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What Lies Ahead For WWE After a Bizarre Week

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Unless you’ve been on vacation on Jupiter, it was quite an eventful week for WWE, and not exactly in a good way. From drama at the very top of WWE’s headquarters to events that directly affect WWE’s roster, it is possible that this week may have ripple effects for WWE in the months to come.

Vince McMahon NDA Scandal

Perhaps the biggest and loudest WWE-related drama this week involved CEO and chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon. A bombshell report from the Wall Street Journal revealed that in January of this year, Vince allegedly had an affair with a WWE employee and subsequently issued a $3 million payout once she signed a non-disclosure agreement. In addition to all of this, there seemed to be older agreements in regards to potential misconduct by Vince McMahon that was uncovered during this investigation as well.

Emails from an anonymous friend of the alleged woman Vince was with claims that she was on a $100,000 salary as a paralegal for the company, and the pay was doubled after they began a sexual relationship. Vince has since stepped down and her daughter, Stephanie McMahon, has assumed CEO responsibilities until the Board of Directors concludes its investigation.

Capping off this bombshell report was an equally, if not even more bizarre promo by Vince McMahon, who appeared live on Friday Night SmackDown. Vince, as always, was intentional. Making no mention of the controversy surrounding him, he simply welcomed the Minnesota crowd to Friday Night SmackDown and reminded us that one of the words in WWE’s opening video package meant that we were “together”. Then on tonight’s edition of Monday Night RAW, he came out to a loud ovation merely to hype John Cena’s return on RAW next week. On the surface, he seemed completely oblivious to what we all know was going on with him, but if there is one thing Vince McMahon will always be sure to do, it’s get people talking. Last Friday and tonight, we didn’t get Vince McMahon, the apparent unfaithful, corrupt businessman. We got Mr. McMahon, the brash, outspoken, charismatic chairman of the board. And while it can be often difficult to discern between the two characters, these two appearances in the midst of this investigation only revealed what Mr. Mcmahon has always been, whatever that means.


On a personal note, Vince McMahon allegedly having an affair does not strike any feelings of surprise or shock. Under the guise of playing a heel on television, Vince McMahon has made himself especially cozy with prominent women competitors in the past, namely Trish Stratus, Candice Michelle, Sable and Stacy Keibler just to name a few. We of course also remember the WrestleMania 17 storyline between Vince and his son in which Vince’s real life wife, Linda McMahon, was in a comatose stupor and bore witness to Vince making out with Trish Stratus right in front of her. Storyline or otherwise, it does set a precedent.


There are specific parameters in which Vince McMahon could be relieved of his duties, but I highly doubt that day is coming. It will be interesting to see what the Board of Directors’ investigation into these other apparent financial resolutions will yield. You cannot help but feel as though this investigation may be akin to peeling back the onions of a layer. The more that is uncovered, the more it stinks.

Sasha Banks Released?

There were unconfirmed reports circulating this week that stated that former 5 time women’s champion Sasha Banks has been released from her WWE contract. On the day of May 6th, then WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Naomi staged a walk-out from Monday Night RAW, refusing to compete in the main event after alleged dissatisfaction with the booking of their tag team title reign, and rumors suggest that they were planned to work separate feuds with Ronda Rousey and Bianca Belair respectively.

Raj Giri of WrestlingINC would report this week that Sasha Banks has been released from her WWE contract and that the feeling backstage at SmackDown was that Sasha was an ex-WWE superstar. WWE has yet to release any kind of official statement on this release, so this “news” should still be taken as speculation at the moment. However, if this report ends up being truthful, it would truly be an unceremonious end to one of the most important figures in women’s wrestling for the past decade.


Sasha Banks, along with Becky Lynch, Bayley, Charlotte Flair and others, helped usher in a transformative era of women’s wrestling that took less stock in appearance, gimmicks, and more on mat performance. Her legendary match with Bayley at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn for the NXT Women’s Championship signaled to those far and wide that change was on the horizon in WWE’s women’s division. Since then, women have put on show-stealing classics, regularly main event RAW or SmackDown episodes, and have even been put on last at WrestleMania twice within the last five years.


And for better or worse, Sasha Banks was a huge advocate for introducing tag team titles for the women’s division. The Boss has been a highly influential figure, so on the surface, this stands as a monumental loss for WWE. Does WWE have enough talent to make up for her loss? Perhaps. Bianca Belair is no Horsewoman, but she has more than held her own with the main event players of WWE, and has shown megastar potential. And WWE should be in store for reinforcements on the way in the forms of Charlotte Flair, who’s been written off since WrestleMania Backlash, and a soon returning Bayley, who’s been out of action since last year spring. But it’s safe to say that Sasha’s absence will be felt for a while. For example, WWE has stated that there will be a tournament to determine the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. It’s already been over a month. Has anyone heard of any competitors or teams in that tournament? Is there even enough depth in the women’s division to hold any quality tournament?

Randy Orton Out For 2022?

The injury bug seems to have hit some of WWE’s top tier main event guys. Cody Rhodes tore his pectoral muscle completely off the bone and will likely have to miss the rest of this calendar year. Now, one half of RK-Bro has joined Cody on the injured reserve list. Randy Orton had apparently been dealing with back issues for a while, but it’s been feared that surgery will be required to correct the issue, and if that’s the case, he will have to miss the rest of this calendar year as well.

Randy Orton was last seenhad been flying high, literally and figuratively, with Riddle as the RAW Tag Team Champions. With Roman Reigns unifying the WWE and Universal Championships, the red brand had been left without a world champion to show up on their weekly show. Since then, Riddle and Randy Orton have taken up the mantle as arguably RAW’s most popular top act on the show along with the women’s division, Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes. Randy Orton had apparently been scheduled to challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Summerslam next month, followed by Drew McIntyre in the fall. In lieu of this injury, it appears WWE had to call up Ol’ Reliable in Brock Lesnar, and he has since taken his place for the main event slot at Summerslam.

WWE television has felt like it’s been in a holding pattern for quite a while for many reasons. One is for the simple fact that for the majority of 2022, we have not had the full-time presence of two world champions simultaneously. For the RAW brand of most of this year, it’s been Brock Lesnar, who never competes on RAW or only stops by for a few words and F-5’s. On SmackDown’s side, it’s been Roman Reigns, who reportedly signed a deal to work less dates this year, and will only be appearing every now and again on television. As a matter of fact, the only RAW he will be on during the summer is one Monday in July when RAW hits Madison Square Garden.

With one man holding both world titles and rarely showing up on television, WWE is in need of more top tier talents to step up in his absence to fill in the gaps. With Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes out, that number has already been reduced to a great degree. This of course begs the question, who would be left to fill that void on both shows? On the RAW side of things, you have AJ Styles (who has been lukewarm for a while) the new incrnation of Judgement Day in Finn Balor, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley (seemed like a rash decision), Kevin Owens (currently challenging our intelligence) Riddle (looking to find his footing on his own after losing to Roman), the written off Edge (he needs to grow back his hair) and Bobby Lashley and Austin Theory (currently feuding with each other). The returning Cena next week will likely be entering a program for Summerslam, but if it is truly only a one-off appearance, then look out.


Smackdown’s roster has exponentially less depth on the top side. We have the unified tag champions The Usos (currently feuding with The Street Profits), Gunther (will likely not be losing the Intercontinental Championship any time soon), Drew McIntyre (won’t be feuding with Roman until August), Madcap Moss (not main event ready), Happy Corbin (you can only do so much) and Sheamus (won’t be in any singles programs until The Brawling Brutes break up).

So it goes without saying, things in the main event scene seem to be relatively bleak on the surface. That being said, WWE’s recent showings on PPV have all been pretty solid and have shown the capacity to exceed expectations, even when the match card doesn’t equal the hype. I have also found that WWE is often at its best when they are forced to improvise and stray away from plans they’ve had for weeks.

 


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