The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of WrestlingInc or its staff.
With WrestleMania breathing down the necks of WWE and numerous top stars sidelined with injuries, WWE was forced to enact what is in my opinion, a truly desperate plan. Vince McMahon brought his son, Shane McMahon back into the company as a babyface authority figure who will fight Vince for control of the company. Shane will literally be fighting at WrestleMania as he will face The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match for control of Monday Night Raw.
I first found out about this storyline while I was driving back from covering a high school basketball game. The more I thought about the more insane it became to me. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but bringing back Shane to wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania? That was WWE’s grand plan to save the event? Shane hadn’t wrestled since 2009, was on the wrong side of 40 and frankly was not a very good wrestler when he was frequently working in the ring. On top of that, there were numerous holes in the storyline, mainly why the hell would The Undertaker wrestle for Vince McMahon?
The last two episodes of Monday Night RAW following Shane’s return have not inspired my appreciation for this feud. Two weeks ago, The Undertaker appeared on RAW, presumably to explain his course of action and why he would be working for Vince in his time of need. Instead, The Undertaker came out, barely said anything, he just mentioned that Shane’s blood is on Vince’s hands. Why is The Undertaker working for Vince? We don’t know! WWE has no idea how to explain why the most beloved figure in the company is working for the bad guy, so they just completely ignored the question all together. There is a massive hole in the storyline and WWE simply doesn’t care to rectify it, trusting that fans will not be bothered by this massive loss of logic. As fans, I feel like we are responsible for the product that we get, if we accept WWE’s inability to tell a congruent story, then we are going to be continuously gifted with lazy and ineffective storytelling.
Also, that doesn’t really touch on the fact that fans don’t really want to go to WrestleMania, in Texas, and boo The Undertaker. Particularly in a Hell in a Cell match, fans want to go to the stadium and watch The Undertaker kick some serious ass. By aligning The Undertaker with Vince, they are essentially turning him heel, which at this stage in the game is an impossible task. The Undertaker could tombstone a Make-a-Wish recipient in the middle of the ring and probably still get cheered.
Then of course, there is the introduction of Shane McMahon into the feud. Shane apparently has some sort of power over Vince, due to a lockbox in some vault that has some sort of incriminating evidence against Vince. Will we ever find out what is in the lockbox? Probably not, just like The Undertaker working for Vince, the idea isn’t fleshed out in any realistic way, it simply a means to an end so that Shane has some leverage in the situation. Last Monday, Shane showed off his “skills” by laying a beat down on several members of security, throwing a flurry of weak-looking punches that wouldn’t have damaged Styrofoam. Despite his obvious ineptitude in the ring, Shane was booked to look like Brock Lesnar, laying waste to everyone in sight without hardly breaking a sweat.
The thing about Shane is that in wrestling, absence really makes the heart grow fonder. The prevailing opinion currently, even among hardcore fans, is that Shane is this terrific performer who was a tremendous star in the early-2000s. The reality is that simply isn’t the case. Despite the mythologizing via YouTube that Shane has enjoyed, his in-ring career is most notable for getting beaten up repeatedly by Steve Blackman. Shane was not a good wrestler by any stretch of the imagination. He was however a terrific bump taker who was willing to risk his body in some hardcore matches, which earned him the respect of the fans. That is all true, and I like Shane and I was always entertained by his matches because of that, but the idea that at age 46 and having not wrestled since 2009 Shane is going to go toe-to-toe with The Undertaker and have this awesome match, doesn’t seem to have much credence.
I think the reason I am upset about this feud is that once again, WWE is going back to the nostalgia well to aid their biggest show of the year. There is a roster of talented young performers that are busting their ass week-in and week-out for the company, and WWE slaps them in the face by giving the biggest match at WrestleMania to Vince’s son. It is a direct message to all those guys, essentially telling them that they are not over enough to warrant a position against The Undertaker, but someone who hasn’t appeared in WWE this decade is. WWE could still have Shane come back, still challenge Vince and still have The Undertaker represent Vince. Instead, Shane wouldn’t wrestle but rather pick a representative to fight for him, a younger star that would be involved in a top storyline that would help elevate them to the next level. WWE would still have the same momentum that they would have now with Shane’s return, but instead of having just Shane get over, they could aid a new star in getting over as well.
Yet, I would be lying if I were to say that the storyline in its current incarnation is not effective. Despite the gaps in logic and the shortcomings of Shane as a performer, fans, both casual and hardcore, have fallen head-over-heels for Shane. He has gotten the biggest reaction on RAW every week since his debut and interest for WrestleMania has certainly picked up since his return. While I personally believe that there are a lot of issues with the current story, the masses have spoken and they say that the storyline has been successful so far, and that is what really matters.
Shane is popular not only because he was a factor during WWE’s most successful period in company history and because he took some bumps. I think a big aspect of his popularity is that he really did leave the company in 2009 to pursue other business interests. Fans don’t like Vince, Stephanie and Triple H, in storyline and in real life, so Shane gets some credit from hardcore fans for leaving that triumvirate and striking out on his own. In a lot of ways Shane is a representative of fans frustrations with the current direction of the company, in his promos he is talking about declining business and poor booking, something fans feel the established order is responsible for. Fans believe that if Shane assumes control of the company, he will put an end to the terrible decisions being made by The Authority, both in kayfabe and in reality, and WWE will become a much more prosperous company.
Of course, all of that storytelling is in storyline. Even if Shane wins at WrestleMania, Vince, Stephanie and Triple H are not going anywhere, they will still be calling all of the shots in the company. Sure, Shane might assume an on-air leadership role which would bring the end to the tireless Authority storyline, but the overall direction of the company isn’t going to change one iota. Hardcore fans should know this, yet some of them have convinced themselves that Shane REALLY is going to change things in WWE. According to Dave Meltzer, who spoke with many current and former WWE executives, while many of them personally liked Shane more than Stephanie or Triple H, it was admitted that Stephanie and Triple H clearly had a better handle of the business than Shane, which is why Shane left the company in 2010. Even if Shane were to assume some sort of real leadership role behind the scenes, the idea that he is a creative genius who is going to turn things around is both far-fetched and unproven.
Shane certainly seems like a likeable guy and I certainly enjoyed seeing him return on RAW, but he isn’t the savior that the company needs. Like Steve Austin in the late 1990s, WWE needs an up-and-coming superstar that changes the game to lead them into a new direction and back into stratospheric heights, not an old-star whose reputation has outpaced his actual accomplishments.
I think the article contains some valid points. The first one being Taker vs Shane was made out of pure desperation. That’s more than obvious. With the Taker/Lesnar feud thankfully finally over, talents who would give Taker a run for his WM win are out injured, and everyone on the currently active roster is busy at WM or will be busy by the time we get there. Shane came back to “save us” from dealing with a WM without Taker, something that hasn’t been a reality since WM2000.(Prior to that, he missed WM10.)
Another valid point is so far, we don’t know why Taker’s working for Vince. He came out and said the Shane’s blood will be on Vince’s blood. But that doesn’t explain why he’s working for him. Hopefully Taker will explain why during his next RAW appearance or at the absolute latest, at WM. No matter what he does, I don’t see a Taker heel turn from this point on onward. And even of he was a heel, he’s gonna be cheered in his home state of Texas at WM. Heels being cheered are seemingly common now as the art of distinguishing a face from a heel is one of the many lost arts of the business. Turning Taker heel now would result in Sting’s WCW heel turn in 1999. He’s so beloved, they cheered him forcing WCW to quickly turn him face and the same will result with Taker. Like Sting still is to WCW, Taker’s always been a WWE role model company loyalist, probably more than anyone, has been around too long, done too much, and is just too beloved to be a heel which WWE had more than enough time to do but never did and that’s probably because of how beloved he is.
The article also echoed the point I made where it stated Shane hadn’t wrestled since 2009 and is older now at 40. While he may have been a decent wrestler for a part-timer, his strength(s) from a physical standpoint lied in his stunts and taking bumps and there’s more to wrestling than that. The fact is Shane wasn’t nor is he now good enough to be any kind of threat to Taker on his own which is why I believe he’ll employ help which may even lead to another Mcmahon Family screw job which we have seen more than once over the years. Shane’s been doing some great training. But as the old saying goes, time off is a wrestler’s worst enemy and Shane’s had over 5 years of time off. During that time, Taker, though he transitioned into part-timer, has still been kicking ass Deadman style every year.
Those are the points I paid attention to. Thoughts on the article’s main points?