Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
A new era has supposedly dawned in the WWE and we now have Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley in charge of Raw. In this week’s Sunday Sermon we take a look at this new era and what will make it work and where the focus should lie.
Craig: This announcement on Sunday was a bit of a cop-out, wasn’t it? In our predictions for the show we said we didn’t really know what to expect but I still find myself disappointed with the announcement, not necessarily the outcome, that Shane and Stephanie will joint control it.
Raw has picked up since Shane came back and this week’s episode was another good episode. In terms of in-ring stuff, Raw has improved and we’ve had a bit of a shake up of how Raw looks and feels.
Are you excited about the changes so far and is it enough to really turn things around for Raw?
Jamie: In a word, no. This time last year I would have been quite optimistic because back then I watched Raw religiously every week, so a small change of direction or approach would have been like a breath of fresh air to me. I now no longer feel the need to watch Raw every week. In order for me to do so I’d need to hear about something revolutionary going on, maybe the dawning of a “New Era” perhaps? Well apparently that is happening, but from the outside looking in I don’t see it. Yes, there’s a few new faces, but everything else feels the same. The increasingly unpopular guy that has been the main protagonist for the last year – if not longer – is still the main guy, meanwhile no titles changed hands to at least distinguish the “first PPV of the New Ear” as any kind of milestone. Elsewhere we have a very lazy feeling McMahon feud. Granted Shane is involved this time, but that concept won’t even be new to young fans.
I will admit, I think I’ve seen a couple of episodes since Shane has returned and yes, they are better than before. However, the overriding issue of another McMahon feud does not draw me to the product at all because it’s been done to death for the best part of 20 years now. This time it feels so lazy because i sense nothing but apathy from Vince. Last month he was like ‘fuck it, Shane you be in charge’ this month he is like’ fuck it, you’re both in charge’. I feel like WWE are saying ‘fuck it, here’s a McMahon feud. You know what to do…’
Brian: The show itself has been remaining consistently strong since Wrestlemania 32. New stars, better match ups, a stronger women’s and tag team division etc. That’s the good news. The bad is that we as fans now have to be subjugated to another McMahon civil war. More screen time for the McMahons whether Vince, Stephanie or even Shane isn’t the greatest idea in the world.
As Jamie has said, you also have “John Cena Light” in Roman Reigns as world champion. They really need to have another brand split to make this new era feel a bit different. Yes, I realize the WWE already did a brand split, but a roster filled with new generation stars like Sami Zayne, Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews on one brand led by Shane and the other filled with the old guards of people like Cena, Randy Orton, the Miz etc led by Stephanie might do them well.
Jamie: It does indeed feel like WWE are building towards some kind of brand split, but this feeling we have probably counts for nothing given the amount of times we’ve assumed they would take one creative direction only to continue on the tried and trusted path trodden by John Cena and the McMahons.
It’s hardly original, but I don’t have any huge problem with a McMahon civil war over control of the company, per se. My main issue is that WWE seem to be in the process of building towards this eventuality and this is largely why I don’t care to watch Raw on a regular basis. WWE don’t need to build anything with the McMahons. Everyone knows shit could kick off at any minute with them, and it will kick off between Shane and Stephanie, so why make us wait? I’m not so much anticipating this as I am expecting it. Those are two very different things. Also – and I can’t help but hark back to it – why didn’t Shane just win at Wrestlemania to make this whole feud actually mean something and make sense? At the moment Vince appears to be neutral, despite feuding with his son just a few weeks ago.
Ultimately we assume either Shane or Stephanie will win full control, but of what? Vince will still be in charge. Shane vs. Stephanie and Vince means something, Shane vs. Stephanie on her own means diddly-squat.
Craig: I can totally understand Jamie’s worries regarding it being just another feud. If the McMahons are front and centre then, yeah, it will be the same old. But if it’s in the background with the focus on the new acts and different feuds between in-ring performers then we have something fresh. That’s what we are all crying out for.
The brand split has to happen, it just feels like it’s going to be something very soon. My biggest worry is that the McMahon McMahon-Helmsley era is as overbooked as the Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles main event on Sunday. That’d be grim and would mean the whole focus was indeed on the McMahon family.
Jamie: My fears exactly. Even worse, it’s what I expect. When have you ever known a McMahon storyline or angle to sit in the background? One would hope that they have learned from the Invasion angle. Yes, there was a lack of top WCW stars involved but the convoluted nature of the McMahon involvement also dragged it down for me.
If I’m being optimistic for a second, then I will admit that if the McMahons can stay away from centre stage for any length of time then a ‘Shane’s wrestlers’ vs. ‘Stephanie’s wrestlers’ angle does sound appealing. As outlined before, I don’t think I’d be particularly bothered about the final outcome, but the journey towards it could be fun. That said, my realistic side says that this is just another McMahon feud which will likely do nothing to elevate any wrestler involved.
Brian: All I can say is that I hope the McMahons, with Vince especially, realize that people want to see wrestling not personalities. A friend of mine worked for the WWE at one point and he told me that Shane gets it. He is a wrestlers boss not a boss of wrestlers and the mood was so positive with him backstage.
I do realize that Shane and Stephanie aren’t really in charge of Raw per se, but I think Vince’s kids and Triple H for that matter know that the talent is what really sells, not the McMahons themselves.
Craig: I think Brian’s final contribution sums it up perfectly. The McMahon battles simply cannot be front and centre of the WWE product. It just can’t. It can bubble in the background and come to the fore along the way but the main focus has to be on the in-ring work, rather than family squabbles.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.