Of course, “wrong” is a relative term. In any sense that WWE cares about, or its most dedicated fans care about, WWE is as far from “wrong” as can be. Their TV deals are for more money than Scrooge McDuck could fit into his vault. The ratings remain strong enough to keep USA and Fox happy. The arenas are full for the most part. What exactly would anyone inside the house complain about?
But outside the inner circle, this past weekend was about as gross as it gets from WWE. The shitty booking, the lack of ideas, and the laziness we’re accustomed to (and have admitted defeat to) were all exhausting present. It’s when you add not just the lack of decency, but the complete middle finger to it that Vince McMahon couldn’t wait to to extend on the heels of being outed (or just the latest outing) as a true scumbag to his employees and perhaps stealing from his board to be so, it’s all too much
In case you missed it, and it would have been hard to (which was the entire point), on the same day that McMahon temporarily stepped down as CEO of the company, he released a second statement stating he wouldn’t be removing himself as head of creative for WWE’s TV shows, and most gallingly, would be appearing on SmackDown that night. His cover, such as it was, was that it was the “character” of Vince McMahon and not the “real” Vince McMahon. Of course, that’s a nothing, as there’s no difference between the two. It’s the figgiest of fig leaves.
McMahon’s appearance was nothing more than a vulgar display of his power, his untouchable status, and his sheer delight in being so. Sure, he wanted the ovation he knew he would get, and it’s certainly worth asking what exactly were those fans cheering for? That they love Vince? He doesn’t love them, as every action and decision McMahon makes shows an utter contempt for WWE’s fans. That he got caught diddling around the office? That he was under threat? Could they even tell you? Probably not. And they’ll still cheer him if it were to come out that the NDAs and payments we’ve yet to hear about, but we know are there, for things a lot worse than consensual relationships with employees.
But really, Vince was reminding everyone that he can’t be moved, he can’t be changed, even when it’s to the disgust of his roster. It’s not like he had anything to say, or something interesting to do, which he hasn’t in years. It’s likely he doesn’t care about being removed as CEO for a time. It seemed clear initially that longtime McMahon lackey John Laurinaitis would be the fall guy here, and that’s precisely what happened. Laurinaitis is on administrative leave from his post as head of talent relations, having been replaced by another longtime McMahon lackey, Bruce Prichard. Because at the end of the day, they’re all expendable and controlling the product is what McMahon’s always cared about.
Except he doesn’t care about the product either. He actively hates it, given his never-ending and exhaustive efforts to be seen as anything other than a wrestling promoter. And yet he can’t live without the power of being not just center of the company, but center of the whole industry, as his appearances on SmackDown and Raw — in which he strutted out and said nothing of any significance — were meant to underline.
And thanks to him forcing himself into the pivot point of the whole company, WWE fans are treated to the same dross he’s been tossing out for years. We got another Madcap Moss v. Baron Corbin match, after the 17 we’ve had before. They continued to waste the New Day’s time. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus were inserted into the Money In The Bank Match for seemingly no reason at all. Raquel Rodriguez was given three minutes while continuing to waste Shayna Bazler.
Meanwhile, that same night, more rumors that Sasha Banks had secured her release continued to circulate, One of the company’s true unique talents, and they’d rather let her walk than using her gifts and wattage in a proper fashion, all because they think they can just simply produce another one. The arrogance and ignorance combined of it all.
And in the most facepalm choice of it all, even after a rare appearance from Roman Reigns and his banger of a match with relatively new on the main event scene Riddle, here comes Brock Lesnar again. Just two months after their Mania match that ended yet another program between the two, this was the best Vince could come up with in the wake of injuries to Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. And the fact that Randy Orton is still a candidate to be a tentpole of the company’s second biggest show (SummerSlam) tells you a ton.
There certainly are plenty on the roster who could engineer a great feud and match with Reigns. Seth Rollins is right there (and has his own feelings about Brock returning). Kevin Owens is right there. AJ Styles is right there. Drew McIntyre is right there. This could go on. All the thought Vince put into it, with just two injuries to contend with, was to go back to the well he always goes to. What’d it take, three minutes of thought?
But the fans will still clap like seals. The eyeballs will still tune in. There’s more than enough WWE lifers that will never leave and will give the response Vince needs to keep down this interminable and unsatisfying path. There have been more than enough nights like Friday to affirm to McMahon that he doesn’t need to change. It’s why the idea of a “war” with AEW was always laughable. WWE had the floor to itself for so long it could indoctrinate generations of fans.
McMahon kicked off SmackDown, and appeared on Raw last night, to prove just how much of an immovable object he is. But we already knew, he’s run the company like it for years. It’s when he’s under threat that he needs to be reminded, apparently. Sadly, we’re reminded all too often.