Vince McMahon has been a recurring presence on WWE TV ever since the company’s “fresh start.” Should McMahon continue as an on-screen character or step aside?
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is the one constant in pro wrestling. No matter what modern era of wrestling you look at, McMahon’s influence can be seen and felt. In fact, no matter what modern era of wrestling you watch, you can actually see McMahon on WWE TV.
Ever since his days as a commentator all the way through his legendary rivalry with Stone Cold Steve Austin and beyond, McMahon has been physically present on many of the best times for WWE’s weekly shows.
A few years back however, that started to change. Since the days of CM Punk and The Authority, “The Chairman of the Board” has been exactly that, WWE’s most well-known executive, not a member of the recurring on-screen roster.
Of course there’s been some sporadic appearances here and there, mostly fun reminders of how great Vince McMahon’s past work on WWE TV was but not many overarching appearances that influence the on-screen direction of the storylines.
That’s changed once again when WWE introduced its “fresh start” initiative.
All of a sudden, McMahon has been back as the preeminent on-screen authority figure. He’s returned to having a massive storyline effect on the world title pictures of both Raw and SmackDown, a role that he mostly hasn’t been in for several years now.
I guess that makes the questions of the hour fairly clear then. Is Vince McMahon’s presence on weekly WWE TV a positive one? Should McMahon continue being a constant on-screen presence, or should he return back to the way it used to be before the company decided it needed a new direction?
The answer, I believe, is not as obvious as it may seem.
Vince McMahon carries with him a weight that no other superstar has in WWE. He has the undeniable presence of the supreme authority figure of pro wrestling. Any mere interaction with him can instantaneously become one of the biggest angles on WWE TV, given the sheer aura that McMahon has surrounding him.
Therein lies the problem though. Any discourse between McMahon and another competitor can immediately be used as storyline fodder.
For example, just take Raw’s Universal Championship picture. Braun Strowman was cruising into a a major match with Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble until he destroyed Vince McMahon’s limo.
It’s the kind of segment that always gets a pop regardless of your opinion of it. Since the days of Steve Austin pouring cement into McMahon’s limo, the limo’s been one of the most frequently mangled vehicles in sports entertainment history.
This time, Strowman decided to rough up McMahon’s ride by ripping the entire door off the limo in order to get his hands on a fleeing Baron Corbin. That small interaction, at least by WWE’s typical standards, turned into Strowman losing his Universal Championship match with Lesnar due to his evoking of McMahon’s ire.
While this may have been the right call in the long-term, as far as pulling Strowman from the match goes, it just seems as though its lazy storytelling. It was a completely random, out of left field interaction that led to the entire chaning of a main event of one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year.
Its those kinds of easy storyline outs that McMahon’s presence provides when on WWE TV.
Instead of thinking of a creative way to strip the opportunity from Strowman and place Finn Balor in the Universal Championship match, WWE simply had Strowman destroy McMahon’s limo and that was it.
Braun Strowman’s case is unique to Raw however. If you look at how Vince McMahon has influenced the WWE Championship scene on SmackDown, you see a starkly different story.
A.J. Styles was on the receiving end of increasingly bad outcomes for weeks on SmackDown. This led to McMahon trying to pull the intensity out of Styles that he’s been seemingly missing for some time now.
The subsequent angle resulting from that first interaction has been one of the most entertaining and intriguing stories in WWE today. Styles has been completely unhinged lately, with a new intensity that has arguably recaptured some of the traction he’s lost over the last handful of months.
Styles’ rivalry with Daniel Bryan has become one of the highlights on SmackDown as a result. No one knows what Styles will do next, which is that layer of unpredictably that makes each weekly episode of a show must-see television.
While a lot of that effect is due to the fact that both Bryan and Styles are extremely high-level performers, I would argue the storyline would have struggled to find a footing if it weren’t for McMahon being the authority figure that challenged Styles to tap in to his inner darkness.
The connection fans have with McMahon, due to all those years of creating memorable moments, is what helped instill a sense of shock when Styles decked McMahon for the first time. It immediately felt like the development of an angle that could very well turn into one of the most well-executed storylines in all of wrestling.
With two drastically conflicting influences on WWE brands though, one arguably rather negative and the other very positive, what should the verdict be on McMahon’s continued TV presence?
In my opinion, it comes down to simple storyline decisions. When executed properly, McMahon’s role on weekly TV can be one of the high points of a given show. However, when McMahon’s presence is used as an easy way out for storylines that arguably deserve more development, then WWE has to have the wherewithal to not use McMahon to shoehorn an angle into effect.
Vince McMahon is always one of the most entertaining people to watch on WWE TV, for better or for worse. It simply comes down to WWE being careful to ensure the instances where his presence makes angles better far outweigh those times when it makes them worse.