20+ Years of Mr. McMahon

Corbin Macklin

Back when Vince McMahon and Steve Austin were at odds, it was sort of revolutionary. When I was a young mark, and Vince was on commentary, I didn't know that he owned the company. I also thought that his "WHAT A MANEUVER!" commentary was good. 20 plus years later, I hate that Vince is overshadowing his talent.

The thing that made Austin/McMahon good was that Austin was always beating up McMahon. When McMahon did anything, you knew Austin would risk it all to lay hands upon him. Nowadays, the wrestlers cry. They talk about dreams and deserving things and it's weird. People always bring up Daniel Bran because they think he is the template for how to get a babyface over in the modern era. He is not. The template WWE has been working for the past two plus decades is Austin. Except... they do not let faces lay hands on authority like Austin did.

A few years ago, WWE got Roman Reigns over as a babyface for a few weeks. It seems like the whole thing was an accident because they did not do it before and have not done it since. The storyline was: there was a heel faction that had the backing of HHH and McMahon. This has been the main angle of WWE programming since the late 90s. What was different was, Roman snapped. He viciously beat up all the heels. HHH came out to try to restore order. Roman laid him out too. Vince came back to try to put Roman back in his place. Roman Superman punched him. Roman won the belt to cheers in the same arena that booed him winning the Rumble.

The biggest problem with everyone knowing Vince owns the company and Stephanie and HHH are in line to inherit it, presenting them as heels who are always keeping the faces down... Fans believe it is real. Not in the way you want marks to think the work is a shoot. It irks me SO much that wrestling fans think the current WWE champion was rejected for being a top star in the company. I always bring up that from Mania 27-31, the dude completed the Grand Slam. They worked fans into believing a guy who has literally won all their belts is someone they want to keep down. As I'm writing this I am listening to a wrestling podcast clip that references Daniel Bryan's book saying he was supposed to have a match with Sheamus fifth from the top. Listen. Them making other plans wasn't an indictment on Bryan. Then things changed, plans changed, and fans got the Mania ending they thought they never would.

A year later, Bryan came back from injury right before the Rumble, and fans wanted to see the same story as the year before. A large part of that sentiment is that Roman Reigns is the personification of the WWE picking guys who are tall and handsome over smaller guys who know more actual wrestling holds. I think that if McMahon had turned babyface years ago after Austin was done, maybe things would go differently when they choose who they want to present as the top stars.

I also think that a difference between when McMahon was against Austin and now, is that the heels are all replacement value. It didn't feel like The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, HHH or whoever back in the day couldn't get heat or were forgettable aspects of the story. When Vince gave Kofi's title shot to Kevin Owens, it felt like it could have gone to anyone and it would have been the same thing. The heat isn't on the wrestlers, this is straight presented as a Vince thing.

I would like for Vince and all authority figures to turn babyface and stop having the babyfaces mashed out in handicap matches. Imagine in UFC, Dana White picking his guys then having those who would challenge his guys beat up in handicap matches. After a while, people would stop watching. No one wants to see the fan favorite team go ahead in the Super Bowl, only for the commissioner to walk on the field with a mic and say it doesn't count, the other team won, "Thanks for coming out, drive home safely." WWE has been doing this for OVER 20 YEARS. It's amazing we still watch.

To give an example of how I'd put the heat on the wrestlers and not the evil promoter who doesn't care what the fans like, I'd have had Kevin Owens align himself with Rusev, Nakamura and The Bar. Kofi earns a title shot, the heels interfere and leave him and Bryan laying. The company puts on a cage match. The heels still come in and beat up the champ and challenger, then cut promos about how they should be in contention for the belt. A match is made between Kofi and KO. Kevin Owens and crew beat up the whole New Day before the match. Kofi comes out for the match limping and all taped up. He fires up and is about to win, but the heels cheat. The announcers put over that Kofi had the belt won, and the heels wouldn't let him go over. Then, they beat on him before this match for his rightful title shot and still needed shenanigans to beat him. KO gets the title shot, but then, whaddayaknow? Kofi jumps on him before the match and beats him so bad that he can't take part in the match. Kofi gets the title shot. Wins the belt. This is better than having Vince screw Kofi and tell him he's not good enough without consequence. Or even repeating the storyline that worked in the late 90s.