The formation of The Authority has many fans flashing back to Vince McMahon's group, The Corporation, with good reason.
Today, Triple H, surrounded by goons, abuses his power as an executive. He rules over WWE, a despot in a suit and tie, much the way that McMahon did over a decade ago as head of his own tyrannical stable.
Just as Hollywood has done for years, WWE recycles storylines and continually returns to what has worked in the past. Consider this a remake of an Attitude Era hit.
The cast and some elements of the plot have changed, but there are clearly a number of parallels between The Corporation and The Authority. Putting the two groups side by side reveals a stockpile of analogous aspects, but more interestingly, shines light on several dissimilarities regarding their members, purpose and opposition.
The Corporation's roster shifted and grew, the group dismissing members and acquiring new ones far more than The Authority has done so far.
Triple H's regime consists of Stephanie McMahon, The Shield, Kane, Randy Orton and to a lesser extent, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox. Vince was briefly part of the group but has since been off-camera. Even adding Big Show, who once was a fist-wielding puppet for the group, this stable isn't anywhere near as populous as The Corporation.
McMahon's crew had a lengthy list of alumni that included:
- Gerald Brisco
- Pat Patterson
- The Rock
- Shane McMahon
- Sgt. Slaughter
- Big Boss Man
- Ken Shamrock
- Shawn Michaels
- The Mean Street Posse
- Big Show
The smaller size of the organization has helped The Authority focus more on each member. While men like Test would sometimes get lost in the massiveness of The Corporation, everyone from Dean Ambrose to Orton gets a significant amount of spotlight in the current storyline.
Test, Shamrock and Big Boss Man served in a similar capacity to what The Shield is asked to do today: be the regime's attack dogs.
The Rock was clearly the biggest star of the group, the franchise player, much in the way Orton is today. The Corporation welcomed The Rock into the fold, applauding him as he carried around the WWE title and addressed the audience.
Orton's championship coronation felt almost as if that previous scene had simply been reshot.
There are less bodies around him here, but the knowing smiles and hugs are the same.
One noticeable difference made clear by the two videos is that The Corporation had far more executive influence. Brisco, Patterson, Shane and Slaughter all represented that side of the equation. The Authority employs more wrestlers than businessmen.
Even will all those suits on board, The Corporation held an abundance of championships.
The Rock was the WWE champ, Shamrock won the Intercontinental Championship, Big Boss Man was the company's hardcore titleholder and the European Championship and tag titles were theirs as well at one point. The Authority is carrying on that tradition.
Until Cody Rhodes and Goldust took the tag titles from Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, The Authority had the WWE Championship, U.S. title and tag team belts in its possession.
While it would have been beneficial for some stars like Wade Barrett to have been included in the group, the fact that The Authority's roster is so pared down makes everybody's role clear. Orton is the crown jewel, The Shield is the muscle, Triple H is the leader and Kane appears to be his right-hand man.
Their methods are the same, but their end goal is what separates these two stables.
The Corporation looked to restore order by pounding out insurgents with an iron fist. Steve Austin was too rebellious, too unpredictable for their liking. D-Generation X also posed a threat thanks to their unruliness.
This is why it was so easy for fans to invest in this storyline.
Most people can relate to their bosses trying to control them. Whether in school or in the office, fans have likely experienced their freedom being stamped out in some way.
That's what The Corporation was doing to Austin and to D-Generation X, the system trying to control our free-spirited heroes. That's why it felt so good when Austin doused his oppressors with beer.
The Corporation was trying to still a rocky boat, while The Authority has been more interested in shaping a franchise how it sees fit.
Daniel Bryan is often compared to Austin because he faces a corporate enemy, but The Authority is after a different objective with him. Bryan isn't too rebellious or unfit for WWE's top rungs because of his brashness.
Triple H and company just don't believe he's a big enough star.
The Corporation preferred The Rock to Austin as champ because he was easier to control and less of a volatile entity. The Authority prefers Orton to Bryan as the top champion because Bryan is too short and not famous enough.
This is where the more recent storyline has hurt Bryan as much as The Corporation angle elevated Austin.
Being too big of a rebel or too big of a badass to please the suits is a badge of honor. McMahon's view on Austin was not of one man looking down on another; he was afraid of "The Texas Rattlesnake."
Triple H is not nearly as afraid of Bryan and certainly has spent much of this narrative looking down on him. Austin, D-Generation X and others fought back against the regime of their time while Bryan hasn't had as many opportunities for insurrection.
A huge part of what made The Corporation storyline so engaging was how often the stable clashed with individuals and groups. The Authority, on the other hand, has been more dominant and seen less flare-ups from their subjects.
Bryan has had a few moments of besting the group, knocking Triple H to the ground at Hell in a Cell or kneeing Orton in the face leading up to that event. Rhodes and Goldust won jobs with the company and later won the tag titles from The Shield.
It's been Big Show who has been the most powerful opposition to The Authority, though.
It was "The World's Largest Athlete" who had Triple H flustered thanks to a lawsuit and who knocked Triple H out after he'd been protected for so long.
Austin did plenty of damage to The Corporation, but he wasn't alone. The backlash to The Corporation was more united than it is in today's storyline. The Ministry of Darkness and D-Generation X both gave that group hell.
If Dolph Ziggler, Bryan, Big Show and CM Punk formed a unit, they'd likely crack The Authority's hold on the roster much in the way that D-Generation X did from time to time.
It was in scenes like this that McMahon and his underlings were left speechless, fumbling for answers. That hasn't happened nearly enough against The Authority. Today's tyrannical group is missing that stable-versus-stable tension that made The Corporation's run so interesting.
Perhaps members of The Authority should break off and form their own group like Mick Foley, Big Show, Shamrock and Test once did as The Union. Maybe Bryan should recruit a number of allies to battle Triple H's small army.
Either way, if WWE has decided to remake The Corporation story, it would be wise to remember the conflict that spurred it to greatness.