I don’t think anyone is going to put up much of an argument for “Monday Night Raw” being more entertaining than “Smackdown Live”. There’s a long list of reasons why this is the case (better storytelling, better action, no Roman Reigns push of doom, a strong champion and I could go on) but there’s a major issue that I think needs some more attention: the face authority figure.
Well now it’s nearly twenty years later and we’re STILL doing a heel boss storyline. The problem is we basically haven’t taken a break from that exact story in the entire stretch of time. You can call it an owner, a general manager, a commissioner, an executive or anything else you want but the fact of the matter is that we’ve seen a heel boss around WWE for WAY too long.
That brings us to today where there are four authority figures (which is another column all by itself) between the two shows, assuming you don’t count Vince McMahon himself, who of course is above everyone save for the occasional mention of the Board of Directors. Anyway, today we have Stephanie McMahon over Mick Foley on “Monday Night Raw” and Shane McMahon over Daniel Bryan on “Smackdown Live”. In other words, you have one evil authority figure in Stephanie McMahon and everyone else is pretty much good, at least most of the time.
Now anyone who has read my stuff over the years knows that I’m not the biggest Stephanie McMahon fan in the world (code for I wouldn’t mind if she was slowly lowered into a vat of boiling tar after her mouth had been welded shut). She dominates every show she’s ever on, never gives up a single thing and is constantly ripping into people who have little more to do than cower in fear at her mere presence. This includes Foley, who basically had to beg the Undertaker to appear out of fear of angering the great and mighty Stephanie McMahon.
Look back at last year’s “Wrestlemania XXXII”. What was the big story? The rebel against the authority with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H getting the big top spot. Do I need to remind you how poorly that match was received? There’s certainly more to the match than just the story (it ran nearly half an hour at the end of a show that ran nearly seven hours) but above all else it felt like ANOTHER attempt to recreate Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon.
We’re pushing nearly twenty years of the same story. TWENTY YEARS. Do you think in that stretch of time we might be ready for something new instead of having some evil boss trying to hold down the fans’ “favorite” wrestler who just so happens to rebel against whatever they’re doing that is best for business (or insert your own catchphrase of the month here)?
Apparently not as we’re STILL getting that almost every single week on “Monday Night Raw”. You know the drill by now: the top star will get this close to winning the title, only to have the handpicked star come in and steal it away somehow, leading to some big chase for the title that doesn’t work very well because, save for Daniel Bryan, almost no one can pull off the me vs. the world story that WWE is oh so fond of pushing on us.
With that, let’s jump over to “Smackdown Live” with Bryan and Shane McMahon. As in two faces (though Shane McMahon tends to be rather heelish in his own way with stuff like being put into huge matches like at “Survivor Series 2016”) running things, leaving the show on a fair ground instead of everything slanted towards the heels over and over again. In other words, it’s how a wrestling show is supposed to be.
How much better does the show feel when you don’t have the boss looming over everything that happens on every episode of the show? It’s so tiring having the same stuff going on every single week when nothing other than the boss’ whims can control everything that goes on during a given show.
On top of that, the good bosses don’t show up every few segments to put over the same ideas time after time. Granted that might be more of a Stephanie McMahon problem than anything else but I fail to see the need to have almost everything that’s taking place on a show listed off multiple times in a night. The fact that the boss doesn’t rip on the talent makes it that much easier to sit through.
The whole thing boils down to one simple concept: sometimes heels need to stand on their own without some big evil boss having their back. Why do we need to have a boss working behind the scenes (and often in front of them) to make sure things are as bad as possible? It gets old in a hurry and that’s all it’s been for so long now.
It’s such a simple concept but for some reason that’s something that almost never happens in WWE. I really don’t understand their obsession with having the same story throughout the years (well save for “it’s Stephanie McMahon and she gets to do what she wants”) as you would think the writers might get bored with it over time. But no, somehow we’re still stuck with the same idea over and over while “Monday Night Raw” continues to weaken week by week.
Of course there are other reasons that “Smackdown Live” works so well but above a lot of them is the fact that the bosses are fair. It’s a change of pace from everything else that we’ve had to sit through on so many Monday nights and it really does make a difference. I know it’s a simple concept but as is so often the case, those make for the biggest and often most positive changes.
For an example, consider the difference between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Both heel champions, both some of the best workers in the world and on the most different career trajectories possible. While a lot of Owens’ issues come from losing to Reigns time after time, how much of it do you think is due to Owens being at best the second biggest heel on the roster behind Stephanie McMahon? Styles has no competition and is the top villain on “Smackdown Live”. Who is a better character in their role?
Having a heel or face boss doesn’t make the biggest difference in the world but it might be nice for a change of pace. “Smackdown Live” will probably have a villain for a boss one day but PLEASE don’t let that be the norm and by far the dominant story being told. Just have a neutral or face boss and leave it at that. If it’s good enough for Jack Tunney, it’s good enough for WWE.
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