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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
And there Shane McMahon was, holding a weapon in the entrance area, in the middle of a grueling Last Man Standing Match with the Big Show. He saw the Big Show had just grabbed a lead pipe, and Shane was running for his life. To get away from him and save his life, he climbed to the top of the Backlash staging area, probably over 20 feet high. Then luckily for Shane, Test, who was interfering on his behalf, incapacitated Big Show with a weapon and Big Show was laid out on a wooden platform. The crowd was already chanting “Holy Shit!” in anticipation for what Shane would do next. Shane dove off the staging area with a big elbow drop, crashing down hard onto Big Show and smashing the wooden platform. Test helped Shane get back to his feet after the devastating fall, and Big Show was counted out.

Shane McMahon has always been a very talented performer who could put on a great show for the fans. The match I discussed to open the column is a perfect example of this. He was never a full-time wrestler, but he still knew what he was doing. He’s wrestled a bunch of matches since returning in 2016 and Shane still displays the talent he had before he left in 2006. However, the Shane McMahon I described in the opening paragraph is now gone. He still takes big risks alright, but something’s changed. As we first witnessed in his Hell In A Cell match with Undertaker, we are now seeing a new Shane McMahon. One that is presented in a much different light than in his early matches. And this new Shane McMahon is someone I, along with many fans, are reluctant to accept.

Before leaving in 2006 Shane had that rare credibility. He was an athlete, but without the experience or extensive training of a full-time wrestler. Basically, he had much more credibility than the typical manager, but still noticeably less than the average wrestler. But he was certainly crafty and had good athletic ability. This made for some unique and fun matches. Most of Shane’s matches back then were no holds barred, so he could use weapons on his opponents as equalizers. Anytime he gained the upper hand in a match against a real, full time wrestler he needed some shenanigan to do it. Outside interference, a distraction, a kendo stick, hiding under the ring, a steel chair, a low blow, etc. He even went as far as using a rag soaked in ether to make the Big Show pass out. As I alluded to before, his character was fearless, as he often found himself standing at great heights during his matches, willing to leap for his life in order to win.

As a performer, Shane worked very well with this limited credibility and had many entertaining matches. There’s always a unique interest in watching someone who isn’t a trained wrestler, or at least isn’t presented as a regular wrestler, compete in a match. They are always the underdog and people are interested in how they will fare. Floyd Mayweather, Vince McMahon, Dennis Rodman, etc. It would lower the credibility of the company if most wrestlers were presented like this, as every card would be filled with guys who didn’t know what they were doing. But having just a few guys like this, like Shane and Vince, makes for an occasional extra element of fun we can all live with.

However, since 2016 we have been offered a new version of Shane McMahon. This Shane McMahon is noticeably more muscular and is presented with far more credibility than he had during his previous run. He no longer needs some under handed tactic in order to gain the upper hand in a match. He can straight up gain the advantage against The Miz, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and other stars without a weapon, a low blow, or any other cheap move. Shane can hit hip tosses on Dolph Ziggler and land repeated strikes on Undertaker and other wrestlers, all without some underhanded tactic preceding it. He can battle it out, mano y mano, with anyone on the roster, save for probably Brock Lesnar.

For those who pay close attention, this is a logical transition. He’s a sort of a big guy, 6’2”, 235 lbs. While Shane was never a full-time wrestler, he still wrestled in plenty of matches, and has been surrounded by wrestling for such a long time. So, it shouldn’t be farfetched to believe that he learned a thing or two about how to wrestle. The real Shane McMahon does cardio conditioning and has gotten stronger, to the point he can do power moves to 230 lb. wrestlers. He’s obviously athletic enough to do a Van Terminator and has enough agility to do a shooting star press. He has trained in MMA, Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu. After all those crazy matches and 20 foot falls, he must have developed a high tolerance for pain. His character even studies video tape of his opponents to prepare for his matches.

WWE commentators have tried hard to change fans’ perception of Shane, and while I feel it should make sense for him to now be presented with more credibility, it’s still something that’s hard for a lot of fans to accept. One reason is because of his age. He’s 49 now and his head full of gray hair doesn’t hide that. It’s tough to make people believe that somehow, he’s better in his late forties than he was over a decade ago. But it’s not impossible to believe, because Undertaker is in his fifties and has as much credibility as anyone on the roster. He even squashed Cena last year. WWE doesn’t usually portray wrestlers as getting worse because of aging before they retire, with Ric Flair being an exception.

But also, I feel a major reason why this transition is a tough sell is because Shane was never an actual full-time wrestler. He may train in MMA and be a big, strong athlete, but it’s hard to be as skilled at something as someone who does it on a regular basis. Shane has the image of being an office worker who happens to be athletic and occasionally wrestle. People laughed at the thought of Connor McGregor fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match because Connor was never a full-time boxer and Mayweather was. Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Rock and other part timers are presented as having more credibility than most of the roster, but they at least used to be very successful full-time wrestlers. So obviously their characters know what they’re doing. But as for Shane? He’s wrestled a lot of matches, but never on a weekly basis. A lot of fans aren’t buying it.

Diamond Dallas Page was one of WCW’s biggest stars during the Monday Night War. He won their World Championship multiple times and competed in a handful of ppv main events. But when he first started in WCW, he was just a manager. When he initially started his full-time wrestling career, he started out as a jobber who rarely won matches, and even then, they were against other jobbers. After a couple years he finally started winning regularly and was a somebody in the mid card. Fans probably would have had a tough time at first accepting Dallas as a credible wrestler, because for so long they saw him as having the credibility of a lowly manager. But in time they accepted the new DDP, and it was eventually believable to see him beat Macho Man, Curt Hennig, The Giant, and other big names. If he was able to beat Macho Man fresh off ending his run as a manager, no one would have bought it. If DDP had only started wrestling occasionally, and not full-time fans never would have believed him as being able to go toe to toe with any real star in WCW. DDP would have had to have been presented as the less credible underdog, the way Shane was presented before 2006.

Now with Shane, even though he’s sold as a credible wrestler, he doesn’t get clean victories, so at least WWE isn’t stretching people’s suspension of disbelief that far. When he beat The Miz at WrestleMania, he was extremely lucky that he and Miz landed off the scaffold in a way where he had Miz pinned. And while no wrestler has suffered the ultimate embarrassment of having to lose cleanly to Shane, a lot of fans still see him as embarrassing other wrestlers. They sell his offense and let him gain the advantage in matches without some shady tactic. At WrestleMania 33, AJ Styles, who’s presented as a very skilled wrestler, pretty much went 50/50 with Shane in a match where weapons weren’t allowed (a garbage can was used sparingly). Shane was able to counter AJ’s moves and outwrestle him here and there. Shane executed head scissors, DDT’s and other maneuvers on him, fair and square. At other pay per views, Shane has even kicked out of a Code Breaker from Chris Jericho and a chokeslam from Undertaker onto steel steps. If Shane had made the transition to be a full-time wrestler like DDP did, this would all be much easier to believe. But he never went the DDP route.

Many fans just can’t erase from their minds the image of the guy who was significantly less tough compared to Shawn Michaels and even Test. They still remember him running for his life, scared out of his mind, from the Big Show, or how Mankind destroyed him on Raw. They remember him always needing outside interference from people like Vince or the Mean Street Posse, or always searching for a weapon from under the ring to gain the advantage. They remember all the back-door strategies he used during his matches. That version of Shane McMahon is burned into everyone’s mind, and they just can’t replace it with the new version of Shane that WWE is presenting to us, no matter how much commentators today talk about his MMA training.

And most of all, people just don’t want this new version of Shane McMahon. When Shane’s craftiness was a necessity for him to just survive his matches, it was really entertaining. You thought to yourself “What is Shane going come up with to make it through this match?” He was always the underdog and knew how to be entertaining in that role as a face or a heel. He’s still entertaining today, but the believability isn’t there. At least not for a lot of people. It’s not that often you see someone in WWE presented the way pre 2006 Shane was, so his matches back then really were something special to watch. And we want that Shane McMahon back.

But at least Shane has not won any major titles. Guys like Shane and Vince McMahon shouldn’t be World Champion, as a non-wrestler holding the title tarnishes its value. Vince Russo and David Arquette being WCW World Champion really devalued that championship. Vince never should have won any World Titles. Shane did win the European Championship in 1999, but that wasn’t even a major singles title when he won it, so it wasn’t a big deal. Shane did win the WWE World Cup last year, but it was in very cheap fashion. It still shouldn’t have happened, though. If Shane ever does win a World Title, the fans should start chanting “Bull Shit”.

In my opinion, Shane is, and always has been, a great talker. He’s charismatic and does great mic work whether he’s a heel or a face. Right now he’s getting a huge amount of heel heat for the work he’s done in his feud with The Miz. The way Shane orders the ring announcer to introduce him as “The Best In The World” always makes him seem smug. When Shane pointed out the black eye he received from Miz’s father at WrestleMania, the fans started chanting “You Deserve It”, showing how much they hate Shane. However, just getting good heel heat does not mean he should be able to go 50/50 with full time wrestlers during matches. Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart and Paul Heyman were/are great talkers who can get heel heat but they never could have been seen as credible. Vince McMahon was one of the best heels and best talkers of all time. But he was an office man and not a full time wrestler. It wouldn’t have been believable if he was presented as credible, despite being a body builder.

But I guess this new Shane is something we all should get used to. He’s not going back to being the less tough version of himself anytime soon. Unless he starts wrestling full time, or at least every week on television, WWE is going to have to try harder at emphasizing all his qualities that would make someone take him seriously as a wrestler, like showing his MMA training videos, talking about his cardio training, etc. And really, Shane McMahon could probably do well in a shoot fight against a handful of wrestlers on the roster. Even though that’s not the Shane a lot of fans want to see or buy into, that’s the Shane were now dealing with. So I reluctantly have to say, we should all do our best to try and buy into the new Shane. It’s not impossible.

Shane McMahon has significantly changed his credibility since coming back in 2016. He used to be presented as someone who needed to be extremely crafty in order to gain the advantage in his matches, but not anymore. Today he can straight up go toe to toe with most wrestlers on the roster. He doesn’t win cleanly, but this new Shane is still something a lot of fans are not buying into. He has a lot of qualities that make this transition logical, but because he’s never been a full-time wrestler it’s something many fans won’t accept. But I reluctantly have to say, this is the Shane McMahon were stuck with, so it’s something were going to have to get used to.
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