WWE Hot Take: Ride Shane McMahon's Heel Run All the Way to WWE Universal Title

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2019


WWE seems intent on shoving Shane McMahon down its viewers' throats, so the only logical course of action is for him to win one of the promotion's top titles.

Maybe McMahon goes after Kofi Kingston on SmackDown and wins the title over there, which would, in turn, irritate Roman Reigns—a guy Shane has already defeated, by the way. Or maybe he goes to Raw and takes the universal title from Seth Rollins, who is distracted from a potential cash-in by Brock Lesnar.

Ratings can't go any lower at this point, right?

There isn't a great rhyme or reason for the Shane train in WWE. He's getting seemingly never-ending airtime on both major programs and winning feuds with top talents. Either he's viewed internally as the company's best heel or the promotion is simply throwing ideas at the wall and hoping an Attitude Era carryover catches something magical.

Either way, Shane is the perfect representation of what's wrong with the WWE product. Ratings are low, competitors are cropping up and doing well, talents are leaving (Jon Moxley) or are potentially on the way out (Sasha Banks). All this is occurring, by the way, under the shadow of SmackDown's impending move to Fox.

Extrapolating the problem is the brand split, which isn't much of a split anymore because of the silly wild-card rule implemented after April's Superstar Shakeup. So Shane is running rampant on both Raw and SmackDown with his lackeys in tow, soaking up plenty of time over the course of five hours per week.

And look, Reigns needed something to do. He's blatantly in a holding pattern until SmackDown goes to Fox in the fall. WWE doesn't want to overexpose him and have him win too many matches, spoiling the goodwill of his return from his real-life cancer diagnosis. Shane is a high-profile way to keep Reigns away from title scenes for the time being.

Except for the whole "Shane beats Roman" thing in Saudi Arabia. That's where we're at with Shane; he's overpowering everyone to the point of absurdity, taking down The Miz and Reigns. He's preventing Elias and (especially) Drew McIntyre from having solid solo runs and stories to tell, relegating them to being nothing more than hired help.

The absurdity might as well keep going at this point. Throw a title around his waist. He's been built up as powerful as anyone on the roster this side of Lesnar.

There is a bigger underlying theme here. WWE might be trying to recapture the magic of the past, when Mr. McMahon ran wild over the roster and served as the ultimate villain, clashing with the likes of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

But the cracks in the foundation of the idea aren't hard to see. This isn't the '90s. Nobody feuding with Shane is going to take a catastrophic leap in level of appeal to the audience because most everyone has been held back too long. And it's boring to watch Shane pretend to be on the same level in the ring as these Superstars, whereas back in the day, Vince was just cheating to get an advantage.

And above all else, the "evil boss" gimmick has been going on since the—wait for it—'90s. It's tired.

This same mentality has held back WWE for far too long. Perhaps the last great whimper of an Authority angle occurred when CM Punk stole a title and hopped a barricade at Money in the Bank, seemingly leaving the company. But even that wasn't executed well—he returned almost right away.

But at this point, the booking is clearly "throw the hands up in the air and roll with it." If WWE wants to maintain the feel-good story of Kingston and keep riding one of the only natural things it has going for it, Shane might divert his attention to the universal title.

And champion Rollins is having some problems anyway. He got a win over AJ Styles and doesn't have any other major competition besides an inexplicably breakdancing-with-a-boombox Lesnar, who won the men's Money in the Bank briefcase over other deserving Superstars because...reasons.

So one problem has led to another and another. Rollins hasn't had much of a direction or personality since winning the universal title in a matter of moments after a low blow at WrestleMania 35. He could drop it to somebody, but there isn't much of anyone believable left. Shane, for whatever reason, is—especially if he gets some help from his bodyguards.

Shane isn't doing anything for the next guy to take a title off him. It will feel like taking the title off Lesnar again—an eventuality before things can (hopefully, maybe) get back to normal. But at this point, the title itself can't suffer any further damage. Its first winner got hurt, it was thrown at Goldberg for a month and Lesnar had it a few times while rarely appearing on programming and never defending it.

So why not put it on Shane next? Have him steal it or have him go right over like he's a Superstar, just like he did against Reigns. Then go from there. His television time is that of a champion as it is, and the ratings clearly show fans are more content to catch video recaps than watch live anyway.

Another rehash of the authority angle is exactly what Vince, Shane and the rest promised some months ago they wouldn't be doing again in response to faltering ratings. But those ratings haven't changed, and the actual change was short-lived. So the next natural step feels like a continued Shane ascension.

Predictably, Shane the champ wouldn't lead to much. But it would almost be interesting to see just how far WWE would take it and when the realization would hit that the fans aren't laughing at the situation but at the programming and story itself.