The WWE Universe has been treated to some primetime family drama in front of the camera in recent weeks as Shane McMahon has returned to the company and immediately set about incurring the wrath of The Authority, led by his sister Stephanie and brother-in-law, Triple H.
According to WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart, however, the not-so-happy families act isn't just for the cameras.
Speaking during the latest edition of his Sharpshooter podcast, 'The Hitman' revealed that he got the sense of "real tension" backstage between the three high-profile WWE figures during his appearance at the Payback pay-per-view last weekend.
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"I was just reading between the lines without knowing anything. It seemed like there was real tension there," Hart explained.
"They were all really friendly when they saw me but you never saw anybody at the same time.
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"I noticed when I saw Shane after Nattie’s match, he didn’t go into the gorilla position. He kind of stayed out. I realized then that it was because Stephanie and Triple H were in there. So, I don’t know…maybe there’s real tension there."
Shane, of course, has ruffled a few feathers since returning the WWE after a seven-year absence and, per his father Vince's orders, is now sharing the responsibility of running Raw with Stephanie.
With both siblings wanting full control of the WWE's main weekly broadcast, the situation on screen isn't likely to resolve itself anytime soon and appears to be affecting real-life family ties.
Vince's master plan
In Hart's view, Vince McMahon is more than happy to encourage his son and daughter's dislike of each other too:
"I sense that there is some real tension in the family. I got the impression from watching it on TV, just like the fans do, that Vince is loving it," said the Hall of Famer.
"He loves the tension between them. This little storyline that they have seems like it’s true and it’s based on a real situation. A lot of times that's what Vince likes to play on.”
Only time will tell if Vince is flying too close to the sun on this one as it certainly appears that, in purposefully encouraging his children to clash behind the scenes, he is running the risk of some long-lasting family issues.
As Hart alluded to, however, McMahon enjoys combining elements of real-life with the WWE product and it has brought huge success in the past. With Shane's return having gone down well with fans, this could be another instance of that.