With the concluding events of the year in the bag, the McMahon’s saw it fit to start the year off right with a shake up. Along with addressing issues that the fans have had throughout the year, it was also proven clear that a change of direction was coming. With any and all non-McMahon authority figures being discharge, whether they were doing well in their management roles or not. The shift didn’t seem to slow as story lines were tweaked or dropped, and stagnant stars were brought anew, all in one fell swoop. The McMahon’s seemed as if they were taking their recent situation as serious as we have, and wasted no time in polishing their direction, nor most of all, motivating their superstars.
With Raw, we saw Baron Corbin’s departure go off without a hitch, and a Tag Team Fatal 4-Way to reignite the Raw Tag Team division, and an opportunity to face Bobby Rhoode and Chad Gable. While nothing new, adequate regardless. Another bigger moment was the turn around title defense of Dean’s Intercontinental Championship versus Tyler Breeze before continuing onto the Seth Rollins rivalry. We also saw Finn Balor continuing his latest push while going up against Dolph Ziggler. Most impressive however, was when Rousey nearly put a second Raw Championship up for open challenge that night, but was instead put up for a defense next week versus the winner of an 8 woman gauntlet match that was Natalya reigning supreme, just off of her TLC victory over Ruby Riot who she once again defeated during the gauntlet. Most importantly, these matches were hard hitting, fast paced, match-up’s that blew the roof off and had the crow going wild. I would love to know what Vinnie Mac told his rosters that made them get hungry again, but whatever it was, I’m loving the results its had on the wrestler’s performances. The story lines don’t seem all that shaken up, but over the past few weeks Raw has been on a new path, a better path, so maybe we should be glad they’ve decided to move cautiously.
A slew of new talent is already set to hit the main roster, which makes me think that Vinnie Mac starting printing pink slips. With several superstars including Larz Sullivan, Nikki Cross, Heavy Machinery, and more announced in the first week, plus returning stars like Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn, there’s no question that the Authority is in town. The question is for what, and for how long?
Among new talent moves, we saw Mustafa Ali who shined on Smackdown last week against Daniel Bryan, not only made his transition to the Smackdown Roster this week, but he managed to garnish the upset victory for himself and AJ Styles this past week against Daniel Bryan and Andrade Almas. Not that Smackdown need much work, but aside from Paige departing as GM despite doing well on the show by keeping focus on competitors, a few division shakeups took place as well. Vinnie Mac took to the Women’s division to not continue eliminating the rematch clause set fourth after TLC by having Asuka defend her newly embellished title against Naomi, as well as, turned Flair and Lynch’s attention towards Rousey. Another Smackdown division that didn’t need much help, but none the less received some. While it actually did some good for the division, it doesn’t really seem like a move that wasn’t already coming. The Uso’s squared off against The Good Brothers in yet another well performed, well driven matchup, and followed up the performances with a great post match promo involving the entire Smackdown tag team division. At this point it seems as if most moves this week were already in place and were just tweaked for presentation.
Essentially the four brains behind it all first took fault for their diminishing fan base on Raw, and then immediately flipped the blame onto fictional character Baron Corbin. While this is within the nature of the business and is the result of Kayfabe, it could bring into questions the seriousness of the McMahon’s. Especially when you take into consideration that despite record low ratings and very overwhelming anger towards the creative decisions as of late, they were all cheered on in Sacramento. Why would we act like this increased McMahon oversight is something we want; and why would we want them to think we are happy to see them. We all know how the McMahon’s and their egos work. Will they truly hear the fans, or do they think we are as fickle as “the new” Daniel Bryan insists we are?
Speaking of egos, there lies the third issue. The McMahon Authority scheme has been played out time and time again and does not need to become a central focus of the show again. Within the first week, we see Vince take to onscreen promotion, while removing superstar focused Paige. Wasn’t what Shane had done at Crown Jewel bad enough for the McMahons presence? Well, if report prove true, apparently it was about to with a Shane heel turn. Thankfully that was one of the scraped story lines with the new shake up. Also, didn’t Stephanie make the call on Angle and Corbin? Let’s not forget that the McMahons make the creative decisions. So at this point only time will tell which direction the McMahons are heading as far as their own involvement is concerned.
As you might know, one of the biggest reasons behind the creative landslides in Raw is because of the extended run time, not helped by the over abundance of major shows. One way they moved to correct this was to eliminate rematch clauses and therefore eliminating story and talent limitations. Let’s not forget though, that they also fail to properly manage talent. With so much new talent coming in, creating more time might prove to rest the pace as we go from not using enough stars, to using far too many stars. From stagnant and repetitive stories, to loose and unappealing fillers.
The biggest issue however, is whether or not they understand what changes actually need to happen. With that, is it all hyperbole, or is it truly going to change? For the most part we hadn’t seen too much shaken up this first week, and while what did change was good, it didn’t sell us either way yet. Now while Smackdown has performed consistently well, Raw has not. So, you would expect to see more immediate and major changes there. Come Monday we plan to see them, because we would like to know just where this is all going.
Overall, some of the changes were very positive, while many changes either seemed to have missed their mark or didn’t seem to make any difference at all. Regardless, this is an important time of the year for the WWE, and with recent industry changes, this is one the most important years in many. The next five months are going to make waves one way or another, and it none of it is showing any signs of slowing down. Luckily, we plan on steady coverage of the wrestling industry during this time.
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