WWE Raw: Making the Case for John Laurinaitis Being an Entertaining Villain
I am a man who lives by a code of honor. As such, I will admit my mistakes.
When John Laurinaitis first appeared on Raw and began to exert his influence, I noted that "he cannot speak, has no charisma, has no gimmick and is really just wasted pixels on the TV."
However, as I've watched the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations grow into the role of Interim Raw General Manager, I've come to realize that my initial assumption of him was incorrect.
As a card carrying member of the Internet wrestling community, I have an overzealous irrational love of the bad guy. However, I also try to maintain a healthy amount of casual perception on TV. At the end of the day, I just want to be entertained.
I suspect his issue was simply a lack of character definition. However, like all memorable characters in any medium, once this problem was addressed by him and the creative team, Laurinaitis quickly evolved into a critical part of the WWE's flagship show.
He went from X-Pac-style loathing to entertaining character thanks to two factors.
That is, a unique idea and a money feud.
The idea of a heel authority figure is as old as professional wrestling itself. Fans typically love the idea of sticking it to the boss. The most memorable example of this wrestling archetype is Vince McMahon.
The "Mr. McMahon" character was spawned after the Montreal Screwjob and his feud with Steve Austin was arguably what led to the WWE defeating WCW during the "Monday Night Wars."
Has Laurinaitis reached this stage? No. Will he? Probably not.
However, since taking over the role of running Raw from "COO" Triple H, Laurinaitis has grown into a comedic but dastardly heel. Taking to Twitter has helped to expand his personality, and his clever use of real-life events has helped him move beyond the stereotypical cookie cutter bad guy in a suit.
His feud with Punk has also taken on a life of its own. Drawing inspiration from the legendary feud between McMahon and Austin, Laurinaitis has cleverly trolled the home audience and Punk on multiple occasions.
Will Punk drive a Pepsi truck to the ring? No. However, as of right now, he's the perfect antagonist for the anti-hero "Voice of the Voiceless" that is CM Punk.
Punk, for his part, has also taken more than a few shots at Laurinaitis as well. The evolving chemistry between the two helps make a long term feud into compelling television while giving other stars like The Miz and Dolph Ziggler time to shine.
What makes Laurinaitis a unique character is his blend of situational comedy and a serious desire to look out for the heels. John has moments where he will give the babyfaces (and by proxy, the fans) their desire, but it comes with a price.
Even then, the deal with the devil isn't entirely a lose-lose situation for the good guys. When the storyline calls for it, the faces outwit the devil such as when Cena helped Ryder get his Untied States championship match against Dolph Ziggler.
The character of the Interim Raw General Manager has a lot of mileage to travel and a lot of angles left to explore. The burgeoning chemistry between Punk and Laurinaitis makes for fascinating TV and his willingness to "pun and be punned" is a breath of fresh air.
The simple fact is that Laurinaitis will never be on the level of McMahon. However, he's not meant to be. The WWE isn't in a fight for its very existence and there isn't an overwhelming need to push to the envelope.
What this is meant to be is just great TV with a strong heel that has miles of territory to cover and a lot of life left.
Laurinaitis is in the right place in exactly the right time to help Raw in multiple ways. More than that, he's just damn fun to watch.
Here's to you, Mr. John Laurinaitis. I wish you best of luck in your future endeavors.
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