It’s easy to complain about WWE booking, especially in 2015. Critics were out in droves following the Survivor Series 2015 questioning whether Vince McMahon had lost his creative magic. If the last few days have proven anything, it’s shown that the CEO’s still got it and deserves a big apology.
Let’s face it. The booking of Roman Reigns has been some of the most questionable creative in WWE history. The creative department took a guy on the cusp of breaking out and single-handedly changed his narrative over the last year and a half. The backlash towards Reigns had very little to do with the performer and much to do with the script. That all falls on Vince and his creative team.
However, the team changed direction and Reigns has slowly gained momentum following his feud with Bray Wyatt. Whether it was the injury to Seth Rollins or a designed game plan from the start, everything has finally come together for Roman Reigns. The timing of it all was a stroke of genius and while the future remains nebulous, the present is something special.
The critics came out in droves following Survivor Series. Most expressed their frustration with Sheamus as WWE champion and the 5:15 title reign of Reigns on social media. Many openly questioned the intelligence of the company in designing a storyline that continued to portray Reigns as a failure while pushing a guy everyone resented as world champion. What those critics never realized is that they were playing right into Vince McMahon’s hands.
Social media went crazy once again following Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2015. Again, critics were outraged that Sheamus retained the title. Critics proclaimed doom on the WWE and any chance that Roman Reigns had of ever getting over. Many critics loudly proclaimed that Vince had lost it. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
The events that played out the 24 hours between TLC and the end of RAW were some of the most brilliant booking WWE has had in recent years. Reigns suddenly shifted from the most hated babyface in the company to the sympathetic character the company had been grooming for. Sheamus went from apathy to pure heel heat as fans truly resented his title reign. The stage was set to bring out the big guns and once Vince McMahon entered the storyline, it went gold.
Watching back Reigns’ win on RAW and the way the program played out reminded me of some of the great RAW and Nitro episodes of the Monday Night War. The drama and excitement were so compelling that you couldn’t turn off your television, proven by RAW’s ratings which saw the show sustain its audience for three hours for the first time in years. By the time the show was over you felt like you had just watched the conclusion of a great movie. From start to finish it may have been the best RAW in several years.
Was this the plan all along? When critics groaned at Sheamus winning Money in the Bank, was the plan put in place? Sure, you’ll have plenty of “insiders” proclaim that this was never the plan but who really knows what Vince was thinking? Maybe back in the summer, the plan was put in place to have a guy with the WWE title that the fans would resent so much that even those that booed Reigns the last year would get out of their seats to cheer for his title victory? Maybe the plan all along was to bring Vince back into the mix at the end of the year to set up for the win? Remember, the WWE changed plans and moved the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar from WrestleMania a few months ago to set up for something bigger. Maybe that something bigger was a key part of the plan, Reigns vs. Lesnar at Mania for the title? Quite frankly, it makes a lot of sense if you follow the trajectory with a bit of cynicsm.
Regardless, whether this was the master plan all along or a brilliant audible under pressure, Vince and his writing team hit it out of the park this week. It’s easy to get on our soap boxes, complain, and predict the end of the WWE. But when he gets it right he deserves the accolades. Congratulations Vince, we’re all sorry…or we should be.