Is Shane Turning Heel? No, He's Just the Boss

The WWE has got a lot of mileage out of the McMahon family as the onscreen bosses. Vince—Mr. McMahon in the ring—as Stone Cold Steve Austin’s greatest enemy, and Stephanie McMahon with husband/WWE C.O.O. Triple H manipulated Raw to stack the deck against Daniel Bryan and countless others. Now, Shane McMahon is running the same game, plotting the humiliation, punishment and sacking of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on Smackdown Live. The tricky part of that he’s plays a faces, and those are all shitty things to do.

Wrestlers Now Need to Run Lines as Well as Ropes

[Updated] Two weeks ago, the WWE introduced the same angle on Raw and Smackdown Live. New three-woman squads joined the shows’ rosters and established themselves as disruptive forces. The sequences rocked in the way that new arrivals do, but this week started the hard business—making them parts of their shows. In each case, the results were mixed.

The WWE Changes its Mind on A.J. Styles

Last week on Smackdown Live, Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers beat down A.J. Styles. Afterwards, Shane McMahon announced not that Styles would face not Mahal for his WWE Smackdown Championship but Rusev for a spot on the Survivor Series team this week. Days later, the WWE changed its mind and announced that Styles would face Mahal this Tuesday for his championship belt. If Styles wins, he would represent Smackdown Live and face Brock Lesnar at the Survivor Series pay-per-view.

The Beat Downs Go On Forever

A basic rule in the WWE playbook is that if you want to build heat on a character or in a feud, go for a beat down. Time and again, heels have taken the last 10 minutes of Raw to waffle someone with a folding chair again and again, usually in a two- or three-on-one situation, just to amplify the cruel unfairness. A week ago, The Miz and the Miztourage pounded on Roman Reigns well after he’d stopped moving, going so far as starting to leave the ring and come back down the ramp to beat on Reigns’ prone body some more.

Roman Reigns Shows His Softer Side

This year’s number one project in the WWE is clearly building Roman Reigns. He’s big, agile, and charismatic, and perhaps because he was picked for big things years ago, fans have been slow to truly embrace him. At the recent “No Mercy” pay-per-view, he completed a brief program with John Cena designed to give Cena a chance to tell the fans that Reigns has earned his respect.

Did Jinder Mahal, WWE Go "Too Far"?

The WWE’s efforts to build Jinder Mahal look remarkably like flying a plane into the side of a mountain. I keep waiting for the company to treat its champion like a champion, but the top story on Smackdown Live is Kevin Owens versus Shane McMahon, where no titles are on the line. Mahal currently holds the most prestigious belt on the show, but he remains mired in angles that are unconvincing if not demeaning. Tuesday, he cut a promo on Shinsuke Nakamura that was too complicated as well as racially problematic.

The WWE Keeps It "Real"

Pro wrestling has always asked you to believe what you think you see, and the WWE has raised that to an art form. When it launched Total Divas on E!, the reality show quickly meshed with WWE in-ring “reality” as storylines crossed for a mindfucking reality-squared effect. That cat-and-mouse game with reality has become WWE writers’ favorite tool recently, used most effectively in the John Cena/Roman Reigns program. Three weeks ago, the two seemed to be shooting, telling the truth on each other.

The WWE Recalls Its Sideshow Roots with Jinder Mahal

In the New York Times story on WWE Champion Jinder Mahal that ran before last weekend’s SummerSlam, Mahal remembered how an in-ring promo he cut on Randy Orson put him on the map. 

“Randy, you’re just like all of these people!” Mr. Dhesi [Mahal] said, shooting his opponent a piercing glare. “You disrespect me because I look different! You disrespect me because of your arrogance and your lack of tolerance!”

Baron Corbin Trades His Briefcase for a "L"

Baron Corbin goes into the WWE’s Summerslam this Sunday with a big “L” on his head. Earlier this year, he won the Money in the Bank match which gave him the Money in the Bank briefcase and the ability to, at any moment, get a championship match. In the past, briefcase holders have used it opportunistically to get matches after champions have endured grueling matches and defeat them.

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