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Within the space of a fortnight we could see WWE and TNA both return to having heel authority figures. No longer, it seems, is the argument whether either of these companies is capable of realising these are counter productive and probably haven't drawn any money in at least a decade, but it's more whether either company is even capable of writing anything different? If the don't know by now, will they ever?
You'd be forgiven for forgetting, but there was a time before all of this, before you needed someone calling the shots by undercutting the babyfaces at every turn. If you find any time before about 1997 you'll find company after company all being (by and large) pretty successful at it.
The problem was that the first heel authority figure was pretty damn good, in fact you might argue it was the best. Vince McMahon as the bad guy on top against Stone Cold Steve Austin, the rallying baby face. It did ridiculously well, so they went back to it. And why not? If something was amazing once you get money out of it a second time.
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What about a third? Or a fourth? Or a fifth? What about seventeen years of constantly doing it? There becomes a point where it stops becomes being a law of diminishing returns and more that you're flogging a dead horse. Where the WWE are concerned with the authority, and where TNA are concerned with the nearly inevitable return of the heel Dixie Carter (Remember - the sticking point on the sale of TNA was keeping Dixie in an on air role), it's repeat ad infinitum.
I'll take you back to 1994, Nick Bockwinkel as the commissioner of WCW. Bockwinkel wasn't a babyface general manager, nor was he a heel general manager - he was just a good one. It wasn't about siding with the faces, it wasn't about siding with the heels, it was about making the right decisions. When Vader interrupted Hulk Hogan's victory speech at Starrcade and started pushing people around demanding a WCW Title shot, Bockwinkel didn't punish his heel actions, he recognised that Vader had earned the right at the shot and granted him it, even while condemning his actions. When Ric Flair's matches were constantly being interfered in, he suspended Flair and manager Sensous Sherri - he suspended them both. It wasn't about being good, it wasn't about being bad. It was about being fair.
The best bit about Bockwinkel, and others like him in that era, though? He didn't hog the screen time. He wasn't out in the first 15 minutes of WCW Saturday Night cutting a promo, he wasn't dominating the screen time, in fact, he often wasn't on the show at all. Sometimes his presence could be felt (with decisions and actions being passed on by the announcers). But when it was needed, and only when it was needed, would Bockwinkel appear on screen.
The shame, really, as I said at the top, is that it doesn't seems like modern day companies are unwilling to do this, it seems more like they are incapable. The WWE keep going back to it, hell, they only left The Authority off of television for about five weeks before bringing them back and shoe-horning them onto television.
TNA doesn't seem any better. MVP joined the company at the beginning of 2014. The story was him as the representative of some investors (who the hell would "invest" in TNA anyway?), there to fight the power away from Dixie Carter - the now heel owner of the company. MVP spent his first few months assembling a team to take down Dixie, which he did at Lockdown. Within weeks of assuming full control, what did he do? He turned heel.
The heel authority has worked before (at least for WWE it has, for TNA the evidence is less compelling) but how can it be that the two top promotions in North America cannot see that this approach is jaded in 2015? All of these storylines fall under the idea of a "power struggle" - but how many times can you do a power struggle storyline? WWE is bad at this, but TNA seems far worse, every six months it seems like a new heel faction is trying to rise up. By now, if they haven't changed their spots, you wonder if they ever will.