One name has been looming no pun intended since the creative change over the summer and that man is Dexter Lumis. The former NXT star made his main roster debut a few months ago and since then has seemingly taken to a major interest in mind games with The Miz and now Tomasso Ciampa as well if last Monday is any indication. Lumis has been presented since his return as someone to be feared and someone who acts without much thought. Before his departure from NXT one half of the former InDex had been one of the most unpredictable stars on the roster. On the main roster though I think he has taken the unpredictability to a whole other level.
As often as I've preached, the importance of long term booking the art or act of presenting stars in a certain way is just as important. Recent articles have been focused on the Judgement Day and the need for the stable to be presented as winners if the company wants any hope of Rey vs Dominik being something people care about. I still believe that Dominik should be the one in the team so he can continue to work in the ring or at least put him to work on Main Event or something. The reason I bring up Judgement Day though is Dexter Lumis has been presented in such a way that the fans have learned and now are reacting. Lumis should be the example that the company follows with as the creative direction continues to change.
In my opinion, continuing to build this slowly is the ideal way to go as there is no reason to rush into a match. For example, Miz can contend that he will be hiding in an undisclosed location until the Lumis problem is taken care of which allows Ciampa to try and handle it. Could also have Ciampa with Miz for a few weeks in the undisclosed location until Ciampa wants to fight. All the options the company has for this feud makes this one of the most intriguing and underrated current feuds in the wrestling world.
Things have taken an interesting turn for the Judgment Day and momentum seems to be tracking in the right direction. Based on his booking in NXT under Triple H it's clear that Finn Balor is looked at as a potential top star. Many times in the past I have referenced the importance of long term planning and it seems likely that Triple H is developing his own long term plan. Adding Dom to the faction gave them a different type of momentum and new type of heat that they can build on. I mentioned in a past article about how important momentum would be for the faction now with Dom as a member.
This week on Raw we saw an in ring segment including Balor, Priest and Riddle. However, the entire faction needs to keep building momentum and being looked at as more of a threat to be looked at in the same regard as Matt Riddle. It seems possible that if there is a future they could be looking for ways to keep Judgment Day busy and in front of the camera, but also bring Dominik forward. I do still believe that Dom's best bet would be teaming with Priest for the time being while Balor would be the singles star and the final boss of the faction.
In my opinion, the booking of the Judgment Day faction has been subpar to this point. It can be changed and made better and it will be made better based on recent events. There is money to be made with Finn as the leader of a stable and top heel on the main roster. It's something we've never gotten the chance to see on the main roster, but Finn as a top level talent is something that NXT has had the pleasure to see. Balor leading the Judgment Day into a feud against Riddle would be an ideal way to keep the stable's momentum moving forward or Lashley would be another ideal candidate. Either way it's decision time for the Judgement Day and Triple H needs to pick a direction.
The big surprise from earlier in the year was seeing Edge attempt a heel turn to create a darker character alongside a faction. It was clear though that the faction wasn't working and Edge would soon be replaced by Finn Balor who would turn heel joining Damien Priest & Rhea Ripley. For the last few months Judgement Day has been in a heated rivalry with The Mysterio's and Edge. This past weekend in Cardiff saw Edge and Rey Mysterio reunite after nearly twenty years teaming against Judgement Day. The Judgement Day got the last laugh after the match when Dominik turned on Edge and his father.
The main problem with the Judgement Day is that they have had a tough time keeping momentum steady or gaining any steady traction. Following this weeks Raw and what seemed like the Judgement Day taking out Edge they need to gain some wins and get traction going. Especially considering Dom's heel turn and needing to build him up for the eventual match with his father, but before then he needs wins. Balor as the leader should be a featured talent and could be a top heel if given the chance to prove himself over again then he could be an asset. The best way to proceed for the company would be splitting the championships again one for each show this way someone like Finn Balor could be a featured heel challenging for the World Title.
Another idea would be Finn Balor dropping the challenge on Lashley if it's time for him to move on from The Miz. Until the World Championship is split once again the United States Championship should be the featured championship on Raw. Especially considering how well Lashley has been booked as the champion it would only help Balor, but he needs wins and some momentum before challenging anyone of prominence. In my opinion, Balor being the top singles star in the faction would leave Dom and Priest as the tandem challenging teams in the tag division. Placing Dom in a team would allow breathing room for the eventual match with his dad and take some pressure off of him to allow him to create a new character without having the spotlight. Ripley has been absent from the Women's division for long and I'd keep it that way for now as it would mean a bit more when they move her back in. The main thing Judgement Day needs is to be booked as if they were Balor's stable in NXT and not on the main roster.
Though it seems as though other matches may likely be added to the card ahead of Saturday as there are currently only six matches set for the event. It is also possible that there will not be any other matches added and the matches that are announced could be getting a ton of time. This would be the first official premium event under the creative direction of Triple H. Remember normally on the original NXT Takeover events each match especially the major matches were given a ton of time to really put on display why they are the featured matches.
An NXT inclusion is always a possibility to try and elevate the youngsters on the developmental brand. Planning and placement will really put on display the plan for the rest of the year and I expect some unexpected matches to get real time to be on display and correct more of the past damage. One name missing from the card that has been busy on Raw is United States Champion Bobby Lashley. Lashley has been busy with Miz, Ciampa, and AJ Styles in recent weeks so it could be expected to see the United States Champion featured on the card.
Honestly, I can't pinpoint one or two stars that will be elevated or are expected to put in a career making performance. It is expected that Triple H will look to elevate and or correct the career path of individuals that suffered under Vince McMahon. Riddle has been hitting his strides in recent weeks and is one many helping to create a bit more depth on top for WWE in the coming year. Based on his reign as UK Champion Gunther has the track record to become the most dominant Intercontinental Champion in recent memory and I believe Hunter will be looking to that reasonable plan. Especially the draw of Pete Dunne floating in the background as a viable challenger for Gunther if things continue with Sheamus.
Two of the most talked about matches on the card are the Undisputed Universal Championship contest with Roman Reigns defending against Drew McIntyre. The other match is Bayley, Dakota Kai, Io Sky up against Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair, Asuka, and Alexa Bliss. Expect the spotlight to be turned up bright on this match and the biggest question will be answered will Drew McIntyre finally be the one to dethrone Roman Reigns.
At first it seemed like the yearly draft was set to take place following the upcoming Clash at the Castle event in Cardiff. However, it seems like those place might be on hold for the time being as the draft is going to happen after Clash at the Castle as of now. The timing does make sense due to the current crop of changes taking place within WWE, but at the same time the old placement of the draft made so much more sense. During the original split and for a time before Smackdown moved to Fox the draft would take place soon after Wrestlemania.
Considering the idea of brand vs brand at Survivor Series it seems a bit shortsighted to have new members of a brand competing against one another so soon after joining a brand. I would like to acknowledge the fact that with the unification matches that have taken place this year it seems like the battle for brand supremacy might be a thing of the past as they can't do champion vs champion anymore. However, moving the draft to earlier in the year would allow for talent to be a on brand for longer and create more loyalty rather then an expectation of loyalty.
In the past the draft was soon after Wrestlemania which in effect would keep the fans interest following Wrestlemania as the company would be hitting the reset button to shake things up following the "season finale." I still remember the old commercials where Vince would say "It's time to shake things up again." I know that this may put off the NXT call ups, but it would also allow for NXT wrestlers to call up during the year outside of the draft. This may end up allowing for NXT call ups to once again be a special surprise rather than something anticipated or expected.
A video has been circulating with Paul Heyman taking center stage offering advice to the recruits who hope to make themselves stick out from within the WWE. Sell me your name is what Paul Heyman implored the recruits to try and stick and get those who were running the show to remember them. Since the retirement announcement from Vince McMahon news has been spreading about the likelihood of Paul Heyman taking a more active role in creative due to his friendship with Stephanie and Hunter. In the past when Heyman was given minor control of Raw you saw a small piece of his plan to establish young stars, but he was never given enough control to allow his vision to take shape.
Heyman has always been a creative genius and an expert at getting the most out of the least. Hiding the negatives and exploiting the positives of wrestlers. Heyman isn't perfect, but being kept focused and being given a direction where he doesn't have to do everything will only make Heyman that much better. Triple H has shown what he can do on a lower level within the ranks of NXT developing the brand into something special much more than anyone expected.
For the last forty years the WWE has had one direction fixated on the simple concept of sports entertainment. At its height NXT was pro-wrestling and the polar opposite of WWE, but the reality is the main company is at its best when they find a balance. The first goal should be setting up a white board in the office with Wrestlemania and Summerslam the main points and building backwards. The amount of times that I've heard stories about Vince McMahon building backward from a Wrestlemania aka long term booking it used to be commonplace. Triple H has more of an old school approach and with that comes a likely return to long term booking.
Having multiple avenues is a perk, but micromanaging week to week is a danger to any business especially in television. A story arch is something commonplace in television and pro-wrestling having no direction or story arch makes having "storylines" pointless, because what ends up being the payoff. Wrestling still fits the simple formula: every feud ends with a payoff and the weekly television is supposed to build and give fans a reason to watch the PPVs. I have doubts especially with Heyman's help Triple H will adjust well into his new position and that by Wrestlemania next year we should be seeing a new vision for the WWE that leads the company into a brighter future.
It has been quite a while since the last time I started a series here on the website and considering recent events I think now would be the best time for that to happen. Taking into account all of the recent news and events taking place recently I think it's high time we break things down and explore the future piece by piece or at least the future how I would construct it.
Think of this as the opening or the background for the series. The process has been the same in the WWE for the better part of the last forty years or so. Now with Vince stepping aside to retire and with Triple H stepping forward into a more prominent position for the company the future seems just a little bit different.
The main point of the background is to drill down on the one concept that I hope most people understand. The concept is that even though Triple H is now head of creative change will not just happen out of nowhere. Change will come in time and it will be more logical and have more reasoning behind it then it did with Vince. The more comfortable Triple H gets his position the more clear his direction will become and I do believe that some former stars will return. Patience is something that fans don't always want to show nowadays, but in this case it's needed as things will not change overnight. Remember "Rome wasn't built in a Day!"
For the first time in thirty plus years Vince McMahon will not be in charge of World Wrestling Entertainment. Vince would take control of the family business in 1983 when he brought the company from his father. In 1984, the national expansion would commence with Hulk Hogan earmarked as Vince's guy to build the promotion around. In January 1984, Hulkamania was born and with Vince McMahon at the helm the then WWF began see an enormous growth in popularity.
Vince McMahon had the opportunity to construct a roster like you don't always get the chance to see, but the formula remained. Early on, the formula was a series of matches and each top heel would get the chance to go on a run with Bruno Sammartino. Hulk Hogan would then be fed monsters to slay like One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Andre The Giant, and others. Vince would allow the formula to take hold and the popularity would reach it's peak in 1987 with Wrestlemania 3 at the Silverdome in Michigan.
From the Rock N Wrestling era to a "New Generation" to an era of Attitude one thing remained the same Vince was at the helm. Vince McMahon was able to guide the WWE through good times and bad with just a flick of the wrist. Vince guided the company out of the darkest periods and almost going bankrupt in the 1990's to becoming a juggernaut on the backs of Steve Austin, Undertaker, Mick Foley and The Rock. A lot can be said about the "Ruthless Aggression" era and the "PG Era" but even the best hit the wall. Vince wasn't planning ahead anymore and a lot of people said it had to do with the lack of competition well that isn't the only reason. Vince wouldn't abandon the thinking that had served so well for so many years in favor of the thinking that was poisonings his company.
Vince didn't want to make a plan and stick to it and I do think the fact that WWE is a public company has a lot to do with that and the impatience of shareholders who have millions tied up in the a business they think they understand. Honestly, Vince is and will always be a workaholic, but even the most inhuman men need to tap out and say I need a break. Vince is almost seventy-seven years old and has been in charge of the largest company in pro-wrestling for over thirty years nobody would blame him to say it's time. Enjoy his life, spend time with family and be a grandfather finally get the chance to relax instead of just hustling. The recent actions of Vince McMahon with the hush money and random events that have come to light does damage his reputation. However, I can differentiate between that and his lifelong accomplishments. Vince has needed to step back for a bit and learn how to delegate his power to others and help take the pressure off him, but he never did. I think Vince should've stepped back a bit for the last few years and I'm glad he had the chance to walk away on his own.
Thank you Vince for the memories and everything you've done to bring the wrestling business to the position it's in now. Right now though it's time for you to sit back and just live your life. Leave the world of dealing with shareholders and worrying about profits or the bottom line, because you've earned a break and to leave the company you built on your terms. Thank you for the legacy and everything you've done, but your time has come to walk away.
Reports have been circulating that some within WWE aren't exactly happy with the Summerslam card this year. I for one can see why, because there really isn't anything that makes it seem or feel like a bigger card then Money in the Bank. Wow we get Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the title again great just great. I think the card would look a bit better with some small changes or could defy expectations by adding some small details to the event.
Pat McAfee vs Happy Corbin
WWE United States Championship:
(c) Bobby Lashley vs Theory
Smackdown Women's Championship:
(c) Liv Morgan vs Ronda Rousey
Seth Rollins vs Riddle
Logan Paul vs The Miz
Raw Women's Championship:
(c) Bianca Belair vs Becky Lynch
Unified Tag Team Championships: with guest Referee "Double J" Jeff Jarrett
(c) The Usos vs The Street Profits
Last Man Standing for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship:
(c) Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
One small change I would've had was maybe a #1 contender match somewhere on the card for the chance to challenge either the Women's Champion or Roman Reigns. I do feel like WWE has a bad habit of just giving challengers title shots instead of telling the bigger story of having them earn it. Even though it's a simple way to have fresh faces find there way into the picture by earning it and not just randomly being given a shot.
The reason I don't have an issue with Liv Morgan's rematch with Ronda is because this match should be used to finally legitimize her as the future flag bearer for the division. Theory's match with Lashley has Ziggler's name all over it for him to get involved. I do agree Lesnar & Becky need to be moved out of the title picture for an extended time but they need time to move other players in. Hopefully, after Summerslam we start seeing new players find themselves in the title picture.
With the next event after Summerslam set to be Clash at the Castle in September it's clear that the company will have plenty of time to build a new challenger for each champion. I would pencil in a gauntlet match for the men to find Roman's next challenger both shows included because Reigns is the champion for both brands. A gauntlet match could be use to tease possible opponents and set up matches outside of the eventual World title contest. I still would pencil in Drew McIntyre for the shot against Reigns in Cardiff Wales. As for the Women's division Liv Morgan and Bianca need some fresh challengers honestly I would go month to month with Liv for now so maybe Lacey Evans and Nikki Ash respectively could be viable challengers.
My ideal card for the next WWE Premium Live Event:
WWE Clash at the Castle:
Dolph Ziggler vs Theory
Raw Women's Championship:
Nikki Ash or Dana Broke vs (c) Bianca Belair
Smackdown Women's Championship:
(c) Liv Morgan vs Lacey Evans
WWE Intercontinental Championship:
Gunther vs Madcap Moss
WWE United States Championship:
(c) Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens
Unified Tag Team Championship #1 Contender Match:
Viking Raiders vs Alpha Academy vs Judgement Day vs New Day
Unified Tag Team Championship: One Final Time
(c) The Street Profits vs The Uso's
#1 Contender Match for a future WWE Universal Championship Match:
AJ Styles vs Seth "Freaking" Rollins vs Robert Roode vs Sheamus w/ Butch & Ridge Holland
I wouldn't have a gauntlet match to crown the challenger instead play up the idea that Roman has been avoiding McIntyre. Use the gauntlet concept for the final spot in the #1 contender match and allow Bobby Roode to find his way into the match and gaining a chance to challenge the champion.
Undisputed WWE Championship Match:
(c) Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs Drew McIntyre
On Smackdown this past week we saw the debuts of the Maximum Male Models they will be the clients of Max Dupree. It seems like the debuts got the desired results and they are taking a bit from Blue Steel aka Ben Stillers famous facial expression in Zoolander. Max will manage the repackaged Mansoor and Mace the duo will now be known as Ma.çé and Mån.sôör respectively. It was a needed repackage for two struggling stars on the roster. Both Mace and Mansoor haven't really had any sort of direction for nearly a year to my knowledge both have been floundering since they had there respective teams broken up.
I think everyone remembers that Mace was one of the only members of the Retribution faction to somewhat sort of catch on after the faction flopped. Mansoor seems to be someone that the company has stock in, but has never been given the chance to show any sort of personality. I think with Max Dupree leading them this would be both men's best chance at success in WWE as Max has a knack for getting things over and fully investing.
However, Mansoor and Mace are just among the names on the WWE roster that could use a refresh or reset. Mainly my attention shifts to Mace's former partner T-Bar as someone who could use a refresh and the chance to put the stain of Retribution behind him finally. I know the company likely wouldn't let him go back to his old name, but think about this one of the hardest things in wrestling is ability to stick out. In my opinion, there is no argument to be made that a name like Dominik Dijakovic he wouldn't be able to get fans attention, then factor in his size and ability to move like someone half his size there is no question he would be able to stick out like nobody's business.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present