Wrestling has always had an authority figure in some way, shape or form and each company has dealt with it differently. Starting back in 1984 with Jack Tunney, who was dubbed the WWF President, however the same as current day General Managers. He would be the first of many authority figures, as other companies would use former wrestlers or backstage officials in these positions to be the on-screen authority.
Companies have the structured running of the backstage dealings but they would still need someone on camera, keeping the superstars in line. In modern-day wrestling, it’s a lesser-seen thing after WWE’s main two shows scrapped the authority figure position in 2018, other companies around the world would follow a similar path. Through all eras of wrestling, we have seen some iconic wrestling authority figures, from those fan favourites who made the favourable decisions to the downright ridiculous but still made us laugh
Honourable mentions go to former 205 Live GM, Drake Maverick, for both this and his stint in Impact as the Chief of Staff. As well as Vickie Guerrero for her role as Smackdown GM.
Paul Heyman – ECW Owner
When you think of ECW, you think of Paul Heyman and his oversized leather coat. He led the alternative wrestling company from 1993 to 2001 becoming a cult style promotion with legions of fans clambering to be at each of their shows. What started as Eastern Championship Wrestling, a division of the NWA, until Heyman conspired against the NWA for Shane Douglas to publicly denounce the partnership after Douglas was crowned the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. It was revolutionary, Heyman encouraged wrestlers to air their feelings against the WWF, NWA and WCW on TV which had never been seen or done before.
The company had got so big, Vince McMahon had a working relationship with Heyman with McMahon sending WWF wrestlers to train younger ECW talent. Heyman was an on-screen and off-screen authority figure and did the world for ECW, taking them from a small company in Philadelphia associated with NWA to a major company on its own as an alternative to the other companies around. We say the end of ECW in 2001 due to financial issues that Heyman couldn’t resolve, with him being replaced by Tommy Dreamer in the dying days of the company. We did see ECW come back in the Invasion angle of 2001 after Heyman signed for WWF a few months prior.
Heyman would join the Smackdown writing team, as well as be the on-screen General Manager but ‘quit’ when he was drafted to RAW in the draft lottery. His contributions to wrestling are endless, Paul Heyman is one of the best authority figures we’ve ever seen, especially one who worked on and off-screen.
William Regal – WWE Commissioner/NXT GM
Regal has had two very different stints as an authority figure in WWE, first of he was the WWF Commissioner in 2001 between March and October. That was a more comedic run as he was joined by a sidekick in Tajiri, with the two being the typical ‘odd couple’, Regal trying to be professional and take his job seriously with Tajiri being a nuisance. Regal would still compete in the ring during this time, notably in a feud with Chris Jericho. Jericho would torment Regal, mainly by peeing in his tea, which would tick off the Brit because no one messes with our tea!
They would have a match at Backlash 2001 in a ‘Duchess of Queensbury’ rules match, essentially a match where Regal could change the ruling at a whim. We would get a fake monarch sat out at ringside, changing the rules to benefit Regal, specifically when Jericho made Regal submit with The Walls of Jericho. Y2J would lock in the submission on the Duchess before Regal clocked him with a chair for the win. Fast forward to 2014, Regal would go from NXT commentator to the General Manager position, one he still holds to this date. He has been a fantastic GM, firm but fair with both heels and faces and bringing some old classic match stipulations back.
He gave us a meme-worthy moment with his announcement of ‘WAR GAMES’ as well as helping out backstage as WWE’s Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting. He also is now GM of 205 Live after Drake Maverick was released, so hopefully, we’ll see some development with that brand going forward. Regal can do it all, face or heel, he’s wonderful and his appearances on NXT are sparse but important.
Dixie Carter – TNA President
A controversial figure in wrestling but ultimately, what Dixie did with TNA kept them going through a dodgy period on the company’s history. She would join TNA in 2002 involved in the marketing before TNA would appoint Dixie as President of TNA Entertainment from 2003 until August 2016, when she became the new Chairwoman of the company. She is currently a minority shareholder with five per cent of the company, after a lawsuit issue with Billy Corgan. On-screen, she was always in the way.
She sporadically appeared on screen until 2010 when her authority was stripped by the new arrivals in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. After being a part of an affair storyline, where she was accused of having one with AJ Styles by Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, she would turn heel after responding to AJ’s remarks about her.
With that heel turn, Dixieland was created and all hell would break loose. Dixie would become desperate to make AJ suffer, ripping up his new contract and trying to cost him the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Bound for Glory 2013 by ordering the referee to not count a pinfall. AJ walked out on TNA with the title, refusing Dixie’s pleas to resign, leaving Dixie to ignore AJ as the champion and organised a tournament. Team Dixie became a thing when her handpicked competitor, Magnus, defeated Jeff Hardy, with help from Rockstar Spud and EC3, to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Dixie would feud with MVP over control of TNA, resulting in a Lethal Lockdown match in 2014, which Team MVP won and Dixie would be removed from TV. She’d return a year later, apologising to the fans over her power trip the year before, turning face and leaving the screen, only appearing once more