I’ve been thinking this week about one of the predictions I made as part of the TJR writers’ predictions for 2016:
The Authority is a busted flush. They have to go in 2016, but they won’t because I can’t see how they can do it. Sure, the Board could remove the power from the powers that be, but short of returning to the GM model, which is still equally stale (I think), what else is there? I can’t see what they’d put in the Authority’s place that would do its job across all shows, platforms and have the same resonance. Vince managed it, he was clearly still the owner of the company, and CEO, but never on TV or seen to make decisions and Trips and Steph could do the same thing simply by turning face and stepping back because it’s the right thing to do. I just don’t think they’ll do it because I think there’s literally not another option that has the same easily achieved impact the Authority does.
Now…clearly this is out of date. We’ve done gone and had a whole brand split since then and the WWE has, indeed, clearly gone back to a version of the GM model, but on Raw at least, my prediction holds true – The Authority, even if they’re not referred to as that any more, still hold sway in the personae of Stephanie and Hunter.
And it’s boring me silly.
I like all the performers involved – I think Trips is great to watch, Stephanie too, particularly when she’s delivering a promo like she did on Mick Foley this past Monday night. I just don’t want to see where it’s going. I don’t want to see the seemingly inevitable Foley vs. Authority feud and I don’t want to see another Authority Boy winning championships in Kevin Owens because I’ve seen that before with Seth Rollins and Sheamus. There can’t be any storyline permutations of such an arrangement that haven’t been seen already.
Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re going to Rollins vs. Triple H and Stephanie vs. Foley more than they are going to the idea of Owens as Authority Boy, and I know there are probably a ton of you that want to see Foley get one over Stephanie in the long run. I certainly want to see Rollins vs. Triple H because I think it would be awesome, but where do they go after that?
I still can’t see how they can get rid of The Authority, in whatever guise it comes in.
One of the things that was fantastic about SmackDown this week was that we didn’t see Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon. They weren’t necessary to the show, so they didn’t appear. They may appear next week – they may not, but they seem to appear when they are necessary and not just because it’s time for the segment involving the authority figures.
On Raw, Foley, Stephanie and Triple H (in storyline form at least) were central to the whole show because they were central to the main event picture. The only part of Foley’s appearances that worked for me was where he was geeing up Cesaro and Sheamus to work as a tag team – what he said made sense and what he was doing made sense – and it made sense that Foley was the one to do it because nobody else could, they weren’t going to reach the conclusion of teaming together on their own. That’s a good, appropriate use of a GM, or authority figure.
The segments with Stephanie though…I just start yawning. The whole ‘doesn’t everyone want to beat up their boss because sometimes they’re mean’ thing is so tired now that it makes me tired to see it. It’s the same as WWE repeating too many match-ups – there’s a point at which your brain goes “yeah, but I’ve seen this before”.
That said, the other part of my prediction that I think stands up is that there is little the WWE can do that has the same easily achieved impact that The Authority has, despite how many times we’ve seen it or its like before. Kevin Owens won the title because of The Authority. Seth Rollins is now on a collision course with both KO and the aforementioned Authority. Whether you like the storyline or not, Foley’s own collision course with Stephanie came out of the latter’s husband’s actions. All of that was easily achieved with one appearance by Triple H.
There isn’t anything else in WWE’s arsenal that has that much impact, that quickly, other than Vince himself, who could, frankly, be classed as The Authority’s Uncle Junior on screen at this point. Not quite there, but you know he could interfere at any moment.
The point stands though that whilst there may be a great many innovative, interesting and new ways for storylines to develop and get into their swing, WWE doesn’t always have the patience for them. Sometimes, like with Finn Balor’s injury, they need to get where they are going quickly and the nefarious action of an evil ruling class is a sure fire way of building both reaction and investment when you need it quickly.
There’s every chance that I’m being way to harsh on WWE and they’ve actually already figured the tiresome nature of The Authority out for themselves. They might already be planning a huge departure from this tried and tested storytelling to something more innovative and interesting and just as impactful, but I just can’t see it.
What I can see happening is some sort of match to save the jobs of either Stephanie or Mick once their feud heats up to boiling point. Mick or his team will win that match. The Authority will go away for a few weeks, just as it did when Dolph sent them packing, and then it will come back just as it did before because there’s no convincing way to remove people who everyone knows own the company.
When they come back, Mick will be fired and we’ll get the whole ‘well who is going to be GM then’ storyline again.
It has to work like that because whilst the wrestlers can successfully get one over on an authority that can never be removed from power, delighting in their frustration, Mick Foley is employed by Stephanie McMahon – he annoys her too much and he’s fired. Simple as that.
So what do I want then? It’s easy to whine, but what do I want to see instead?
Well, I want to see the SmackDown model of authority appearing only when it’s needed applied to Raw. I want to see each three hour Raw filled with segments that relate directly to the wrestlers and their actions, not the people making the decisions. I want to see more matches start the show with a bang like I think Rusev vs. Reigns did this Monday (I really liked that match) and give the other matches longer as well.
But more than anything, I just want to see some things I haven’t seen before.
There’s a place for authority figures in the world of wrestling, but real authority figures, in the real world, have moved on – let’s have the WWE’s authority figures do the same.
What do you guys think? Are you enjoying Stephanie’s work? Do you want to see Foley get ground down so he can build himself up again way more than I do?