With The Authority dispatched at Survivor Series, Raw dealt with the sudden vacuum in power -- and in doing so, showed us why the prominent authority figure is no longer needed in wrestling.
For years, the authority role in wrestling consisted of someone who would show up from time to time to make matches official and occasionally dole out rulings. People like Jack Tunney were known to the audience, but were rarely an integral part of wrestling storylines.
That all changed during the Monday Night Wars, when Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff became the evil and corrupt bosses that we now know as a staple in wrestling. At the time, it was a great innovation to wrestling, allowing the top faces in the company to have a constant foil working against them. However, as years passed, we've had various commissioners, GMs and CEOs come through the companies, to various degrees of success. There have been a few constants though. While heel authority figures can work, there's almost no new ground that can be broken with them at this point.
The Authority, in my mind, was one of the biggest successes in recent years, but looking back at their reign, there was almost nothing new that was done. On the other hand, face authority figures have been proven to be rather superfluous. Either they become overbearing, and almost heel-like in their zeal to punish the heels, or they just sit back, showing up to settle disputes and make matches official, and aren't really necessary in the big picture.
That brings us to Monday night. After Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out and ran down the crowd for cheering their demise (Triple H even recited a tweaked version of Jack Nicholson's speech from "A Few Good Men"), Daniel Bryan's music hit. Bryan came out to lead the crowd in Yesing their demise, and then revealed that for one night, he'd be the Raw GM. He immediately called out the members in Team Authority, and one by one put them in punishment matches. He even forced Rusev and Lana to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and said if they didn't Rusev would have to face the entire roster for his title (more on this later).
Quite frankly, for someone who railed against the constant bias prejudice The Authority showed, he showed the exact same amount, just in support of the faces instead of the heels.
At the end of the night, we found out who next week's GM would be, as the text message tone sounded and once again Cole was reading a message from the Anonymous GM. I suppose we're supposed to forget that Hornswaggle was "revealed" as the Anonymous GM, but it indicates that we're going to get a run of the former authority figures over the next few weeks. So, I expect to see John Lauinaitis, Vickie Guerrero, Brad Maddox, William Regal and others come into power.
But what does this all show? If they're going to cycle through, they might as well just not have a GM. Appoint a Jack Tunney-like figure as commissioner. He or she can be someone that settles big disputes, and announces truly big matches when they're needed, but stays out of the storylines.
Wrestling, and the WWE in particular, needs a break from the constant cycle of authority figures in the stories, and hopefully the company will see it as well.
The Rest of Raw:
** The WWE, in my mind, failed to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the company after Sting's debut Sunday night. Sting wasn't there Monday, which was fine, but the structure of the show would likely have turned off the non-regulars who had tuned in to see what was going on. The first half hour was constant talking. As mentioned before, Triple H and Stephanie talked for about 15 minutes, and then Daniel Bryan talked for another 15. The matches were lackluster, and the segments were rather nonsensical. For a company that seemingly desperately wants a turnaround (and Network buys), this was not the way to go about it.
** As mentioned before, Daniel Bryan punished each of the Team Authority members. Seth Rollins was put in a handicap match. Although Rollins had the numbers on his side in a 3-on-2 match, his partners (which were voted on by the WWE Universe) were Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble, as the three faced John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. While I enjoyed seeing Mercury and Noble in the ring, the match was a glorified squash match in the main event. I do hope though that this leads to more ring time for Mercury and Noble, as they've adapted to their roles well and can still put on a show.
** The best match of the night was Daniel Bryan forcing Luke Harper to defend his Intercontinental title against Dean Ambrose. It was a solid match that combined some indy wrestling with the WWE style. The match ended with Harper blatantly pushing Ambrose into the ref, causing a DQ. After the match, as Ambrose was going to go after Harper with weapons, Bray Wyatt came out, and delivered a Sister Abigail on the floor. In a mirror of Survivor Series, he then buried Ambrose in chairs, clearly hyping their match for TLC.
** In my mind, without question the worst segment of the night involved Rusev and Lana. As mentioned before, Daniel Bryan said that Rusev would have to say the Pledge of Allegiance, with the American flag hanging over the ring, or he'd have to defend his title against the entire roster in a battle royal.
Lana, correctly, said it was a bully move, and tried to walk out of it, but Bryan again threatened to start the battle royal and then sent out Sgt. Slaughter to make sure that they said it properly. Lana got halfway through the Pledge, before deciding she had enough. Rusev cornered the Sarge, before Jack Swagger came out and took out Rusev.
This segment was just bad for all sorts of reasons. Forget the nationalistic implications of it, let's lay it out from a wrestling standpoint: A wrestler is forced to pledge to a country, just because he's proud to represent another country. He's threatened that he would lose his title if he doesn't. How is the wrestler the heel in this situation? That's been one of the problems with Rusev from the gun -- he hasn't done anything heelish so far. He hasn't cheated, he hasn't really acted like a heel. He's just been proud of his country. I think they need to turn the heel factor up on him a bit.
** Mark Henry was forced to face Ryback, and Ryback won that match in basically a squash. Ryback then later went to confront Kane, who had been stripped of his Director of Operations title by Daniel Bryan, and instead made to work concessions. So it seems like Kane and Ryback will start a feud.
** Brie Bella's heel turn was made official, though she hasn't quite explained why she's aligning with her sister. Brie was able to beat AJ after Nikki provided a distraction. This whole thing is rather confusing, and if this is actually a heel turn, as opposed to Brie pretending to be with Nikki to get a title shot, they need to explain it, considering the two hated each other as of two weeks ago.
** Speaking of explanations, Big Show came out to explain his actions from Survivor Series. He started with an impassioned plea to the fans, saying he had made a mistake, and just panicked when the odds started to turn against Team Cena. As the fans continued to boo and chant at him, he progressively got angrier, until he started yelling at the audience. He also yelled at the people in the back, who he claimed talked about him behind his back.
This brought out Erick Rowan to confront him. Rowan said he didn't like bullies and knocked Show out of the ring. This feud could be interesting, though I still don't quite buy Rowan as a face. On another note, this is the 21st time that Big Show has done a face or heel turn since joining the WWE in 1999.
** Miz and Mizdow successfully defended their tag titles against Gold and Stardust. Miz came out wearing both belts, while Mizdow wore toy replica belts. Mizdow did a lot of the work in the ring, and then Miz tagged in and got the pin. The two have a great dynamic right now, and I'm interested to see where they go from here.
** Tyson Kidd and Natalya beat Adam Rose and The Bunny
** Fandango, now a salsa dancer instead of a ballroom dancer, beat Justin Gabriel
** A final promo aired for the New Day, with all three of the wrestlers in it, and it was announced that they'd debut next week.