WWE catered to its fans during the announcement of Raw and SmackDown’s respective general managers on Monday.
Stephanie McMahon introduced WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley as her choice for Raw. Foley is one of the most beloved superstars in wrestling history. He received a huge ovation when his music hit and earned a “cheap pop” from the crowd [right here] in Providence, Rhode Island.
Then Shane McMahon took the floor to introduce his SmackDown GM, who he promised was even more popular than Foley. Cue Daniel Bryan’s theme and one of the biggest pops in recent memory.
Bryan, who was forced to retire from wrestling in February, is arguably the most popular WWE superstar of the last decade. The WWE Universe was so invested in Bryan during the height of his popularity that it helped him get inserted to the main event of WrestleMania 30, which saw him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Needless to say, WWE gave its fans what it wanted on both shows.
The Foley-Stephanie dynamic is interesting considering Stephanie is still a heel and Foley is as babyface as it gets. But it seems like Stephanie, in kayfabe, decided to pick a general manager in Foley that would attract fan interest.
On the SmackDown side, the addition of Bryan was an example of dirt sheet rumors playing out. Bryan was one of the names linked to a GM position since Vince McMahon told his children to find one for their respective brands last Monday. It turns out that WWE actually followed through on the move which, as shown by the crowd’s reaction, made fans happy.
So why are Foley and Bryan both the right choices to fill the GM positions for Raw and SmackDown other than their popularity? Simply, they both love the wrestling business and have both shared opinions on what makes a great superstar.
Foley has used his Twitter and Facebook pages to credit NXT superstars and critique the WWE product for several years. He’s been a big advocate for women’s wrestling, especially in the developmental brand, and has given his stamp of approval for many up-and-comers.
Bryan has wrestled all over the world and has a familiarity with professional wrestling outside the confines of the WWE Universe. Along with CM Punk, Bryan bridged the gap for independent wrestlers to make a successful run in sports entertainment’s worldwide leader.
Without Bryan Danielson finding success as Daniel Bryan, there’d likely be no place for A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura or Hideo Itami. Nor would there be a Cruiserweight Classic, which Bryan lent his voice to as a color commentator and has, so far, excelled at providing expert analysis of what makes each superstar great.
That’s why both he and Foley will excel as general managers. It’s not just that they know what they had to do to be stars in the professional wrestling industry, rather that fans know they can provide an expert opinion on today’s superstars.
Let’s also acknowledge that both Foley and Bryan are entertaining in comedy segments while also being believable figure heads that will demand respect from the current WWE roster. But overall, both ex-superstars were brought in to cater to the WWE Universe which is, of course, best for business if the goal is to boost ratings.