So, as you might have noticed, I've missed a couple of weeks. True to form, since I mentioned my on-again/off-again love/hate relationship with pro wrestling in my first column, I couldn't even work up enough inspiration to follow up my initial column on the subject. I was going to write about it every Wednesday night throughout the Road to WrestleMania, and my interest wasn't even sustained long enough to make it to Week 2.
I caught some of last night's WWE Fastlane pay-per-view, and I had some interest in how Raw would follow things up. Still, I was just going to wait until my wife went to sleep (we're currently watching HBO's The Wire. Yes, I know. We're very, very behind), then skim through Raw on my DVR. But then I suddenly got a series of texts from one of my best friends that made me have to put my plans on hold to see what was going on:
- Shane McMahon Returned To Monday Night RAW
- He cut a semi-shoot promo on how the WWE is being run into the ground, and says he wants to take control of the RAW
- He'll be facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania in a Hell In A Cell match for control of RAW
- Vince had to get bleeped for dropping an F-bomb
I had to see this for myself. And it was, indeed, quite special. The ovation Shane O'Mac got was breathtaking. His delivery on the mic felt very real, very authentic. It felt like the best storylines in wrestling often do, like a merging of what's real and what's a work. With the current state of the company, you know Shane didn't have to summon any kind of acting talent to tell his father and sister- to their faces- that they're tanking the ratings and the company stock. The setup for the power struggle was slightly clunky, and I don't know that a wrestling match with Undertaker was really the payoff to Shane O'Mac's return that fans were hoping for, but it was certainly an exciting opening segment.
For a moment there, it almost felt like my Left Field Idea was actually getting used.
See, a couple of months ago, in a Facebook group that I frequent with other fans, where we discuss the product, I pitched what I would like to see. I said WWE should take a page of WCW's book (yeah, I know. Desperate times and all that), and do a Hard Reboot of the brand. Remember towards the end of WCW's run? They had an episode of Nitro that began with all of the wrestlers in the ring, and had Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff come out, break the fourth wall, and say that WCW was failing; It was failing its fans; It was failing its roster; It was time to hit the Reset button and do away with all that had killed the once mighty company.
In the case of WCW, that didn't work. While it was an edgy, novel idea, it was doomed to fail because of the politics and corporate shenanigans behind-the-scenes at WCW that neutered the planned rebirth of the brand. But in WWE, I said something like this could work. Triple H has already shown that he knows how to run a wrestling company (NXT) that gets fans passionately excited, and that he's been cultivating tons of new and exciting talent- both homegrown and internationally seasoned. So have him come out, ditch his Heel persona, tell Vince that he's taking over because the fans deserve better. Have him call out the roster, tell them that every spot is up for grabs, and that if you want to be a Top Guy, it's simple: You have to win, you have to prove yourself. Cause this is the new WWE.
Something along those lines, I think, would play well.
And tonight, it looked like they were heading in that direction with Shane's return. And- who knows?- they may go that route after WrestleMania, with him in the Triple H role I mentioned above (and Trips running things behind-the-scenes). But, for the time being, they took that hot opening segment...and followed it up with yet another ho-hum, three hour snooze fest.
They weren't able to carry over any of the momentum of that blazing start. The entire show should've been built around it, with wrestlers reacting backstage in promos, on commentary, etc. Think about how massive this should feel for them, if the storyline was being treated the right way. All of these wrestlers just found out that the boss's son has come back, intends to take the company away from him, and turn the whole ship around. That's huge, in storyline terms. There should've been hungry guys like Dolph Ziggler cutting excited promos about what this could mean for talent that's been ignored over the years, and established veterans like Big Show freaking out because they don't think Shane will keep them onboard if he gets control.
All of RAW should've been about that segment, and the shockwaves it created.
Instead, it was business as usual. Truly pathetic.
And, to top it all off, they decided to put one of the company's great failures on full display to close out the show. Raw ended with Triple H savagely attacking golden boy Roman Reigns to rapturous applause from the fans. That's. Not. Supposed. To. Happen.
Reigns is the face. Trips is the heel. Reigns is "the future." Trips is a part-timer. If WWE had any idea how to make Reigns a star, fans should've been upset about what Triple H was doing and begging for Reigns to make a comeback. Instead they chanted that they wanted to see Trips bloody him up even more.
It's not working, guys! Take a hint. Get a clue. Buy a vowel. Do something. Reigns isn't The Guy, and any chance he has of becoming The Guy is shot to hell whenever you have him no-sell like a superhero the way he did at Fastlane last night.
WrestleMania is shaping up to be a total mess this year, and it's sad. I'm excited about the Shane angle, but- really- that makes me want to see the Raw after Mania more than the PPV itself, and that's a damn shame.
See you next week. Or not. We'll see how I feel.