After a lengthy hiatus, Vince McMahon made his grand return to television last week. Vince, now a solid babyface, confronted heel CM Punk in a tense, heated exchange, eventually culminating in the 67-year-old owner amazingly putting himself in a match with the WWE champion later in the evening.
The two went on to have a violent, weapon-filled brawl, which even if it wasn’t a Match of the Year calibre bout, managed to be highly entertaining. It was also notable for Vince’s willingness to take a ridiculous amount of punishment, especially for a man of his age (Vince was bleeding after the match and looked visibly beaten up).
Of course, there’s a back story here: Vince’s appearance reportedly on the show stemmed from Raw’s disastrous 2.5 rating two weeks ago (via Wade Keller of Pro Wrestling Torch). In the company’s panic, they also brought in John Cena, currently recuperating from elbow surgery, to open the show.
Vince, a reliable TV draw in the past, came through here. His return edition of Raw garnered a 2.8—oh, sure, it’s not a great number, but it’s still up considerably from the awful 2.5 number.
This is one reason McMahon’s character will endure as a character, even if he isn’t a regular performer anymore. The fact is, whenever WWE does a low viewership number—which in this time of long three-hour Raws and Monday Night Football is likely—Vince will always be swiftly brought back for a desperate and quick ratings bump.
His overness with the fans is another factor in his continuing endurance as a character.
Sure, Vince may be old, on and off TV and the subject of some decidedly questionable booking (should a 67-year-old man really be competitive against your long-reigning WWE champion?), fans still react to him like a star and go crazy for most things he does. Indeed, the clunky, struggling match with Punk was improved tremendously by the fans' wild reaction to every single thing Vince did.
As the evil Mr McMahon character, he’s simply been a cornerstone of television for too long to be ignored. Indeed, in this time of endless annoying authority figures who are seemingly going through a revolving door, Vince may be the only management figure whose word actually means anything anymore.
Additionally, Vince remains as terrific and sharp on the mic as ever, despite his advancing years, as his recent stellar performances show.
Indeed, his one-on-one vocal confrontation with CM Punk showed that Vince is still one of the best talkers the company has, imbuing his (often convoluted) lines and angles with a gravitas and energy they probably don’t deserve.
Of course, for all his amazing talent, WWE would be wise to remember that Vince is only a temporary Band-aid for what ails WWE’s flagship show. At this time, the company should be looking at long-term solutions, like building new stars and creating good logical long-term storylines that fans can become invested and emotionally involved in.
Sure, Vince can help ratings temporarily, but as the weeks go by and his appearances mount up, his impact as a draw will be greatly lessened. Hopefully, WWE—and Vince—are aware of this going forward.