Pass the Torch
(traditional) - to relinquish responsibilities, traditions, practices, or knowledge to another
(professional wrestling) - the act of a veteran giving an up-and-coming or established wrestler the ultimate rub of declaring the younger athlete is capable of taking their role in the business
So far in this series, I have tackled a mid card toch passing and a main event torch passing. The third installment was originally slated to be another main event torch passing, this time from John Cena to Roman Reigns. Plans changed once it became clear that the WWE is about to give Lana a major push. As someone who is not too keen on the current direction of the Lana character, I decided to fast track what I fear will be the only female based Taking All the Torches article.
So, here, we go . . .
Perhaps the biggest female antagonist in the history of professional wrestling (or sports entertainment), Stephanie McMahon is the only daughter and youngest child of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment. In real life, Stephanie is the WWE's Chief Brand Officer, acting as public relations for the WWE's corporate interests. On screen, Stephanie has made quite the transformation. She started off as the innocent, doe-eyed boss's daughter then became a bratty, trashy dressing spoiled princess and now is one half of the Authority with her real life husband and WWE COO (kayfabe) Triple H.
I could go on and on about the antics of Stephanie McMahon but words simply do not do what she does justice. Below are just two examples of what Mrs. McMahon brings to the table:
Stephanie has the ability to make whomever is against her the biggest babyface in the company. In the above videos, she did so in two very different ways. Male or female, currently no one can get more heat from a crowd. With her corporate role in WWE ever increasing as well as being a mother of three, Stephanie most likely will not remain an onscreen character for many more years. Speaking as a female fan, the role of a strong female character should remain with her exit. Fortunately, the WWE already has the perfect person to take that torch.
With a background in modeling, dancing, and acting, Catherine Joy (CJ) Perry signed a developmental contract with the WWE in the summer of 2013. She made her debut shortly thereafter as Lana on WWE's developmental show, NXT during a match between then Alexander Rusev and C. J. Parker. Lana soon became Rusev's social ambassador, basically doing all his speaking and sometimes seemingly directing his actions.
Lana and Rusev were officially introduced to the main roster through a series of videos before Rusev's first official match in April 2014 against Zack Ryder. While Rusev impressed audiences during the countless squash matches he had against Ryder, Xavier Woods, R-Truth, and Kofi Kingston, Lana was equally impressive in address sometimes hostile crowds. Shortly after their main roster debut, Lana would begin giving pro-Russian/anti-American promos, showing grace and poise while ripping apart the very people who paid to see the show.
The duo was able to take a gimmick with a notoriously bad shelf life and rose up quickly on WWE television. Rusev went on a winning streak for months, capturing the United States title from Sheamus in November. Lana nailed promo after promo, even indirectly causing some controversy along the way. By the time WrestleMania season began in January, it was apparent Lana was headed for big things, maybe even more than Rusev.
This Lana promo is a personal favorite. Never swayed by the crowd and very articulate in her points. I actually welcome Lana as a face although I do not like the current direction the WWE seems to be going. The Lana in this promo has not been seen in weeks. She has not really shown that confidence since the Fastlane event. But the potential is there. The story is already in motion as a matter of fact . . .
How to Pass the Torch:
The Ultimate Power Struggle
I have made it no secret that I am not a fan of the current angle between Lana and Rusev. I will not go into detail but it stinks. So I propose to quickly rip that ugly bandage off and have the couple call it quits at Payback. No matter the outcome of Rusev's "I Quit" match against John Cena, Lana should be the final one to say the words to Rusev. I'm sure the moment will get a huge reaction and cement Lana as a face.
The next night on RAW, I would have the Authority, Triple H and Stephanie to be exact, give a public performance evaluation of the Director of Operations, Kane. During the segment, when it seems as if Kane is about to lose his position, he informs the Authority that he recently took it upon himself to make a new corporate hire to help alleviate the tension within management. This person will act as an interim general manager of on air talent from a neutral perspective, since it is clear that the Authority has not been on the same page as of late.
The Authority is intrigued with Kane's decision and, although he technically overstepped his bounds, the Authority will allow this new hire to be general manager on a limited basis, say 90 days. Kane then reveals that Lana is the person he has chosen in the role. Going off of their history with being a part of Team Authority for Survivor Series, Triple H and Stephanie welcome Lana into the fold with open arms, even taking the rest of the night off and leaving her in charge.
The Authority and their golden boy, Seth Rollins, fully expect Lana to do what is "best for business", especially when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is concerned. The red flag comes when Lana agrees to give spots to both Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Lana plays it off as simply wanting to give the fans what they want. Triple H accepts this as a rookie mistake.
Stephanie McMahon does not. She begins to keep a closer eye on Lana and begins to overrules certain decisions. When Lana protests, Stephanie constantly reminds her of what the term "interim" means and that she should not attempt to get ahead of herself. The tension between the two women could be further exploited when Triple H agrees with a decision over Lana, leading Stephanie to accuse the Ravishing Russian of flirting with her husband to keep her position.
Eventually, the tension boils over so much that the big boss has to step in. Yes, that is correct. Mr. McMahon will make one of his rare appearences, leading up to the Summerslam pay-per-view, where he challenges the Authority to "think outside of the box". Mr. McMahon praises Lana for all her hard work but tells her that she can only get the job as general manager permanently if she does something that would "shake the WWE to its foundation".
After a week long tease of a "major announcement" from Lana, the time comes to put her money where her mouth is. Lana does in fact have an announcement but she feels as if someone else would do a better job of delivering the message. This is when none other than Paul Heyman makes his triumphant return to WWE television to say those glorious words:
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman. And I am the advocate for the former reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion of the World, the Beast, the Conquerer, the one in twenty-one-and-one, Brock Lesnar!
Heyman goes on to inform the crowd that thanks to the interim general manager, Lana, Brock Lesnar is no longer suspended by the WWE and furthermore, has been granted his rematch for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam versus Seth Rollins. Of course, the Authority does not like this but Mr. McMahon is impressed enough to make her permanent GM and basically tells Stephanie she MUST become a mentor to Lana.
This is all it takes. Lana is established as a female face. Her antagonist is no longer a man, therefore the obvious gross implications are not present. Also, her foe just so happens to be the best person to get face Lana mega over with crowds. And we have a different take on the power struggle with two women using the male Superstars as their proxies.
Lana can remain Russian. She can remain a strong character who stands on her own. Lana has the right background and appeal to fill the ever present authority role in WWE. I am positive no one would mind a beautiful and intelligent woman putting those big meatheads in their place and calling the shots. Then again, I'm a woman so, of course, I feel that way.