KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Gone are the days when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) chairman Vince McMahon would appear on Monday Night Raw to make an announcement between arguments only to end up being slammed into the floor of the ring by one of his superstars.
These days, another McMahon is reprising the role — minus the fist fights and brutal exchange of words — and it’s none other than his daughter Stephanie, 41.
She is WWE’s chief brand officer.
Speaking in conjunction with Raw’s 25th anniversary last week, Stephanie said the fans are the reason behind the longevity of the Monday night edition.
“They made it happen. Raw is about them and I’d like to say thank you,” she said in a phone interview last week.
“Whenever we discuss ways to move forward, we think about our audience — one must remember, the audience is an integral part of your show.”
During her appearances on Raw, Stephanie’s character is regarded as one with a big ego but during the 30-minute interview, we could see why her father chose her to head his business; the woman is cool, polite and straight to the point.
There were no funny answers from Stephanie although my mentioning that I had posters of her in my bedroom when I was younger had her laughing out loud.
The rest of the interview was all about the vision and aim of WWE.
On January 11, 1993, WWE — then known as World Wrestling Federation — changed their Monday night format from pre-taped matches to a “live” show.
Twenty-five years on, the show is one of the highest rated shows on cable TV and has become a global phenomenon, selling out arenas all over the world.
Stephanie said the secret behind Raw’s 25 years is simply down to their storytelling.
“We’re all about storytelling. From day one when my dad was in charge he would tell us how important it is to sell a story — nothing much has changed,” she added.
“The only thing which has changed is how we sell a story. Social media has helped us amplify our brand to greater heights.
“We’re able to tell a story on various platforms now.”
Besides playing a major role in WWE, Stephanie is also the ex-women’s champion and till today, one of wrestling’s biggest “villains”.
Long before she became the trash-talking, fan-baiting Billionaire Princess, Stephanie’s first appearance on Raw was a backstage encounter with Stone Cold Steve Austin on November 30, 1998.
Stone Cold confronted Stephanie and asked her where The Undertaker was.
“I just happened to be there and I got thrown into the scene. It was unbelievable to make my television debut. I was meant to be part of the show, with Austin? It was certainly a memorable moment for me,” she said.
From then, she has gone on to appear in countless episodes, but her favourite memory on Raw took place three weeks ago.
“The best moment is when I had the opportunity to announce the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match.
“These women — from Raw, SmackDown, NXT are all part of making it happen.
“They knew I was coming out but they didn’t know what I was going to say. I told them to react naturally, don’t feel like you have to be in character.”
Stephanie said she cannot take sole credit for making this a dream come true, but rather thanked her father and husband Paul Levesque who goes by Triple H.
“My father had this mission years ago to make this a gender-equal sport. My husband who is in charge of talent development started giving women a chance to prove their mettle in a male dominant sport,” she said.
“Very soon we will see a women’s match headlining a Wrestlemania event. I can’t give away too much. Just stay tuned.”
On the latest episode of Monday Night Raw, Stephanie made another blockbuster announcement.
She confirmed five brave competitors will challenge Raw Women champion Alexa Bliss for her title in the first-ever female Elimination Chamber match.
The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view takes place on February 26 in Las Vegas.