Triple H and Stephanie McMahonImage source: stillrealtous.com
Three hours is a long time in the entertainment industry. People’s attention spans are about as long as a Vine these days – make something longer than 6.5 seconds and it’s a safe bet that many will switch their attentions to their smartphones.
So, when WWE announced they would be extending Monday Night Raw from 2 hours to 3 hours every week, there were plenty of eyebrows raised. That’s a lot of time to fill with wrestling, which, let’s be honest, can often be more ‘meh’ than it is exhilarating.
How did WWE decide to plug the gaps? By starting every damn episode with a meandering, stilted monologue from The Authority: the clearest indication that the wrestling giant is stumped for new, exciting storylines and programming.
For those not in the know, The Authority primarily consists of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon as the power couple with the latter being Vince McMahon’s (WWE Chairman and CEO) daughter. Triple H is a part-time wrestler who is also the COO of the company, meaning he has a lot of clout.
They are flanked by current WWE champion Seth Rollins and his cronies J&J Security, Kane and, when the storyline calls for it, The Big Show. The latter two names are currently not involved in the picture, but you could put safe money on them being back in The Authority before too long.
So, what’s the issue? Surely these big names being part of the biggest faction in professional wrestling should be exciting? Well, it was. Two years ago. When Triple H screwed Daniel Bryan to allow Randy Orton to take the title, it was a surprising dynamic that was great to watch, anchoring a disjointed RAW and Smackdown in the process. Since then however, The Authority has become much weaker and far less prominent without mentioning how stale the act has become.
Nothing sums up WWE Creative’s struggles with originality better than The Authority. After previously being disbanded following an enthralling Survivor Series stipulation match, the writers were essentially given a blank slate to work with. They could create the beginnings of a new era, have an even more powerful faction assume control or basically anything else and fans would be pleased. In a move which smacked of desperation, The Authority were brought back just a month later after weeks of uneven programming and the dreaded return of the Anonymous General Manager. It’s almost as if the writers were winging it every Monday, hoping whatever they threw at the fans would stick. Nothing did and it’s why the panic from top brass set in, allowing WWE to play it safe with The Authority being brought back in a frankly dumb angle.
It’s almost as if professional wrestlers have amnesty for committing murders so long as it’s in an arena with the amount of threats they give each other. After Seth Rollins’ threat to straight up kill the Canadian sweetheart that is Edge by breaking his neck with thousands of witnesses present, John Cena had no choice but to bring The Authority back as he was the only one that could because reasons.
Since then, the faction has just become worse and worse. When you actually take a second to look at their ranks, it’s almost laughable how unimposing they are. Seth Rollins is a fine wrestler, but J&J Security are comic relief at best and hamper the image of them being a group to fear. It’s hard to take any duo seriously when they’re basically just a more muscular Ant & Dec.
Elsewhere, Stephanie McMahon’s involvement with the Diva (eurgh, have to hate saying that) Invasion angle was pathetic, making herself look like she was the person who helped these new wrestlers get to where they are today, as if she was the one who had been polishing rough diamonds. This was just one of many segments which shows that a large part of The Authority is just a huge ego trip for her and her husband.
If The Authority is going to stay on our screens for the foreseeable future (how do you get rid of them again after doing it once already?), the people behind the scenes need to do something fresh. New talent needs to be added to the ranks to lend them credibility as their current formation is threadbare. They need to either go all in with the angle or bring it to an end before it stagnates to the point that it’s indigestible.
Like all great factions, The Authority should be full of imposing figures and angles instead of the half-ass that it is now. Think DX, The Corporation or The Nation of Domination – they all had a direction which the current top stable sorely lacks. Instead of being wheeled out for 25 minutes at the start of every RAW to say one simple thing in the longest time possible, there needs to be something more.
Love it or loathe it, the Smackdown vs RAW angle meant that no writer could get complacent and follow the template which current programming is obsessed with. To get the most out of The Authority, WWE should build on the showdown at Survivor Series and have a 50/50 split in the dressing room between them and Team Cena. New recruits joining either team, the prerequisite betrayals and constant battles should make for some compelling television and create possibly the biggest all-out war in professional wrestling since the halycon days of NWO.
You might think that I am being a bit too ambitious, but a lack of ambition is exactly what is harming WWE right now. The stories are all the same, the results are almost always predictable (and dirty) and there simply isn’t enough for fans to get invested in. If they are going to bring the fans back, WWE are going to need to make some changes and The Authority should be the first on the list.