Shane McMahon is one step closer to making WWE's new era a legitimate reality.
Vince McMahon will be at Payback on May 1 and will reportedly make a decision that night as to which heir will be in charge of WWE's flagship program, according to WWE.com. Monday Night Raw has become the richest prize in this storyline, and many fans are surely hoping that Shane continues to call the shots.
But Stephanie McMahon is waiting in the wings.
This is the angle that many have been anticipating since WrestleMania 32, one that was simply unavoidable. The Authority had been in charge of WWE programming since 2013, and that kind of reign will not just disappear because of one major event.
This is about the future of WWE, and something that big requires an equally big storyline.
That storyline will likely start at Payback, and fans are surely speculating on whether Shane or Stephanie will take the throne of Raw. But while Shane is babyface and his presence has offered something different, some are wondering if he indeed should be at the helm.
Stephanie is considered by many to be a great heel, and her entertainment value is unquestionable. Should she and Triple H resume their heel control of Raw?
As with every storyline in WWE, there is good and bad here. It's up to fans to decide whose side they fall on.
Shane speaks for the fans.
Once again, WWE has tapped into social media and used it to benefit a storyline. Shane has been delivering many of the arguments that have been floating in fan circles for years and has truly hit a nerve.
Fans want new, they want different and they want exciting. That is exactly what's been booked since Shane took over on Raw, and there's no reason to believe WWE will let up if he continues in his current role.
The fact that the company could have booked like this without Shane in charge is irrelevant; he is riding the wave of popularity that comes along with giving fans what they want to see.
This is about AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin. This is about fresh faces getting real TV time and giving fans new matches that have perhaps never happened before. This is about WWE getting away from the norm and embracing the new.
This is about Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady tearing the house down every time they're on the mic.
WWE is truly mixing it up right now, and if keeping Shane at the head of Raw keeps it going, then that is exactly where he should be.
Another plus here is that The Authority has no business being back on TV.
They may have been good at getting heat, but there has really not been any other positive effect from their existence. Stephanie and Triple H have mocked, they've attacked, they've manipulated and they've done everything in their power to bring down every babyface who has ever crossed their path.
This went one step further than just getting an angle over on TV. This became nothing more than just getting The Authority over on TV.
Every week, fans tuned in to Raw and saw the same old show. The Authority usually kicked off the program, they filled the middle and they often appeared near the end. They were always smiling, they were always happy and they were always on the winning side.
No one could get over while they were getting over.
Fans likely knew what WWE was going for here; it was about The Authority being truly hated as much as possible. To the company, this was a good thing. But for fans who had grown sick of such a bulletproof faction, there was nothing good about it.
Shane McMahon's Monday Night Raw is about the program itself. He shows up sporadically, cutting short promos and conversing with talent backstage. It's not about him; it's about the men and women in the ring.
He doesn't get in the way of the storylines and is never in the spotlight that much, and most of the time, he's content to just let the night happen. Again, this is all thanks to Raw's booking, but the company has proved Raw can function without The Authority's persistent presence.
If not for the booking, nothing would have changed on Raw.
Shane might be a protagonist, but that would not stop WWE from pushing him down the throats of fans. There is a fine line between being used sparingly and being overexposed; WWE is eventually going to cross that line.
When it happens, fans will grow as sick of Shane as they are of The Authority.
Too much of this will cause fans to turn on Shane, which will likely bring about a heel turn. Before long, WWE will have the exact same issues it had when The Authority was in power. Once again a McMahon antagonist will rule Raw with an iron fist, forcing every Superstar to bow to his unlimited power.
How will Raw be any different than it was when The Authority was in charge?
The fact is that WWE may be doing nothing more than just reeling the audience in. Once everyone is on board with Shane and confident that things have changed for the better, he will turn heel and bring down the McMahon wrath on every Superstar who stands in his way.
Then all of the new faces will suffer through the same storylines as Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Randy Orton. Raw will pit the babyfaces against the McMahon family once again, and there is really no future in any of that.
Another negative aspect to Shane remaining in power is that he just doesn't have the teeth that The Authority does.
A corporate babyface leaves no room for drama. He will always do the right thing, everyone will always love him and every Raw will end with happy fans. That may sound like a nice change of pace, but if there's too much of it the product will become very stale, very fast.
The Authority stirs up drama by its sheer presence alone. As soon as Stephanie begins talking, fans want someone to stop her. When that happens, it gives that babyface a nice pop, and when that face goes after The Authority, it starts a nice run.
Fans want to support the Superstar who wants to take the establishment down. From "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to CM Punk to Daniel Bryan, babyfaces have raged against the machine, and fans have totally bought in.
Without The Authority, who will today's current faces rebel against?
Shane McMahon is the flavor of the month right now. But he will either cause Raw to become stale or will eventually turn heel. Either way, fans do not win, and that's an outcome no one wants.
Tom Clark can regularly be found on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here