By now the phrase "what's best for business" should be pretty much ingrained into the minds of every member of the WWE Universe. The Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, continue to use this phrase whenever their actions are questioned and to explain the product that they put out weekly for the fans' entertainment. Whether it is screwing Daniel Bryan out of title opportunities, sending Corporate Kane or The Shield to do its bidding, or playing mind games with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton to keep him on his game, The Authority has free range to do whatever they want. This leads us to think about other authority figures over the years in WWE.
As with any business, WWE has needed authority figures behind the scenes and the ones seen on WWE programming (or both) to keep things in order. Whether they were authority figures that got their points across with words like a Linda McMahon or the exact opposite like a Gorilla Monsoon, WWE has never lacked authority figures. Some appealed to the fans and the "face" superstars, while some made their decisions to a chorus of boos or "a**hole" chants. Here is a list of some of the top authority figures over the years in WWE.
10 Ric Flair
Who could forget the night of RAW on November 19, 2001 when Ric Flair shocked the WWE world with a major announcement. The night after the WWE defeated the Alliance in a 5-on-5, Winner Take All match at Survivor Series, Vince McMahon was ready to hand Kurt Angle the WWE Championship when the Nature Boy's music hit. Flair would inform Vince that former WCW and ECW owners Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their stock to none other than Ric Flair himself. Flair and Mr. McMahon would now both be "limousine ridin', jet flyin', kiss stealin' son of a guns" as co-owners of the WWE. The look on Mr. McMahon's face was priceless as he found out that he had a new, and equal partner. To the delight of the fans in Charlotte, NC, Flair's first move was to willingly let Stone Cold Steve Austin take back his WWE title.
Flair was what the WWE needed to balance out the power and prevent Mr. McMahon from running roughshod over the WWE like the Corporation days. Flair's stint as co-owner would mainly revolve around his rivalry with Mr. McMahon. Flair would win a Street Fight between the two at the 2002 Royal Rumble. Flair gained full control of RAW after the brand split and would later become a heel authority figure as he turned on Stone Cold and joined the very group he tried to stop his partner from gaining full access to on SmackDown, the NWO. Flair's term as co-owner ended after losing a match to Mr. McMahon on June 10, 2002 on RAW.
9 Gorilla Monsoon
The late, great Gorilla Monsoon will always be remembered for his time spent in the ring as a WWE superstar and the commentary he provided along with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan after his in-ring career. He wasn't so bad as an authority figure either. Monsoon became the WWE President in 1995, replacing Jack Tunney. Monsoon would become the first former WWE wrestler to be given an authority figure role in the WWE and was the first authority figure who was given the OK to physically confront superstars who crossed the line. That power had its pros and cons for Monsoon as the massive Vader gave him a good ass kicking on his first Monday Night RAW.
Monsoon stated that his position as WWE President would only be short-term and that he would only make matches that the fans wanted to see. The first match he made as president was a rematch between rivals Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at SummerSlam after their classic Ladder Match at Wrestlemania X. Monsoon couldn't stay in his position as President for long due to his health problems. He eventually was forced to step down but will be remembered as the last WWE President ever. Monsoon passed away at the age of 62 on October 6th, 1999, months after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
8 John Laurinaitis
"People Power" has just checked in on this list. Laurinaitis has held multiple positions in WWE since 2001. He was hired as a road agent after the purchase of WCW. He was named Vice President of Talent Relations in 2004, replacing good ol' Jim Ross, and he would eventually be promoted to Senior Vice President in 2007 and then Executive Vice President in 2009. Although he received plenty of criticism during this period, he was able to hold each position and would eventually hold power on WWE programming.
Laurinaitis would debut in 2011 as Vince McMahon's "yes-man" before being named Interim RAW GM later that same year on October 10th. Laurinaitis would often abuse his power. Laurinaitis also would feud with then-SmackDown GM Theodore Long. After his team defeated Long's team at WrestleMania XXVIII, Laurinaitis seized control of both shows, giving him free range to do what he wanted. Probably his most famous confrontation with a superstar was with Big Show after he fired Show for making fun of him and made Show beg for his job. He would eventually re-hire the Show after he helped him beat John Cena at the Over the Limit PPV.
Laurinaitis resigned as Senior Vice President of Talent Relations on July 30th, 2012 to focus on being a road agent.
7 Paul Heyman
You may not be a Paul Heyman guy, but there is no denying him as one of the top authority figures over the years in the WWE. Paul Heyman is credited with the creation and the expansion of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in the mid-1990's by allowing his superstars to fully express themselves and for introducing the rare Japanese and Mexican wrestling styles to American television.
After ECW went out of business, Heyman was able to rally his former superstars in the WWE, merging them with WCW superstars in what became known as the Alliance in an attempt to take over the WWE. After the Alliance was thwarted and after serving a short stint as a commentator, Heyman began managing a beast known as Brock Lesnar.
Heyman was SmackDown GM for about a year in 2003-2004 and ran the show until he was "fired." Heyman also played a big part in promoting and booking ECW One Night Stand in 2005 and would eventually lead to the brand being brought back for a short while, making Heyman the face of extreme wrestling once more.
6 Vickie Guerrero
Excuse me! I said Excuse me! WWE's resident cougar checks in on this list at number 6. Vickie has almost never been a fan favorite as an authority figure in the WWE (or almost ever for that matter), but there is no doubt that she has been effective. Vickie started off on WWE programming just being known as the wife of the late, great Eddie Guerrerro. Her first position of authority came as the assistant to then-SmackDown GM Teddy Long in May of 2007. She would eventually become the SmackDown GM later the same year. As with any heel authoritative figure, Vickie quickly aligned herself with a top heel superstar and formed a stable. After admitting to having a relationship and aligning herself with Edge, Vickie would form La Familia in 2008 with her nephew Chavo, Zack Ryder, and Curt Hawkins. Vickie's reign as SmackDown GM would most be remembered by her being confined to a wheelchair and having Edge or Chavo wheel her around.
After serving a short stint as RAW GM in 2009, she spent almost three years as a SmackDown consultant. This would be marked with her alliance with Team LayCool and her eventual relationship with Dolph Zigger, whom she managed (she really likes blondes). Vickie then had a short stint as the Managing Supervisor of RAW, but ended in a very ugly firing by Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. At this present time, Vickie is in her second stint as SmackDown GM.
5 Eric Bischoff
'Tell me, I did NOT just see that!"
That was Booker T's reaction on the July 15th, 2002 episode of Raw as he was being interviewed by Jonathan Coachman. During that interview, a man walked up to Booker T with an evil smirk on his face, shaking Booker's hand before disappearing off screen. That very same night, Eric Bischoff was introduced to the WWE as the new GM of Raw. This came as a shock to many, as it was this very same person that went to great lengths to put the WWE out of business during the WWE/WCW Monday Night War in the late 1990's. The same man who, after he was introduced, came out and bragged about Nitro beating Raw is War for 84 straight weeks and stating that if he had signed Triple H, Vince McMahon would be working for him. Although characters in the WWE don't get much more heel than Bischoff, he proved to be a successful GM.
Bischoff was responsible for bringing two innovations to the WWE as RAW GM, the RAW Roulette and the most demonic structure WWE has ever seenm the Elimination Chamber. The more important being the Elimination Chamber matches, as there have been 17 since its induction in November 2002, with it gaining its own PPV in 2010.
Bischoff was "dumped" as RAW GM in late 2005, after a live trial was held against him, bringing to the forefront his actions as RAW GM. His trial would conclude with the famous "You're Fired" from Vince McMahon before being thrown into a garbage truck and driven away.
4 Theodore "Teddy" Long
"Holla, holla, holla!" The former longtime WWE referee is the only man that has served as General Manager of Raw, SmackDown, and ECW. Long served the longest time as GM of any brand despite having taken long hiatuses off of WWE programming. Long became the GM of SmackDown in June of 2004 and had an immediate impact on the show along with becoming the first African-American GM of any brand in WWE. Long also had a huge impact with the fans, giving them the matches that they wanted to see. He is also credited with creating the New Talent Initiative as the SmackDown GM which gave a huge push to developmental superstars, letting them debut on the main roster while still very early in their careers. Mr. Kennedy, MVP, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger and Kofi Kingston, among others, would debut in the WWE thanks in part to Long's strive to push the younger WWE talent. After serving as GM of SmackDown, Long was appointed GM of ECW.
On April 7th, 2009, it was announced that Long would again be the GM of SmackDown giving him another piece of history as the first person to have a second term as GM of a show.
3 Jack Tunney
Jack Tunney served as the President of the WWE for the first eleven years of Vince McMahon Jr.'s reign as owner and chairman of the WWE. Many of the new generation fans do not remember Tunney (and I'll admit I had to research him, as I was born in 1990), but long-time WWE followers will remember his importance to the company. Tunney was considered the "voice of reason" in the WWE and was behind the correcting of many injustices and unfair doings that occurred in the WWE. While his power as president only went as far as televised WWE programming and having no actual backstage authority, he did make an impact in the promotion of the company and making big decisions involving the WWE talent.
Some of his actions and achievements as President included preventing "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase from buying his way to a WWE Championship run and not giving the title back to Hulk Hogan which then set up a tournament for the championship which would eventually be won by "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
2 Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
"The Authority" currently in power in the WWE checks in on this list at number 2. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley have had various reigns of power in the WWE, both as a couple and separately since being married in late 1999.
Triple H and Stephanie got their first taste of power after The Game brutally beat Vince McMahon at Armageddon 1999 while also having Stephanie turn on her father to join him. This would begin what was known as the McMahon-Helmsley Era in the WWE. With Vince out of the picture and DX backing them up, the couple was free to do what they wanted. Adding to their status as the dominant power in the WWE was the fact that for most of the era, Stephanie held the Women's Championship and HHH was the WWE Champion. The McMahon-Helmsley faction would grow stronger after Stephanie made peace with her father and brother Shane, adding two more McMahons to the equation. They would ensure HHH walked out of Wrestlemania 2000 as WWE Champion after screwing The Rock out of the title. HHH would eventually align himself with both Stone Cold and Vince to form the "Two Man Power Trip" until his injury forced him out of action and Stephanie also disappeared from WWE television.
Stephanie would return in July 2001, after it had been revealed that she had purchased ECW and aligned herself with her brother during the Alliance's attempted takeover of the WWE. And as mentioned before, the Alliance was defeated leaving Stephanie unemployed.
Stephanie's next job would come as the GM of SmackDown from July 2002 to October 2003. Stephanie was the face counterpart to the heel RAW GM Eric Bischoff, who she regularly feuded with. During her time as SmackDown GM Stephanie was credited for bringing back the US Championship (from WCW) and creating the WWE Tag Team Championships (SmackDown's tag titles). She also was able to sign Hulk Hogan to the brand.
HHH relieved his father-in-law of his duties as COO on July 23, 2011 and it would be a very rough time for The Game. During his time as COO between 2011-13, he seemed unfit for the job, as he was unable to handle situations involving his good friend Kevin Nash and to stop constant match interferences from The Miz and R-Truth. He would receive an overwhelming vote of no-confidence from the WWE locker-room, even leading to superstars going on strike because of his management. He also didn't do well in major matches during this time, going 0-2 vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania, losing his last encounter with Brock Lesnar, and then being defeated by newcomer Curtis Axel, while being knocked out with a concussion.
At this present time, HHH and Stephanie are The Authority in the WWE, running things similar to how Mr. McMahon ran the Corporation in the late 90's. HHH is the Chief Operating Officer and Stephanie is one of the principal owners of the company. The Authority officially took over during the championship coronation of Randy Orton on August 19th, 2013 on RAW. To exert their power over the WWE locker-room they have enlisted the services, at one point or another, of The Shield, Big Show, Kane, Randy Orton, and the New Age Outlawz. Most of their actions are aimed squarely at fan favorite Daniel Bryan to make sure a "B+ player" is not the face of the WWE. Any superstar who questions their authority will certainly feel their wrath, just ask Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler and others.
1 Vince McMahon
Who else could possibly have been number 1 on this list? Mr. McMahon has been the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment since taking over the reigns from the late Vince McMahon Sr. in the early 1980's. While it had been widely known outside and inside the WWE that McMahon Jr. had taken over the company, it was still kept off of WWE programming. Vince had been an announcer from 1971 until 1997, while he still ran the WWE from the 1980s in a low-key, off-screen fashion.
Vince and the word controversy go hand-in-hand and controversy is exactly how his character as the boss would get worked into WWE programming. In late 1996 going into 1997, McMahon started to receive more and more mention on television as being the owner/chairman of the company and the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" would firmly assert his character into the weekly storylines. It was after this that he ended his duties as play-by-play announcer and "Mr. McMahon" was born into the WWE.
Mr. McMahon has been known over the years to habitually abuse his power. His Corporation was one of the most dominant stables that the WWE has ever seen. The group at one point or another contained superstars such as Ken Shamrock, Big Boss Man, Triple H, The Rock and the Mean Street Posse. McMahon used his power to force Kane to join or he would have him committed into an insane asylum while he manipulated Mankind by making him think he was like a son to him. This group was used to carry out Vince's orders and to contest the "anti-authority" figures such as D-Generation X, The Ministry of Darkness, and McMahon's biggest rival, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The man orchestrated the abduction of his daughter and attempted extortion of his own business just to keep Austin from winning the WWE Championship.
Anyone who has people kissing his/her ass figuratively to get a better position in a company is someone who has authority. But someone who can literally make individuals join an exclusive club for ass kissing has unlimited and unquestioned authority. The Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club has exclusive members like Mick Foley, William Regal, Shawn Michaels, and even Vince's own son Shane.
Mr. McMahon reminds you of that one boss you you've always wanted to unload on verbally, or physically, but there is no denying that he gets results. He has built an empire that will likely be around for decades to come.