Hello everyone and welcome to Planet Kayfabe. Again, I'm K.C. here to run down this week's happenings in WWE while things normalize for better or worse. Wrestlemania is long gone and we are in the middle of the build to Money in the Bank. We are also apparently in the middle of an ever going "Superstar Shakeup" that never ends until they say it ends. Yeah... You thought it was just a week of TV? Nope. Superstars are still moving with no rhyme or reason and sometimes we don't get as much as a tweet. Just their Superstar profile on the website changes and POOF! Shake up! I guess we can start with my thoughts on that...
** SUPERSTAR SHAKEUP AFTERMATH **
Remember back in December when the McMahon family came out to apologize to the fans because ratings have been in the shitter and the quality of the show had clearly gone down? That was supposed to be the big reset show where things changed and... That show featured a boring Baron Corbin match for the GM spot that rendered the previous match on PPV pointless and 3 weeks later the McMahons, except Shane, turned heel anyway and... yeah. Nothing changed. They fooled you and people said 'f*** it' and clearly gave up on this show. This past Monday posted the lowest non-NFL season rating for Raw ever and down 20% of the previous year. WWE boasts its Network subscribers hitting 2 million after Wrestlemania, but the number of actual paid subscribers is down from the previous year as well.
What does that mean?
It means people didn't fall for the "Shakeup". Much like The Who, the fans won't get fooled again. Are the masses who have turned out missing anything new? The answer to that is no. WWE promotes the Superstar Shakeup in the interest of "fresh matches" but the problem is in this over-saturated age of WWE with 5 hours of TV a week and 4 hour monthly PPV's along with other special events in-between, nothing is fresh. Plus, they pretty much ignored the brand split after the Royal Rumble and to Wrestlemania so it's not like seeing The Miz, who they shuffle around every year anyway, on Raw now is that big of a deal.
WWE promoted on Raw that on Smackdown Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair would have a "face-to-face confrontation". They didn't say it would be a match, but they were playing coy and being clever with words. Never-the-less is this your idea of "fresh"? Becky vs Charlotte? Are they trying to Cena/Orton this feud or something? Don't get me wrong, they are both great and had great matches but the lack of crowd heat spoke for itself. People don't want to see them wrestle again after feuding since last summer and being in the triple threat at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte came out on Smackdown and it was more lazy WWE relying on the same booking crutches. The other loser in a Triple Threat match comes out to bitch about how they were never beaten and demand a one-on-one match. You could hear the groans in the crowd. Usually, this isn't a bad story. It's a pretty natural gripe for the other person in a triple threat to have but this is Charlotte Flair. The same Charlotte Flair who has lost CLEAN multiple times to Becky Lynch in title matches. That Charlotte Flair. It was a good story, but it was last year's story that finally came to an end at the main event of Wrestlemania.
Or... so you thought.
While promoting fresh matches and new stories they have Bayley go out there showing a bit of a new edge only to fall to Charlotte and set up another Charlotte vs Becky match. I don't think Bayley is going away. She could win the MITB and cash-in on either Becky or Charlotte at the end of the show to capture the Smackdown Women's Championship, but then what? She faces Charlotte 3 or 4 more times? As I've said many times in the past, one of the brand split's many failings is in creating fresh matches. The roster is bigger than ever, but split it in half, then split the women's division in half, then split the tag division in half, you get a lot of the same matches and a lot of retreading all year long on both shows. Look at Raw. Sure, AJ Styles is on Raw and... Baron Corbin was still in the main event of the show while the ratings dropped like a rock because despite how many time WWE has put Corbin in that spot the past year he is not that level of a star or talent to be able to keep anyone interested that deep into the show.
The biggest move of the Shakeup was Roman Reigns to Smackdown and how has he started his Smackdown run? In a program with Shane McMahon and f***ing Elias. Look, WWE if you really want "fresh" putting your supposed face of the company out there against a low-level superstar and a grey-haired lovable heel goofball isn't exactly the right idea. Everyone knows where it is going, though. They are going to try to recreate the magic of Steve Austin and Vince McMahon again for the hundredth time and fail for the 99th time. This shakeup is just promotion and puff. The real shakeup will happen when Vince McMahon is either out of power or dies and I think we know which is coming first. Not to sound too harsh. Vince is a legend in the wrestling business, but don't get your hopes up on AEW challenging WWE to suddenly book their talent as real legit stars and tell better stories. 53-year-old Vince McMahon would run circles around the Vince in charge now. If this Vince was running the WWF in 1995 we'd all be watching Nitro every Monday night and Roman Reigns would be one of 50 guys in one of 20 other nWo factions right now.
** THE NEW BRAY WYATT AND THE FIREFLY FUNHOUSE **
Bray Wyatt appeared in a vignette this past week on both Raw and Smackdown where he takes on the role of a host of a children's television program, but clearly hasn't let go of some of his old dark and creepy ways. We have not seen Bray since last summer when he and Matt Hardy were Raw Tag champions as babyfaces. Here, I think he is returning as a heel who is trying to convince everyone that he is a "good guy" not denouncing his old ways.
The vignette got everyone talking. The YouTube video got a lot of views, about 2.5 million as of this writing (which doesn't mean much in terms of its success, but it's still worth pointing out since it got attention. Don't overrate social media clicks, people.)
Where do I stand on this?
I hate to stick my dick in everyone's morning coffee but I feel like all the hopes you have for this gimmick and everything you can imagine will be better than what we get. Keep in mind this is WWE that is PG, super politically correct and still run by an out-of-touch 73-year-old man that pretty much ruined all the intrigue the original Bray Wyatt had who came to the WWE with some fans thinking that his character could even become as iconic as The f***ing Undertaker if handled correctly. Well, we'll never know because he wasn't handled well and he will never be that huge of a mainstream star. That doesn't mean this incarnation of his persona can't still be great, though.
I'd love to be wrong, but I see this going one way. A bunch of spooky intrigues, smoke and mirrors that will get a few laughs for a couple of weeks and eventually the guy is going to have to wrestle and he is going to be another guy on the roster exchanging rest holds with guys like Apollo Crews and Chad Gable. Excuse me if you think WWE has earned the benefit of the doubt here and I should just "wait and see", but that's how I see this going. It is PG WWE. There's going to be dark themes but they aren't going to do anything that gets attention and grabs you to see where the story goes. It is going to be very safe imagery and dialogue and a month or so from now Bray will do a job and then what? Then where does he go?
The positive thing is that Bray did need a reboot. He couldn't just come back doing the same old thing, spewing the same pointless promos that were a bunch of words that meant nothing, appearing out of nowhere on TV just to get beat at the PPV. He had to do something different and this is about as different as it gets while still making it clear that he is still a creepy guy that is unpredictable.
So, don't comment or tweet getting mad at me. I hope I'm wrong. I don't want this new gimmick to fail. I just have no faith in Vince McMahon and WWE taking something like this and truly making it dark, interesting, well thought-out and a big success. I think it is going to be safe, typical, paint-by-numbers WWE storytelling. The bell is going to ring and Bray will just be another guy having 2.5-star level matches and falling victim to their 50/50 booking philosophy where no one stands out as a legit star and they are all just cogs in the machine. If he is going to do something special with this gimmick the company has to present him as something special and different. Not just a guy who does the same thing as everyone else booked just like all the other midcard heels only with a cooler entrance and more pre-taped segments.
There are some quick thoughts on this week in WWE. Money in the Bank is coming up and so will my preview. It is usually one of the better shows of the year, so I'm looking forward to it.
Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe Best of luck to ya Bray Wyatt. YOWIE WOWIE!