Pro Wrestling

The 14 Best WWE Authority Figures;jsessionid=7C609E1675F718EDB0534AA5772F9D76?r30_r1_r1:page=13 Source:

The authority figure in WWE has been a constant character for a very long time (some would say too long). They’ve ranged in effectiveness from iron-fisted dictators to hopelessly inept jokes, and everything in between. Some of them have defined long stretches of WWE programming, and some have been in and out of the job so quickly that we forgot they even had it. In this list, we’ve gathered information on some of the very best men and women to hold positions of authority in WWE over the years.

14. Eugene

Eugene’s one-day reign as Raw GM will live forever in our hearts as one of the most entertaining reigns of any GM in history. Left in charge by his uncle, Eric Bischoff, the simple-minded Eugene immediately installed himself in his new office (a bouncy castle), and set about outsmarting his alleged buddies in Evolution at every turn. In his first act as Raw GM, Eugene created the never-before-seen Musical Chairs Match, possibly the greatest match gimmick ever created, which was won by Chris Jericho but also featured Ric Flair attempting to cheat outrageously at a child’s game. This was probably the peak of Eugene’s career before Triple H would ultimately betray him and then bury the character at SummerSlam, but we like to remember it. Plus, we needed a tenth entry and we didn’t want to put John Laurinaitis on this list. That’s right, Johnny Ace, we thought you were a worse GM than Eugene! Think about that and try to sleep at night! Source:

13. Stephanie McMahon

We didn’t forget about the McMahon-Hemsley Era (more on that in a second), but we’re ranking Stephanie McMahon’s run as Raw Commissioner even lower on this list, because quite frankly we’re sick of her. Her reign began when the second Brand Split started, pitting her against her brother Shane as Raw and Smackdown began “competing” against each other for talent and ratings. She appointed Mick Foley as her general manger, just to give her a babyface to play off of.

Since her stint as Raw commish started, Stephanie has unveiled the WWE Universal Championship as new major title, fired Mick Foley (he needed surgery), and spent a few months off TV after going through a table at WrestleMania 33. When she returned, she has a new GM to deal with (more on that later too) and helped lead Raw to a victory for Smackdown at Survivor Series 2017. We still can’t stand her though, and wish the WWE would find a different person to be the heel authority figure for Raw.


12. Paul Heyman

Come on, he’s Paul Heyman, you know whatever role he’s in, he’s going to be pretty great. And his short-lived tenure as the GM of Smackdown was no exception. Heyman’s time as GM coincided with his similarly brief run as Smackdown head writer (before he did Paul Heyman things, like openly disagreeing with Vince, and got removed from the position), and subsequently one of the brightest periods in Smackdown history. Aside from Brock Lesnar dominating the top of the card, this was the era of the “Smackdown Six”, made up of Edge, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, and Eddie & Chavo Guerrero, who put on a constant stream of spectacular matches under Heyman’s watch. Sure, it’s easy to book a show when you have all those guys at your disposal, but Heyman made sure they were all featured, as well as other rising stars with potential, like Matt Hardy in his weirdly popular “Version 1.0” gimmick. Source:

11. The McMahon-Helmsley Era

Newer fans may know Triple H and Stephanie as “The Authority”, but back in 1999, they were our first taste of a WWE without Vince McMahon in charge, as the chaotic and corrupt McMahon-Helmsley Era. Formed as part of an elaborate revenge plot against Vince, Stephanie took control of WWE when Vince and Shane disappeared after it was revealed that she was a willing co-conspirator with Triple H. Asserting her rights as “last McMahon standing”, she and Triple H began to run roughshod over the faces of WWE. In fact, their actions against Mankind would lead to Mick Foley’s retirement, and their control over the company would allow Triple H to become the first heel in WWE history to leave WrestleMania as WWE Champion. Their reign of terror would be blunted briefly by the rise of Commissioner Mick Foley, but it only truly ended when Triple H suffered a massive quad injury in 2001 and was sidelined for most of the year, returning as a beloved face character. Source:

10. William Regal

Regal has had several turns in different offices of WWE, most notably as GM of both WWE and The Alliance during the Invasion angle, and another run years later when he became a tyrannical despot (and King of the Ring) who was best remembered for turning all the lights off and shutting down the show when he felt disrespected. These days, Regal is the benevolent, but still irascible, GM of the NXT brand, where he generally sits in his office, occasionally makes fair and fully justified decisions, announces marquee matches for TakeOver specials, and generally doesn’t put up with any crap from the talent when they feel the need to invade his office and bother him. And yet, he’s widely respected and NXT runs incredibly smoothly despite his mostly hands-off approach. It’s like it isn’t necessary for an authority figure to be front-and-center all the time to remain effective or something. Source:

9. Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle left the WWE in 2006, but made a surprise comeback in 2017 after more than a decade away from the company. It started with a Hall of Fame induction at WrestleMania 33, which carried right into the announcement that he as the new General Manager of Raw, in the wake of Mick Foley’s (kayfabe) termination by Stephanie McMahon.

While it was exciting to have Angle back on WWE television, the first storyline he was given was… well, really dumb. After a series of “mysterious and scandalous” phone calls, Angle was eventually forced to reveal that he had a long-lost son, who just so happened to be Jason Jordan of the America Alpha tag team. Jordan moved to the Raw brand, but nothing has really come of the situation since.

In a stunning turn of events, the WWE actually cleared Angle to return to the ring in late 2017. He teamed up with The Shield at the TLC pay-per-view when Roman Reigns had to take some time off due to illness, and continued his in-ring performances in a fun brand vs. brand elimination match at Survivor Series. Perhaps we’ll get another WrestleMania moment from Angle before his return to the WWE comes to an end.


8. Jack Tunney

Speaking of authority figures who didn’t constantly impose their will on the product, here’s beloved former President of WWE, Jack Tunney, who was mostly beloved because we almost never saw him. Over his entire run as President, Tunny may have appeared on screen a handful of times, and actually said something that affected the direction of the company even less. This led to two things: no story lines that revolved around an authority figure in some way (a near impossibility in modern pro wresting), and when Tunney actually showed up or made a decision that required him to appear in person, it was rightly treated as a big deal. Think about it, if you have any memories of Tunney at all, they’re for things like when he stripped Ted DiBiase of the WWE Title after the shenanigans involving the evil referee, or declared the title vacant to set up the 1992 Royal Rumble. Actually, those are really the only two we remember. And yet WWE managed to function without him out there every week, publicly making matches! It almost seem unbelievable these days, but it’s true! Source

7. Shane McMahon

Shane McMahon made his own surprise return to WWE television in 2016, trying to wrestle control of the programming from his sister Stephanie. For some reason, Vince McMahon decided that a Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania was a good test for his prodigal son. If we won, we would gain control of Raw. Despite almost killing himself, Shane lost the match. But because… reasons ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )… Shane got to control Raw anyway, and eventually found himself as the commissioner of Smackdown when the brands split again.

Since then, he’s feuded with the likes of Kevin Owens and A.J. Styles (including a pretty decent match against Styles at WrestleMania 33). On the infrequent occasion that he does step into the ring, Shane looks a lot younger than he really is (he’s almost 50!).  Most recently, he led his Smackdown roster in an invasion of Raw, culminating in an unsuccessful series of matches at Survivor Series 2017. Despite that, Shane’s return to the WWE has been fun and fresh, as he knows how to work a mic, rile up the crowd, and even put his body on the line when it matters most. Oh, and he was involved in a real-life helicopter crash, but walked away unharmed because he’s a BOSS.


6. Vickie Guerrero

It’s hard to believe that the tragic widow of Eddie Guerrero could possibly be one of WWE’s greatest heels, but Vickie Guerrero managed it, becoming a thoroughly dis-likable character with almost no redeeming features. And the crowds loved to hate her, to the point that it was never necessary to give her an entrance theme, as the shrill decree of “Excuse Me!” was enough to send entire arenas into frenzied boos. Vickie made no secret that she was a bad person only interested in two things: herself, and punishing people who she felt had wronged her. Vicki was one of the most vindictive authority figures in WWE history, second to possibly only Vince McMahon. Also much like Vince, when Vickie’s plans inevitably fell apart, few were better at receiving their comeuppance. When the good guys beat Vickie, they actually got to have moments of glory, unlike certain other authority figures we could name. She’d always recover and start annoying somebody else within weeks, but at least it was possible to beat her, occasionally. Source:

5. Daniel Bryan

Wrestling fans everywhere were depressed when Daniel Bryan was forced to announce his retirement in early 2016, a result of a series of head and neck injuries that doctors felt were too dangerous to allow him to continue wrestling. A few months later, the brands had been split and Shane McMahon needed a general manager for Smackdown, and Bryan answered the call.

Although he wouldn’t get clearance to return to the ring like Kurt Angle did, Bryan has been an entertaining and useful GM on Smackdown. Specifically, his feud with The Miz was terrific and led to one of the best on-screen promos in recent history when The Miz ripped Bryan to shreds on an episode of Talking Smack. He may not be able to get the best out of other superstars in the ring like during his time as the WWE champion, but he’s done a great job at getting the best out of the Smackdown roster as an authority figure and matchmaker.


4. Teddy Long

While Teddy Long eventually became a punchline for his tendency to solve problems either through placing wrestlers in tag matches or forcing them to go one-on-one with The Undertaker, the truth is, he was a stabilizing presence on Smackdown after a tumultuous period where the GM position shuffled between Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, and Kurt Angle, with varying degrees of success. Teddy was a rarity among authority figures, a benevolent dictator who was far from perfect and just did the best job he could at any given moment. He also had an incredible weakness for manipulative women, which would come back to bite him several times, and cost him his job as GM on more than one occasion. Teddy always bounced back, however, and enjoyed a long a fruitful career as Smackdown (and briefly, ECW) General Manager. We’ll always remember him when an opening segment brawl leads to a main event tag team match, playa!;jsessionid=7C609E1675F718EDB0534AA5772F9D76?r30_r1_r1:page=13 Source:

3. Eric Bischoff

Bischoff is one of those people who we were sure would never work in WWE after everything he’d done, only to watch him show up on Raw in a shocking moment and hug Vince McMahon (in what was probably the last time those two would see eye-to-eye on-screen). Bischoff’s Raw GM character (he had no real backstage power while in WWE) was a bad guy who made no excuses about it. He was there to get ratings and draw eyeballs to the Raw brand, and he would do anything to accomplish those feats, whether it was poorly-thought-out “Hot Lesbian Action” or inventing the Elimination Chamber and Raw Roulette. Bischoff’s biggest weakness was that Vince McMahon would occasionally show up and make him look like an idiot, but over the brand split years, he managed to hold onto the GM position longer than almost anyone else. In fact, over his tenure as Raw GM, Smackdown went through four different authority figures! Source:

2. Vince McMahon

If this were still the Attitude Era, Vince would probably be #1 with a bullet. Once he was “outed” as the owner of WWE on TV, and put himself into an on-screen position following the events of the Montreal Screwjob, he evolved into the ultimate evil boss from which all future heel authority figures in wrestling would spring. His feuds with Steve Austin turned WWE into a billion-dollar organization, and most importantly for bad guys in wrestling, when the time came, Vince always got his butt thoroughly kicked. Over the years, however, Vince suffered from overexposure and his character descended into something resembling a cartoon supervillain with a touch of senility, and his shifting character motivations over the years have blurred the lines on his character to the point that we can’t keep him in the top spot. He’s still one of the best heels in the history of the business, but he just doesn’t have the same level of evil that he used to. Source:

1. Mick Foley

Shortly after he retired (well, the first time), Mick Foley was appointed Commissioner of WWE because he had nothing better to do, anyway. And after years of largely ineffective Commissioners, Foley made the role his own. Those who have grown used to the same “office” setup for WWE authority figures over the years would be shocked to see Foley’s base of operations, which was usually some random spot in the bowels of the arena, from laundry rooms to abandoned concession stands, and one time a golf cart. After a long period of heels dominating WWE, Foley’s lovable craziness was a breath of fresh air, and his comedic approach to the job played perfectly off goofy heels like Kurt Angle, Edge, and Christian. While his reign was short, it was incredibly memorable, and punctuated by Foley banging his ceremonial gavel. He was also the only person to actually solve the mystery of who ran over Steve Austin, something which even baffled the actors WWE paid to pretend to be detectives! Without a doubt, Foley was the best authority figure we’ve ever seen in WWE, and that is…FINAL! Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.