Few onlookers were surprised that AJ Lee was removed from her position as general manager of Raw on Monday night, as the “crazy chick” was never truly accepted as an authority figure by the WWE audience.
However, choosing Vickie Guerrero to be AJ’s replacement —even on a short-term basis— emphasizes the WWE’s lack of consistency when it comes to the behaviors it will tolerate from different characters in similar positions.
Of course, the WWE cannot apply too strict a set of rules when it comes to the amount of leeway given to a particular position or situation, as different storylines demand different restrictions in order to produce an emotional reaction from the audience. This is a necessary part of the creative process and is filtered out by fans if they are suitably entertained.
In fact, the WWE audience is particularly amenable when it comes to forgetting inconvenient truths, and the company has exploited this on numerous occasions.
Fan compliance cannot be taken for granted, though, and the WWE should try to avoid direct reminders of past events when someone else may have received more or less help than in the current situation.
Choosing Vickie to replace AJ, as an experienced hand that has already run one of the WWE’s shows, violates the idea that direct comparisons should not be evoked.
All of the errors that the heel Vickie made as general manager automatically come flooding back to the viewer’s mind. The countless opportunities Vickie was afforded after making mistakes or deliberately persecuting talent seem completely disproportionate to the chances AJ received.
What makes the direct comparison worse is that AJ has been forced to resign due to rumors of fraternization with a member of the roster. Yet Vickie was seemingly allowed to openly sleep with and then marry Edge during her tenure as general manager.
WWE could not have set up a better example of the company’s lack of consistency.
Selecting another talent to take up the "managing supervisor" role would not have made the contradiction between the past and now disappear, but it would not have reminded the audience, either. Instead, most fans would be concentrating on that new person’s decisions and how they would change the landscape of the WWE.
It may turn out that the WWE has deliberately selected Vickie to emphasize inconsistencies in the all-powerful WWE board’s procedural policies and this will lead to bigger changes in the future. However, recent history suggests that will not happen, and that it is a simple case of the WWE underestimating its audience once again.
Fans have to remember that variability in the way rules are applied is a necessary evil in the world of WWE, as it allows for the best stories to be produced. The company just needs to be a little wiser in choosing what memories it wishes to evoke from the audience when it puts different talent together.