Coming into his own

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July 11, 2007

For years, Jonathan Coachman has been a guy that our fans (and many Superstars) love to hate; whether it was his sycophantic relationships with former Raw GM Eric Bischoff and the McMahon family or his tenure as Executive Assistant, Coachman was seen by our fans as anything ranging from a suck-up to a "yes man."

But now that he's in charge of Raw, Coachman is looking to change that, and this past Monday night's successful Raw may go a long way in helping him do that. It's one thing to carry out someone's orders as an Executive Assistant, and quite another to actually have to make those orders yourself; Monday night, Coachman took a huge first step in proving he was capable of the latter.

Coachman was named interim General Manager of Raw a few weeks ago, but due to prior commitments handling other Raw business, this past Monday was only Coachman's second outing at the helm of Raw. Just minutes in, he set the tone for the evening, and many of our fans were surprised at that tone.

As King Booker and Mr. Kennedy assaulted Bobby Lashley at the end of Raw's first match, Coachman stepped out into the arena…and actually stopped the assault. Not only that, but he made a fair main event, giving Lashley a chance to find a partner to help battle his adversaries.

Moments later, after thanking William Regal for taking over in his absence the week before, he put Regal in a match with Sandman. When Regal protested, Coachman didn't soften his stance; instead, he told Regal that the match was made because "it will be entertaining for our fans." Jaws throughout the Cajundome in Lafayette, La., dropped; after all, when was the last time Coachman did anything for our fans?

In 30 minutes time, Coachman may have begun to change the way our fans look at him. Monday night, he stepped up as something more than an assistant, something more than an associate…he stepped up as a leader. As the night went along smoothly and fairly after that point, every minute of the highly entertaining broadcast potentially began to shift our fans' opinion of the interim General Manager.

Raw has lacked a true leader since Eric Bischoff's firing 18 months ago. Can Jonathan Coachman be that guy? He's already begun to prove that our fans' enjoyment is his first priority, as evidence by his conversation with Regal. Based on how he handled the Kennedy/Booker/Lashley situation, it's also clear that he's not going to play favorites. After all, in recent months, Coachman himself was part of helping the McMahons do everything possible to make life hell for Bobby Lashley; yet, in just 60 short seconds, Coachman erased that notion from his mind and actually helped Raw's former Army sergeant.

It's debatable whether or not leaders are born or bred, but you never really know how good someone is until they take on a leadership role. In the sports world, when coaches and managers are relieved of their duties, an interim boss is appointed until the permanent replacement is found. Sometimes, however, that interim replacement is so effective that they become "the man."

Just look to baseball, and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. In 1979, the Chicago White Sox hired La Russa as interim manager after firing their previous boss.

That season, the White Sox finished poorly, but La Russa made such an impression that he was retained as manager on a permanent basis. In the 25-plus years since, La Russa has managed the White Sox, Oakland Athletics and now the Cardinals. His teams have made five appearances in the World Series, and he's won one each with the Athletics and Cardinals (including the Cards' victory just last year). He's also won more games than all but two other managers in the history of Major League Baseball.

Perhaps, that's exactly what Jonathan Coachman is shooting for: becoming a fixture as Raw's General Manager. Given a chance to prove himself as a leader, it seems that he has committed himself to doing anything and everything possible to make Raw the best brand it can be.

Of course, this past Raw was only one brick in a long road ahead. But what does Coachman's apparent change in attitude mean for the future? Is this trend of being a tough but fair leader just that, a trend rather than an aberration? Can he be the leader that Raw hasn't had in a couple of years?

Only time will tell how the Coachman era shakes out.

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