When WWE's Monday Night Raw was in its heyday, the show featured Vince McMahon as a polarizing authority figure. Currently, Vickie Guerrero is cast as the Managing Supervisor of WWE's flagship program. Sadly, she lacks the necessary gravitas to be one of Raw's headline acts. Ratings are at historically low levels. WWE needs to find a real general manager for its Monday night cash cow.
Candidates had to fulfill three criteria in order to be considered for this list.
They had to have played an authority figure in the past. Fans are more likely to accept someone in a position of power if that person has previously demonstrated the ability to lead. This category is Past Performance.
Candidates have to have credibility with the fans. They need to seem like authority figures and be someone that wrestlers would respect. We'll call this category Gravitas.
The last criteria is that the new GM has to have name value. Ratings are lower than ever right now, and it's going to take a big name at the helm to restore Raw to its former glory. This is the Fame Factor category.
With those ideas in mind, here is a list of nine former authority figures that could replace Vickie Guerrero as the power broker on Monday Night Raw:
WWE's most recent authority figures cannot be put back into place. This includes AJ Lee, Vickie Guerrero, John Laurinaitis, Teddy Long and the podium that used to serve Raw's anonymous GM (later revealed as Hornswoggle).
While all of these folks have had turns running Raw in the past, none of them were particularly successful. Fans didn't really buy any of these people as authority figures when they were in charge and wouldn't believe in them again. All of these people have been in charge as ratings have steadily declined.
An empty podium, a screeching woman who tries to seduce wrestlers 20 years her junior, a libidinous crazy girl and two former bureaucrats who were fired from their positions over the past year have all served as recent authority figures on WWE's top two television shows. When it comes to credibility, there has been a definite hole.
The most famous person on this list is arguably Hornswoggle. Since, during his "reign" as the anonymous General Manager, he was represented by an empty podium and Michael Cole (hard to tell which was less effective), that doesn't bode well for the rest of the candidates.
AJ Lee might be more famous than Hornswoggle right now, but she was fired from her job for her mental instability and poor decision-making. Laurinaitis was mocked by wrestlers and fans alike, and actually stepped down from his real life job as WWE's Senior Vice President of Talent Relations.
Guerrero has some potential as a heel manager, but doesn't do well as the ultimate boss. Teddy Long was great as a manager and referee 15 years ago, but most of today's fans don't remember him for those accomplishments.
None of the recent power figures fulfill the three criteria enough to warrant serious consideration.
The Raw General Manager should be an authority figure who can inspire confidence in fans and obedience in wrestlers. There are few in the WWE who exude authority more than Sergeant Slaughter.
Sarge served as Raw's commissioner from mid 1997 through late 1998. During his time at the helm, Slaughter engaged in a running feud with DX, particularly HHH. Slaughter produced good TV ratings during his time at the helm. It's hard to tell if that was because of him or because of DX.
Slaughter scores well here. Who has more authority than a 6'4", 300-pound man in a military uniform? Slaughter would have credibility with the fans due to his military bearing and long history with the company. Wrestlers would respect him as a former commissioner and WWF Champion.
This is where Sergeant Slaughter suffers the most. His glory days as a wrestler were in the mid 80s and his time as commissioner was still 15 years ago. Most WWE fans don't remember him for what he was. Currently, he's a sideshow attraction that comes out to wrestle once or twice a year. As a week-in, week-out authority figure, that's just not enough to put him over with fans.
He scores high in gravitas but doesn't have enough in the other two categories to merit serious consideration.
If WWE is looking to put someone with legitimate power in the position of Raw General Manager, it would be worth considering Stephanie McMahon Helmsley, who is already the real-life Executive Vice President (Creative) for the company.
Stephanie has had some runs at the top of the company. In 2000, Stephanie and her future husband, HHH, took over as owners of Monday Night Raw. The McMahon-Helmsley Era ran into 2001 and was a solid ratings period for WWE. She was also the on-screen owner of ECW during the invasion period in 2001 and served as SmackDown general manager in 2002 and 2003.
Stephanie is a legitimate corporate bigwig. Her standing as one of the top three or four executives in WWE gives her credibility. In fact, maybe too much credibility. When Stephanie was on TV regularly, she took bumps, wrestled in matches and suffered abuse at the hands of stars like The Rock and Chris Jericho.
It's hard to picture her as anything but all-powerful these days. The GM needs to be authoritative, but there also has to be some give and take. Stephanie might be too powerful in real life to assume the role of TV GM.
Here, it's hard to say how Stephanie would fare. Fans know who she is. She's the daughter of WWE's Chairman and the wife of the CEO, HHH. She had some great moments in the ring during the Attitude Era, but that might not resonate with today's crowd.
While Stephanie scores higher all-around than Sgt. Slaughter, she doesn't have enough in the Fame category to make a legit GM. Also, she'd have to accept a demotion from her real-life job. She would probably come off as too powerful.
If Stephanie has too much authority to become an on-screen authority figure, maybe her brother could take over the part. Shane McMahon isn't involved in the day-to-day operations of Raw in real life, but still carries that McMahon pedigree (Pun not intended).
Shane, who resigned from WWE in 2010, has history on WWE television. He was a commentator on Sunday Night Heat, and was even the voice of one of WWF's video games, WWF Attitude, in 1999. In addition, Shane appeared regularly on TV as a wrestler and referee, and was the "owner" of WCW during the 2001 Invasion angle.
While no longer with WWE in real life, Shane is a successful businessman. He still carries the McMahon name, and has history in the ring and behind the mic. Wrestlers would respect him, but he wouldn't seem as untouchable as Stephanie. While primarily a babyface during his earlier runs with the company, Shane is also capable of playing a heel.
Shane is less famous than his sister. However, he looks like his father, and he is still a McMahon. Most fans wouldn't remember him from his TV stints, but since many of them were action roles, WWE could re-establish his credibility by showing video highlights.
Shane is a McMahon. That fact alone makes him a more viable candidate than Slaughter. He has in-ring and announcing experience that move him past Stephanie in terms of credibility. However, he hasn't been with the company in any capacity in three years, and hasn't been on-air regularly in more than five. It'd take time to establish him with the fans. There's also the added issue that he most likely isn't interested in the job.
Since neither of the McMahon siblings look like a long-term solution for the Raw GM position, it makes sense to look at some people who have managerial experience and aren't named McMahon. One of the first candidates that fits the bill is already on the WWE payroll.
Paul Heyman is worth considering as Vickie Guerrero's replacement.
Heyman has considerable experience running wrestling organizations both on-camera and off. He was the creative force behind Extreme Championship Wrestling in the 1990s, and was SmackDown's GM in 2003 and 2004. Later, Heyman was the on-screen authority when ECW was relaunched as a WWE brand in 2006.
Heyman would have credibility with fans to a certain extent. He's been the leader of several organizations and factions on-screen, and many would remember him from his days as the SmackDown General Manager. In his most recent run, he's been associated with CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. This gives him credibility as someone with access to top stars.
Heyman is well-known to today's WWE fans. He has been on TV weekly, and has been associated with some of the top names on the card. He's a good talker and would have instant credibility as a heel.
While Heyman outscores both of the McMahon progeny in the Past Performance and Fame categories, he may fall short a bit in the Gravitas area. Though he has played an authority figure in the past, he generally got steamrolled by the McMahons. He's also very closely associated with heel characters Punk and Lesnar.
Heyman's clear positioning as a pure heel would probably make him too one-sided to hold Raw's top spot.
If huge pops and fan loyalty are what WWE is looking for in a General Manager, the company would do well to consider bringing back Shawn Michaels to take over the show.
The Heartbreak Kid's experience as an authority figure has mostly been as a special referee in high-profile matches. He did, however, serve as WWE Commissioner from late 1998 to early 2000. He was more of a misplaced wrestler than a true authority figure during his supervisory days.
HBK would definitely bring credibility as the Raw GM. He's one of the most famous performers in WWE history. As a member of Degeneration X, Michaels had a hand in the Attitude Era, WWE's glory days. He's widely regarded as the best in-ring performer in WWE history. Both wrestlers and fans would listen when Michaels delivered an edict.
Though he hasn't been a regular wrestler in more than two years, Michaels remains one of the most well-known and popular people on the WWE payroll. Fans would go crazy over the announcement of HBK as Raw's general manager. Every wrestler on the roster knows who he is, and aspires to have the success that Michaels experienced during his career.
The only possible downside is that fans would be disappointed if HBK didn't get in the ring from time to time.
Michaels scores higher than anyone else thus far in the Fame Factor area and is second in Gravitas rankings behind Stephanie McMahon. His past performance is a bit weak when it comes to being an authority figure and it's doubtful that fans would accept him as the Raw general manager when they'd rather see him wrestle.
Though arguably less famous than any of his predecessors on this list, William Regal would make an excellent candidate for the Raw GM position. Also, unlike anyone else on the list thus far, it appears that Regal actually wants the job.
Regal's resumé contains a lot of on-air managerial experience. He was Commissioner of Raw in 2001, the GM of the show in 2007 and 2008 and NXT match coordinator in 2012. Regal has worn the management hat on several occasions, and was largely effective in those roles.
While not as famous as some of his predecessors on this list, Regal has an air of authority about him. Maybe it's his British accent or his 25 years in the business. When he speaks, he commands attention and respect.
Regal isn't tied to any current babyfaces or heels (he is cast as a friend to Sheamus, but only in a tangential way). With his NXT connection, Regal has legitimate insight into the members of The Shield and new import Big E Langston. His strong ties to WWE's past and present alike give Regal great credibility.
Regal isn't as famous as Michaels or the Heyman, but he's not a complete unknown to the fans like Shane McMahon or even Sergeant Slaughter might be. Regal is well-known to old-school fans of WWE TV and to the newer fans who view the developmental show, NXT as well.
Regal makes his points in the Past Performance and Gravitas arenas. He isn't as well known as most of the names on this list but he's done the job before and has ties to both the established and new faces on the WWE roster.
Unlike Heyman and Michaels, Regal would be able to come in as a neutral character and could play a "straight" GM, one who doesn't favor either the babyfaces or heels. He wouldn't be the flashiest choice, but Regal would fill the bill.
Mick Foley would be an interesting candidate to become the next Raw general manager.
Foley doesn't rank first in any of the three criteria being used to compile this list, but he's close enough to the top in each category to make a strong overall case.
Foley served as Raw's commissioner for about half of 2000 and again for a brief stint in 2001. While he wasn't the authoritarian that Vince McMahon was in the Attitude Era, he was fun to watch and ultimately successful in the role. He was particularly entertaining in his interactions with Edge and Christian.
Foley wouldn't have the gravitas of either of the McMahons or even William Regal but he'd have enough credibility to carry off the role.
Fans love Foley, and when motivated, he's one of the best promo men the industry has ever seen. Also, Foley could explain complicated story lines to fans. While he shines most at comedy, Foley can be serious enough to get the attention of the wrestlers as well as the fans.
Everyone knows who Mick Foley is.
He isn't currently on TV, like Heyman, nor is he as legendary as Michaels but Foley gets a huge pop every time he appears on WWE TV. He has an endearing everyman quality, and would appeal to both hardcore and more casual fans.
While generally considered a babyface, Foley has enough credibility to play a straight GM, like Regal. He's one of the more notable WWE names of the past quarter century, and relates both as a wrestler and a genuine fan of WWE.
Raw would be a better show with Foley cast in the seat of power.
It was one of the best moments in the history of the WWE Slammy Awards when Ric Flair appeared on-stage to announce the winner of the award for 2012 Wrestler of the Year.
Flair, no matter how long he's been gone, or what he's been doing while absent, stirs a crowd like few others. It was fantastic to see him on a WWE stage again, and it would be a pleasure to see him every week on Monday Night Raw.
Flair has a history as an authority figure on Raw. He was cast as the show's owner for a period of time in 2002. Flair has had runs as the top authority in other promotions as well.
He was an ambassador on Ring of Honor in 2009, and was an authority figure in TNA and WCW as well. While it seems like Flair has been the boss of every major wrestling promotion in history at one time or another, his time at the top is actually somewhat limited.
There might not be anyone on the planet who can bring cache to the general manager's seat like Ric Flair.
Flair is a 16-time World Champion, has wrestled everywhere from the Deep South to Japan and appeals to fans from ages 11-71. He is legendary with both crowds and wrestlers, and would lend credibility to the office of GM by merely considering the position.
In the history of professional wrestling, only Hulk Hogan is more well-known than Flair. No one in the business is more respected and almost no one appeals as universally to the fans. Flair's trademark "Woooo" is enough to get crowds roaring.
Flair becomes the top candidate on the list on the strength of his gravitas and fame. He has some limited experience in the top spot, but becomes a top contender for the GM chair simply because he's Ric Flair.
The only problem with hiring Flair for the Raw general manager position is that Flair is one of the central figures in a lawsuit between WWE and TNA. Vince and Co. might be afraid to hire Flair while the suit is still pending.
If WWE doesn't want to cast Ric Flair as the GM of Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon should break the bank to get the only man in professional wrestling who could do a better job than The Nature Boy.
Stone Cold Steve Austin is the perfect choice as the new Raw GM.
Austin has spent some time in the seat of power. He was cast as Raw's Chief Executive Officer for a month in 1999, and spent some time as co-General Manager/Sheriff in 2003 and 2004. Austin's interactions with Kurt Angle are WWE comedy legend, and his "What?" catchphrase still echoes through WWE arenas.
Austin brings even more credibility to the GM position than Flair. He was the poster boy for the Attitude Era, the top period in WWE history. He's been the mentor on Tough Enough, which shows he has an eye for talent and a feel for the business. The fans love Austin, and the wrestlers respect him. He'd bring a credibility to the role that no one else could match.
While Michaels and Flair are both famous and popular with the WWE Universe, no one holds the cachet of Austin. The sound of breaking glass brings crowds to their feet worldwide, and Austin remains one of the top attractions in the WWE despite his infrequent appearances. Austin is the closest thing to a mainstream star in the WWE since The Rock was a part time wrestler/part time movie star.
Austin is the perfect candidate because he rises to the top of the pile in every category.
He's held the top spot, like Foley and Heyman, but his time at the top was arguably more memorable. He brings even more credibility to the role than Stephanie McMahon, who virtually holds the same title in real life. When it comes to popularity, not even the legendary Ric Flair would get more response from WWE audiences.
Raw needs a new GM, and Stone Cold is just the man for the job.
No one would be a better choice to be the new Monday Night Raw General Manager than Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Austin might not have the same amount of experience in the top chair as Mick Foley or Paul Heyman, but his short stints as the authority figure on WWE's flagship show are more memorable than anyone else's.
No one would bring more credibility to the role than Austin. He's held every major championship belt that WWE has to offer. He's feuded with Mike Tyson and Vince McMahon, and worn tiny cowboy hats with Kurt Angle. Austin is independent, so he wouldn't have to be a babyface or heel, and he has ties to both past WWE glory and current superstars.
While Mick Foley and Ric Flair have credibility, Austin has feuded on the very top levels and come out ahead. He could turn any current superstar babyface by aligning with him, and turn anyone heel by simply glaring at him.
If pleasing the fans is one of the criteria for the job, Austin would be a runaway choice. No one sparks a crowd like The Texas Rattlesnake. If Austin were featured weekly on Raw, ratings would likely rise, and no one would question his authority. The WWE Universe loves Austin, the wrestlers respect him and he would bring a level of authenticity to the role that no one else could.
Is the list wrong? Is someone left off that needs to be here? Are the candidates in the wrong order? Speak your mind in the comments section below.