also includes a number of quick side stories at the end, including The New Day going back in time in the New Day-lorean to the first ever wrestling match (spoiler: it was Ric Flair performing in front of a bunch of dinosaurs). The other stories are one to two pagers depicting some of the most famous promos in WWE history, from Austin 3:16 to “I am The Game” to Dusty Rhodes’ “Hard Times” promo. As a longtime wrestling fan I thought these were awesome and would love to see more of them.
A lot of work went into promoting this comic and the partnership between BOOM! and WWE, dating back to San Diego Comic Con 2016, including three interlocking special covers by Dan Mora, one for each member of The Shield. And if this first comic is any indication, the BOOM!/WWE tag team might have their eyes on the New Day themselves for the best reign of all time.
Is It Good?
If you have any interest in WWE, don’t miss this comic. It’s funny, it’s badass, and it’s off-the-wall insane, which means it captures the essence of pro wrestling perfectly.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!