The prodigal son has returned to WWE. On Monday, Shane McMahon appeared on Raw for the first time since his resignation from the company in 2009.
Shane-O Mac arrived to interrupt Stephanie McMahon's coronation ceremony upon her winning the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award, as the WWE shared on Twitter:
HERE COMES THE MONEY!!! $$$$$ #ShaneMcMahon is LIVE on @WWE #RAW!!! #LegacyOfExcellence https://t.co/lSN13raU4c2016-2-23 01:13:32
Jonathan Fisher of WPXI.com believes this could be the shot in the arm the company needs ahead of WrestleMania 32:
Jon Fisher @JonFisherTV
If that didn't light a fire under the WWE fans, then I don't know what will. #RAW2016-2-23 01:15:29
Shane began discussing issues surrounding WWE, such as slumping ratings and the number of injuries plaguing the roster. WWE Creative Humor found his criticism ironic:
WWE Creative Humor @WWECreative_ish
"You have run this company into the ground," - Shane McMahon, former owner of WCW #RAWTonight2016-2-23 01:20:02
He added that he had retained a level of power in the company despite his departure and that he was waiting for the right time to come back and assume a position of authority. Stephanie took the matter personally, per WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo:
Mauro Ranallo @mauroranallo
"I will never forgive you for this." Stephanie to Shane as she leaves the ring with the Joe serenading her with NA NA HEY HEY GOOD BYE.2016-2-23 01:24:03
Shane revealed he wanted control of Raw, a wish WWE chairman Vince McMahon granted him on one condition: if he wins a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania against The Undertaker.
Many fans have been disappointed about what they perceive to be a lackluster buildup to the biggest pay-per-view of the year. Pitting The Undertaker against Shane McMahon in a Hell in the Cell match should provide some more buzz for the event.
Shane's return Monday was a surprise on its own, but the bigger surprise is the fact that he'll be wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania—an honor generally reserved for either the biggest stars in the company or up-and-coming Superstars in need of momentum.
McMahon wouldn't fall into either category, but this could be a shrewd move by WWE. From a storyline perspective, Vince couldn't have picked a better way to stack the odds against his son than by selecting The Undertaker.
The Deadman no longer has his undefeated streak, but he's nearly invincible when competing at WrestleMania.
Since the streak is dead, it's more likely that Shane could win, further building the anticipation. If this had happened before The Undertaker lost to Brock Lesnar, few likely would have believed Shane had any chance.
The match is unlikely to be a mat classic, yet it could provide another one of the crazy moments that have come to be synonymous with Shane's in-ring career:
Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari is looking forward to what could be in store:
Mike Chiari @MikeChiari
OMG! Taker vs Shane at Mania in HIAC? May seem odd on paper, but if Shane brings it like he always used to, that'll be amazing #WWE #Raw2016-2-23 01:32:30
If Shane wins, he could provide a necessary shift in the WWE power structure—at least on Raw after The Authority has controlled proceedings for years.
Even if he loses, it wouldn't be the worst result as long as he maintains some sort of presence on WWE programming.
Vince McMahon can't hang around in WWE forever, and Monday may have been the moment Shane started fully following in his father's footsteps.