Question: What do Jeff Jarrett, Eric Bischoff, Dixie Carter, William Regal, Jonathan Coachman, Paul Heyman, Vince Russo, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Erick Watts, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Desmond Wolfe, Sting, Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes, Larry Zbyszko, Traci Brooks, Don Callis, Karen Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Linda McMahon, Shane McMahon, Brooke Tessmacher, Teddy Long, Vickie Guerrero, Tiffany, Armando Estrada, John Laurinaitis, Jim Cornette, and William Regal all have in common?
Answer: At one point in the last 10 years they have all held some sort of authoritative power in their respective company.
My limited research into numerology has brought forth the discovery that eight is a lucky number in China. We all know one way to get to eight is by adding three and five. If we remove the plus sign we get 35 and unfortunately that doesn't mean shit in China and isn't considered lucky (though, granted, it's not considered unlucky).
However, in American, and more specifically in the wrestling world, the number 35 has destroyed the professional wrestling landscape in the 21st century by bogging us down with no less then that many authority figures since 2002.
Think about this for a second: Since 2002 the main angle for TNA has been a power struggle. That has been the "A" angle since the inception of the company. WWE, while being just as guilty of this, has still managed to put the focus mainly on the big matches with the big names. But this only lasts until the focus returns to the true stars of the show -- the backstage authority figures and their daily tasks in running the company.
It's 2011 and as of this writing both of the major wrestling companies (TNA and WWE) main storylines involve some form of power struggle or a heavy focus on an authority figure.
The wrestling business is notorious for having the cons eventually being conned by their own cons. The success of the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon feud and the Eric Bischoff run with the nWo is why we have had no less then 35 authority figures on TV and dominating air time since 2002.
The business has looked at those two things and tired to copy them without fulling realizing why they worked and became as huge as they did at the time they did. The success of those angles has lead those working in the backstage area to believe that people throw down their hard earned money to see the show not because they want to see AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle or Randy Orton vs. Big Show, but rather fans throw down their money to see who is in power and how said person(s) in power operate on a daily bases. Because the boys in the back are now the biggest marks, wrestling fans have had to suffer and continue to suffer these long 20 minute plus promos and multiple TV segments featuring Eric Bischoff, John Laurinaitis, Teddy Long, Dixie Carter, and tons of others while the workers (and would be stars of the show) sit at home and in some cases do not collect a check.
The standard must change. Why does every wrestling promoter, even on the independent level, try to insert themselves into angles? So they will be in the spotlight and right in the thick of things? Who is this entertaining, exactly? I believe these types of programs get "arena heat" and nothing more, arena heat being a response from the live crowd driven simply by what is being presented to them. People go to shows to have fun, not sit and analyze the show. These people will cheer and boo accordingly. However, those watching at home, for the most part, don't care. Even if a live crowd was polled when they left the building, the results would likely show that they would much rather watch their favorite wrestlers wrestle before worrying about who is in charge of the show.
It seems like ever since the "Mr. McMahon" character hit it big, you can't hold down a job in the upper management of a wrestling promotion without being a malicious bastard to your employees. Well, unless you're Teddy Long or Dixie Carter (only in a kayfabe sense). The Commissioner/General Manager/President/Director Of Authority/Knockout Law/COO/King Ding-a-ling role has taken the place of the old school manager but it's not a very good substitution. Even when there are babyface authority figures they are usually portrayed as incompetent and in-over-their-heads. It was this trope that lead TNA to their year long (and unwelcome) "Immortal" angle.The blandness of the babyface authority figure is sadly matched by the over-used (and, in all reality, quiet unnecessary) heel authority.
An authority figure that flies in the face of almost all the story telling logic.
If you can make the babyface jump through all these hoops to get the title off him, and you do, why not just strip him of it in the first place, much like Eric Bischoff did in the 90s with "The Outsiders" and the WCW tag team titles? I would like to see a return to an overseeing authority figure being the voice of reason and the voice of the fans. Rarely seen and heard from, but when they do appear, it's usually for a huge announcement.
There are too many negatives associated with on air authority figures at this point and they should probably just be eliminated off TV altogether. The problems you ask? Aside from setting up a confusing kayfabe hierarchy of power that is constantly disregarded at the drop of a dime as soon as the booking team needs to continue the progress of an angle at all costs, I think the inherent problem with the on air authority figures of today is that it creates the image that the company in charge of producing the wrestling you're watching hates you and is constantly out to screw over your favorites.
Yes, there probably is some truth in that, but why promote it? It's also a very stale concept. Not to mention, the people put into power are questionable even on a kayfabe level. Yes, Karen Jarrett is hot, but what qualifies her to be "Knockout Law?" Does she have some kind of track record or knowledge? Desmond Wolfe was a great wrestler but why was he a commissioner put in charge of running day-to-day activities on the brand he oversaw? And what exactly made Tiffany qualified to run ECW? General Managers who constantly get outsmarted because they sign things without reading the fine print and don't pay attention to the show they're in charge of is second only to wrestlers shown arriving in a limo halfway through a show as the most annoying thing ever.
It's not good to have questions like these if you want to run storylines within this context because the answer means they don't work and the question is always necessary.
Convulsions of the power structure brings about apathy to the already disinterested masses. Look no further then the clusterf*ck of TNA in the last few years and the current landscape of WWE. It seems the only way to sort out problems anymore are through ridiculously long promos. John Laurinaitis doesn't need to come to the ring and take up 10 minutes just to make an announcement. Use those 10 minutes for the guys and girls sitting in the back waiting for their chance because those are going to be the people who are going to make the money for the company down the road.
I understand why authority figures are there. But I do not believe they should be on TV. I do not believe a company's main angle should be about who is in charge or calling the shots. I do not believe in the previous 35 and I have no desire to see the next 35. I do not believe that TV time should be dedicated solely to Eric Bischoff cutting promos that get less heat then a John Morrison promo, while Alex Shelley is on a couch somewhere. I do not believe in "The Funkman." I do not believe in Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, The Network, The Anonymous Raw GM or Triple H as COO.
I only believe in the wrestlers and the true product I want to see -- regardless of who is running and calling the shots because, quite frankly, I couldn't care less.
I just want wrestling.