The past 10 days have been anything but boring when it comes to the WWE. Not only have we had 2 pay per views (SummerSlam and Payback) alongside the regular TV shows but amongst them we have had several returns, a roster shift and a power shift. With so much happening it’s hard to take it all in and work out the ramifications so we will take a stab at what’s happened and what it could mean.
For years it seems WWE have struggled to find their next breakout star. We have seen many stars step up and try to fill the shoes of the likes of Cena, Edge, Randy Orton and even Brock Lesnar but none have had the long term success required. It is often deemed to be the fault of the current top stars holding back younger talent; there have been many who have had the ball passed to them only for them to fall short. More recently we have had Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins pushed as the top two stars but this has received pushback from large sections of the WWE Universe.
The events of the past 10 days however we may have seen the framework put in place for what could be the future direction of the company. Firstly we saw at SummerSlam Randy Orton lose the title match against Drew by a clean pinfall. He then took out Drew the following night on Raw while facing off with the debuting Keith Lee. This may not seem like such a big piece of news or a noteworthy event but in Randy’s long and illustrious career there are few who can claim to have come out on top of him in such a way. Having this clean win puts Drew in a very strong position when he returns and adds an impressive scalp to his title run. The standoff and feud with Keith Lee put Randy back in the spotlight with one of the hottest NXT call ups in some time. The pairing is interesting given this was Keith’s debut and first segment on the main roster having him up against Randy clearly indicates the potential Vince must see in him. It is highly unlikely that they let a “new” star go up against someone on Randy’s level in their first segment and match unless big things are planned very soon. Fast forwards to Payback and Keith getting the win over Randy in less than 7 minutes only emphasizes this.
Over on the blue brand we have Roman Reigns make his unannounced return at SummerSlam (you didn’t see it coming) and attack Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman to make a statement. This was impactful and while many fans assumed this was the face Roman who left some speculated we could be seeing a new side to him. This was confirmed with the twist on SmackDown when we found out Roman has now aligned himself with a certain Paul Heyman. Fans have been crying out for years to see a new side of Reigns but like Cena before him we never expected it to happen. Could we finally be getting the heel turn we crave?
Another twist to the Paul Heyman saga comes thanks to Brock Lesnar. He has been absent since WrestleMania this year and rumours about his relationship with WWE have been circling for most of this time. It has been no secret that for a number of years Brock has been unsettled and given his extended absence this is looking more strained. This week however we have seen a number of key factors confirm that all is not well. Firstly we have seen Heyman, Brock’s long term advocate aligning himself with one of Brock’s bitter rivals in Roman Reigns. Secondly we have seen all of Brock’s merchandise removed from the WWE shop. This is a notable occurrence as the merchandise sales for Brock are likely to be a large revenue generator for both WWE and Lesnar. Taking all this down would not be done lightly. There are two likely scenarios to us, he has either fallen out completely with WWE and signed a contract somewhere else meaning his merchandise can’t be sold by WWE. Or this is part of a long term storyline building his return. His merchandise being taken down around the same time Heyman makes his return to television could be more than a coincidence. Heyman may start mentioning Lesnar’s absence and him leaving while promoting Reigns to build to an eventual returning Lesnar coming back to face Reigns.
So moving forwards we now have a new top babyface on Raw in Keith Lee, a “new” top heel on SmackDown in Roman Reigns and maybe the end of Brock Lesnar.