WWE Raw has had a surprisingly pleasant past few months, at times being more must-see than SmackDown Live. Several factors have contributed to Raw's recent rebirth, but chief among them has been the absence of The Authority's Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
During the summer of 2013, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon became regulars on Raw for the first time in several years as authority figures, eventually turning heel and forming a heel stable at SummerSlam. They had a fun foil in the ultra popular Daniel Bryan for brief period, but it wasn't long before they began bringing down the quality of the flagship show due to their overexposure.
As exceptional as they are in their roles as heels, they rarely received their comeuppance, forcing the entire Raw roster to come across as incompetent in the process. Stephanie, in particular, would single out Superstars, slap them, assert her dominance and never allow them to shine at any point.
The closest anyone came to standing up to The Authority was Bryan, who defeated Triple H in clean fashion at WrestleMania 30 before winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later in the night. Even his wife Brie Bella, an active member of the roster, couldn't beat Stephanie at SummerSlam 2014 and never avenged the loss.
Once their exile from power in late 2014 didn't stick, fans were forced to endure The Authority for another two years. As of April 2017, Triple H and Stephanie are off WWE programming altogether, and Raw has benefited big time from them being gone.
Triple H's presence on Raw was largely curtailed following his defeat at the hands of Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32, but Stephanie remained a prominent figure on the program through this year's installment as the commissioner of Team Red.
Technically, Stephanie still holds that position on the show, but she has been almost completely removed from storylines since WrestleMania 33. Fans were told that she was "recovering" from any injuries she might have suffered during Triple H's No Holds Barred match with Seth Rollins, but other than that, she has been persona non grata.
That was over four months ago, making this the longest stretch Stephanie has not been on WWE TV for in a great while. There has been a noticeable difference in how tolerable Raw has been in that time as well.
One night removed from Stephanie's demise at 'Mania, Kurt Angle was announced as the general manager of Raw, replacing Mick Foley. While Foley could have been a great fit for the job, he was emasculated one too many times by Stephanie, and thus it was necessary to switch him out with Angle instead.
Angle hadn't been a part of the WWE family in over a decade, so with a fresh face at the helm, Raw has experienced a resurgence of sorts as of late. The show isn't Attitude Era-levels of hot, mind you, but the overall product is in a far better place than it was one year ago.
With Triple H and Stephanie stepping away from the on-air, week-to-week operations on Raw, it has led to more talent getting television time that typically would have gone to The Authority. Look no further than Titus Worldwide, Emma, the tag team division and The Miztourage as prime examples of this.
When the focus is solely on Stephanie and/or Triple H, world champions are overlooked and no one is made to feel special. That was the case during Kevin Owens' underwhelming reign as Universal champion because Stephanie was booked to look more credible and intimidating than he was.
That said, it isn't mandatory for them to stay off WWE TV forever, and some might say it is only inevitable before one or both of them resurface on Raw. There simply isn't a need for the power couple at the moment, as Angle has shown zero signs of incompetency as Raw GM up to this point.
There's no word on when Triple H will wrestle next, but it would make sense for him to eventually target Angle and demand his job back. That could culminate in an anticipated match at WrestleMania 34 and Angle coming out of in-ring retirement, but in the meantime, Triple H and Stephanie should be nowhere near the flagship show.
At long last, Monday Night Raw has built up a steady stream of shows this summer, and while there is of course room for improvement, more Triple H and Stephanie is not the answer to any issues the program currently faces.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.