While making the case for the Endeavor deal on CNBC yesterday morning (April 3), Vince McMahon said he was only involved in WWE creative at a “higher level”. The implication was that preparing for the merger with UFC to launch a new Endeavor-controlled publicly traded company would keep him to busy to get “in the weeds”, as McMahon admitted he loves to do.
It was pointed out by folks like Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston that Vince used the “can’t get in the weeds anymore” line back in 2019 when WWE hired Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff as the Executive Directors of Raw and SmackDown — an experiment that ended quickly, and with McMahon essentially running both shows again.
There’s only one show to go on since McMahon put his scandal-plagued year behind him as his new boss, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, gave him the go ahead to run WWE as he sees fit. But it looks like history is repeating itself.
Both Wrestling Observer and PWInsider are confirming what fans and other sources suspected after watching the April 3 episode of Raw — it was a Vince McMahon show.
Script changes were ordered about 15-20 minutes before Raw went on the air, per Insider’s Mike Johnson. That’s long been a hallmark of McMahon-run television. Vince had an office near gorilla position, as he always did prior to his resignation last July. Johnson’s sources told him that while Triple H started out running the show via a headset, as the night went on Vince became “the point person”, continuing to make changes while Raw was on the air.
This seems to have gone over about as well with the talent as it did with many fans. From Insider’s report:
Among some talents we spoke with, there was a huge negative shift in morale as they realized that things were going to go back to “exactly where they were” before Paul Levesque [Triple H] was placed in control as Chief Content Officer. One source said the “place felt nuked” but others didn’t go that far. The feeling was that going forward, the likelihood was that McMahon would be overseeing everything again, leaving the creative once again to his whims and sensibilities, although whether that actually plays out remains to be seen.
Much of this is because of how well-liked and respected Triple H is in general. But his stewardship of Raw and SmackDown over the last eight months also reportedly made many on the roster feel more secure in their roles, a feeling that would be gone if this a return to McMahon-booked and produced shows.
According to what Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio, that is where we’re headed:
“He was running TV tonight. He’s back. It’s what it was. It will be what it was before. And if people think that was bad, it will be bad. And that’s just the way it is.”
As for The Game?
“Levesque will be head of creative and will be doing the busywork and all that stuff. Vince is going to have the final say in everything.”
Some of the people Insider spoke to aren’t ready to give up hope. There’s a thought that last night was, if not a one-off, something that won’t be an every week occurrence. McMahon did just complete an almost unfathomably successful return to power, and was already in Los Angeles ahead of the Raw After WrestleMania. Perhaps he just wanted to jump “in the weeds” for what’s typically one of the biggest episodes of TV WWE produces each year.
Others were resigned to this having been inevitable.
One person joked WWE was always McMahon’s world and now it’s back in the palm of his hand after he willingly gave it up last summer.
More to come, certainly.