Pruett’s Pause: WWE Raw – An unabashed love letter to Shane McMahon, Triple H reminds us all who the real protagonist is, and more!

Logo_Raw_dnBy Will Pruett

Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets.

As a wrestling fan who also attempts to look inside and analyze the wrestling business, I try not to have blind spots. I have never pretended to be impartial, as partiality is part of being a critic. At the same time, I have very few automatic biases. It’s been almost seven years since I’ve had to cope with what might be my greatest bias. Last night on Raw, this bias reared its beautiful graying head when “Here comes the money” hit and the greatest McMahon danced onto the Raw stage. Shane McMahon is back and I couldn’t be happier.

My love of Shane McMahon dates back to my childhood. The first pay-per-view I actually purchased with my own money was SummerSlam 2000 (shout out to my brother for paying for a ton of shows before this), where Shane might have been murdered by “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. It’s weird. Somehow watching Shane fall off of the SummerSlam stage made me love him. Somehow watching Shane purchase WCW, then epically fail as WCW owner made me love him. Shane being thrown through glass on the King of the Ring 2001 stage by Kurt Angle made me love him. I can’t help it. When I hear “Here comes the money”, I just want to jump up off of my couch and do Shane’s entrance dance.

When Shane returned, giving us a rare (especially in recent years) McMahon trifecta on television, I was excited. Imagine how much more excited I became as Shane and Vince chatted about potential child abuse, lockboxes, and finally got around to making a match for WrestleMania. This isn’t just any match. This is Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match.

Look, I’m going to let this sink in for a second.

Shane McMahon and The Undertaker are having a WrestleMania match.

Shane McMahon and The Undertaker are having a Hell in a Cell match.

Shane McMahon and The Undertaker are having a match for control of WWE.

I didn’t believe it, but then WWE published this photo:

image1

Very few things about the scenario make sense. Why would Undertaker help Vince McMahon maintain control of WWE. Even with Undertaker playing an antagonist against Brock Lesnar for almost a year, why would he assist Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Stephanie? Why was Vince so keen on putting “control of WWE” on the line in this match? From what Shane said, Shane could just take it. This is confusing.

You know what? Logic has no place in Shane McMahon storylines or matches. I don’t need logic to help me enjoy this. I may preach about the joys of logic and consistent storytelling for everyone else in WWE, but Shane McMahon is one beautiful, well-dressed, cool shoes wearing, balding blind spot for me. I can’t help it.

We also cannot discount the idea of this as temporary storyline setup. John Cena has refused to rule himself for WrestleMania and the rumored match he was slated for was against Undertaker. What if Cena is cleared in the next few weeks and he is able to step in? Maybe Shane O’Mac is simply the backup plan. Who knows?

Nothing in WWE makes much sense today. Shane McMahon is the most popular human in the world. Triple H is a close second. Roman Reigns is somehow a lead antagonist despite trying desperately to be liked. I’d call Shane McMahon’s return completely out of place, but I love it too much.

Perhaps this should serve as a warning: This WrestleMania season will see me completely throw away an impartiality I once had. Shane McMahon is here and I cannot help but love him.

And now for some random thoughts:

– Triple H’s show-closing attempted murder of Roman Reigns was somehow the second biggest babyface moment on the show. Some would argue this was not intentional. I would argue that it was, at least on Triple H’s part. He knows how to perform “Cerebral Assassin” style beat downs and he spent years in Evolution doing so. He never crotch-chopped to celebrate during this time. He simply beat dudes up and had great hair. Now, Triple H is beating up Roman Reigns and closing every confrontation with a celebratory crotch chop.

Maybe someone will read this as too conspiracy-minded, but this has to be intentional. WWE knows Roman Reigns will get booed out of every arena (on TV) from now through WrestleMania. This is bound to happen. I don’t believe they are turning Reigns, but could see a scenario where they already did. Roman is a weak character up against a strong character with both power and history. Triple H is already garnering massive support from fans. Could the forces working against Roman Reigns win out?

– How does Shane McMahon getting a massive favorable reaction play into this? Once again, I have my foil conspiracy hat on. What happens at WrestleMania? Can Shane and Undertaker steal the show and give Triple H a third disappointing Mania-closing match on his resume (vs. Jericho at 18 and vs. Orton at 25)? Is Triple H being setup to fail at getting Roman over? Somehow reading into wrestling became far more interesting than it has been in years last night.

– Vince McMahon has a well-documented history of playing top wrestlers against each other. Might he be doing the same thing with his son and his son-in-law?

– New Day vs. Neville and Lucha Dragons was an enjoyable chance to recover from the Shane O’Mac excitement. They did a nice job of keeping things moving and actually put on a pretty fun six man.

– I wonder what the ongoing plan is for Kalisto with his feud with Alberto Del Rio seemingly over?

– The setup for Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose was simple, logical, and played into both characters strengths. It seemed like Ambrose, Lesnar, and Heyman burned through a lot of great material going into Fastlane (“Take me to Suplex City” was such a great line), so I’m interested in seeing what promos between them become. I’m also interested in seeing what a street fight between these two will look like. Comparing it to modern Lesnar feuds, this feels like Brock vs. Punk from SummerSlam 2013.

– Dean Ambrose is great at stealing vehicles.

– As much as I enjoy “The Big Guy” Ryback, I don’t want to see him play an antagonist. WWE doesn’t have a strong roster of bad guys right now, but Ryback is a joy to cheer and a ton of fun to watch play to the crowd. His past has shown he doesn’t fit in as a heel. I’m curious to see where this Ryback story leads, but I’m not optimistic.

– Why did Ryback display a ton of fire and some great offense prior to walking out on his team? Weird.

– The Wyatt Family seems destined to dominate the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (We just call it “The Dre” around these parts though).

– Sasha Banks vs. Naomi was pretty okay. Becky Lynch acting as the honorable babyface is always nice to see. I think she is the only truly likable character on Raw.

– Charlotte did a ton of yelling. Why does she talk so loud? Calm down, homie.

– The Godfather going in the Hall of Fame could cause me to rant about misogyny and declare his induction a victory for the patriarchy. All of these things are true. Alas, I just don’t have it in me this week.

Did this show actually even happen? I’m still in shock. Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker? In Hell in a Cell? Nothing in the world makes any sense anymore and I am more than okay with it. Today, I will have a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. I will hum “Here comes the money” as I dance around my workplace doing the Shane O’Mac hand-twirl. Let us all rejoice, for Shane McMahon is here to save us.

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren’t super annoying thoughts (and please don’t ignore this and post super annoying thoughts), hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email me at itswilltime@gmail.com.

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