On the December 17, 2018 RAW, WWE promised huge, sweeping changes to a product that had grown so stale, and so fetid, that the company felt it had no choice but to hang a lampshade over the darkness.
Usually, this practise of “lampshade hanging” in television is a necessary measure to cutely acknowledge that which cannot be ignored. It’s a reassurance of sorts; the writers know that the points plotting A to B are absurd, but bear with them: Z is worth the contrivance. Or perhaps a recast is so glaring, confusing even, that the writers script some sort of self-deprecating joke—“You know Miss Banks, since you had that baby, there’s something different about you…”
In WWE’s hands, this manifested thusly: “We are intimately aware that you are bored sh*tless with the current cast, and so here are some new faces.”
The problem is that these weren’t new faces, not really. Technically, yes, they were. None had previously appeared on Monday Night RAW nor SmackDown, beyond a single cameo—but they each represented age-old archetypes beloved by a man who had promised change, but is fundamentally incapable of it.
They were faces, that much is true. That is the crux of the issue. They weren’t performers, they weren’t talents, they possessed no backstories, there were no plans in place. They were faces, nothing more; Vince McMahon, who very clearly has not watched a single episode of NXT, had not watched them.