Tag Archives: Stephanie McMahon

How I would book the RAW v Smackdown women’s Survivor Series match

There is an episode of The Simpsons (“Homer Defined”) where Homer saves the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant from meltdown and is fêted as a hero. But what the viewers know is that he succeeded by dumb luck – he didn’t have a clue what button he was pressing. Made the plant’s “Employee of the Month” he was asked to give a talk at the rival Shelbyville Power Plant. His speech is interrupted by the plant going into meltdown. Again he saves the plant – but this time there are witnesses. Homer is exposed as a dumb fool the phrase “To Pull a Homer” (to succeed despite idiocy) becomes popular and it even appears in the dictionary! 

I mention this because that is what I feel WWE have done with this year’s Survivor Series. They have “pulled a Homer”. When the card was announced it was not looking good. The four Champion v Champion RAW v Smackdown matches in particular looked awful – all heel v heel matches which WWE rarely does. But three title changes, plus the addition of the Shield v the New Day and the inclusion of big names Triple H and John Cena in the RAW v Smackdown men’s Survivor Series match has improved the card considerably. Survivor Series – if booked properly – could be the best pay-per-view of 2017. 

But there is one unfair anomaly. There are four authority figures on WWE television. Of those RAW General Manager Kurt Angle is fighting for his job, Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon is also fighting in the men’s Survivor Series match, Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan took a choke slam from Kane despite not being medically cleared to wrestle (if he was he would be in the match I suspect)…and RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon is doing nothing except shouting at General Manager Angle, emasculating him and threatening his job. She does this all the time and she never gets her comeuppance. 

That should change. If Kurt Angle has to fight for his job on Sunday so should Stephanie McMahon. And she should lose her job as we are sick of the sight of her on WWE TV. It is easily done. And here is how I would have booked it. 

On Monday’s RAW Kurt Angle suggests to Stephanie that if he is fighting for his job Stephanie should have to do the same. Of course Stephanie disagrees with this idea but her father Mr McMahon should then appear and say that it is a good idea and that Stephanie should also fight for her job. He would make her captain of the RAW women’s Survivor Series team replacing Alicia Fox who is useless. And if the team loses Stephanie will be FIRED. 

So the teams I would have had would be : 

RAW – Stephanie McMahon, Bayley, Mickie James, Nia Jax and Sasha Banks (unbeaten Auska would not be in the team as I would book RAW to lose but I don’t want Auska to lose. Plus she has not been on RAW long enough to develop brand loyalty and should be a “lone wolf”. Don’t worry I have a role in mind for Auska). 

Smackdown – Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, Paige and Tamina. (that might be the real life team. If they were putting ex Champion Natalya in the team they would have announced it on Tuesday. I’m hoping they put in Paige. I would). 

So the match starts with Stephanie avoiding any in ring action. A few minutes into the match Auska arrives and beats up everybody on both teams (except Stephanie who weasels out of a beating like the cowardly heel she is). Auska beats up everybody and then walks away. This establishes Auska as a beast as she has beaten up nine women at the same time and makes it look like no one can stop her. 

After Auska’s intervention the eliminations start. Nia Jax would eliminate Tamina and Naomi in quick succession to make her look strong. Mickie James would be the first RAW elimination (by Paige) then Paige, Carmella and Becky Lynch would combine to soften up Nia leading to a Dis-arm-her just like last year and making the match three a side. 

The match would then turn in favour of RAW when Sasha makes Carmella tap to the Bank Statement and Bayley eliminates Paige with a Bayley-to-Belly. It is three v one for RAW and it looks like Stephanie will save her job without doing anything (she has not tagged in once during the match).

But try as Sasha and Bayley might they cannot eliminate Becky Lynch. Banks traps her in the Bank Statement – Becky gets to the ropes and breaks it. Bayley hits her with the Bayley-to-Belly – Becky kicks out. Stephanie is furious and starts shouting at Sasha and Bayley angry that they cannot get the job done. Eventually Stephanie slaps Sasha and Bayley. Big mistake. Sasha and Bayley have had enough of Stephanie’s nagging. They throw her into the ring. Bayley gives her a Bayley-to-Belly Sasha puts her in the Bank Statement…and then they walk out eliminating themselves. Stephanie is left all alone with Becky Lynch. There is nowhere for her to go. Becky puts her in the Dis-arm-her. Stephanie has no choice but to tap out. She has finally got her comeuppance. She is fired. She is GONE from WWE TV.

I should stress that unlike the Authority after the 2014 Survivor Series she is legit gone. She will of course stay in WWE in real life but her TV character is gone. She is a toxic presence on RAW and adds nothing to the programme. She should be written out for good.

Of course this is a fantasy. This is why they call it fantasy booking. Stephanie will likely pollute WWE TV for years not getting her comeuppance (her husband Triple H I don’t mind as he does get his comeuppance occasionally – at WrestleMania XXX and Wrestlemania 33 for example). But Stephanie McMahon is a cancer who never gets her comeuppance. If I were in charge it would happen on Sunday. But it won’t. Unfortunately….

Intergender angles in the WWE must go. And very quickly.

To say the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match ended in controversy is like saying this month’s UK General Election did not go to plan for Prime Minister Theresa May. For anyone who didn’t know the match – which is won by the first competitor to climb a ladder and grab a briefcase which guarantees the winner a title match at the time of her choice anytime in the next year – ended when James Ellsworth – a man – grabbed the briefcase and handed it to Carmella making her the winner.

To say the shit hit the fan is an understatement. WWE had hyped up the match as a historic achievement for women and played an impressive video before the match showing some famous women from WWE history – including Mae Young, Wendi Richter, Trish Stratus and Lita – then in effect had a man win it. Then after a couple of days of mayhem Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan announced Carmella would be stripped of the briefcase and the match would be replayed on next Tuesdays Smackdown Live. 

Those are the facts. Now my opinion. The decision to have Ellsworth climb the ladder and grab the briefcase was ludicrous – an example of toxic sexism at its worst. It was like “We will give the women a Money in the Bank match but the poor girlies are too weak to climb a ladder by themselves so we have to have a man to do it for them”. And this is dangerous. I was talking to a friend whose 8 year old cousin (a boy) watched the match and he said to his mother “Girls can’t climb a ladder” Now WWE pride themselves on being a child friendly PG product. How on earth they did not think this ending would not influence young children into thinking that women and girls are inferior. Obviously they don’t even think. The ending was a disgrace and whoever in Creative came up with it needs to join the unemployment line. Ideally he (it must have been a he) should be put in the stocks and have women throw things at him!

Now some people have said we were being “worked” ie WWE always planned to anull Carmella’s victory and have the redo. The hole in that argument is that the ladder match is one of the most dangerous in WWE. I really doubt that this company had planned for women who have never been in a ladder match before to do two in nine days. Other people have said that WWE were shocked by the public backlash and backtracked. The hole in that argument is that WWE never listen to their fans – if they did Roman Reigns would have turned heel two years ago. But WWE do listen to their sponsors (Bryan knows this. He was briefly fired in 2010 when sponsors Mattel were not happy with him strangling ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie). I suspect a WWE sponsor(s) had a word with them and put pressure on the company to sort the mess out. Maybe a sponsor threatened to pull out if they didn’t sort it out. Whatever the reason hopefully we have an exciting match on Tuesday with a woman grabbing the briefcase – which is what should have happened on Sunday anyway. 

But WWE need to take a long hard look at themselves. Why was Ellsworth with Carmella in the first place? People might say it was to interfere in her matches and gain heel heat. The problem is heels are meant to get their comeuppance – but men and women can’t fight each other so Ellsworth will never get his comeuppance . WWE had been circling with disaster with this angle since it started. Trouble was inevitable. 

The same can be said the other way round. Most viewers hate Stephanie McMahon shouting at and generally emasculating the male talent. And the men just have to stand there and take it because male on female violence is taboo and quite rightly so. So why put Stephanie and the men in that position? Same with the Miz and his wife Maryse. Miz puts Maryse between him and his opponent effectively using her as a human shield since the men can’t attack her. Terrorists use women and children as a human shield for the same reason. This tactic has NO place in entertainment. 

The solution is so easy that I’m surprised the dumb dumbs in WWE Creative haven’t thought of it. Any male or female superstar that interferes in matches involving the opposite gender is GONE. At once. Also for that reason inter gender factions should be banned. For example Nikki Cross should not be in Sanity. And while we are at it can mixed tags (rubbish) and romantic angles (the current Alica Fox/Noam Dar/Cedric Alexander angle on RAW and 205 Live is hot garbage as most romantic angles are). 

I should say I’m not against interference in the WWE. But if is same gender interference the perpetrators can get their comeuppance. For example the Singh Brothers run interference for WWE Champion Jinder Mahal but get beaten up every time. They are virtually Mahal’s crash test dummies. Meanwhile it looks like the Miz/Maryse partnership is breaking up and instead Miz will have Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to run interference for him. Good. Miz cannot use Dallas and Axel as human shields as his opponents can just beat them up which they could not do with Maryse. 

Another reason to ban intergender angles is that WWE will have to put more effort into the women’s division. According to Kate Foray’s RAW Breakdown only 4% of RAW this past Monday was devoted to the women wrestlers. If you add Maryse’s Miz TV segment with her husband the fugure jumps to a still pathetic 10%. WWE have in effect used intergender angles and mixed tags to artificially inflate female participation in RAW and Smackdown Live. If they are banned they might have to give RAW women more than one segment a week (!) 

WWE like to think they compete against real sport (they always blame Monday Night (American) Football and the NBA play offs when the ratings fall so they must think they compete for the same audience). And real sport is gender segregated – especially combat sport like boxing and MMA. WWE should be the same. Intergender angles in WWE must go. And very quickly. 

One other thought. The women’s cricket World Cup starts on Saturday. Wimbledon starts a week on Monday. The women’s Euro 2017 football tournament starts next month. I can guarantee that no men will run on the pitch and court and interfere in those events….

Better than? Less than? Different than? The WWE’s brand split dilemma

The brand split is back! For those who don’t recall in 2002 World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) split its roster between its two weekly shows RAW and Smackdown. For a time it was different and exciting – especially in the era of the “Smackdown Six*” and duelling General Managers Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon – but eventually it fizzled out became less exciting and eventually just dribbled away ending in 2011. Now in a spectacular u turn the brand split is coming back (the draft takes place on July 11th and from the 19th Smackdown will go live – at least in North America). But why?

One difference between 2002 and now is that there is no storyline logic for the split. In 2002 kayfabe owners Vince McMahon and Ric Flair could not stand the sight of each other so the WWE board of directors decided basically to split the roster up so that those two would never have to work together. I thought this storyline reason for a brand split would be repeated when Shane and Stephanie McMahon were arguing over who should run RAW but instead Mr McMahon had them both run RAW and like David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the UK ‘s 2010-15 Coalition government have been working together better than anyone thought they would. So why the split?

To my mind the reason is sinister. The USA Network which televises RAW and Smackdown is unhappy about the latter’s ratings. But Smackdown’s ratings are probably low because the show is taped (in this internet era spoilers are inevitable) so why not have it live with the same roster for a while to see if that would work. What annoys me is that only the USA Network gets a say. Other channels that cover WWE (like Sky in the UK) don’t seem to get a say nor do the WWE fans. That could be a dangerous precedent if the USA Network wants WWE to do something the UK would not accept (say a return to TV14 or intergender matches although I think we are safe from both of  those). The point is the rest of the world deserve a say in WWE’s future. But that said how would I do the draft? Two points first. I’m not doing a draft for every wrestler in the WWE. Secondly this is what I would do not what I think the WWE will do.

1. The World title(s?) If it was up to me there MUST be only one World title in the WWE – the current WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the last brand split eventually there were two World titles. The problem there was one (the WWE Championship) was regarded as superior to the other (the World Heavyweight Championship**). Another problem was two Championships with split rosters produced long boring reigns (Triple H’s 2002-5 “Reign of Terror” and John Cena ‘s 2006-7 reign come to mind.) Keep one title let the champion float between the two shows and when the title changes hands the deposed champion goes to the show his successor was exclusive to.

2. The mid card titles. Fairly straightforward. There is the US title and the Intercontinental title. One should become exclusive to RAW the other exclusive to Smackdown. I would send the Intercontinental title to RAW and the US title to Smackdown but it could easily go the other way around.

3. Tag Teams. One of the big mistakes WWE made in 2002 was to split up established tag teams like the Dudley Boyz and the APA. This was so unsuccessful the teams were reunited in less than a year. To my mind tag teams should both not be split up or drafted. Instead the Tag Team Title should be allocated to one show and all tag teams should be drafted to that show. If a tag team splits up its members get put into a new draft and can be picked separately or together depending on what creative has planned for them.

4. Women. This is the part I fear the WWE will cock up. The women’s Championship should be like the men’s. It should be one title and the champion should float between the two shows. But I would not put women wrestlers into the draft. The women’s roster in my opinion does not have enough credible wrestlers to be split in two – a relic of WWE’s policy of hiring models rather than wrestlers. With the full women’s roster having only to compete with half the male roster on each show in theory the women might have more than one feud on each show. What I fear WWE will do is either have the women’s title and all the women on one show – which means one show would be all male which is unacceptable in 2016 – or bring back the awful Divas title which they retired only in April. The only women in the draft should be Maryse and Lana who should be drafted with their real life partners the Miz and Rusev respectively.

5. The Cruiserweight title. That would leave one show with four titles and the other three.To balance this another title has to be created. I would not bring back the European title (too similar to the US and Intercontinental titles) nor the Hardcore title (unacceptable in the PG era.) The obvious one to bring back is the Cruiserweight title. I don’t know why they retired it in 2007 or why they buried the title by putting the belt on Hornswoggle. Yes really.

So if I was in charge the title picture would be :

Both Shows : World Heavyweight Title, Women’s Title
RAW : Intercontinental Title, Tag Team Titles
Smackdown: US title, Cruiserweight Title (Or vice versa).

But will the brand split work? I doubt it. And Eric Bischoff supplies the answer why. In his book “Controversy Creates Ca$h” (pages 152-56) he says when he was launching WCW Monday Nitro he had three choices. Be “better than” RAW, “less than” or “different than”. Bischoff did not think he could be “better than” RAW obviously he did not want to be “less than” so he decided to be “different than”. Which at least for the first couple of years he managed. But when he created (against his better judgement) a second WCW show “Thunder” he admitted ” “We didn’t do a good job of making it different, so it became less“. (“Controversy Creates Ca$h, page 271.The italics are Bischoff ‘s.)

And that is WWE ‘s problem. It is easier to make a show different from a competitor’s show than it is to make a spin off from your own show different. Smackdown is struggling just now because it is not different enough from RAW so it becomes less than RAW. WWE can’t afford to have one show be better than the other as the other show will be less than. They must make them different from each other. Different rosters on their own will not do that. Two possible ways of making them different would be to make one TV14 while keeping the other PG or how about relaunching WCW and renaming Smackdown “Tuesday Nitro?”.

I don’t think the WWE will do either of those things. But unless they make the shows different from each other one will inevitably be better than” the other… which means the other will be “less than”. And neither WWE or the USA Network want that…

*The “Smackdown Six” were Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Edge, Eddie and Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. The six were some of the best wresters in the world and their matches in 2002-3 played a part in making Smackdown “different than” RAW. A lot of people said in fact Smackdown was in fact “better than” RAW in this period.

**In my opinion the World Heavyweight Championship was always inferior to the WWE Championship mainly because the World Heavyweight Championship belt was WCW’s “Big Gold Belt” which to me will always be tarnished by the fact that in 2000 both actor David Arquette and useless waste of space Vince Russo held it.