The fallout from WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs over a week ago to the return of the McMahon Family last week is all over WWE television. The foursome of 73-year-old WWE CEO and Chairman Vince McMahon was joined by daughter Stephanie, son Shane and son-in-law Triple H to let the world know that the McMahon Family (we’ll include Triple H in that) was back in charge.
The night after TLC, they removed Baron Corbin as interim General Manager of Raw and, despite doing a great job in her own right, Paige was also removed as SmackDown’s GM. Kurt Angle, who was actually GM of Raw for nearly two years and put on “vacation” in storyline, wasn’t really addressed by the McMahons that he was the actual GM, which is typical WWE ignoring the details.
During their speech to the WWE Universe, the McMahons said the days of bickering micro-managers (a shot at Corbin) are over. Instead, the foursome of Vince, Shane, Stephanie and Triple H will be calling the shots on both shows. Never mind the fact that just one month ago we had Stephanie running Raw and Shane running SmackDown as commissioners fighting for “brand supremacy” at Survivor Series. The “commissioner” titles have been removed. The new rule, if you want to call it that, is that any of the four McMahons can appear on any show at any time to make a match or a ruling.
Why the changes? For one, ratings are down and have been down during the last three months. I think WWE realized Stephanie’s heel persona is tiresome, so she’ll likely be more of a face going forward. People were turning off Raw because Baron Corbin’s heel character was all over the show and the lack of good guys ending up on top was hurting the brand. I also think the absence of Roman Reigns has been felt because even though some fans didn’t like his character, Reigns remains a big deal.
It should be noted that while Raw has struggled for months on end, SmackDown is a very good show for the most part. The talent they have performs well on a consistent basis, the creative stories for the show are better and Paige did very well as GM. However, their ratings went down as well, so clearly WWE’s executives were paying attention to that and decided they needed to bring back the McMahons for both shows.
The McMahon family promised new feuds and new superstars. The promise of “new” stuff is an easy way to make things more exciting. When Vince said that, a lot of people thought that meant doing trades between Raw and SmackDown or doing another draft to change the rosters. Instead, we have seen guys like Mustafa Ali make a huge impact on SmackDown by pinning WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in a tag team match.
The new superstars coming to Raw are NXT stars: Lars Sullivan, who I have written about before as somebody I’m not a huge fan of, is exactly the kind of guy that Vince wants to push. Other names include the tag team of Heavy Machinery, women’s wrestlers Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross, and EC3, who was once a part of WWE development as Derrick Bateman. Out of all the great talent in NXT, most of these people would not be the first picks to shake things up on the main roster, but I am most excited about EC3 and Cross.
It has been interesting to see Vince McMahon taking part in angles again. Vince hasn’t been on TV that much in the last few years because he wanted to shine more of the spotlight on his kids. Last year, he had that memorable angle where Kevin Owens headbutted him and beat him up. This past week on SmackDown, in the last segment of the night, AJ Styles decked Vince with a punch to the head after Vince tried to motivate him. Vince smiled after it was over as if he was laughing about his ability to motivate Styles. The plan for Styles at WrestleMania is rumored to be Randy Orton (they have not feuded), so perhaps this is the start of that angle.
The next two editions of Raw and SmackDown (airing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) are taped shows, so I don’t expect anything that important to happen. Once we get back to Raw and SmackDown airing live (starting January 7), that’s where we might see even more of the “change” that WWE has promised. With the Royal Rumble coming up and the NFL regular season concluding, that means more excitement for WWE while facing less competition, so ratings should bounce back like they do every year.
I don’t know if more McMahons on the show are the answer to WWE’s problems. I think it’s more of a creative issue where WWE must do a better job of making the good guys looking like stars, especially on Raw. Getting rid of a heel authority figure is a nice first step, but actions speak louder than words. We will need to see a better product on a consistent basis for us to believe that the addition of the McMahon Family on television will lead to a better show.
John Cena’s Return to Television Will Be Brief
— WWE (@WWE) December 26, 2018
John Cena made his return to a WWE ring last night at a Raw live event in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cena beat Baron Corbin in what was Cena’s first match since early October at the Super Show-Down event in Australia. At that show, Cena didn’t even take a bump because he was still filming a movie. Prior to that, Cena’s other matches this year were a win over Triple H at the Greatest Royal Rumble in August and The Undertaker easily beating him at WrestleMania.
On Raw, Vince McMahon appeared in a Santa Claus outfit to announce that Cena would be returning to WWE TV in the new year on both Raw and SmackDown. Remember, Cena is a “free agent” in WWE storylines, so he is allowed to appear on both shows while other wrestlers are not allowed to show up on any show. Brie Bella was on both shows for a few weeks in the fall, yet nobody in WWE cared to explain why that was legal. Another example of WWE’s creative team being lazy in terms of providing details.
This week on SmackDown, it was announced that Cena will appear on the New Year’s Day edition of SmackDown that tapes this Saturday in Pittsburgh. They didn’t say what Cena will be doing on the show or who he might be facing, but it’s probably going to be some tag team match against some heels if I had to guess. I can’t see Cena having some long singles match after having so much time off.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) December 24, 2018
Cena’s focus these days is on his movie career. He stars in the new Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, which has done well with critics (as you can see in the tweet above) and will likely make a lot of money. A quick look at Cena’s IMDB page shows that he has at least two more movies he has to film this year with others likely following.
What we don’t know about Cena’s return to WWE TV is how long he might be around. Cena is expected to start filming another movie starting January 20, so does that mean he’s not going to be part of the Royal Rumble a week later? Possibly. When a star actor like Cena is part of a feature film, it’s not likely that he’s going to be taking a lot of bumps in a wrestling ring.
If I had to guess, I would think that Cena will be a part of WrestleMania in some way as a special attraction. I don’t know if that means a rematch against The Undertaker after their boring match this year or he goes against somebody else. I just have to assume that WWE will want Cena to be a part of WrestleMania in some fashion. After that, I can see him working for WWE even less in 2019 than he did this year.
Cena commented recently to Sports Illustrated that at 41 years of age with a growing acting career, his role in WWE isn’t what it used to be:
“It’s a giant relay race, and I’m in the phase where I’m handing the stick off. My time is up. Someone else’s time is now.”
Enjoy John Cena on WWE TV while he’s there because it’s not going to be for that long.
Women’s Tag Team Titles are coming to WWE
— WWE (@WWE) December 25, 2018
There have been rumors of Women’s Tag Team Titles coming to WWE for several years. Ever since WWE started spouting the “Women’s Evolution” phrase relentlessly since 2015, most fans figured Women’s Tag Team Titles were coming at some point. I thought they would be introduced at the women’s only Evolution pay-per-view in October. Nope. Instead, Vince McMahon announced them in a pre-taped backstage segment while dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, so we couldn’t even hear the crowd reaction. They should have announced it in the ring on Raw when the McMahons were in the ring together, but for whatever reason, they decided to wait a week.
Before I move on, it’s worth noting that Women’s Tag Team Titles did exist in the history of the WWE. The titles debuted in May 1983 and lasted until February 1989 with The Glamour Girls duo of Leilani Kai and Judy Martin (pictured above) as the last champions. I don’t expect WWE to honor their history by mentioning that these titles existed 30 years ago, but I think it’s something most fans should know.
What isn’t known right now is if there will be one set of titles for both shows or if they will be brand exclusive. My guess is they will be brand exclusive because WWE wants to keep the brands separate. The idea of champions that get to travel to both shows doesn’t seem likely since WWE gave up on that idea in the original brand extension 16 years ago.
My concern with the addition of these titles is that there are too many titles on the main roster. Raw has the Universal Title (whenever Brock Lesnar shows up), Raw Women’s Title, Intercontinental Title and Raw Tag Team Titles. SmackDown has the WWE Title, SD Women’s Title, US Title and SD Tag Team Titles.
Adding another set of titles to each show would be a lot. It’s tough to make time for every title especially when current titles like the US Title and Raw Tag Team Titles have taken a backseat for most of this year. Is there enough time on the weekly shows to add more titles? That’s my concern, but I’m sure WWE will make an extra effort to make it work.
— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) December 25, 2018
I would expect more details to come out soon about when the new titles would debut. That wasn’t announced by Vince either, but if I had to guess, the inaugural champions would be crowned at a major event like the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. There will probably be a tournament to set that up.
There are plenty of teams who could become the first ever Women’s Tag Team Champions with the idea that there might be only one set of titles to start. Here’s a quick top five list for the best choices as inaugural champs.
5. The Iiconics – Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
The lovely Australian duo are best friends who got into the business together. They have awesome chemistry and know how to get heat. Since neither woman is going to really break through on their own right now, they are a good choice to win some gold as a team.
4. Nia Jax and Tamina
A dominant heel duo like Jax and Tamina could become the first champions because we have seen champions like them in the past. I wouldn’t put the titles on them at first, but they are the types of wrestlers that Vince likes to push.
3. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
I rank these two ahead of other SmackDown heels Royce and Kay because of Mandy. I think she’s got huge potential as a singles star, but there’s no rush to push her too fast. Let’s see her get some tag team gold with her best friend Sonya first and then use that as a catalyst for a future singles push. I know they refer to themselves as “Fire ‘N Desire” on social media, but WWE hasn’t used that on television yet. It’s a pretty good name, though.
2. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Well I have my New Years Resolution!To be the 1st woman to hold every televised women’s Championship in history… because clearly making history has kinda always been my thing & not just a cute lil # thing to say. 😜😘 Thank you @VinceMcMahon aka #VinceyClaus #MerryChristmas https://t.co/cvTV1lZC0X
— Mickie James~Aldis (@MickieJames) December 25, 2018
I like Mickie’s idea of winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles. She’s done it all and if she were to team up with Alexa Bliss to go after the titles, it would give those titles credibility right away. Bliss has been out of action for a couple of months after suffering multiple concussions. Assuming Bliss is back in the ring very soon, I hope she can become a team with James. If not, they could use Alicia Fox to team with James, but Fox won’t have the star power that Bliss has.
The first four teams I mentioned are heels. If I had one choice, though, it would be a face team.
1. Sasha Banks and Bayley
— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) December 25, 2018
The best choice as the new champions would be the “Boss N Hug Connection” duo of Sasha Banks and Bayley. They are a team that have been at each other’s throats for some parts of this year, but then they made up to realize they are best friends. I feel like the reason they didn’t have a feud similar to Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch is because WWE planned on bringing back Women’s Tag Team Titles with Banks and Bayley in mind as the first champions. It makes a lot of sense and it would help both women become relevant again after a year where they were not really a part of the title picture on Raw. Putting tag team gold on them would help them get more over while giving the titles instant credibility.
That’s all for this edition of the WWE Three Count. Happy New Year to you all and thanks for reading.