It was good to see Vince and Stephanie McMahon back together on television Monday night when the two opened Raw. But in opening the show, did they also open the door for yet another McMahon family heel turn?
And adding to that, did the WWE chairman potentially set the table for a turf war with old nemesis Paul Heyman over Curtis Axel?
In both cases, it sure looked that way.
After months and months of hearing the adulation, McMahon heard loud boos from the crowd in Hartford, Conn., Monday night. That’s because he backed up Stephanie’s assertion that her husband, Triple H, would not be facing Axel that night, even though he had been “medically cleared” from his storyline concussion.
McMahon even called out the fans, chastising them for chanting “One More Time!” at last week’s SmackDown when Ryback put Kofi Kingston on the shelf with three power bombs through tables. He started getting angry, claiming that he and Stephanie care more about Triple H than the fans do and that the fans were “beneath” Curtis Axel, Triple H’s scheduled opponent.
Obviously they’re setting up an angle to give Triple H one last career push by creating friction among him, his wife and father-in-law over his future. But it also puts the elder McMahon in a spot where he is far more entertaining—a pushy, sure-of-himself, take-no-prisoners tycoon terrorist who stoops to any level to show who is boss.
By the way, F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com) reports that the family friction angle was not supposed to happen right now, but the company decided to move it up in order to compete with LeBron James and his friends:
[W]e reported a week ago that the eventual plan for the Triple H concussion storyline was to bring Vince and Stephanie McMahon to TV to try and talk him out of wrestling again. The angle that happened last night wasn't supposed to happen for several weeks. WWE may have went ahead with it because of how worried they were going up against the NBA Playoffs.
Regardless of the timing, this storyline will have traction because it could bring back the old Mr. McMahon character who was the brains behind various Superstar screw jobs and other dastardly deeds.
When people talk about WWE characters who make far better heels than babyfaces, the names of The Big Show, Mark Henry and even CM Punk and Randy Orton usually are mentioned. But leading that list should be Vincent K. McMahon.
Speaking of screw jobs, McMahon just might have planted the seed for another one following his in-ring segment with Stephanie and the subsequent backstage argument with Triple H.
After he and Stephanie kept saying that Axel was far inferior to Triple H, McMahon just about shook Axel’s hand off in greeting him backstage and calling him one of wrestling’s young and hungry lions. He said in almost a salesman’s tone that while Axel would not be facing Triple H, he will face John Cena in a no-disqualification match.
The whole time this was happening, McMahon practically ignored Axel’s manager (and longtime storyline nemesis) Paul Heyman. Heyman even sold it by doing the awkward “what do I do with my hand” routine when McMahon refused to shake it.
I might be reading too much into the tea leaves, but I was left with this impression of the whole thing: If McMahon is publicly criticizing Curtis Axel one moment, then welcoming him with open arms backstage, he has to be up to something. Perhaps McMahon will further this new heelish tone by taking more of an interest in Axel’s career over the next few weeks.
When the evil Vince McMahon is on his game, his smooth-talking character could sell ice to folks living in Antarctica. And since he and Heyman have a history of hatred and distrust, it would make sense that McMahon would try to scheme Heyman out of his latest and greatest find.
Who wouldn’t enjoy watching two blowhard, strong-willed characters go at it? Conflict, even the over-the-top kind like this could be, is one of the reasons why TV soap operas have been successful over the years.
And we all know what a soap opera professional wrestling is.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.