Did we just get a subtle glimpse into WWE’s first plan of attack/defense against the inevitable attack set to come from All Elite Wrestling?
For the first time in nearly 20 years, there is legitimate competition to Vince McMahon’s stranglehold on the wrestling industry. I’m sure you know all about it by this point so there really isn’t that much of a reason to go in-depth on it again.
Bucks…Cody…AEW…you get it.
(If you do want to go more in-depth, click HERE for our first look at AEW)
Without a doubt McMahon also gets it. McMahon may not have the grasp on industry trends like he has had in the past, but he understands what now stands in front of him. It’s Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff all over again. Vince has been down this road before and came out smiling on the other end.
Unfortunately in this day and age of a TV-PG, family friendly, publically traded world, the formula of sex, stunners and Sammy is nowhere near an option. In order to maintain/win the audience, the best course of action for WWE in this era is to put more focus on in-ring performance.
Unbeknownst to McMahon (or so it would seem at times) WWE has a TON of talent waiting in the wings. The question is how to utilize all of this talent though. Especially since a lot of the best performers on the main roster and NXT are not exactly the body builders that so many think are all that Vince cares about.
For the first time in a while, the subject of Vince’s big muscle infatuation was approached as Finn Balor threw himself into the mix to replace Braun Strowman in the Universal Championship match against Brock Lenser at the Royal Rumble. McMahon’s immediate reaction was basically “dude, 205Live isn’t on yet” in so many words.
That brief interaction could be the start of something bigger as a group of “smaller guys” could band together and create a new faction that goes against McMahon. The potential players are there – Balor, AJ Styles, Tommaso Ciampa, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet, Matt Riddle, and to a point Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura.
We all know the abilities that all of these superstars have, but few have been able to showcase their skill on the biggest stage. Change is needed in WWE right now, wouldn’t be a bigger change to make.
But every group needs a leader. Every group needs someone who can fight from within. For that, McMahon won’t have to look too far away.
Another interesting part of McMahon’s segment on Raw was his interaction with John Cena. In it, Cena made reference to his debut back in 2002 and how he wanted to show his “ruthless aggression.”
That got me thinking…why bring that up?
A quick call back to that era may have been a way to simply get that time back to the forefront of the fans heads. The man that led that era, for several reasons, would be the man that could lead the small man group against McMahon…
Triple H would be upset with McMahon for his use of the main roster talent. The Game would reference the work that he has done in NXT and the exciting shows that he created with stars that fight to make it to the main roster…only to fizzle out in a slow, agonizing death/No Way Jose conga line. He was a leader in an era that he thought should have removed the need to only have the muscle heads in the top spots.
He has seen the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio hold the top prize in the company and hold it strong! Now, Triple H is tired of seeing guys getting passed over for opportunity just because they are smaller and he wanted to do something about it.
This would be incredibly effective on two levels for WWE. First off, the best in-ring matches come from smaller guys nowadays. This would be sure to give the WWE Universe the potential 5-Star classics that we have been waiting for! Higher ratings, more Network subscriptions, merchandise sales shoot up – money!
Here’s the other, possibly more important reason, WWE needs to do something like this. AEW is competition as it stands right now. Most of the buzz is based on the fact that they are sure to produce incredible matches with the “small” guys that Vince doesn’t approve of.
It’s easy to see that a lot of the talent on the WWE roster has been misused. AEW is a place for a superstar to go to and know that their character will be used the way that it should. Having your main storyline, especially around WrestleMania season, be centered around the likes of Balor, Styles, Nakamura etc. would simply make them happier…and less likely to check out greener pastures down in Jacksonville.
Obviously this is a long shot but hey, Balor is facing Lesnar in less than two weeks for the Universal Championship. It’s a start…but it could be so much more!