49) David Otunga
50) Terry Funk
Although much better remembered for his in-ring exploits, The Godfather of Hardcore was briefly WCW Commissioner circa 2000. He didn't accomplish much during his reign beyond forming The Old Age Outlaws with Arn Anderson, and lost the commissionership in a match to Kevin Nash.
Otunga was able to parlay his education at Harvard into becoming a legal adviser for John Laurinaitis as Big Johnny attempted to remove Triple H from power. Once successful, Otunga was awarded some backstage clout and helped Laurinaitis to make future decisions.
In 1999, Ric Flair was WCW President but unfortunately he'd been committed to a mental institution (I hate when that happens!). So Flair awarded power to Robinson, a referee who emulated Nature Boy so much he became Little Naitch, and even wrestled a Flair-esque match against Randy Savage's valet Gorgeous George.
As the founder of ECW, Gordon made a number of on-air decisions, most notably as Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Championship in favor of ECW. Once he sold the company to Paul Heyman, he continued to play the role of commissioner for a few more years until severing ties with the promotion.
47) Charles Robinson
48) Tod Gordon
How can WWE's former (real-life) Chairman and someone who has made her share of on-air decisions be ranked so low on a Top 50 list? Between her wooden delivery, litany of lame decisions (did she ever explain hiring Steve Austin as CEO?) and lack of comeuppance from other wrestlers, Lindy Mac gets a failing grade.
After serving as Ring of Honor's long-reigning World Champion and longest-reigning Pure Champion, it only made sense that when he returned to ROH in 2012 he would be given the role as the promotion's matchmaker. McGuinness was also briefly an authority figure in TNA, albeit for the Xplosion show.
In 2002, Sean Morley shed his Val Venis persona to become Eric Bischoff's Chief of Staff on Raw. While it was largely the role of a flunky, Morley did manage to cause some tense moments for the likes of The Dudley Boyz, Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler.
While he may have the strangest name yet for an authority figure, Rockstar Spud has made quite an impression on the powers that be in TNA. Since becoming Dixie Carter's Chief of Staff late last year, Spud has run interference and ordered other competitors around with ease.
43) Linda McMahon
44) Nigel McGuinness
45) Chief Morley
46) Rockstar Spud
Brooke wasn't an authority figure in TNA for very long, but for her specific area of expertise overseeing the Knockouts Division, she did a great job, arranging top contender's matches, hiring a troubleshooting referee and even being a key factor in the Aces & Eights storyline.
Booker T was SmackDown General Manager between July 2012 and July 2013 and made some significant changes to the program, weeding Teddy Long out of the system and standing up to wrestlers such as The Big Show. Although he was eventually replaced by Vickie Guerrero, Booker proved very capable in the role.
Mike Adamle's transformation from inept announcer to equally inept Raw General Manager was a head-scratcher to many, yet he was responsible for a wide variety of on-air decisions, such as John Cena vs. Batista at SummerSlam '08. Unfortunately, slapping Randy Orton cost him his job in short order.
The figurehead President of the AWA during its peak in the 1980's, Blackburn was responsible for a series of controversial decisions, including voiding Hulk Hogan's AWA World Title victory over Nick Bockwinkel (hey, that Hogan guy would never draw a dime) and stripping Stan Hansen and Larry Zbyszko of the World Title.
42) Brooke Hogan
41) Booker T
40) Mike Adamle
39) Stanley Blackburn
Now Taryn Terrell in TNA, Tiffany debuted in 2008 as Teddy Long's personal assistant in ECW. By year end, she was given the job when Long moved to SmackDown. Major decisions while in charge included overseeing Jack Swagger and Christian's ECW Title reigns and feuding with Rosa Mendes and Zack Ryder.
As Cyrus The Virus in ECW, Callis represented the evil "Network" that was attempting to take the Hardcore promotion off the air. Later, while in TNA under his own name as a Management Consultant, Callis created the Ultimate X match, among other concepts.
In 2003, Coachman surprised just about everyone when he aided Eric Bischoff in an attack on Shane McMahon, signaling that he was Bischoff's assistant. Later, he would become Vince McMahon's Executive Assistant on Raw and was even Interim General Manager for the brand from time to time.
During Hart's return to WWE in 2010 (and while he was briefly U.S. Champion), The Hitman was named General Manager of Raw. He fared admirably, overseeing Batista quit the brand rather than compete, but ran into trouble when the members of Nexus attacked him and caused him to miss a pay-per-view.
37) Don Callis
36) Jonathan Coachman
35) Bret Hart
Maddox may have had one of the strangest rises to power in WWE history. After failing as a referee and wrestler, Vickie Guerrero hired him as an assistant running Raw. Once Vickie was fired, Maddox was named General Manager in her stead. Just a few months later, he was fired by The Authority.
At the historic Raw 1000 in July 2012, AJ was offered the role of Raw General Manager by Vince McMahon himself. While her decisions were largely fan friendly, she had to step down in October of that year as the result of an altercation with Vickie Guerrero.
Cornette has held was a Commissioner in Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the early 1990's while also serving as the legit owner. In 2006, he joined TNA as a Management Director, where he was an on-camera authority figure for three years. Later that year, Cornette joined ROH as the group's Executive Producer.
A longtime contributor behind the scenes in the WWF, Monsoon was given the storyline role as WWF President in 1995. His mandate was to make "fan friendly decisions" throughout the company, and he physically intervened when Vader wasn't listening to WWF officials.
34) Brad Maddox
33) AJ Lee
32) Jim Cornette
31) Gorilla Monsoon
Named The Authority's Director of Operations late last year, Kane has gone through painstaking steps to differentiate that persona from the Big Red Monster character. In addition to dressing and talking differently, Kane has been a strategic thorn in the side for everyone from Daniel Bryan to John Cena to The Shield.
When Monsoon was injured by Vader (see # 31), Piper took the role of Interim WWF President. His biggest decision was to sign the landmark Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12. The Rowdy One also held positions of authority in WCW and the XWF.
The Hulkster arrived in TNA at the beginning of 2010 as a power-wielding but nondescript authority figure that had the power to make matches, sign talent and fire those who wouldn't listen to him. Once he turned heel and formed the group Immortal, Hogan claimed he was the owner of TNA, ousting Dixie Carter.
In 1999, Flair defeated Hulk Hogan at WCW Uncensored to become the company's "President For Life". That last about six months before he was stripped of his power via Eric Bischoff, whom in storyline was no longer with WCW. Nature Boy was also a co-owner of WWE with Vince McMahon from 2001-2002.
29) Rowdy Roddy Piper
28) Hulk Hogan
27) Ric Flair
MVP debuted in TNA earlier this year as an investor who wielded considerable power. This led to him winning control of the company's wrestling operations... for about three months, at which time he was relieved of his duties by a member of TNA's Board of Directors.
Russo portrayed one of the mysterious Powers That Be upon his WCW arrival in late 1999. It wasn't until the next year he showed up as himself on air, to aid Eric Bischoff with the New Blood vs. Millionaires Club storyline. Russo was also a Head Writer figure in TNA.
Seemingly retired by the end of 1998, The Heartbreak Kid debuted as WWF Commissioner. At first, he appeared to be sympathetic to fan favorites but eventually he succumbed to Vince McMahon's Corporation and became a Commish on the take.
For years in WCW, Rhodes was portrayed as a backstage official without an official title, despite being a legit writer and backstage agent. During his run in TNA, The American Dream was named Director of Authority and he recently was NXT Commissioner.
The legendary AWA World Champion showed up as an occasional unheralded WWF official in the late-1980's. By 1994, he had resurfaced in WCW and was given the role of Commissioner, which had him overseeing the promotion at the time of Hulk Hogan's WCW debut.
Regal became WWF Commissioner in 2000, overseeing a lot of the Attitude Era storylines, until he turned heel and became Alliance Commissioner for a short while. He resurfaced in 2007 as Raw General Manager, incorporating Game Shows into the show format and turning off the house lights when he didn't get his way.
One of Mr. McMahon's famed Stooges, Brisco often ran interference for his billionaire boss and attempted to stack the odds against then-WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin. The owner of the Brisco Brothers Body Shop also prepared a mean coffee for any of the company's higher-ups.
Patterson joined Brisco as the other Stooge, although he was a legitimate backstage force and writer for Vince McMahon for many years, even acting as the in-ring referee for the first WrestleMania main event. He and Gerry Brisco competed in 2000 in the promotion's only (thus far) hardcore evening gown match.
Currently serving as TNA's Executive Director of Wrestling Operations, Kurt Angle is no stranger to being in a position of authority. In 2004, he served as SmackDown General Manager, dogging Eddie Guerrero and others from the comfort of his wheelchair. He was fired when it was revealed Angle was faking injuries.
In addition being the on-and-off-screen boss in the UWF, Cowboy Bill was also Executive Vice President in WCW in 1992. He introduced a series of controversial rules, such as banning moves off the top rope and removing the protective mats on the floor, in order to be less like the "macabre cartoon" that was the WWF.
While Dixie Land has been open for most of TNA's history, it's only been the last year that Carter has really flexed her muscles as a heel authority figure, making life miserable for Hulk Hogan, Sting, Bully Ray, MVP, Kurt Angle and others.
Long before Brodus Clay was calling his mama, Ernest "The Cat" Miller was making similar calls as WCW Commissioner in 2000. Along with his assistant Ms. Jones, he handed out punishments to many, always doing so in an entertaining fashion, and never afraid to wrestle when the situation called for it.
Atten-HUT! After Sarge's in-ring career wound down, Slaughter became the WWF's first Commissioner, enforcing the rules against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Chyna. When Vince McMahon turned heel, Slaughter sure his boss was prepared for war against the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
In 1999, Austin was briefly (storyline) CEO of the WWF and used the position to give himself a World Title match. In 2003, he rose to power again as the Co-General Manager on Raw, which eventually morphed into Stone Cold's run as the company's Sherriff, agitating everyone from Vince McMahon to Brock Lesnar.
In the early days of the Attitude Era, Shane O' Mac was a crony for his father Vince, and even ended up taking over The Corporation for a brief time. By 2001, he became the owner of WCW and as a result, helped lead the InVasion along with his sister's ECW against his father's WWF group.
The longtime Four Horsemen returned to WCW as its Commissioner in the late-1990's. While fighting back against Eric Bischoff's nWo, Dillon signed a WCW World Title match between Hulk Hogan and Bill Goldberg. Later in TNA he also held an on-aur management role.
Although many of his decisions can be characterized as making random tag team matches and booking heels to face The Undertaker, Teddy Long served as General Manager on SmackDown, ECW and (very briefly) on Raw, so points for experience. Plus he introduced the new talent initiative on SmackDown. Holla!
Although he was a backstage force in All-Japan, WCW and WWE, it wasn't until CM Punk's 2011 "pipe bomb" promo that Big Johnny became an on-screen character. Invoking "People Power", Laurinaitis removed Triple H from power and became General Manager of both Raw and SmackDown.
EXCUSE ME! Vickie Guerrero recently finished up an incredible seven-year run as a revolving authority figure in WWE, one that included several stints as General Manager on SmackDown and Managing Supervisor on Raw. During that time, she interacted with virtually all of WWE's top stars.
While some may expect The Game to be higher on this list as the heir apparent, he's still relatively new in the role. After teasing an authority role during the McMahon-Helmsley Era and at other times, Triple H finally unleashed his Inner Vince last year when he assembled The Authority.
As the original figurehead promoter, Tunney went from being a promoter in Toronto to WWF President in 1984 and served in that role until 1995. Among his big decisions - signing Hulk Hogan's matches against Andre The Giant and The Ultimate Warrior and determining the main event of WrestleMania 10.
The man whose client, Brock Lesnar, ended The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania began his authority figure career as the owner of ECW, making many important decrees in the ring. He continued that as General Manager of SmackDown and returned to the role in the WWE version of ECW in 2006.
Stephanie McMahon, amazing, has been an authority figure since 2000. Between the McMahon-Helmsley Era, owning ECW, becoming the General Manager of Raw and taking on her current role in The Authority, The Billion Dollar Princess has shown she can run the wrestling business like her old man.
The Hardcore Legend had one of the most interesting runs as WWF Commissioner from 2000-2001, making sure his often-comedic decisions added to instead of detracting from the in-ring product. He also reprised the role when he was an Investor and Network Executive in TNA, beginning in 2008.
25) Vince Russo
23) Dusty Rhodes
24) Shawn Michaels
21) William Regal
22) Nick Bockwinkel
19) Pat Patterson
20) Gerry Brisco
17) Bill Watts
18) Kurt Angle
15) Dixie Carter
16) Ernest Miller
13) Stone Cold Steve Austin
14) Sgt. Slaughter
11) JJ Dillon
12) Shane McMahon
9) John Laurinaitis
10) Teddy Long
7) Triple H
8) Vickie Guerrero
5) Paul Heyman
6) Jack Tunney
4) Stephanie McMahon
3) Mick Foley
Eric Bischoff has the distinction of being the only on-air authority figure in WCW, WWE and TNA, and his performance were fantastic. From the moment he became leader of the nWo in 1996 to his work in Immortal in 2010, Easy E was able to channel to real-life hatred wrestlers and wrestling fans had for his backstage persona.
Was there any doubt as to whom wrestling's top authority figure is, was and always will be? From the moment he became the evil Mr. McMahon at the Survivor Series in 1997 to almost present day, there's never been a doubt who has ultimately been responsible for the decisions that WWE makes. The fact that he's been able to keep that persona up so convincingly on screen only adds to his legend.
2) Eric Bischoff
1) Vince McMahon
They lay down the law, make the matches, tell you what's best for business and if you're not careful, tell you that you're.... FIRRRRRRRRED!
While authority figures have only been a staple in wrestling for the past decade or so, their roots go back much further. Whether they were labeled as President or another such title, figurehead authority characters been around for a while. Some of these have backstage clout in name only, while others were pulling double-duty as the on-and-off-camera head honcho.
In deciding the Top 50 Wrestling Authority Figures, we looked at the following criteria to assess the best ON-AIR authority figures in wrestling:
How long have they been/were they in a position of power?
How successful were they?
Were they effective at enforcing their own rules? Did they move along the agenda they had set forth?
Was this authority figure tied to just one storyline? Or do they interact with multiple performers?
Did their reign manage enhance the already-visible profile of the performer?
One last thing: We have disqualified The Anonymous Raw General Manager from appearing on this list because, really, it was just a freaking laptop.
Ready? Here we go!
Any names missing or misplaced? Leave your feedback in the Comments section below...