We’d noticed former NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler’s disappearance from television. It came after probably the most interesting thing she’d done on the main roster - going full old school heel on Becky Lynch’s pregnancy announcement. But that was just the capper on a maddening main roster run that saw WWE present her as unstoppable at Elimination Chamber and a literal monster in her WrestleMania feud with Lynch, in between a string of bookings where they got gun shy about making her a big deal at Royal Rumble, ‘Mania, and Money in the Bank. Don’t even get us started on the main event of last year’s Survivor Series.
So this item from the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter - following up on Becky’s comments about her pitch to lose to Shayna at WrestleMania being rejected - was just confirmation of a lot of suspicions:
“Vince [McMahon] also soured on Baszler completely because he never conceptually grasped the style that an MMA fighter should use in pro wrestling and she doesn’t check his buttons when it comes to women in wrestling, so he made the call to remove her push and take her off television. This was all before [Paul] Heyman was dumped.”
Dave Meltzer goes on to reiterate that no one knows exactly why McMahon fired Heyman as Raw’s Executive Director, but it was likely a combination of bad ratings, the open secret that Vince doesn’t like him, and disagreements on assessments of talent.
Back to the Queen of Spades... many have predicted that Vince wouldn’t “get” Baszler. And it’s not just him; her appeal has been debated among NXT fans for a couple years now. The former pro fighter’s more methodical mixed martials arts-based workrate is not en vogue, and she’s not traditionally attractive in the WWE (and sadly the overall entertainment world) mold.
It’s also our latest evidence of the company’s developmental system being broken. It doesn’t matter if most of the people in power backstage are in someone’s corner - and that certainly seems to have been the case with Shayna, considering how Triple H booked her in NXT and her being a Heyman Gal. But if the one-man final decision committee isn’t sold, all the time and money invested in the prospect is for naught.
None of this is news. But it is frustrating - for talent, fans, and others in management - for all kinds of reasons.
Maybe get the bossman’s sign-off before you confuse everyone next time?