Should WWE Drop the General Manager Gimmick?

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

So, Hornswoggle was the anonymous Raw general manager.


Well, strike up one for good old WWE creative, as that was a swerve of epic proportions. Fans all over the world were stunned, shocked, watching in utter disbelief as the one storyline that had captivated us for so long reached its epic conclusion.

Okay, none of that is true. In fact, I would say that 99.9 percent of us didn’t really care all that much.

The other .01 percent were actually pretty upset, and when the miniature GM was exposed, my Twitter timeline blew up with an endless chain of expletives, most of them centered around what they perceived to be a lousy payoff.

Um, excuse me? Payoff? When was the last time anyone had anything to say about the anonymous Raw GM? The angle has been dead for quite a while, right? Last Monday night was not built up as some legendary reveal, the culmination of endless promos, spots, and tireless work by WWE.

We were not all sitting there, on the edge of our seats, in frenzied anticipation of who would walk down the ramp and proceed to shock the world.

Again, it was a non-issue.

The question is, can the same be said of the general manager concept in WWE?

Insignificant Hornswoggle debacle aside, I have to say that when it comes to the GM gimmick, I am actually torn on the subject.

One part of me gets it. This is WWE. This is Vince McMahon. The firmly established authority figure is part of the program, it’s one of the trademarks of the company’s overall storyline, and has been for many years.

From Jack Tunney to Gorilla Monsoon, to Vince himself, to everyone who has ever been in that position up to this point, all of them have essentially played the same role.

That role is corporate supervision of a pro wrestling entertainment company. It’s a big deal for WWE, and with the advent of the general manager concept, it’s really never been bigger.

The GM oversees the chaos that takes place on a weekly basis. It’s his or her job to keep everyone in line, while making matches that the fans want to see. When the program is successful, the GM gets all the credit. However, when something goes “wrong,” that person receives the majority of the blame.

But someone has to be in charge of all those personalities, to make the decisions and ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Vince has relied on this idea for years. It’s how WWE operates. I get that.

But fans also understand that the authority figure in WWE, especially as it relates to the general manager, is nothing but a work.

All of it. Every bit of it. From the suit to the match making, to the conflicts that are resolved, and every decision in between, the GM is just storyline, a character who has no more authority in the company than the guy selling T-Shirts at the souvenir stand. 

The real purpose of the general manager, as well as the overall authority figure on WWE TV is just to mix things up. If the GM is heel, which he usually is, because Vince wants it that way, then there is automatic heat with the crowd every time a baby face is put in harms’ way.

Irrational decision making when it comes to the faces and booking them in matches they can’t possibly win generates some true hate from fans, who see the GM as a man that is abusing his power. The thought is that those fans will hopefully tune in next week, or even come to the event, to see the GM possibly get one-upped by the fan favorite Superstars that he is trying to ruin.

This gives the faces something to fight against, a way for them to get sympathy from the crowd for their uphill plight, and to ultimately get them over.

Of course, when the authority figure is face, as with Triple H recently, then the entire dynamic changes. Suddenly, it’s the heels who are on the ropes, lobbying together to protest what they deem to be unfair decisions made at their expense.

Now, the goal of WWE is to simply get a pop. Whether it’s Triple H, or Teddy Long, when a guy stands on the ramp, and announces an action packed card, giving fans what they want, then obviously he is going to be viewed in a favorable light.

The roof gets blown off the place, the GM is loved by all, and it’s fun times in WWE.

Sounding familiar?

But my concerns with Vince McMahon’s apparent obsession regarding the General Manager role center mostly around the fact that when there is no GM, the program seems to run so much smoother.

No time is wasted by a power-hungry GM trying to heel out to the max, and by the same token, no unnecessary segments bore us to tears because an honest GM takes forever to announce what’s going to happen for the rest of the night.

Instead, the night rolls right along like it used to before, back when a match would happen, then we cut to a backstage promo, then on to another match. We all assume the night’s card was set beforehand, by bookers backstage who believe they have put together a great event, and we do not have to sit through one match making “decision” after the other. We go seamlessly from one moment to the next.

For me, the general manager position is a distraction. While I can clearly see what WWE’s intention is, I believe that its time has come and gone.

It made sense in the beginning, back when Raw and SmackDown were first separated. After all, there was a lot of talent on both rosters, and the need to corral that talent in the eyes of the fans, was probably viewed as a necessary evil.

But, now, that both brands crossover all the time, what’s the point of it?

On the upcoming Raw 1000th episode, we will likely learn who the new GM of both SmackDown and Raw will be. Could be Stephanie McMahon. That seems to be the popular choice. Or, perhaps it could be someone else. A returning legend like Ric Flair, or maybe another Superstar that we do not expect.

But whoever it is, I for one will not be celebrating the decision. For me, the concept is dead in the water, and at this point I’m just ready to move on to the next big idea.

And, no, it does not involve Hornswoggle. Everyone relax. Sheesh.


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