Are There Leadership Struggles Over The Future of WWE?

With the recent events, particularly over the past several months, WWE has undergone, and is going through, a lot of change. Is there a struggle?

Dean Ambrose Leaving After Wrestlemania

If you’ve been watching WWE, especially in recent weeks and months, you might be wondering just what is going on. Or, perhaps, you are wondering who is actually in charge. There has long been a debate over that, both now and in the future. Recent events have lead met to wonder: is there an internal fight, and if so, what do those leadership struggles mean for the future of WWE?
Things really opened up late last year. We were well aware of flagging ratings for the main roster shows. There had been fairly widespread reports about sub-par ticket sales at house shows. Attendance and interest in WWE products, especially domestically, seemed to be waning. There were even reports that the WWE European tour had difficulties selling out arenas, something that wasn’t usually an issue. WWE executives, specifically Vince McMahon, seemed primed to make moves to (hopefully) right the ship. There were reports of McMahon altering RAW on the fly (and often, to less than ideal results). The most public response, of course, came on RAW late last year. Vince, flanked by son Shane, daughter Stephanie and son-in-law Hunter, took control of both shows back. They promised to give fans what they wanted. They promised new faces.

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It’s been about two months since that declaration, and while some things have gone right (Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch won the Rumbles), plenty still has not. WWE couldn’t land many of the free agents fans had hoped for (with all going to All Elite Wrestling). Vince is still Vince, convinced he has to tinker and screw with top talent to give them an artificial struggle to a main event. Nothing against what is unfolding with Becky Lynch, and if all works out in the end fans probably won’t care too much…but it’s not really needed.

The latest thing that has me-and many others-wondering, happened this week. WWE declared ahead of the RAW opening bell that four major NXT Superstars were backstage. As RAW opened, Hunter announced that Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa would now be working on the main roster. All four are incredible talents, four of the best NXT had to offer…but the timing of the move is beyond suspect. For one thing, Vince announced NXT graduations in December (Lars Sullivan actually back in November). We have yet to see Lars, and none of the other late 2018 arrivals have done much. Yes, there’s talk of a major push for Lacey Evans, but all it is right now is talk.

The moves this week? They reek of desperation. They also feel like their is quite possibly an internal struggle that we are only partially seeing in the public arena. For a while now, based on the massive success of NXT, fans have been clamoring for Hunter to take over the main roster shows. At the same time, even as Vince dived back into the world of professional football, the senior McMahon maintained his position at the top of WWE. When Heavy Machinery, EC3 and others were called up in December, fans knew we were not getting the top of what NXT had to offer. The move felt odd. It seemed like it was done to appease folks- “look, here’s new names”-without raiding NXT ahead of a major TakeOver. If they fizzled, no big deal.

Now? Now we have a huge Hall of Fame announcement and four substantive NXT moves. Those moves, to me, scream Hunter. Yes, they do seem like slightly desperate (due to who and when). For years, fans have been calling for Chyna to be inducted, and WWE avoided it. One can wonder if Hunter had a part in keeping her out, given their past. Now though, as she goes in with the rest of D-X, I feel it’s a call Hunter advocated for, and won. The faction is not without controversy-Chyna and X-Pac and their tape, Chyna and Hunter and Stephanie’s history, one of them currently in AEW. For all those flaws, they are lined up to be the headliner.

On the NXT moves? Those are huge. With Hunter pulling the Florida strings, he had to be heavily involved in deciding to elevate his top two singles champions, and two of his top non-champions. It is not an understatement to say that the move, at least in the short-term, guts the NXT roster. Yes, at least two of those four should be on TakeOver, but the outcome is basically a sure thing now. Actually, given the moves, it does make you wonder if NXT is better off with Ciampa and Gargano vacating (or, as we found out on NXT, at least one title no longer is an issue) and then having a tournament to determine new champions. Regardless, to bring these four up now-so soon after another bunch of call ups, and so soon before a night where call ups are expected…it’s an interesting reaction.

Put this all together and you can’t help but wonder: who is really in charge now? And are they fully in charge, or are we seeing a dysfunctional family power struggle play out on weekly television?

Introduced to professional wrestling in the 1980’s thanks to Superstars and Saturday Night’s Main Event, John’s passion for the... More about John Deegan

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