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If there was any doubt left, Monday Night Raw proved it beyond any doubt: Vince McMahon has lost his grip on the company’s creative effort.
It’s not the awkwardly long comedic skits that dominate the program, or the years of pushing a top babyface too many fans reject, or the inability to transition stars from the developmental division to the main rosters, or booking a major star to get a hardway concussion, or killing off the first woman’s main event by having having the hometown hero lose cleanly. That stuff is just the workaday back and forth of making sure the Superstars know their place in the corporate heirarchy.
The tell Monday night that McMahon is losing his touch was how incompetent the character of his daughter Stephanie McMahon was made to look. No matter the creative ups and downs in the company over the years, Vince McMahon has been careful and detail-oriented in ensuring that, heel or face, the McMahon family looks smarter and bigger than anyone else in the promotion, with the exception of Brock Lesnar. It can come down to as small a detail as having Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman leave out McMahon’s son-in-law when listing Lesnar’s victims on the only effective part of the show. The Family is always the star.
But Monday night, while Stephanie McMahon was the center of the Raw vs. Smackdown storyline, her character was made to look like a poor coach and an inept manager.
Witness the way the Raw General Manager put together her teams for what she and her brother consider this huge completion between bonds. She could have set up teams of allies, kept unscrupulous cheaters together, and gutsy fighters on another team, giving her Raw side their best chance to win. That’s what good managers do – give their employees the allies and tools they need to do their best, then give them the room to do just that.
Instead, Stephanie McMahon picked teams with no regard to chemistry. Raw Superstars are expected to suddenly get along with people who have beaten them up, stabbed them in the back, stolen from them, and disrespected their families.
It gets worse. For team captains, she picked not the best leaders, nor the strongest minds, nor the best fighters. One captain was an unlikeable Superstar whose ability her husband thought so little of that he had to make a rare in-ring appearance to win his title for him. The other is a childish ass-kisser and locker room lawyer who loses every big match he weasels his way into. She’s even had problems managing this one before, and yet there he is – Raw co-captain. These two supposed leaders spent the rest of the show sowing dissension on the team.
McMahon was so incompetent that, when she brought her hand-picked team together for the first time, she couldn’t come up with any incentive for them to win this big challenge. Instead, she listed the criticisms her brother’s assistant made of the team, threatened their jobs, and then stormed off in a pique.
Can you imagine Coach Belichick finding no way to motivate Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to win an important game than by listing what some other coach on some other teams said about them?
A parenthetical thought: Someone else who looked dumb was the supposed number two babyface on the brand, Seth Rollins. Here’s a guy who claims he’s going to tear the whole corrupt WWE management system down, who got cheated out of his fair chance at the Universal Title by Triple H’s blatant interference, then in his next title match lost when management allowed a blatant two-on-one attack to beat him down. Charlie Brown to Stephanie’s Lucy, Rollins agreed to work for her yet again for the opportunity to have the championship football pulled out from under him yet again.
Stephanie is so up to date on her talent roster that she then seems to mistake Sami Zayn, a current Raw Superstar, for the retired Daniel Bryan, and undercuts her associate Mick Foley by breaking his promise to give Zayn, Raw’s Dolph Ziggler, an IC Title shot at Smackdown’s Dolph Ziggler, Dolph Ziggler.
The main event is a result of more poor Stephanie McMahon management. You can always tell a weak, insecure manager by their need to pit subordinates against each other to create needless conflict. Instead of having them hone their skills in warm-up matches or work together in team-building exercises (wouldn’t that be cute), McMahon makes all the members of her team fight each other. She risks them hurting each other before the big competition and strained an already tenuous team bond.
Sure enough, the only fairly solid alliance between two Raw team members, the one betweenn captains Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, was further damaged when Jericho, losing yet again, this time was humiliatingly pinned by his supposed best friend Owens.
It’s almost inconceivable that Vince McMahon would ever spend three hours of his flagship television show making his favorite child and handpicked heir look as weak as she did here. He clearly would never do that on purpose. It’s as strong an indication as we’ve had so far that the 71 year old Chairman has lost his grip on WWE Creative.
NOW CHECK OUT BRUCE’S PREVIOUS COLUMN HERE: MITCHELL – A few words of advice for new TNA owners – time to repair the damage and rebuild your reputation
(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. Most of his columns are published exclusively at PWTorch’s VIP website and in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Friday night at 7 ET with Travis Bryant at www.PWTorchLivecast.com. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years and is part of over a dozen VIP exclusive audio shows that run usually daily or weekly that online members have access to with their VIP password. Follow Bruce on Twitter: @mitchellpwtorch.)