Eleven years ago today, Vince McMahon introduced one of the most beloved and most maligned concepts in WWE history: the general manager post. This was in the infancy of the two-brand era, where each show operated under its own rules with its own rosters, kind of like the American and National Leagues. The man introduced as the first RAW general manager was one of McMahon's biggest rivals: Eric Bischoff. As the AC/DC classic "Back in Black" played, millions of dollars were quickly flushed down the drain when McMahon and Bischoff hugged it out (and maybe a few hundred thousand more when Stephanie McMahon was introduced as SmackDown's first general manager later that week. But I'll focus on that post another time. Like later in the week.).
In the eleven years since, Bischoff and eleven others have held the responsibilities on a full-time basis. These men and women include three WWE Hall of Famers, the widow of another Hall of Famer, a brother of a Road Warrior, a McMahon, a leprechaun, a real man's man, a self-professed "geek goddess", a real estate mogul who went bankrupt more than once, and a play-by-play man on American Gladiators.
I think it's about time we rank this motley crew of RAW GMs. For purpose of this list, I'm only ranking those that held the position full-time, so the nearly 100 guest hosts/stars who held the spot for a night are not on the list. Anyone who was commissioner before July 15, 2002: sorry. Doesn't count. (Note: Mick Foley does appear on the list as he was co-GM briefly in 2003.) Also, any "assistants" don't count. So no Jonathan Coachman or Eve Torres or David Otunga either.
- Eric Bischoff (GM from 7/15/02-12/5/05). Granted, by 2002, the evil boss angle was a bit tired, but if anyone was just about as natural as playing the slimy, evil boss as Vince McMahon, it was Easy E. After all, he was the slimy, evil boss that was instrumental in the rise-and fall-of WCW. The third-string announcer with male model looks and used car salesman savvy was the man many fans loved to hate. However, nearly three and a half years was enough for McMahon, as his failure to meet the boss' lofty standards got Bischoff dumped-literally-into a garbage truck.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin (co-GM/sheriff from 4/29/03-4/17/04). Following Austin's somewhat sudden departure from in-ring competition in April 2003 less than two months after his return to the WWE, there was a visible void on the RAW brand. The void was filled when Linda McMahon named the former six-time WWF Champion Eric's 50-50 working partner. Bischoff and Austin would co-GM (about as amicably as two people hated each other could) for most of the remainder of 2003, but lost his job when his five guys failed to beat Bischoff's quintet at Survivor Series. As Terry Funk taught us, retirements don't stick, and just over a month later, the Texas Rattlesnake returned as "Sheriff" Stone Cold Steve Austin, going after anyone who violated Austin's law. Austin as an authority figure probably didn't sit well with a lot of fans, but he was much better than most people thought.
- Vickie Guerrero (GM/"managing supervisor" from 4/6/09-6/8/09, 5/10/10, 10/22/12-7/8/13). That's three stints as RAW's principal authority figure. Her first followed Wrestlemania 25, but it lasted just two months before she resigned (the first time). When the guest host era ended, Vickie Guerrero returned, but she was one day and done. Her third stint (this time as "managing supervisor"-whatever that means) ended this past Monday, but the writing was on the wall for quite sometime with the McMahons' return to WWE television, as she was "Gut Checked" out of a job by a 2/3 vote. Vickie didn't get the chance to "kick out", not that it mattered. A WWE app poll had Vickie as a failure as GM by a 3/4 vote.
- Stephanie McMahon (GM from 11/3/08-4/6/09). Truth be told, I can only remember three moments from McMahon's tenure as RAW GM: Stephanie giving five across her brother's face, Stephanie firing Chris Jericho, and Stephanie getting IEDDT'd on her head and her impromptu makeout session with Randy Orton. Steph was much better as Smackdown GM.
- John Laurinaitis (GM from 10/10/11-6/17/12). I'm torn on this one. On one hand, the brother of a Road Warrior and uncle of an NFL linebacker looked kinda clueless as an authority figure. On the other hand, that probably was the charm of the man that introduced the wrestling world to "People Power". The nonsensical, glad-handing, douchebag yes man was probably the third most hated on-air personality on a show full of hateable people including Vickie Guerrero and heel Michael Cole. If that isn't the Bermuda triangle of WWE programming, I don't know what is. Behind the scenes though, he was one of the men chiefly responsible for the talent gap he created that the WWE is still trying to recover from.
- William Regal (GM from 8/6/07-5/19/08). How many general managers can say they won a King of the Ring and killed the lights on a Monday Night RAW during the main event? He did. (DYK: Regal beat CM Punk in the final.) How many can also say they lost the job because of scary, scary drugs? He did. His second violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy cost him 60 days and his GM gig.
- AJ Lee (GM from 7/23/12-10/22/12). The crazy pixie was about an unlikely a choice for RAW GM as there was in recent memory. The second runner-up of NXT Volume 3 got the gig during a wedding ceremony (of all places) during RAW 1000, but was forced into resignation when Vickie Guerrero accused AJ of "fraternizing with the talent"...you know, something Vickie did for years. There's tape of it and everything. It did work out in the end though. AJ Lee is the WWE Divas champion, while the woman that replaced her is out of work (at least on-screen).
- Bret Hart (GM from 5/24/10-6/21/10). Hart's tenure as the boss of RAW was brief, yet memorable. His first interaction was with a wheelchaired Batista (in his last WWE appearance), and it was on his watch that Nexus wrecked shop. But Hart's failure to appear at Fatal 4 Way: The PPV and the following night on RAW got the Hitman removed from his job after just five weeks. There was some speculation that Lloyds of London may have had something to do with that.
- Donald Trump (GM from 6/15/09-6/22/09). Why would I put the Donald so high on the list of GMs? I mean, this is the guy that introduced the much-maligned guest GM concept and brought to us the first commercial-free RAW. But when you're willing to pay for everyone's ticket in the house (about $235,000) and drop money on an unsuspecting audience, you deserve some kudos.
- Mick Foley (GM from 12/1/03-12/15/03). Foley was a much better commissioner than co-GM of RAW. Foley grew tired of the day-to-day travel grind and wanted to spend more time with his family, so to get him off TV, they had Foley turn chicken on Randy Orton. That's a hell of a way to go out. It did lead to the rise of the "legend killer" a few months later at Backlash.
- Mike Adamle (GM from 7/28/08-11/3/08). Mike Adamle is a competent play-by-play announcer. He's a competent sports anchor. He was awful in WWE. That's a fact. In fact, he was so awful, WWE decided to run with it and make it a gimmick. And he was awful at that too. He introduced the "Championship Scramble" match (which was retired two years later) and many other "Adamle Originals". Apparently WWE paid Adamle a lot of money, so they kinda had to keep him around until he proved completely useless (which, by November, he was. As the behind-the-scenes story goes allegedly, he wasn't told he was done as RAW GM until the day of the show. And he didn't stick around until the end either.).
- Hornswoggle (GM from 6/21/10-7/18/11). Say what you will about Teddy "Tag Team Match Playa" Long and the way he runs Smackdown. At least they're getting their orders from a human being. For 13 months, RAW's roster took their orders from a laptop computer. And that fucking annoying iPhone default alert tone. And Michael Cole's "And I quote" catchphrase, which seriously, is the fucking worst. When Triple H became COO H, it seemed we would never learn who the sender of the messages was. But we did find out...one year later. And it was revealed to be a fucking leprechaun. Forget the fact that this was anonymous RAW GM gimmick was basically used as a tool to build up Michael Cole as a heel. The fact that they pay this stupid ass angle off in this manner makes me want to fight and/or sue this company. My apologies for all the cursing, but this angle is one of the reasons I am ashamed to be a wrestling fan sometimes.
Later in the week, I'll rank the Smackdown GMs. So how do you rank the RAW GMs? Where will Brad Maddox rank when its all said and done?