Now I know that when we’ve had GMs during the past few years, things got a little bit out-of-hand. Part of the problem with the fact that the GM, whether it was Kurt Angle or Daniel Bryan, or someone else, would get too involved in the story lines and end up becoming a character not unlike a main roster wrestler. Albeit, they had significantly more power within kayfabe. There is also the fact that The Authority left a bad taste in our moths. And so, what we have had so far in 2020 is no clear authority figures, except when it appears to be consequential for a storyline. However, this system feels so disjointed, so sporadic, and so chaotic, that every story line is in danger of massive continuity errors.
Here’s what I mean: When Bayley and Sasha essentially stole the Raw Women’s Title from Asuka, Stephanie McMahon appeared on the Titantron the next day to set things straight and set up a rematch between Sasha and Asuka. But other times in the women’s division, underhanded tactics have transpired without any interference from an authority figure. Or take the recent angle between Nia Jax and Pat Buck. That man apparently had the ability to suspend Nia without pay until she apologized. However, we as an audience have no idea who Pat Buck really is and what role he has to play on Raw. Why does he get the ability to suspend wrestlers without pay and how come he only chose to use his authority in that one instance?
Then we take Adam Pierce, who wasn’t even named on TV until the most recent Smackdown episode. He has been appearing in SmackDown and Raw episodes and appears to hold some authority or power over the way things go down. The best example of this is when he was tasked by Vince to track down contract signatures for the Payback main event, and apparently had the ability to set up a match between Drew Gulak and Braun Strowman in order to get Braun’s signature. Pierce has also done things that appeared to be general manager-esque, like facilitating ambulance rides for injured superstars, and leading security teams. Yet within storyline or kayfabe, there is nothing saying that Pearce has the authority that he does. Additionally, there is nothing stating where Adam Pierce’a authority ends and Pat Buck’s begins, or where either of their authority ends, and Stephanie McMahon’s begins.
What this creates is a lawless wasteland where rules are broken by heels or even accidentally by faces, and consequences only come if the creative team feels like they should that day. And so justice is rather arbitrary. It’s impossible to tell from one story line to another whether or not the authorities are going to get involved. This has been creating massive continuity errors on both of the main roster shows the past few months.
The solution is to bring back a general manager or for each show, and book them quite differently than they have in the past. They should not get personally involved in rivalries with wrestlers but rather serve as arbiters of the different shenanigans that come up on a regular basis. Additionally, they should not be overly involved. The audience should know that they are there and that if things get too ridiculous, or a wrestler try something extremely illegal, then the GMr will get involved. But they don’t have to appear on television every single week.
Of course, the show that does this really well is NXT with William Regal. You see him setting up matches, and making on-the-fly calls for controversial endings or story beats. However, you do not see him intervening personally. He feels like the kind grandfather who will lay down the law when necessary. And because he has no shortage of charisma himself, he lends more gravity to the matches and series that he announces. What this means is that NXT sees a fair bit of continuity and there feels like fair play (at least as far as pro wrestling goes) between the wrestlers. The only thing that could be done better is to install a more rigorous system for determining who’s next for a title shot, rather than simply giving somebody a title shot because they happen to punch the champion in the face.
My vote would be to take a figure like Adam Pierce and put him in charge of the main roster shows. He’s a good choice because he knows the sport of wrestling, being a successful independent wrestler himself. In addition, he is not embroiled and never has been embroiled in any real storylines of WWE before last week. This means that he can be relatively impartial and not bring baggage from the past into a GM role. Finally, he has some experience with authority figure roles, since during his time at Ring of Honor he served as a lieutenant commissioner which seemed like a hybrid between GM and enforcer. If Pearce isn’t the right call, then I am sure that there are plenty of others behind the scenes who would fit perfectly.
However, in my mind, a GM of some kind is the only way to maintain some continuity between all of the storylines, in addition to consistent rules that the wrestlers can follow or bend, depending on their disposition. Consistent, quality, and long-term storytelling is something the WWE needs if it wants to remain relevant, and a GM who is present yet hands-off would facilitate this perfectly. And I’m going to the mat for that.