Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Authority Is a Problem

They chew up way too much scenery on RAW. Way too much.
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have been mainstays on WWE television as the evil administrative figures known as The Authority for over two years now. At first, their presence on television was hot fire. They were the best possible villains to go up against Daniel Bryan, and they were even great foils for other faces on the roster. McMahon and Triple H have also made periodic appearances in NXT, not as villainous overlords, but as the proud parental figures for the brand. Looking at the company on the whole paints an incongruous picture of the two, but if you view the main roster and NXT as separate universes, or even more boldly, that NXT is a parasitic entity burrowing into the main roster.

But the biggest difference between the roles in theory isn't so much the temperament, but the level of intrusion on the program. Triple H and McMahon on NXT are very much in the background. Even William Regal, who is the in-character general manager, doesn't get involved nearly as much as The Authority does in the main narrative. So their proud parent shtick works, or even better, their Galactic Watcher (one not named Uatu at least) shtick works. They've got immeasurable power, but they only observe and herald.

That they are so passive in NXT makes their intrusion in the main roster so glaring, especially now. Before, it was fine, because they stuck to a role that was constructive, and no matter what it took to get there, on purpose or accidentally, it paid off at WrestleMania XXX. After that time, things started to unravel, whether it was by fate or design, until now when McMahon's job is just to belittle heels on the roster to no chance of comeuppance or act as the fakest "agent of change" by starting a corporate backed revolution among the women only with her blessing. Because everyone knows that all revolutions are started by the man.

Triple H has been only slightly better. He's actually compelling in his role now as the devil on Seth Rollins' shoulder, but at other times, he's been nearly as insufferable as his wife, and other times, his presence (along with McMahon's) has been inane, the most glaring example being the time when the two came out to open RAW by simply running down the next pay-per-view card in boilerplate fashion. And as much good as he did putting over Bryan at Mania XXX was much bad as he did in his program with Sting the next year.

The point remains that for over a year, The Authority has served little to no constructive purpose, and it has been a reason why the narrative structure on the main roster is crumbling. Why it's not noted as the biggest reason is because the writing process seems fucked and the progression of stories isn't so much stunted as it is non-existent. Basically, I watch RAW for the personalities, and even the best among them aren't immune to the crumbles of the management. Hell, New Day is by far the best thing on RAW nowadays, but when they ran afoul of McMahon, it was unwatchable. Could it be that making McMahon the center of attention instead of the three dudes who have been saving the telecast was a bad decision?

But it's not a surprising decision, because ever since Vince McMahon became a central character on the show, the people in management have decided that they should be a big part of the show as well as the labor. The biggest part of that is the insistence on heavy, literal scripting and that the writers and bookers are more responsible for entertaining programming than the wrestlers themselves. But another sizable part is having authority figures who, by design, rarely take bumps and wrestle even more intermittently as major parts of the program. When you put so much of the focus on people who can't wrestle, is it a surprise when the wrestlers don't get over?

The WWE doesn't have to look far at all to see the inverse of what is going on on RAW. In NXT, wrestlers are over. Sasha Banks and Bayley and Finn Bálor and Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze and the Vaudevillains and Samoa Joe all get big reactions because they are the main players weekly and at every Takeover. Regal is a deus ex machina who wrestles sparingly if at all. Trips and McMahon are background noise. Maybe if they played the same role on RAW, things might improve a little bit, even if nothing else changes.