RAW Needs to Change Their Authority Angle ASAP if They Want to Keep it Interesting
by Nicholas Pendergast
Meet Stephanie McMahon. She is a 40-year-old full-time mom worth about 57.4 million USD, the chief brand representative of the world’s top sports entertainment company, and kayfabe Commissioner of WWE’s RAW program. Behind the scenes, she has managed some of WWE’s upper level assets for more than a decade, including creative direction between 2006–2013. On screen, she has been a frequent reminder of McMahon authority ever since the McMahon-Helmsley era began 17 years ago.
In other words, for nearly half of her life, Stephanie has basically been repeating the same angle on WWE television with only a few pauses in between.
Week after week, RAW pumps out abysmal record setting low ratings. Spend some time around wrestling fans, and you will soon find out which is the failing show in the New Era. SmackDown Live is not only more popular with the smark crowd, but it literally overshadowed RAW in the ratings for the final week of 2017. Last week, RAW climbed back up just barely, but SmackDown Live is essentially neck and neck.
On the January 9th 2017 edition of RAW, Stephanie brought the serious disappointment in ratings to kayfabe, calling out her GM Mick Foley as the scapegoat for RAW’s failing brand. The irony is that without Mick Foley, Raw’s authority angle is utterly dead in the water, but the use of Steph as the Commissioner of Raw is the proverbial beating of a dead horse.
So what happened with Steph’s scapegoating?
It went nowhere, serving only as an introduction for The Undertaker on RAW to announce his entry into the 2017 Royal Rumble, a segment that completely obfuscated Steph’s performance review of Mick Foley.
Ever since Kevin Owens was handed the controversial WWE Universal title back in September, Foley and Steph have gone back and forth with their rocky relationship. Although the angle is designed to develop an interesting twist in the Commissioner/GM relationship, it has gone on for months and very few people have actually been drawn in by it. Stephanie’s heat became dead heat weeks after the controversial screw job that led to Owens victory. Her promos create cheap soundbytes and barely fluid storylines at best, and absolutely kill the momentum for her top babyfaces at worst.
Stephanie is an awful representation of authority on RAW for a number of reasons. For one thing, she is a woman in a show dominated by hyper masculine dudes who prove their superiority by doing cross body blocks onto each other until someone loses. Now, before someone calls me a sexist, ask yourself how does anyone challenge the balance of power in a wrestling program?
With a show of physical violence.
Vince’s authority angle always worked, because you could look forward to someone brutally manhandling him every few weeks. Stephanie may have taken a few minor bumps in the past, but that time has come and gone. No one is going to choke slam her, no one is going to give her the pedigree, and no one is going to super kick her off the apron into the barricade. Not now — in 2017, when our world has nearly tore itself apart with its sensitivity to these things. Not now — when she is a full-time mother and chief representative of WWE’s brand. 10-years-ago, you might have seen her put in check by a rebellious back hand, or venomous insults designed specifically for females. That will never fly today.
Stephanie can’t feed the babyfaces of her brand. Sure, she can stand on a pedestal and berate anyone, but her insults are not catalysts for exciting events that will put over the babyfaces under her control. Roman Reigns can’t spear her into Lalaland, Seth Rollins probably won’t put her into a pedigree, and you will never see Finn Balor produce an epic coup de grace on Vince McMahon’s daughter, when Balor does eventually return.
They need to give her role to someone who can take the bumps, or do away with the heel authority angle all together.
On an end note; in a dream world, the role could transition over to Chris Jericho when it comes time for him to move on from full-time wrestling once and forever. It would be a fresh change of pace from the Triple H & Stephanie authority show we’ve all been gagging on for a long time now.