More than fifty years after he promoted his first wrestling card and more than thirty-eight years after he launched WrestleMania, Vince McMahon finally stepped aside last week at the age of 76. His complicated legacy will be analyzed and dissected for years to come, but in the short-term, the question on the minds of many wrestling fans was who would take over. His daughter Stephanie McMahon and CFO Nick Khan were quickly appointed to co-CEOs, but to those of us watching the product each week, the more important successor was on the creative side. Well, we finally have our answer.
According to Fightful, Paul Levesque, better known to WWE fans as Triple H, has been put in charge of all responsibilities related to WWE creative, which he’ll oversee in addition to his current role in talent relations. Many assumed for years that he would eventually get the job if McMahon ever announced his retirement, given he ran WWE’s development program at NXT for a long time, has good relationships with talent and is married to Stephanie McMahon. All that was thrown into question last year, however, after he stepped away following a major health issue, and it became further complicated after Stephanie announced she was taking a leave of absence earlier this year.
Following those events, however, reports starting emerging about Vince McMahon and an alleged history of non-disclosure agreements with female employees over sexual relationships. Both Stephanie McMahon and Triple H pretty quickly returned to the fold, and now they’re, arguably, two of the three most important decision-makers in the entire company. Along with Nick Khan, it’s essentially their ship to run, and it’ll be fascinating to see how things may evolve, both in terms of style and storylines.
Vince McMahon preferred a very specific style of wrestling, and he tended to prefer putting over more well-known wrestlers, rather than those on the upswing of their careers. With increasing competition from AEW and a new decision-maker at the helm, it’ll be interesting to see how much WWE evolves moving forward. Will Triple H embrace the new TV-14 rating Monday Night Raw is getting and go a little edgier? Will he stay with the sports-entertainment, all ages angle McMahon has preferred for the last decade and a half? And will he be able to smooth over issues McMahon had with certain talents, most prominently Sasha Banks and Naomi who walked out earlier this year?
It’s also unclear what might happen to the more prominent members of the WWE writing staff, most notably Bruce Prichard. Will Triple H continue to work with the faces who have played a huge role in WWE for the last several decades, or will he decide a new direction means adding some different voices to the room? I honestly have no idea, and as a wrestling fan, that’s extremely exciting.
SummerSlam, either the second or third biggest event on WWE’s calendar depending on how you feel about The Royal Rumble, is happening this coming weekend. It’ll be fascinating to see how Triple H handles his first big card in charge. I’d expect it to feel mostly like the WWE we’re used to, especially given the short turnaround time, but there’s a very good chance he’ll reverse a few booking decisions Vince McMahon may have had in place. Ultimately, booking is about putting the characters you believe in into more prominent positions and moving the ones you don’t down the card. It’s only natural Triple H is going to have different opinions than his old boss on certain characters, and it’ll be fascinating to watch that play out.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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