Traditionally in recent years, Vince McMahon, Triple H, and the WWE creative staff have made the night after their top two marquee events (WrestleMania and SummerSlam) a top priority in terms of entertainment and/or shock value. Examples have come in the form of championship belt unveilings, Money in the Bank cash-ins, debuts, returns and heel or face turns. These night-after RAW episodes have truly taken on a life of their own.
And while the presentation the night after this year’s SummerSlam appeared to live up to that precedent, there was a completely different vibe behind the scenes. As you might imagine, Finn Balor’s injury, suffered in his WWE Universal Championship match against Seth Rollins, threw a major wrinkle in the following night’s plans, not to mention that main event picture on RAW moving forward. Vince McMahon’s decision to push Balor to the top had unintentionally backfired, and they were left to pick up the pieces.
Vince and the WWE were aware of Finn’s injury immediately after the match, but they did not know the severity. He was scheduled for an examination on Monday, but that was delayed because of his scheduled appearance on Good Morning America, so much of the RAW script was already up in the air. When it was revealed that Finn needed surgery, Vince and the writing team scrambled to write the show all the way up until it started. This is not all that uncommon, but the night after SummerSlam, when the WWE Universe is expecting something special, the pressure was certainly on.
According to Daily Wrestling News, there were many factors that caused Vince McMahon to go into “full-blown panic mode” leading into Monday’s show. As if losing your new Universal Champion and potential face of the company wasn’t enough, Vince was still panicking over the backstage altercation between Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar following the SummerSlam main event and losing John Cena to FOX, where he’ll be filming the next season of American Grit.
While some fans and other WWE superstars are relieved to see a spot open up in Cena’s absence, Vince has yet to successfully execute a program that launches Cena’s successor into that position. McMahon tried, and failed, with Roman Reigns, and just when it looks like Finn Balor would assume the role, he goes down with a shoulder injury that will at least keep him out of action for the rest of the year.
While the RAW scripts were in the midst of their second, third, and fourth drafts, Vince reportedly called a meeting with top WWE officials, including Triple H in an effort to determine where the roster stands and how to move forward with the next round of call-ups from NXT. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura are more than ready for that promotion and were likely at the forefront of that conversation.
However, as we’ve witnessed with the cyclical nature of the NXT system, Triple H wants to make sure there are headliners-in-wait for when his main-eventers move to the main roster. The likely candidates to fill vacancies eventually left by Joe and Nakamura are Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Hideo Itami. It’s just a matter of whether Triple H is confident enough to rob Peter (NXT) to pay Paul (Vince McMahon and the WWE main roster) at the same time that Vince requests reinforcements.
So two days before his birthday (Vince McMahon turned 71 on Wednesday), there wasn’t much that could cheer the Chairman up. But the moment that turned his night around went hand-in-hand with that special segment WWE fans have come accustomed to following WrestleMania and SummerSlam. That happened to be the RAW debut of the newest WWE female superstar, Bayley.
Everyone, including Vince, got to see Bayley’s initial debut when she was revealed as Sasha Banks’ mystery partner at Battleground. Their tag match against Charlotte and Dana Brooke kicked off that pay-per-view, and Bayley received one of the biggest pops of the night. That reaction was matched, if not exceeded, on Monday night in Brooklyn, which not only thrilled the Barclays Center crowd but Vince himself, who was said to have been in a much better mood after that.
There are backstage reports stating that Vince is comparing Bayley to AJ Lee due to the schoolgirl likability factor she portrays. It should be noted that she wasn’t supposed to be called up for a few more weeks, nor was she going to be in line for a WWE Women’s Championship opportunity, but the injury to Sasha changed all that and sped up the process in a big way. Like Finn Balor, Bayley’s promotion was long overdue, but in both of their cases, the fact that they have the support of Vince McMahon is a tremendous way to start their WWE career.
[Image via WWE]