Alright, so Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff are now the heads of the creative teams on Monday Night Raw and Smackdown! Live respectively. Now, whether this will lead to an overhaul of WWE programming is yet to be seen, but the idea of two creative minds at the helm, and who may have the trust of Vince to have more control over booking (not to mention some competition from AEW) has many believing that a new, fresher, possibly even edgier product is at hand and will usher in a new era in WWE history.
There are plenty of things to complain about from the last few weeks of WWE Programming, particularly how the RAW Reunion was handled, or how much screen time Shane O’Mac is getting, but I’m going to look at some of the budding storylines from an optimistic point of view and feel positive that they’re heading in a promising direction.
1. The Natalya/Becky Lynch Feud Has Some Juice
Though clearly a place-holder match to pop the Canadian crowd in Toronto for SummerSlam, Nattie’s still a vet who can’t do wrong technically, but has struggled to connect on the mic. I’m not saying that she’s suddenly become an all-timer, the past two confrontations between she and Lynch has injected this most-likely one-off match with some real bad blood. Lynch needs something to give some of her edge back, and this might do it. These two could steal the SummerSlam card.
2. Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns Could be Something… If They Let It
This could just get filed away in the “delusional fantasy booking” category, but what the hell, let’s break it down anyway. What was made abundantly clear at the RAW Reunion is the Joe is the only Samoan in WWE who isn’t related to The Rock. It’s no secret that Reigns has failed to connect as the Top Dog, even with the recent rub from The Undertaker, and the reason because of it reared it’s head again in Tampa. Joe is the baddest M’Effer on the roster, and laid into Reigns for a savage beatdown, only for Reigns to instantly recover, deliver a Superman Punch, and stand tall without appearing to have taken any damage. Joe seems to be just be laying down for the J.O.B. to the top of the roster lately, but this could be a great feud. Centre it around True Samoan Pride, with Joe unleashed as an unforgiving heel (especially considering Kevin Owens’ current turn as a babyface) who can beat Reigns down into a bloody pulp, making him a monster heel and actually garnering sympathy for Reigns. But, I’m not holding my breath on this one…
3. Bray Wyatt Might Actually Work This Time
The latest teasers of Wyatt as The Fiend have been fantastic, but we’ve been down this road before… WWE has always hyped Wyatt well, but fail to deliver in the ring. However, it does appear that with the new gimmick, WWE is actually ahead of the pop culture zeitgeist, jumping in front of the inevitable Joker and It: Chapter II social media buzz. Regardless, Windham Rotunda is a good actor; the initial Bray Wyatt run against John Cena were chilling, but too many losses buried the legitimacy of the character, even a WWE Championship run feeling hollow. What can’t happen is The Fiend getting built up, only to be immediately buried by The Demon at SummerSlam.
4. Braun Strowman Reboot?
Strowman is another case of WWE bookers not striking while the talent is hot, so it would appear that after his Last Man Standing match against Lashley at Extreme Rules and the squashing of the latest local talent (at least this one got personalised tights) is just a back-to-basics approach to build him back up as a monster, unstoppable force. The worry is that it may have been a once-in-a-career opportunity for Strowman that’s passed him by.
5. Dolph Ziggler
All I’ll say is that if we end up getting an HBK/Ziggler match at SummerSlam, it’ll all be worth it.
6. Kevin Owens as the Top Badass
Say what you want about the amount of ring and screen time Shane McMahon is getting, having a power-hungry McMahon at the top with a flock of Corporate lackeys trying to keep an out-spoken wrecking force down is good for all parties involved. This will benefit Elias and Drew McIntyre, but it will do wonders for Owens (just as long as they don’t book Reigns to steal the shine). Owens is at the top of his game, and unlike Vince, at least Shane can operate as a stunt bag and make KO look like money.
Thoughts? Is WWE heading in a positive direction for the first time in a long time, or is it just a destination to more disappointment?