I say this as a very faithful subject of The Queendom: When HHH isn’t around to be King Dick of Shithead Mountain, Stephanie McMahon‘s “I hate everyone equally, except when I don’t” schtick can go from “disruptive” to “chaotic”. In his own, over-the-top evil way Haitch grounds her in the mission statement of Best for Business (and, by extension, their stock portfolio.) While she has immense real-life value as a highly respected executive in a male-dominated field, without HHH, the WWE’s — fairly understandable — prohibition non-competitive violence against women and their — way less understandable — unwillingess to book meaningful intergender wrestling makes her character feels untethered to any kind of tangible or easy to understand stakes. It’s why her interactions with Kurt Angle feel like needless bullying that’s not going to go anywhere even when they just had the best match at WrestleMania.
Steph’s other problem unlike, say, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, her hypercompetency wasn’t ignored until The Guild had fallen and she was tasked with rebuilding it. She’s been established as the queen for years and has only amassed more power. At best there’s, she’s only going to temporarily lose her role on television (which, people are excited to see her on TV for the most part!), even when Ronda Rousey breaks her arm. So, when Roman Reigns get mouthy, we know she’s both “cool” and “smart” enough to belittle him while also making way more sense than she should (even for a self-righteous heel.
However, her bit with Kevin Owens was a step in the right direction. Since seemingly nothing stopping her from running roughshod over the show in any way she pleases at any time, it creates a situation when her not doing so gets treated as a babyface moment. If that’s what they are going for, fine. But in that case, show her actively punished literally everyone who crosses her at any point, as it would at least make it clear her allegiance is only to herself (and Hunter). If the line continues to change week to week, it muddies where she stands in the show and makes it harder for the Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens of the world to get over in their roles as pro–and-antagonists.
There’s less of an issue trying to figure out who to root for in a match between Roman and KO, however. Much like last week opening match with Braun in terms of his size, KO’s a perfect foil for Reigns in terms of how they each wrestle to character and alignment. Owens works like a heel who is just talented enough to get you to like him if he wanted you to, while Reigns is at his best when he’s being just a bit too workmanlike in his flow once he’s decided he’s going to Superman punch your head in.
Listen, I get the idea that all Canadians look alike, but replacing Sami Zayn with Jinder Mahal is a bridge too far for me, folks. As a proud Quebecois (on my mother’s side, merci beaucoup) I’m taking a stand: This anti-Canadian bias has to stop, or all the work that Elias has done to boost the WWE’s stock price will be washed away like so many worries on a sunny Vancouver day. No, but seriously, don’t replace Sami with Jinder and Samil simply so you can have Sami sacrificing himself at the altar of Bobby Lashley. Jinder and Samil can’t even skank, y’all.