If the WWE wants to know why they have had a devastating lack of success in creating new stars, they need to do some soul searching. Last week’s Raw opening segment saw Mick Foley not only get “fired” by Stephanie McMahon, but also treated viewers to the sight of the hardcore legend stand in the ring like a defenseless mute while the Billion Dollar Princess read him the riot act. All the fire Foley displayed in the early moments of his promo were doused the moment Stephanie’s music hit.
It’s an inescapable fact that the WWE wrestlers exist to put Stephanie McMahon over. She’s the ultimate heel in the WWE and she never gets any form of comeuppance. After all he has accomplished and sacrificed for the industry, if Mick Foley has to stand there like the kid getting called to principal’s office before shuffling off with his head between his legs, what chance do the likes of Sami Zayn, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Cesaro, or anyone else in the locker room have of looking strong in front of McMahon?
Sami Zayn made a valiant attempt at standing up to Stephanie, but in the end he just looked foolish and soft. McMahon no sold his comments about her character, then proceeded to tell him he was a nobody and that she wasn’t paying attention to a word he said. After telling him he is a nobody, then what was Zayn’s reward for standing up for his idol Mick Foley? The jobber to the stars “Special Delivery” Sami Zayn got choked out by Samoa Joe after an impromptu match. Again.
If Stephanie is going to forever be the top heel in the company (or as she calls herself on her Twitter profile, a “TV Villain” while Gotch & Hackenschmidt roll over in their graves), then at some point she has to make the company babyfaces look strong. That’s Professional Wrestling 101. Fans give their money to the promoter in order to see the good guy they paid to cheer triumph over the dastardly bad guy. If this doesn’t happen at some point, fans stop caring and tune the product out. If the WWE believes they are an entertainment company that can forever circumvent basic wrestling logic, they need only look at their 20 percent year over year drop in viewers for a dose of reality. Two weeks before the biggest show of the year, ratings are down ten percent from the week before. The heat just isn’t there and a factor in this dip has to be fatigue of the Stephanie McMahon Three Hour Power Trip variety show.
It wasn’t always like this. When Vince McMahon traded off his real life heat from the Montreal Screwjob and became the top heel in the company, he still recognized that the dastardly heel had to put over the babyface in order for fans to care. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin didn’t become the biggest draw in wrestling history by backing down from authority and playing the part of one cog in a large wheel. McMahon set his considerable ego aside and did what was best for business. Austin got over by whacking his boss with a bedpan, ruining his luxury vehicles, tricking the boss into wetting himself and delivering a stunner to Vince in every arena across the country. It got Austin over, and it got the Rock over after him. It helped usher in the greatest boon period of professional wrestling because Vince realized your top guys needed a great villain and eventually that villain had to get his just desserts.
One of the more disgusting aspects of the Foley firing segment stemmed from Stephanie berating Mick for his tendency to forget things or botch minor details. This plays off the very real issue Foley has talked about with suffering from short term memory loss at times. Stephanie bellowed at Mick: “You know why I have to give you index cards? Because you screw up everything you have to say. You can’t remember a thing. You can’t get it right!” Considering what we know about concussions along with the number of unprotected chair shots to the head and dangerous bumps the WWE signed off on during Foley’s career, this path seems like a dangerous one to travel down. Given that a number of former WWE performers are suing the company alleging the covering up of knowledge about head trauma and long term repercussions, the company may want to steer clear from any references like the above for storyline purposes.
We’re about three years past the expiration date of the authority figure running the show. As the road to WrestleMania stalls out before the finish line, you have to wonder when Vince will do what’s best for his business and pull his daughter off TV as an on-screen character and let her be strictly the WWE Brand Ambassador. Her appearances now prompt the live audiences turn on and hijack the show while a bored home crowd switches channels. If the whole goal of a performer is to draw money, when will WWE realize Stephanie couldn’t do so if she was spotted at a drafting table with art supplies?
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS SNOONIAN ARTICLE: THE CREATIVE CORNER: WrestleMania 33 – What should happen? What will likely happen? And a potential swerve for each match!