Will Shane McMahon Sign With AEW?

(Photo Credit: WWE)

Could Shane McMahon be on his way to All Elite Wrestling?

Similar to almost everyone else, when I initially saw the headline on social media, I immediately dismissed it as some yo-yo that tried to have fun with Photo Shop with the common All Elite graphic that is often used as satire. Captain Lou Albano will be on Dynamite next week too, right?

However, some credibility was lent to the rumor when Conrad Thompson, podcast czar, mentioned on the Grillin’ JR podcast that he heard from someone in AEW that there were at least very early discussions about the second generation McMahon potentially joining the company.

At one point, I’d have said that it was completely and totally impossible that Shane McMahon would ever work for any pro wrestling group outside of the WWE. But, many people would’ve found it unthinkable that Vince McMahon would be banished from WWE in disgrace if you asked them that possibility just two years ago.

Could Shane McMahon really sign a contract with a competitor to the WWE?

As we know, the McMahon family dynamic is bizarre and complicated. Freud would be taking apron bumps if he tried to analyze the McMahon family tree. Shane left the WWE empire in 2009 after it was clear that Stephanie and Triple H, not Vince’s son, would be next in line for the throne. Shane launched a cable and pay-per-view company in China, and was away from the WWE until 2016. His next departure in 2022 was also rocky when he was released from the company after backstage controversy suggested that he wanted The Royal Rumble match to be focused around him. He returned to work a match against The Miz at Wrestlemania last year, but tore his quad minutes into the match and hasn’t been seen on WWE programming since that time.

While Shane was recovering from surgery to repair the injury, Vince was ousted from company completely after Janel Grant brought the lawsuit against him that accused him of deviated and horrendous behavior. The text messages that were included in the lawsuit appeared to prove at least some of the claims, leading to the TKO corporation distancing itself from Vince as much as possible. Specifically, it was made clear that this was the Triple H era of the WWE.

That stain on the McMahon name might be the motivating factor for Shane to ink a deal with Tony Khan.

It goes without saying that Tony would offer big money to sign Shane, as he would see it as another way to recreate his fandom from the Attitude era. The same way that Vince got Eric Bischoff to come work for him, this would allow Tony to claim that he was the boss of a McMahon. It’s very doubtful that the second generation McMahon needs the cash, but a few extra million dollars is always good to add to the bank.

For Shane, it would be a way for him to do something completely on his own and outside of the realm of anything associated with his disgraced father. It might also be a way for Shane to spite Vince, which would be understandable, considering the level of shame that his actions brought to the family name.

Furthermore, it would unquestionably be one of the most shocking and memorable moments in the history of the sport. Sure, Shane was on Nitro in 2001, but that was after WCW was bought by the WWF and technically already a McMahon property. Make no mistake, if Shane shuffles his way onto an All Elite Wrestling program, the entire wrestling world would stop and take notice of it.

That said, outside of the justified shock value of the moment, I’m not really sure what Shane brings to the table for AEW. At 54, his in-ring days, beyond maybe a retirement bout just because there could be an opportunity for it, should be over, especially after the torn quad. The narrative on Shane as a performer really flipped over the years, particularly after he returned to the WWE fold in 2016. There was a time in 1999 when the second generation McMahon clearly wanted to prove himself and show that he wasn’t getting television time just because of his last name. Unquestionably, give credit where it’s due, Shane McMahon took many wild risks and bumps to earn his stripes. There was a time when Shane’s bouts were anticipated because there were always those car crash moments to make up for the fact that he wasn’t an experienced in-ring worker. Shane McMahon has a lot of highlight reel moments. Again, credit where its due, he didn’t lean on his last name to play television star.

That being said, the Royal Rumble that led to his dismissal in 2022, was somewhat of a microcosm of his latter run with the company. His tenure as general manager and the entire “best in the world” storyline overexposed him and it appeared to be more self indulgent than anything else. Instead of those select memorable matches, Shane McMahon’s bouts became sloppy and tedious. It almost looked like he was trying to shoehorn himself into a role that he had more than 15 years previously.

I would guess that Tony Khan would be willing to book all the crash crash spots that Shane might want to do in the ring, but realistically, I don’t think Shane should be a wrestler in AEW. There’s not exactly a demand for Shane vs. Kenny Omega or Will Ospreay. Shane hasn’t been known as a booker, and the Royal Rumble incident suggested that perhaps that isn’t the role for him either. At the same time, if Tony Khan can book , why not give Shane a chance? In reality, we know that Tony Khan isn’t going to relinquish any booking power in the company, as that would defeat the purpose of why he launched the vanity project, but even if he did, Shane isn’t the one that should be named the booker anyway.

Still, bringing Shane McMahon to All Elite Wrestling has value because it would garner the attention that the company has lacked since CM Punk was fired. When you look at the numbers, Dynamite usually draws around 800,000 viewers, but when Punk was a regular on the show, it drew around a million viewers so there was at least a 20% decline in the ratings. No, I don’t think Shane, specifically as just a promo segment, would boost the numbers on a consistent basis, but the point being, his appearances could prompt viewers to at least tune back into the show to see the direction of the product.

This is where the premise works on paper, but would flop in application. In order for the attention of the shocking Shane McMahon jump to AEW to be truly effective, the product would have to be presented in a logical, compelling, and consistent manner, but that hasn’t been the case for at least the past two years, and there’s no indication that there will a shift in the direction of the company so even if fans would tune in again, it’s almost a moot discussion since the majority of the problems that caused a decline in viewers are still on the show.

Objectively, I think the odds for Shane to sign a deal with All Elite are slim, but it would give new meaning to the concept of the forbidden door if he decided to appear on AEW programming.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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