With Vince McMahon being written out of WWE storylines last week and Triple H taking over as the on-screen chairman tonight’s edition of RAW has the potential to be the “launch of a new era” many have been predicting for some weeks now (as far back as CM Punk’s memorable shoot promo on June 26th in fact).
I think there’s a good chance that tonight is the perfect time to introduce a fresh direction for the company. In truth it’s already underway: the terms “wrestling” and “wrestler” have returned to the commentary desk, the company is attempting to elevate new talent such as Bryan Danielson, and CM Punk seems to be embarking on a viral campaign to promote WWE (and as champion no less). Triple H becoming an on-screen authority figure is the perfect time to debut a new approach to RAW itself.
I also think this may not just be a role strictly for television, aspects of it may carry over to behind the scenes too as part of a gradual stepping down process for Vince McMahon. I can’t use the term retirement because I don’t think a man like Vince will ever truly retire. Triple H has been segueing into Vince’s real life role for a couple of years now, and I think the time has finally come where Vince has decided to step away as far as he’s willing too (which I would imagine is far enough away to let Triple H run things whilst still, ultimately, having the final call on anything big).
Triple H’s new on-screen job makes you wonder if we’ll see the anonymous RAW GM dropped. The character has been downplayed for the last few weeks and has been an irritating aspect of RAW for the majority of its lifespan, and is redundant with Triple H playing the boss. I’d like to see it dropped this evening, preferably with John Laurinaitis being revealed as the man behind the emails. He’s in a good position for that as he’s recently made his debut as a member of WWE management (looking very much like Bob ‘Marty Funkhouser’ Einstein (I will mention that every time I mention Laurinaitis)) and is still fresh enough in the role to be disposed of in a comedic fashion. Revealing him as the General Manager just before Triple H fires or suspends him would get rid of the GM position and provide a decent pop.
While I think this would be a sensible approach to fix something that needs to be addressed I still don’t think it will happen. I’d love it though.
Besides Triple H we can also expect to see a new champion crowned. While I’m a fan of The Miz and think he deserves a second WWE title run I think Mysterio is a better choice to have the belt now. He could go on to work with Alberto Del Rio (Miz can’t unless he or ADR turn face very quickly, and that would be a foolish rush) at SummerSlam. The fact that the show is coming from Los Angeles and RAW the following evening from Rey’s hometown of San Diego means he’s almost assured a good reaction and his opponent some solid heat. WWE could even try to replicate the success of Punk in Chicago at Money in the Bank. I don’t think they’d reach quite that level of passion form the west coast crowds, but trying wouldn’t hurt anyone.
On the subject of a Vince McMahon appearance: I would be very surprised if it happened, but it’s not impossible to envisage him turning up with a “letter from his lawyer” (or something equally daft) that prohibits the board of directors from replacing him so quickly. To do that would undo the good work they’ve done with the Vince character in the last month and last Monday in particular so I’m confident he won’t be appearing.
Tonight’s show should be interesting. With SummerSlam only a few weeks away a main event will need to be announced, or at least set up in the closing segment, and without the fallout of the CM Punk angle, a guaranteed Vince McMahon appearance or the possibility of a John Cena firing the ability of the writing team to capitalise on what should be an increased audience without resorting to shocks and thrills should be tested. While we could see an appearance by Punk or another big announcement it looks unlikely: I think for the next week or so the writing team will have to prove they can perform their part of the process as well as everyone else has lately. And rightly so.
Of course the biggest question for this evening’s RAW is whether or not Zack Ryder will be on TV. If he is that will be a true sign that we’re at the beginning of a new era.