I picked a heck of a week to do a column in advance last week because everything went haywire. Ignoring the whole Jeff Hardy fiasco (which seems like something that is far from over), there was the crazy shakeup at WWE. There were changed made in the last week or so that would have seemed unthinkable not so long ago but now have come to be a reality. That’s what we are going to be looking at this week (shocking I know), plus one bit of fallout that might make things all the worse, at least for fans.
So as you probably know, WWE is officially investigating Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis for an affair with a WWE employee. McMahon reportedly paid to keep her quiet, as well as raised her salary when the affair began before passing her to Laurinaitis “like a toy”. I’ll let your skin crawl for a bit after that thought before moving on to what this has already meant.
The initial fallout from these shenanigans has already started, with McMahon taking a step back from his roles as CEO and Chairman of the Board. Stephanie McMahon will be taking Vince’s place (that hiatus didn’t get to last long), though one does have to wonder how much power she is actually going to have. At the same time, Laurinaitis seems all but done in WWE and will likely be a heck of a fall guy for the whole thing. That leaves Bruce Prichard of all people as the Head of Talent Relations, because he is the one person in WWE who needs more power.
Vince being out of power, at least for the time being, is a jarring change on paper, but it is a little hard to believe that he isn’t going to have some say. That’s the big one, but then you have the other names as well. With so many other people moving behind the scenes (including the possibility of Triple H running either the Performance Center or NXT again), it seems that the backstage structure of WWE looks nothing like it did just a few weeks ago, which has to be good for something.
So now that some of the changes have been made, we get to the annoying reality of the whole thing: this isn’t going to change a bit. Do you really thing that Vince is losing any real authority with his daughter and longest serving yes man at the helm? Vince will probably still make his random appearances on TV with nothing changing, as he will still have nothing to say more often than not.
Money In The Bank and Summerslam are both coming up and do you think this is going to cause any real changes to what is happening? WWE was locked in a broom closet for a good chunk of 2020 and still managed to keep Monday Night Raw and SmackDown going. Why would they let something like backstage turmoil shake anything up when it comes to their television?
Consider this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw. We had an unnecessary pinfall on a champion, two women working twice with one of them being surprised at a match that was already advertised (yet was still made during the show anyway) and Veer Mahaan getting to talk for whatever reason. It was the usual show without much good but enough bad to make you long for a toaster going upside your head.
That led us to SmackDown, where the big news is that Brock Lesnar is going to face Roman Reigns (again) at Summerslam (again) as we now get to wait another month to get to the point because the summer doesn’t matter (again). But at least we get Money in the Bank right? You know, that show where the same people that Reigns has already beaten (probably more than once) fighting over a title shot that isn’t so much a title shot but rather a chance to borrow the title for a bit without feeling like they are anything more than a storyline advancement for Reigns and company.
But hey, there’s always WrestleMania 39 next year right? When the Rock might face Reigns! If he has time! And if the insurance companies will stand for it! And then he’ll lose too and none of this will matter. It’s the next case of the same stuff happening over and over again as WWE cranks out money and gets to brag about having the Rock around (maybe) in what should be a great feud. Is it enough to validate spending what will by then be two years of Reigns destroying the roster? Maybe it feels that way for a few weeks and it will be nice for a short term change, though it’s hard to imagine when things get much better in the long term.
What about these shows make you think that anything of note is actually changing? This whole thing feels like the same kind of show that WWE has been running for months now and the company is not likely to change anything noteworthy. Maybe that is due to them wanting to keep things steady during the rocky times, but I can’t say I’m surprised that WWE, a company that LOVES to stretch things out for as long as they can, is sticking with the same stuff that hasn’t been great in a long time.
In short, I cannot begin to believe that these changes, at least for the time being, are going to matter in the slightest. I’m sure there will be some headlines and some heads might roll backstage (Laurinaitis’ certainly will, though it will manage to keep the same dumb, blank expression the entire time) but WWE will remain what it has been for years now: the highly successful yet still business as usual wrestling company that isn’t going to shake things up because there is no reason to do so.
And really, why should they shake things up? WWE is making a fortune and the networks still seem to be happy with what is going on. The company has figured out how to make a lot of money no matter what they are doing. It is a formula that works for WWE and they have made the whole thing work. The problem for fans is that while it might be great behind the scenes, there is very little reason to believe that things are going to get much better. WWE will continue using their formula that has worked for them for so long and that is all they should do. It might not be much fun for fans, but that has never stopped WWE before.
While it might be annoying, the reality is that WWE has won in this whole thing. They can put whatever they want out there and use the same tropes and repeated matches because it’s all about content. There are fans who will watch and spend money on the company and that is all WWE needs to validate the huge deals that they are given. As a result, the changes behind the scenes don’t mean much, as it is a case of next man up to be the new cog in the machine.
So what does that mean? Ultimately that these changes behind the scenes aren’t likely to make that big of a difference. Vince is still the major power in WWE and once he is gone, the company is going to shift even more towards content and making money with the wrestling being a means to an end. That has always been the case in a way, but these changes aren’t really changes as much as they are new people doing the same thing. That leaves fans to continue their false hope, which is just about all they have had for a long time now, because nothing changes.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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