The first hour of this week Raw was commercial-free and contained two minutes of actual wrestling. Brock Lesnar appeared at a time opening and closing segments, pitting Roman Reigns against each other (if only for a moment at the end), culminating in an insane heel turn. Then there was a replay of a women’s match WWE had the night before. All this among on-the-fly change reports. It really felt like Vince McMahon was back in charge of creative on the Raw after Mania, supposedly an annual show that resets the company’s direction on screen for the next few months, if not the whole year.
It appears that…
If you enjoyed the company’s brief pause in booking Vince, which at times at least hinted that it made sense and introduced some new faces, you’re done. You get the same distilled bullshit, which basically created the competition right in the vein now. No wonder there is already rumbling of some stars watching the exit door.
When we think back to all of this, maybe 137 years in the future, when Vince actually dies, we can consider the opening of Raw Monday to be one of the funniest moments in television history. While Triple H was in the ring telling all the fans that WWE was “not going anywhere” after the sale to Endeavour, and things would get better and better, his stepdad was actively stealing his chair in the position of gorilla! Trips had one job when he headed to the ring to open the show, and a whole other when he returned.
There is even more curiosity about it because there’s a law firm looking into whether or not Vince shorted the company and the shareholders on selling WWE. You’d have to jump a few lily pads to come to the conclusion that Vince just accepted the offer that would keep him in charge…but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway because I’m an asshole and it’s funny as hell.
Second, AEW went ahead and had their own version of Raw after Mania, filling dynamite with the kind of surprises and new directions and stories that the Raw after Mania used to contain. What is particularly poignant is that Jay White, fresh out of NJPW and passionately rumored to be coveted by Triple H and close to signing for WWE, arrived at AEW last night. And FTR, who would also have been highly sought after in New York by HHH with their contracts seemingly up this month, became Tag Team Champions for the second time, which means they won’t be going anywhere either. These could all be isolated incidents – White already had a relationship with AEW since building last year’s Forbidden Door, and FTR reportedly craves the freedom that only AEW would provide them and WWE wouldn’t. And yet, one can’t ignore the upheaval unfolding in WWE and at least wonder if White and FTR have decided it’s best to walk away from it. Especially the latter, who languished under McMahon’s reign when they were in WWE and knows his general dislike of tag team wrestling as a whole (enjoy Sami & KO’s assuredly underwhelming run now).
An emboldened asshole is the worst kind
Endeavor isn’t exactly known for paying anyone lavishly or being afraid to cut staff, and now with faux-enthusiast Vince, the talent is understandably a little nervous about their status within the company. Especially wrestlers who have already been fired once by Vince and brought back by Triple H. Reports from morale is already down just like last year are rampant, and will likely only get worse if Vince turns out to be running Smack down tomorrow night, either from behind the scenes in Portland or remotely.
Of course, none of this matters to the people who matter to the company, or those who run Endeavour. WWE has a built-in audience and following, and regardless of which shareholders Vince may have bypassed (if any), they still raised a total of $9 billion from the deal — and some thing like half of that goes to Vince, but still. It’s a guaranteed product, and no matter how hard Vince pushes creativity to the core of the Earth, there is known soil. Especially with a new round of television rights negotiations set to begin this summer. Media companies may be talking about not wanting to be associated with McMahon, but there’s such a dearth of live programs that people actually watch, and Raw And Smack down are two of them, so the networks will be running.
And make no mistake, Vince will turn the product into dirt again. He is further emboldened by getting his job back after being forced into temporary exile following accusations of sexual misconduct involving several female employees. Who can tell him no now? His daughter isn’t even here anymore, and he’s just emasculated his son-in-law for everyone to see. It took him a few minutes to bring Lesnar back to the main stage of the event. The repetitiveness, the blandness, the similarity, the illogical nature of one thing to another, everything comes back. You saw him on Monday. Shows filled with decent-to-better 12-18 minute matches? Dust in the wind, friend. But you’ll have Drew McIntyre battling Elias for six straight weeks and you’ll love him.
But go on, tell me again how it all turns out better for Cody Rhodes at SummerSlam. Really I am dying to hear it.
If you want Sam to maniacally poke fun at WWE fans, follow him on Twitter @Felsgate.