It’s WrestleMania season, which means it’s time for the McMahon family to become the center of attention on WWE television.
On SmackDown, Shane McMahon is readying to take on AJ Styles. On Raw, Triple H, the son-in-law, will be in a main-event level match against Seth Rollins and this past Monday on Raw, Stephane McMahon fired Raw’s general manager, Mick Foley.
There just seems to be something tone-deaf about the McMahons and how they integrate themselves into WWE television.
This fall, it looked like they were going towards McMahon-Lesnar, and I’ve waxed poetic on why that was an awful idea. I’m still not entirely sold on Styles-McMahon, but given how the rest of his family played on Raw, I’m willing to let it slide.
First, there’s Stephanie. It would have been better to wait until after WrestleMania to make a “management” change on Raw, but if Foley needed to go for personal reasons, then that’s a factor that’s outside of your control.
I’m more bothered with the way Stephanie handled it. She gloated, made fun of Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant — because they’ve been on opposite shows for eight months — and the mocking nature of her mannerisms play really poorly. She even mocked Sami Zayn’s music when he was making his entrance.
The problem is that there’s no money there. Unless they put Stephanie back in a match — and against who? — there’s no money with her as a lead heel. She’s there because the McMahons believe they’re the most important people. No one else is more over, in their minds.
It was a similar story when Triple H appeared later in the show, mocking Seth Rollins.
I get it, they’re heels. You’re not supposed to like them. But in some cases, this doesn’t lead to any “money-making” opportunities, and that’s where it’s inherently problematic. Those are spots that should be given to more well-built talent. The problem is that WWE needs to build more talent.
There’s no debating that the McMahons are big names. They should be on the show, in some form. But there are two members of the family who are taking up two main-event positions. Neither of those family members will be on the road every week wrestling in house shows and drawing crowds. None of them are year-round money-makers.
That’s a problem. It has been for a while, and it’s beginning to get worse.
1. Samoa Joe beat Sami Zayn
WWE is doing a really nice job of building up Zayn as a fighting underdog. At the same time, this was a long (12 minutes) match that made Samoa Joe look like a monster. You can criticize what some might call no-selling, but Joe is still trying to establish himself as a main-event level talent who can give a beating. They’re doing a great job building up Joe in that regard. They’re also making Zayn stand out as an underdog. This finish made a lot of sense and the match itself played out perfectly.
2. Charlotte beat Dana Brooke
Well, I wouldn’t want to be Dana Brooke. This match played out in a way where it made it seem like she was on her way down rather than on her way up. Even the announce team was talking like she was on her way back to NXT.
But Charlotte looked good. So I guess if you wanted to find some silver lining, that’s it. They also did a great job of battling through some of the early “We want Paige!” chants from the live crowd in Brooklyn.
3. Brian Kendrick beat TJ Perkins
Well, well. If you thought that Dana Brooke was buried in the previous match, then I don’t know what you think of Perkins after this match. He was essentially treated like a jobber in this match.
4. Nia Jax beat Bayley
This was another squash match, essentially. It was longer — it went more than 10 minutes — but wow, this was a one-sided loss for Bayley and it was a match that felt like it just took forever to get done.
Bayley, remember, is the WWE Women’s Champion.
It’s good to put the champion in a position to make her look vulnerable, especially a character like Bayley, but this felt like one of those situations where they shouldn’t have put Bayley in the match if they weren’t ready to at least make her look competitive.
I get the point that you want to make Jax look strong. But they really are stomping the life out of Bayley and my fear is that they’re doing this too soon.
5. Sheamus & Cesaro beat Enzo & Cass and Anderson & Gallows
The match was what it was. You have six guys in a match and it lasted about one minute. Awesome! Yeah, that accomplished basically nothing.
But what was more annoying was the WrestleMania pitch after the match. It wasn’t the fact that they’re pitching WrestleMania, it was that they’re hawking that the WWE Network is free for a month.
They’re diminishing the value of WrestleMania. This is supposed to be your biggest MONEY DRAWING attraction of the year. And instead they’re more interested in letting you know that you can get it for free, and cancel the network right afterwards, so you don’t pay for anything.
In part, that’s the corporate side talking. As long as those subscriber numbers are higher than last year, the stock price rises, and that’s all WWE is beholden to anymore.
6. Austin Aries beat Tony Nese
Aries looked good in this match and the promo afterwards was also good. Aries was a top star in Ring of Honor and TNA before heading to WWE. They have someone who can be the babyface of that cruiserweight division.
7. Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman fought to a no contest
It was a little unclear what the finish to this match was. Late in the match, the lights went dark and Undertaker appeared. He gave Strowman a chokeslam, who was coming after him, and then turned and fed into a spear by Reigns.
The crowd booed viciously when Reigns hit the spear. This was a Northeast, Brooklyn crowd. They’re going to have the typical reaction to Reigns as a heel. I’m not sure that Reigns would get this type of reaction across the entire U.S., but he might if he’s up against Undertaker.
Undertaker looked frail in this segment, as he has for about a year. It’s difficult to watch him go through the things he does in the ring.
Reigns really needs to win at WrestleMania, because Undertaker is looking his age and a loss could undercut Reigns a lot. But, it would be good for that to be as part of a heel turn. It’s not going to happen, but we can hold out hope, can’t we?