The July 7 edition of Monday Night Raw was without leadership as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were supposedly on vacation. WWE's power couple apparently decided to leave Raw in the hands of the talent, thus leaving no corporate direction for the duration of the program.
All of this happened much to the delight of the fans both in attendance and watching at home. Whether that was because of The Authority's heel agenda or because fans wanted something different for a change, the fact is it worked. The truth is, WWE does not need The Authority dominating Monday Night Raw.
When the announcement was made very early on in the program on Monday night, fans were surely taken aback. After all, The Authority's presence has been felt on WWE programming since SummerSlam in 2013. It was at that event that Triple H turned heel for the first time in his new corporate incarnation, betraying Daniel Bryan and costing him the WWE Championship.
Hunter was the special guest referee during Bryan's title match against John Cena that night, and The Game called the bout right down the middle. When Bryan made the cover and got the win, Triple H raised his arm in victory.
It was then that Randy Orton came to ringside, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. Orton was ready to make an impact, to cash in and become the new WWE champion.
And thanks to a shocking Pedigree delivered to Bryan from Triple H, Orton did just that.
Thus began The Authority's reign of terror in WWE. Under the guise of wanting what was best for business, they began controlling nearly every aspect of the company's programming and appeared on nearly every broadcast. Where Vince McMahon had once stood and played the part of the power-mad tyrant, now stood his daughter and son-in-law.
The Authority was twice the corruption, twice the ego trip Vince McMahon had ever been. They were every time they were on the air.
But that was the plan, of course. WWE has always favored heel leadership for its product. Whether it was Vince, John Laurinaitis, Vickie Guerrero, Eric Bischoff or any other heel general manager that has ever been featured, the company has traditionally always featured a self-serving antagonist at the top.
Going that route directly contradicts what the majority of WWE fans want, and that's the point. The crowd wants to see its favorites win and to have every opportunity to succeed, and it wants to cheer them on as they do just that. But with a heel authority figure opposing them, life becomes a lot harder for WWE's babyfaces.
That is obviously why WWE goes that route to begin with.
There is no drama in any pro wrestling presentation that focuses solely on the protagonist who has no opposition. Being tested in the ring by those who would defeat him, being challenged by devious heels that want nothing more than to take his spot, the pro wrestling babyface is very accustomed to that way of life.
So are the fans. It's what they expect to see.
But with the added dimension of a heel corporate structure that seeks to destroy that babyface, the entire game changes. For WWE, that is what drama is all about, and it's evidently what it believes constitutes a good story.
Considering the success that WWE had with Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Vince McMahon, who can argue the point? Even in the case of CM Punk versus WWE back in 2011, the dynamic was still there, even though Triple H was not a clear heel at the time.
WWE loves to put its protagonists under the gun and their backs against the wall. That is exactly what we've seen from The Authority over the past year. From the Rhodes family to Big Show to CM Punk to, of course, Daniel Bryan, The Authority has had its way with every face that has stood up to them.
It's what fans are used to seeing, and truth be told, the formula has worked. Daniel Bryan became a huge star thanks in large part to the heel opposition he faced from The Authority. The more they held him down, the more popular he became. Bryan got over more than likely anyone thought he would, and The Authority helped make that happen.
Again, who can argue the point?
But somewhere along the way, the heel agenda became too much for fans. The Authority went from having a razor-sharp focus on Bryan or another babyface of the night to doling out punishment whenever the mood struck it. Soon, every episode of Monday Night Raw kicked off with either Triple H, Stephanie McMahon or both.
With a smile on their faces, they set out to ruin the night of anyone who had made their hit list for the evening. Despite what came their way, nothing could shake them. Even after being humiliated by Vickie Guerrero on the June 23 edition of Raw, Stephanie still came out the following week smiling as if nothing had ever happened.
But despite all that The Authority has done and how it has dominated the overall storylines on TV, the fact is that on July 7, its presence was not needed. The truth is, they really weren't even missed.
WWE may be better served just using The Authority as background noise, as the sinister presence just behind the scenes of the weekly action on TV. Triple H or Stephanie could be used occasionally on the air whenever the moment called for it. This way the company's stars could shine and perform uninterrupted without a constant confrontation by The Authority.
Triple H and Stephanie's absence would ultimately improve the flow of Raw. After all, their weekly intro usually involves a spot in the ring, and that spot feels like it drags on forever at times. Then, they're seen throughout the program, sometimes together and sometimes separately.
Each Raw begins to blend into the one after it, and soon fans are unable to tell one week from the next.
That was not the case on July 7, and if WWE wants to keep the product fresh, then pulling The Authority back may be just the way to make that happen.
From a storyline perspective, The Authority is likely not going anywhere anytime soon. Barring internal strife within the McMahon family or a corporate takeover from an outside threat, The Authority is staying right where it is.
That does not mean they cannot be utilized in other ways. Pulling them back from WWE programming would improve the flow and allow the Superstars to shine in the ring. The Authority does not need to dominate Monday Night Raw, and at some point the company needs to change its way of looking at the corporate heel structure. It's what's best for business.