July 22, 3:05 PM. WWE fans weren’t expecting the following news. Some reporters thought it was a ploy for ratings, and others weren’t even anticipating what they were about to see on Twitter.
“At 77, time for me to retire. Thank you WWE Universe. Then. Now. Forever. Together.” #WWE #Thankful. Vince McMahon announced his retirement.
The running joke was that Vince would die in that chair, whether out of love for the product or control of creative. However, with allegations looming from the Wall Street Journal, Vince retired for good.
Will Vince attempt to reclaim the XFL to compete against the NFL, or continue to follow the product to see if it flourishes without him? One question remains with Vince out of power. What happens now?
Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan took command of the ship, and Bruce Prichard handled creative for Friday Night Smackdown that night. Brock Lesnar even left the show after receiving the news, creating chaos backstage. He would return later to be involved in a segment for the show.
Steph opened up Friday Night Smackdown hours later with a “Thank You Vince” chant which was more forced than organic. The rest of the show was more formulaic, but when the boss steps down the show must go on.
On Monday Triple H was named head of creative and didn’t take the bait when asked what to expect on the shows going forward.
“You go to watch the show,” he said during a press conference covered by Inside the Ropes,” There are a massive pair of shoes to fill, and I’m trying in some way to step into, and I do not dream for one second that I can fill those shoes.”
In the opening segment of Monday Night Raw, Roman Reigns, Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Champion, told Austin Theory that “You’re daddy not here anymore.”
Austin Theory won the Money in the Bank briefcase which allows him to cash it in on a vulnerable champion and potentially take the belt from him. The reason he won was that Vince saw him as the next star of WWE. However, since Vince is gone, fans and critics alike don’t think he will successfully cash in.
As Raw continued, fans could see minor changes in the product. Longer matches, fewer promo segments, and pull-apart brawls enhance rivalries.
Now that Triple H is in control of creative, rumors are rampant that ex-WWE superstars will return to the company. Johnny Gargano, Karrion Kross, and Bray Wyatt are a few in the headlines this past week.
Two women making headlines again are Sasha Banks and Naomi, the women’s tag team champions. They walked out before an episode of Monday Night Raw due to Vince’s lack of dedication toward the women’s division. The company has reached out to them seeking reconciliation, and hope for a return.
On Saturday, WWE presented SummerSlam from Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN.
From the beginning, Triple H’s handprints were already there. As Bianca celebrated her victory over Becky Lynch to retain the Women’s Championship, Bayley made a surprise return. Bayley has been out for months with a torn ACL.
She wasn’t alone though. Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky joined her to form a stable and approached Bianca. Kai wasn’t even with the company before the event, and Iyo was a pleasant surprise.
In another twist, Becky Lynch joined forces with Bianca Belair signaling a face turn. On Monday Night Raw, Lynch revealed she suffered a shoulder injury and will be on the shelf indefinitely.
In the next match Logan Paul proved critics wrong, and with help from AJ Styles, defeated the Miz. He delivered an amazing frog splash and used the Miz’s finisher to beat him.
Later on, in the show, Edge returned to confront his former stable Judgement Day. Jeff Jarrett was a special referee in a match between the Usos and Street Profits for the Tag Team titles. Jarrett received a huge pop with his guitar and country gimmick, given he was in the home of country in Nashville.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan survived against Ronda Rousey after almost getting her arm broken. Rousey turned heel after a controversial finish where Morgan tapped at the same time the ref counted three for the victory.
Roman Reigns was the last man standing in the main event of SummerSlam, retaining as WWE Undisputed Universal Champion.
It took assistance from the Usos (his cousins), multiple spears, and a few shots with the championship belt. Brock Lesnar couldn’t beat the count of ten, and Reigns escaped the war victorious. The ring was flipped by a tractor, Theory teased in his cash-in, and Lesnar put his former advocate Paul Heyman through the table. The saga between the two is now over…. fans hope.
On Monday Night Raw, fans were treated to unique finishes, longer matches, and great promos. Whether or not Triple H’s vision is a step in the right direction is to be determined, but WWE fans will welcome it with open arms after decades of the same formula. Which superstars will get called up from NXT, and which stars will be allowed to shine in the spotlight?
Tune in to Friday Night Smackdown to see what’s next.