You may or may not have noticed that during WrestleMania season, Vince McMahon was advertised, both as his Mr. McMahon character and as himself, for a number of events, only to be pulled from subsequent advertisements. At the same time, Stephanie McMahon's on-screen title kept changing.
Now, as of this past Monday, Mr. McMahon is still missing in action, and Stephanie is "the principal owner of World Wrestling Entertainment." According to the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter (F4WOnline subscribers-only link, h/t WrestlingInc.com), the reason for this is that the Mr. McMahon character has been retired.
This doesn't mean that we'll never see Vince McMahon again. Instead, he'll save his appearances for "real life" moments like documentary interviews and paying tribute to wrestlers who passed away.
What this means for Stephanie is that she is now the on-screen McMahon who "owns the company." She's the final authority in the way that Vince always was.
For a long time, a common criticism of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H as heels was that you weren't sure the babyface would give them their comeuppance at the end of the day.
Vince McMahon as Mr. McMahon was the opposite: He had no problem embarrassing himself whenever it was best for the storyline, from wetting his pants in fear when Steve Austin pulled a "gun" on him to having his face shoved in Big Show's exposed rear end. Not much of the same had happened to his daughter or her husband.
Meanwhile, Stephanie had, for years, been fairly underwhelming as a performer. She had a certain enthusiasm when she started out and did very well for herself after her initial heel turn at the end of 1999, but she became a bit wooden as a performer over time.
When you combine that with how she didn't necessarily seem to be as selfless a heel as her father, it was hard to be optimistic about her ever "replacing" Mr. McMahon on-screen.
That has all changed dramatically. I don't know how or why, but something clearly clicked with her as a performer starting last fall. Her promos improved dramatically, and as time went on, she and Triple H also seemed to realize that regardless of whether or not they felt the hardcore fans' feelings about them were valid, it was, well, best for business to play into those feelings.
Stephanie has developed her father's knack for using the right words to make a good promo great and a funny promo hilarious. Whether it was her disappointment that the Rhodes family wouldn't accept her Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card or exclaiming "Are you OK, baby?" when Daniel Bryan attacked Triple H, she knows exactly what to say to put the story and her character over the top.
And then came this past Monday's Raw.
She was brilliant. Not only did she make an absolute fool of herself singing and dancing, but she was willing to be thrown into a vat of pudding that the announcers were implying was sewage for some reason. Stephanie played it to the hilt, going in face first, rolling around and throwing a tantrum worthy of Mr. McMahon.
They always said she was truly her father's daughter, and that's clearer than ever.