Oh, hello there. If it seems like I haven’t written much since the last time the WWE Championship changed hands, it’s because, well, I haven’t! Yeah, truth be told, not a whole lot I have to say about the current WWE product and the things I do have to say are probably being said much more eloquently on other corners of the internet.
Occasionally though, Vince McMahon will throw us all a bone to chew on. This big meaty, beefy bone just so happens to be the ascension of Big E (ne: Langston) to the tippy top of the mountain, defeating Bobby Lashley on Monday Night RAW to win his very first WWE Championship. Big E becomes the second (and probably last?) member of The New Day to win the title following Kofi Kingston’s win back in 2019. Big E had won the 2021 Money in the Bank ladder match, which put him at the precipice of greatness. While the MITB contract’s conversion rate into a championship win is no longer an absolute certainty, with a performer as popular and entertaining as Big E, it felt like they would be sure to pull the trigger.
While this might have been a no-brainer to, I don’t know, anyone with eyes, the timing of this particular trigger pull is curious. You may have heard of upstart wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling? Yeah? Well, if not, they’re hot off the heels of perhaps the most historic non-WWE wrestling event of all-time.
If momentum for a wrestling promotion is real, AEW is certainly in motion. The 2021 edition of All Out not only featured an instant classic cage match between the Lucha Brothers and Young Bucks, but the debut of Ruby Soho, Adam Cole, and Bryan (fuckin’) Danielson. Oh, and some guy named CM Punk made his return from a self-imposed exile from professional wrestling to face arguably the hottest young star in the industry today.
With all eyes pointed firmly toward what those indy schmucks from Jacksonville were putting on, WWE did their best to do what they always do: pretend they are the only wrestling company to exist, except the ones that went under which they then acquired, of course. What’s worse? They did a TERRIBLE job this time.
WWE responded to the return of CM Punk and the swirling rumors of Danielson’s arrival by playing the two best cards in their hand. If AEW played the ace of spades with Punk’s debut, WWE laid down the king and queen at SummerSlam. With Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch both returning at the show, and in both cases, out of nowhere with no relation to current storylines, WWE did quite literally the only things they could do to take back the buzz.
This, of course, was pre-All Out. AEW had not even run the show WWE were trying to siphon hype away from. If this was a volley, AEW returned serve quite handily with what they presented over Labor Day Weekend. Vince McMahon was back to the drawing board. What else do we have kicking around?
It probably did not take long for them to decide, perhaps putting their most prestigious title (don’t @ me about the Universal title, it’s a topic for another day) on a supremely over babyface would be…what’s the phrase I’m looking for…good for business!? If the reception Big E received after winning the contract was huge, imagine what it would be on live television.
I want to step back for a second and say I could not agree with the decision to put the title on Big E more. He is beyond deserving. The New Day have made so much damn money in their run with WWE that I think it should have happened a lot sooner. There was a lot of hope that Big E would ultimately be the one to end Roman Reigns’…er…reign, however the decision to have him beat Lashley and join a television program that sorely needs reasons for people to watch is a particularly prudent one.
— Fight Game Media (@fightgamemedia) September 14, 2021
That being said, it’s hard to see WWE’s major moves as of late as anything other than Vince McMahon recognizing that at long last, he’s got some competition knocking on the door. Hot-shotting a world title is something we’ve seen done to tremendous success, for instance when The Rock defeated CM Punk to set up another match with John Cena, which made lots and lots and LOTS of money. We’ve also seen it straight up kill promotions in the aftermath (David Arquette, anyone?). While I sincerely doubt Big E’s reign will impact business to either degree, there’s a lot of potential for making lots and lots and LOTS of money.
Big E as world champion presents a laundry list of fresh matchups to promote, and even adds a nice new coat of paint to any feuds they might want to run back as the stakes have only gotten higher. That’s great news for a company that could certainly use a shot in the arm. WWE has emptied the clip in response to AEW’s huge end of summer surge. If there’s a plan, let’s hope it’s a good one.