Since Summerslam, the heels have been running rough-shod on Raw, dominating the preeminent storylines, regularly trouncing the top face, and ruling with a brutal iron fist. But for the first time since the inception of McMahon-Helmsely 2.0/newly crafted version of the Corporation, we saw something different Monday night. Instead of a variety of the usual “Bryan being destroyed by the Establishment” shtick we saw Bryan being raised on shoulders by his peers after the majority of the faces vanquished the Establishment’s security guard. And if Smackdown is any indication, the follow up will be quite entertaining.
It’s appropriate to consider why it has taken so long for them to get the other faces involved. The story for a while centered on Bryan with issues concerning the Big Show, Ziggler, and Miz (to a lesser extent) being involved in interesting, distinctive subplots. Big Show’s being treated like an unwanted, burdensome step-child and somewhat-timid employee in a world of bravado, anti-authority, and guile. Ziggler’s being punished both literally and in the storylines—but you already knew that—having faced the Shield quite a few times or being put in situations that were inevitable defeats. This new turn has now expanded the discontent of the WWE locker room to include a majority of the faces, but doesn’t this sound familiar?
That’s because it is. Two years ago, when Triple H was first adopting COO duties, he had significant issues with the WWE roster. The issues were so pervasive that after a promo that involved multiple wrestlers speaking their piece, the entirety of the WWE roster except CM Punk, John Cena, and Sheamus walked out on Triple H. What’s preventing this from reoccurring? Why haven’t the WWE wrestlers decided to pay back Triple H’s tyranny with revolt? The same story of a workforce terribly unhappy with management has been rewritten significantly. Although there is still the same strong theme of workers being plagued by functioning in a chaotic, uncertain, volatile work environment, the performance of management is far different now than it was almost two years ago.
Experience in the role. About two years ago, Triple H was just asserting himself with the newly gifted television role of COO, so on-screen he was merely getting his feet wet and dabbling with his powers, management style, etc. Having some years performing this role, writers reason that he’s found his voice and particular approach to leadership as the COO.
Consolidation of power. When Triple H was appointed as the COO to relieve Vince of duties, it was because the Board of Execs felt Vince couldn’t handle his duties any longer, not because Triple H was the best guy for the job. Now, Triple H is the unquestioned leader who has been entrusted with power by Vince and Stephanie on-screen. Triple H now has the implicit support of both Vince and Stephanie whenever he makes a decision.
Ruthless nature. This has been a key difference between this year’s groan-inducing management regime and that of Fall 2011. Triple H has embraced his full heel mode, ordering physical beatdowns and delivering verbal putdowns to anyone who would test his authority. He fires at will, attacks (with the Shield and the Big Show) at will, and destroys at will. He also loves to make an example out of people, regularly calling the roster out to the stage to watch matches that involved his enemies. His vindictive streak is running rampant and, as you’ll see on Smackdown, this streak has no respect for the size of the opposing force.
Misguided principles. Triple H has brought along the term, “best for business,” into the collective consciousness of the WWE Universe and has turned it into a tidy justification for heel actions and decisions. Blaming his poor decisions, personal vendettas, and audience-angering moves on the nebulous, fluid force of what’s right for business is good heel work. He’s rationalizing his wrong-headed moves in a way that lets him hide behind the guise of following an ambiguous concept and that insults the audience’s intelligence, making him more hateful.
We’ve seen this story before of a roster that is so thoroughly displeased with management, but the way that they’ve restructured it this time is different and captivating. Now that the roster is finally unifying to react (not walking out), it should be interesting to see where they go with this collective movement.