Vince McMahon has proved time and time again to be a brilliant businessman, so it is difficult to argue with his decisions sometimes. That being said, a show like the July 11 version of Monday Night Raw cannot stand without some constructive criticism.
As fantastic of a character that Stephanie McMahon is, she falls flat when she's doing anything other than the Evil Queen gimmick. The whole sibling rivalry with brother Shane McMahon doesn't really resonate. We're not watching Dynasty, Dallas or Falcon Crest. Most wrestling fans aren't identifying with billionaire-family corporate problems.
So the idea that in 2016 we are still watching the McMahon family argue over control of the company is just unbelievable. Yes, the brand split is coming, but there are a bazillion ways to create those characters without forcing us to watch the tedious insider baseball arguments between Shane and Stephanie.
The McMahon belong in a therapy session, not on Monday Night TV. What we know now after Vince McMahon's big return is that Shane McMahon will be the Commissioner of Smackdown and Stephanie McMahon will be the Commissioner of Monday Night Raw, and then each of them will pick a General Manager for the show. Really? How many layers of bureaucracy do we need for a wresting show?
The best part of last night's McMahon family gathering was Stephanie tripping and nearly falling as she exited the ring. Yeah, the biggest pop of the night was what WASN'T scripted.
Unfortunately, her trip was conveniently edited out toward the end of this video.
Here's how the show should have opened: WITH BROCK LESNAR entering the ring.
Not sure how or why the WWE missed out on this opportunity, but Lesnar was not on the show, although they did show photos of his fight with Mark Hunt and a piece of his press conference where he mentioned Randy Orton. With Lesnar, the biggest star in combat sports, reigning supreme in the UFC, you'd think the WWE would have promoted the living you know what out of that. It's probably McMahon not wanting to look like he was using momentum from the UFC to boost his own product. Nonetheless, Lesnar should have been there to open the show.
Instead we got something kinda cool and kind of lame at the same time: Darren Young won a battle royal to open the show, which means, he is the new No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental title. Bob Backlund, Young's mentor, was at ringside, and this angle quickly felt like it was going to end with Backlund getting over with the modern audience, more than Young. Backlund has been playing off Donald Trump presidential gimmick, promising to "Make Darren Young Great Again." When was Darren Young great in the first place.
Young won the battle royal and will face the Miz, who was at ringside doing color commentary with Maryse. Miz is good on the microphone, but he's not a formidable threat in the ring.
We didn't get enough of AJ Styles this week so the highlight of the show was Seth Rollins, who slayed Roman Reigns in the ring and then cut to a funny spliced video where Rollins asked Reigns if he was ashamed of himself for violating the WWE's Wellness policy and Reigns saying yes and that he wouldn't do anything differently. Reigns had the title in the interview, so clearly the interview was from a long time ago and Rollins made it to look like it just happened.
The crowd wildly booed Reigns again. In his case, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.
Dean Ambrose came out to break up Rollins' tirade and for the first time in awhile, cut a decent promo, where he came across as a smart lunatic instead of a goofy one. For a few seconds he made it sound like the WWE title was special and that he deserved to have it because of how hard he worked. A heel Ambrose might have some legs.
Speaking of great heels, AJ Styles only got a few minutes on the microphone last night, but he made the most of it, and had us convinced that John Cena wasn't live at the show and was in Los Angeles rehearsing for The Espys. Styles and his Bullet Club members threatened to fly to LA and #beatupjohncena. Of course everyone was surprised when none other than John Cena ran to the ring to save Enzo and Cass and after their tag team matchup with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. That was a cool surprise to see Cena, and Styles had us all convinced that Cena was nowhere to be found.
The other highlight of the show was Kevin Owens, who refused to wrestled Cesaro if Sami Zayn was at ringside. Zayn came down to do color commentary.
Owens has mastered the heel role. He straddles the line between coward and opportunist. He talks about how great he is, then complains if something isn't how he wants it to be. KO convinced Stephanie McMahon to have Owens escorted away from ringside so that Owens could wrestle Cesaro in peace.
It was a good match, with Owens winning. After the match, Owens started mouthing off at the announcers table, allowing Zayn to attack him. Zayn then threw Owens into the ring and Cesaro spun him around 10 times in the ring. The best part of this? Owens, knowing he probably was going to get spun around, wore a black singlet under his T-shirt, to hide his belly while swinging around. Kevin Owens is one torn T-Shirt away from Playboy Buddy Rose territory.
The rest of the show was forgettable, especially Titus O'Neill, who needs to go back to NXT and learn how to wrestle. Sasha Banks cut a good promo backstage, but doesn't have chemistry with Dana Brooke. The Lucha Dragons wrestled the terrible team of Fandango and Tyler Breeze, in a match only highlighted by Calisto's botched springboard from the second rope.
The good news is that it looks like the WWE has replaced O'Neill with Zach Ryder in the feud for the U.S. Title. After Sheamus defeated Ryder, Rusev attacked Ryder and put a beat down on him, as payback for Ryder challenging him backstage. Looks like Ryder has a little more gas in the tank of his push.
The WWE needs to be focusing its entire show on its top feuds, Cena vs. Styles, Rollins vs. Ambrose vs. Reigns and Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. And we need more Brock Lesnar. The McMahons are great when they are feuding with WRESTLERS, not each other.
(image courtesy wwe.com)