Vince McMahon’s Exits with a Whimper, Corbin-McAfee Greatness, More Friday Takes
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Friday was just another boring day that ended with the usual episodes of SmackDown and Rampage. Nothing else interesting happened whatsoever. Not one thing.
Joking aside, Friday afternoon and evening was dominated by the story of Vince McMahon officially retiring from WWE as both its CEO and the head of the creative team. Stephanie McMahon addressed his exit in the opening segment of SmackDown.
The blue brand also featured some storyline advancement with Pat McAfee and Baron Corbin, and Lacey Evans avoided another match by attacking her opponent when she did not see it coming.
Over on Rampage, certain issues with AEW booking its women’s division have been known, but other patterns are starting to arise that are not ideal.
Let’s take a look at some of what went down Friday night during our weekly three-hour block of wrestling.
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Friday afternoon, Vince McMahon announced he was officially retiring from WWE. This comes amid an investigation by WWE’s board of directors into possible sexual misconduct by McMahon, but WWE was never going to mention that.
The most recent update from the Wall Street Journal contained allegations McMahon has paid a total of $12 million to four women since 2006 to secure non-disclosure agreements that concealed allegations of infidelity and sexual misconduct.
Stephanie came out to the ring and talked about what her father built before asking the crowd to chant “Thank you, Vince.”
Not only was it unnecessary for WWE to even address this on camera the day it happened, but making it seem like some kind of special occasion seemed especially ill-advised.
WWE could have not said a thing. People would still be talking about it, but the company has no obligation to acknowledge McMahon’s legacy during the show. Taking the time to recognize that he retired is one thing, but making it seem like this was something other than what it is will rub a lot of people the wrong way.
This situation is still unfolding and will likely get messier before it’s all over. WWE will probably never acknowledge the allegations McMahon has faced on TV, so you will have to follow the story online.
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Corbin is one of the few heels in WWE who has almost universal heel heat with the crowd without being somebody the WWE Universe genuinely hates. It’s a tough balancing act, but he does it well.
McAfee, on the other hand, has the full support of the crowd. When you put them together, you have one of the few combinations that will always produce the desired reaction from the crowd.
Not only is the combo logical from a booking standpoint, but this storyline has genuinely been entertaining so far because both guys seem committed to making it work.
Every time McAfee has stepped into the ring for a match, he has knocked it out of the park. With somebody like Corbin who is a great athlete and has a reputation for taking care of his opponents and you have the recipe for a great SummerSlam encounter.
Their brief physical encounter on Friday continued to make their feud feel bitter and personal, so this could end up being one of the matches people want to see the most next weekend.
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Ever since Evans returned, she has almost been actively avoiding wrestling a full match. She may have been in the women’s Money in the Bank bout, but she has not done much in terms of TV matches.
That trend continued this week when she punched Aliyah out instead of facing her in a fair one-on-one contest. It was certainly a heel move that fit her character, but it doesn’t exactly create a satisfying segment for those watching the show.
At this point, we all get what is happening here. Evans is mad because the crowd doesn’t want to cheer her after she laid out her life story for everyone over the course of several weeks, so she is lashing out.
Now, Evans needs to prove she has improved in the ring. We know she can be a jerk on the mic, but if she can translate that into being a decent heel on the mat, she might just have a bright future after all. But it will take time and effort on her part to win the crowd over.
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We have talked a lot about AEW’s issues in its women’s division in recent weeks, but the company is beginning to see a little bit of disorganization across the board.
For the first two years, championships felt much more important. Every champion appeared on almost every show, so they were always prominent and in the middle of a storyline.
These days, AEW has been spreading itself a little too thin. Between trying to set up the Forbidden Door crossover with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Tony Khan using AEW to keep Ring of Honor relevant between PPVs until it has its own TV deal in place, it feels like the AEW champs have all taken a bit of a back seat.
With AEW already having a huge roster it can barely feature in three hours of weekly TV programming, adding ROH and NJPW talents to the mix only makes it more difficult to make the AEW belts feel important.
This is likely a temporary situation that will be resolved when ROH gets a TV deal, but until that happens, the champions might not get the spotlight they once did.
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