Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Understanding WWE's authority structure, The Shield and The Wyatt Family almost awesomely fight, handicap matches galore, and more!
By Will Pruett
Michael Cole asked multiple times on this show "Who is in charge?" For my Pause this week, as a service to WWE and those working in WWE, I will attempt to break down the authority structure as it is seen on TV (ranked in order of most authoritative to least).
The board of directors: As I said in my Weekly Power Rankings, the BoD is definitely the top authority in WWE. No one knows exactly what they do or who they are, but they seem to be the only check and/or balance on Raw these days. Many of the BoD's decisions come randomly. They rarely interfere in the on-air proceedings of WWE. They are a kind of convenient excuse (or a deus ex machina) for solving problems.
WWE CEO Vince McMahon: The next level down in authority is the big boss in WWE, Vince. He isn't the very top, because even he needs the board to reverse his illogical leanings at times. Vince is in charge, but long absences from television have kept him from exercising his power consistently. At times, Vince has also wished both his champion and challenger would spontaneously combust. This is not the best strategy for a major CEO.
WWE COO Triple H and EVP Stephanie McMahon: I think of this pairing as a type of consolidated authority. Triple H has been COO since 2011 when the Board temporarily removed Vince McMahon from acting as CEO, which didn't last long. Since then, he has been an on again off again authority figure, occasionally trading in his suit for a leather jacket and wrestling.
Stephanie, who is on even footing with Triple H, authority-wise, has been an EVP since WWE decided they needed one. On television her duties seem to consist of hanging out, and occasionally belittling talent to her heart's content. I know she does more backstage, but this is about on-air authority. She also announced the Money in the Bank competitors this year, so that makes her more of a boss, right?
WWE Director of Operations Kane: This is where I am getting speculative. Last night, a major question was asked about who was in charge, and, as best I could tell, Kane was placed slightly higher on the authority totem pole than the General Managers. Kane is in his first stint as a mid-card authority figure, having first been a wrestler for an extended period of time and a dentist before that. As Director of Operations, he directs operations. I'm assuming this means he directs lower authority figures. Kane is middle management.
Raw General Manager Brad Maddox: Maddox lands slightly above his Smackdown counterpart on this list, simply because Raw is the bigger (and longer) show. Maddox is also a more interesting performer to watch. Maddox's duties seem to include fetching coffee from catering and occasionally making tag team or handicap matches when they've all but made themselves. He doesn't get to make any major decisions or interact with top talent, but he is there. Showing up is half the battle.
Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero: Vickie is one of the longest reigning authority figures in WWE history and, even though her show and role has changed over the years, she still endures herself to fans as only she can. Vickie can be seen trying to cover for the fact that many of the authority figures listed above her on this list are in no mood to work on Tuesdays, so she must hold everything together. The "Cougar in Charge" often has more of a challenge in front of her than any other authority figure.
Hornswoggle: We're just one email chime away from flashing back to 2010 and Hornswoggle doling out punishment to the likes of The Miz and Bret Hart (who he never liked for some reason).
David Otunga: Here's how I think this goes down. Otunga walks into the arena (coffee mug in hand) and somehow convinces a GM he has a right to take legal action. Said threat of legal action eventually results in Otunga getting what he wants. Otunga may not hold an authority position, but he has authority.
The following previously held positions of authority are currently vacant: President, Commissioner, Lieutenant Commissioner, Chief of Staff, Co-General Manager, Sheriff, Legal Counsel, Managing Supervisor, Assistant to the Managing Supervisor, and Head Laptop Reader.
And now for some random thoughts...
- WWE always does a classy job with it's American holiday packages and the Veterans Day one was no different. Thank you to everyone who has served or is serving. I don't have enough words to adequately express what your sacrifices mean to all of us lazy slobs who aren't.
- Opening Raw with a recap of one of the worst wrestling angles I've ever seen depressed me. Let's all stop with the lawsuit garbage.
- Triple H and Stephanie should have been tweeting vacation pictures throughout the evening. Could you imagine seeing them on some random beach or posing in front of statues. Letting this story go by without a vacation slide show would be a travesty.
- Kane is rocking the widows peak and suit ensemble. He looks fairly ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than he has since January 2012 when he returned with a fruit roll up on his face.
- Why did the heel authority figures (all three of them) somehow end up deciding Triple H and Stephanie's chosen champion would have to fight in a handicap match? This made little sense. Shouldn't they take it easy on Orton for the night, not put him in a match against the tag champs?
- For a moment, I believed the U.K. crowd was going to be fun to watch, but then they went into business for themselves. It's one thing to find Randy Orton boring. It's another to start chanting for commentators, and everything else in the middle of a match that wasn't bad. Crowds think this kind of thing is cute, but it's obnoxious.
- Cody Rhodes and Goldust are doing really nice work as a tag team, even in this handicap situation. They continue to impress me.
- Why didn't Orton walk out at the beginning of the match? Is it even super heelish to leave a handicap match? It seems smart to me. I wouldn't want to get beat up by two guys.
- Can wrestling please stop with the whole "so and so is not in the building" gimmick. We all know what it means. This episode of Raw made it almost comedic with Big Show running in within minutes of being informed of how not present he was.
- I knew this crowd was bad the second they chanted "Yes" for Big Show. I don't care about crowd pops, his story is terrible and irredeemable.
- 3MB dressed up as British flags. Thanks for the opportunity to watch a little more football, WWE.
- Randy Orton to the authority tandem: Just wait until mom and dad get home, then you'll get it.
- Damien Sandow fought Kofi Kingston. Kingston's super good at losing to guys rising into the World Heavyweight Championship picture. It's been his role for years and he fills it well.
- The most surprising element of Axel vs. Ziggler was the commentary. Cole, JBL, and King actually took a moment to be serious about the match, logically call the action, and do right by the stars. It's weird how good wrestling can be when this happens.
- I have no idea what Curtis Axel's purpose is right now.
- Does the U.K. have some sort of provision demanding handicap matches? There were three on this show and the gimmick is overused already. Maybe they are just a fact of life with 16 heel authority figures.
- I hope the wrestlers shilling merchandise on Raw get a percentage off of the merch they shill. Seeing Zack Ryder do his schtick again reminded me of why he was a short term character in the first place. Sorry, Ryder fans, but he was never going to be that good.
- The best part of Nikki Bella vs. Tamina was Brie Bella firing up the crowd and clearing the heels from the ring. Brie Bella is great.
- The Shield reaffirming that they work for no one was a nice touch. Between their segment with Orton and the end of this show, I'm intrigued to see where The Shield may go.
- Fandango vs. Tyson Kidd was a match setup by something that hasn't aired yet on Total Divas but happened months ago. This confuses my brain parts. Let's not mix the reality show and the scripted wrestling show.
- I was surprised by how clunky Fandango vs. Kidd was. I guess Kidd is still getting his groove back after surgery! but I expected a much better effort from these two guys who are great workers.
- The only person in the world who deserves to be bullied is Sean "Diddy" Combs. Someone send Richie Incognito to his house right away.
- Alberto Del Rio is not good on guest commentary.
- John Cena vs. Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro was entertaining for what it was. I hate seeing a pseudo-credible tag team lose to Cena, but it wasn't an embarrassing and quick loss for them. Cesaro vs. Cena could be a heck of a feud a year or two down the line.
- I will always be a fan of babyfaces rushing out to save other babyfaces. Big E Langston made the logical choice of helping John Cena and it worked for him. The crowd is getting into Big E, which is a good thing.
- Ryback vs. R-Truth was another great opportunity to see Tampa Bay vs. Miami. Sad times about Mike James, but at least I traded him for Jordan Reed in one of my fantasy leagues last week.
- I know Alberto Del Rio is gearing up for a match with John Cena, but why not allow him to lose to Big E Langston? Langston needs a major win right now after losses to Orton and Del Rio. If Cena hadn't already beat them on this show, I would suggest Cena and Langston vs. The Real Americans sometime down the line.
- Paul Heyman's promo was a nice ellipses on the feud with C.M. Punk. When he does come back, it is going to feel like a big deal. It's almost guaranteed said comeback is with Brock Lesnar, so Lesnar vs. Punk II has a good shot at awesomeness. I only wish they would have found a more exciting opponent for Punk during the Heyman feud.
- Daniel Bryan teaming with Punk was a fun moment and their match with The Shield was delightful. The ending overshadowed it in the best way.
- When one sees Daniel Bryan, C.M. Punk, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Luke Harper all in the same ring, one has to wonder why WWE hasn't hired Gabe Sapolsky as a talent scout yet. Sapolsky had a hand in discovering all of these men and bringing them to the national stage. Look at DGUSA right now. Gabe has an eye for talent.
- The standoff between The Shield and The Wyatt Family was all sorts of awesome. This moment had mean leaning forward from my couch after a sleep three hours and wondering what would happen next.
- Once again, babyface ran out to save other babyfaces in peril. Why does this not happen more often? Saving Punk and Bryan made The Uso's and The Rhodes look even better than they had before.
- Was the end of Raw a six on six Survivor Series style match setup? It's a mighty sexy match if it was. I could definitely get behind it as the most exciting thing on the Survivor Series card.
This show was quite boring for about three hours. The final moments really livened up an unexciting effort. Even in those moments, the focus was on the authority structure of WWE and not on the twelve stars about to brawl. WWE is focusing on authority in the most obnoxious way possible. I can only hope this phase passes soon, because it's getting unwatchable. It wasn't as bad as last week's assault on logic, but it's getting close.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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