One night after a pretty solid TLC pay per view that saw two major titles change hands, the McMahon family, minus Linda (currently serving as Secretary of Small Business for President Donald Trump), showed up on Raw to announce sweeping changes that will allow WWE to retain its relevancy “then, now and forever”, a catch phrase that clearly means a great deal to aging chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
After several down weeks, television ratings were up for Raw and Smackdown this week. The usual bump after a pay per view and the advertised appearance of Vinny Mac coming “to shake things up” would likely be the major reasons. The big changes promised from Vince, Shane, Stephanie and Hunter were that the WWE universe would be the new authority and that there would be new faces and new match-ups in the coming weeks.
To that end, Baron Corbin, who squandered his chance to be the permanent Raw general manager when he lost a match to a Braun Strowman still sporting a post-surgery sling at TLC (after the Raw babyfaces and former GM Kurt Angle ganged up on him in retribution for what he had been putting them through in recent month), was dressed down verbally and bounced around physically on Raw as the scapegoat for the show’s recent malaise.
At Smackdown on Tuesday, it was announced that Paige would no longer be the general manager of that show. So, the figure-head authorities, a beyond stale concept that has been a major complaint of many fans for years, are gone, and everything going forward will be in the hands of the McMahons. Of course, they have been the real decision makers all along, but at least they now acknowledge the need to try something different.
A number of new faces were said to be on their way from NXT. Can any of them develop into legitimate stars and be game changers? That will largely depend on how they are booked and how well they connect with the fan base. Ring skills, microphone skills, charisma, timing and luck all play vital roles in finding and developing the next Rock, Bruno, Stone Cold, Hulkster or Nature Boy. They don’t come along too often, which is precisely what makes them so special when they do.
The new (heel) Daniel Bryan retained the WWE championship at TLC with a hard- fought victory over AJ Styles and Ronda Rousey kept the women’s title after forcing challenger Nia Jax to tap to the arm bar. Seth Rollins lost his cool and his Intercontinental belt to Dean Ambrose. Rollins is expected to be in for a big push in the new year and rumored to be in a very prominent match at Mania, perhaps with Brock Lesnar. The program with former Shield teammate Ambrose did not seem to do either of them a favor. It was too close to the real leukemia revelation by Roman Reigns and playing off of it with the immediate turn by Ambrose was neither appreciated nor accepted by many fans.
The surprise result of the night at TLC was Asuka winning the three-way and the Smackdown womens’s title over Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair due to interference by Ronda Rousey of the Raw brand. The Japanese star has been viewed by many hardcore fans as severely under-utilized since the end of her unbeaten streak during the early days of her main roster career. Finn Balor beat Drew McIntyre when Dolph Ziggler turned on Drew and interfered to cost his abusive former friend the match.The Bar retained their tag titles over the Usos and the New Day and Rey Mysterio upended Randy Orton. Buddy Murphy bested Cedric Alexander in their cruiserweight battle. Elias defeated Bobby Lashley in a guitar on a pole match. They don’t seem to have a clue on how to book Lashley productively. Did I write that out loud? I guess so.
At Smackdown there was a stunning pin by Mustafa Ali on Daniel Bryan in a tag match. Let’s see if it leads to the talented Ali being elevated and getting a legitimate push. Apparently somebody decided the Revival deserves better than what they have been getting, so they seem to be getting better treatment. Let’s see if it lasts and, more importantly, it it’s not too late to rehabilitate them. A very Merry Christmas to everyone out there reading this column.