- Base-Breaking Character: Either you think Stephanie is one of the best heels in the company due to her scathing promo skills and ability to draw massive heat despite being a conventionally beautiful woman, or you think she is a legitimate egomaniac who gets off on emasculating the entire roster and throwing her weight around with very little comeuppance while milking both her McMahon bloodline and feminism PR to insulate her from criticism.
- Creator's Pet: As a member of The Authority both in and out of kayfabe, she has been hogging WWE TV programming, particularly Monday Night Raw. That's because not only is she Vince's daughter but Triple H's wife as well. With her character taking up the locus of attention once again, a number of different problems which mostly appeared under the surface have become weekly fixtures of WWE programming, making many fans feel even more irritated with her than they would be for a simple Love to Hate performer as she was previously perceived. In fact, despite the goodwill many wrestling fans feel regarding Triple H eventually taking over the company after Vince, the realization that Stephanie is the main person in line for the throne with Hunter as her second soon becomes the largest part of any reservations others may have about this promising post-Vince future. See why below:
- Character interaction: Unlike Triple H, she can't even swallow her pride for five minutes and put someone else over without interrupting them with lame, condescending comebacks. All she does is rip apart and emasculate every wrestler not named Hunter Hearst Helmsley male and female, curtain jerker to champion, ally or enemy. Even Seth Rollins as "The Man" during his reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2015 was relegated to a sniveling sycophant to Hunter and Stephanie, who often condescendingly treated him more as a pampered son they were coddling and protecting than a serious investment into their future like he should've been. And being that she's a female non-wrestler whose expertise is in PR and that Vince and Triple H are both insanely protective of her, she's more immune and unwilling to put aside her own pride and get knocked down a peg or two for the sake of any of the wrestlers' progression than either of them combined. Anytime something remotely fulfilling for fans happens at her expense or someone tries a scathing retort to something she says or does, she will invoke both the "I'm a McMahon" card and the "woman in power" card to make the 'offender' look bad because heaven forbid Vince McMahon's proto-feminist clone not always get her way. Even guys considered The Chosen One behind the scenes such as Roman Reigns and John Cena aren't immune to her verbal and often physical slaps to the face, which may either be a plus or minus for any given fan depending on whether they like Stephanie better or just dislike her less than Reigns/Cena. In fact, the best either of them can do outside of a scripted accident is hope the fans side with them so they can troll her with a Smug Super grin and be cheered for it. She's even viciously painted her own brother Shane as a misogynist for daring to challenge her power in 2016, though at least he gets to call her out in turn on how she's honestly scared of the threat he poses due to being the fair-minded and popular, here's the key word, McMahon. The only time she gets any physical comeuppance is from random guests, D-list celebrities, or accidental moments where she's caught in the middle of a kerfuffle involving her husband. The only time she came close to a blowoff was with Ronda Rousey, and this only paid off three years later after Rousey's UFC career fell downward and she signed with WWE as an active talent.
- Female wrestlers: Despite all her pro-woman talk, Stephanie is terrible with her fellow women. Her seeming insistence on being always condescending, always correct, and always the queen over nearly every segment she's in is bad enough with the men, but with the women it's even worse. Not only is she, again, just as insufferable with the women as with the men, which in turn is just as much of a problem as it is with the men, the women also have absolutely zero retort when she gets that way, as if they're completely cowed by her domineering presence. She could scream at Women's Champion Charlotte in a screech full of blatant hypocrisy with regrards to disrespecting Ric Flair just weeks after she did so herself, yet Charlotte will say nothing back and Stephanie'll be treated as in the right. And then she can proudly and happily draft Charlotte to Raw and act like nothing ever happened, simply because no one is seemingly willing/able to call her out on her face that yeah, it actually did. And just recently, her brother Shane just implemented the first-ever Womens Money In The Bank ladder match in WWE history for the 2017 Money In The Bank PPV event, which apparently never crossed her mind. This all does nothing but cause damage if the goal is to get the women taken seriously, something that even fans who disagree with the politics Stephanie espouses both in and out of kayfabe want to see happen apparently more than she does simply because of the talent at the company's disposal in recent years. And that brings us to
- The Divas Revolution: It can even be argued that Stephanie sabotaged the main-roster "Divas Revolution" by having her character be the one to kickstart it. The moment she personally introduced the NXT divas and openly placed them on teams she designated herself, it became all about what a great thing she's doing and how many "era of the female athlete" taglines can be shoved into commentary instead of being about talented female wrestlers coming in to change the face and possibly the name of what was then the Divas division. The entire thing had devolved into mostly meaningless tag team matches, endless shills and lectures about female athletes, and Nikki Bella conspicuously getting to skate by and approach record time as the Divas Champion without defending the belt. She even did this again at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn; thankfully it had no lasting effect that time, but even wrestling reviewers with feminist leanings noted that the most uneasy reaction the crowd gave during the whole presentation of the Bayley vs. Sasha Banks NXT Women's Championship match was when she came out to introduce the match while injecting the "Divas Revolution" corporate branding into it. With Takeover, the next night's SummerSlam, and the following night's Raw all taking place in the same building, the Brooklyn fans gave Sasha and Bayley's match a standing ovation but were so displeased with the Divas Revolution Raw segment that they cheered The Miz shushing the women during the promo/interview portion and then "hi-jacked" the match portion with boos and random chants including chants for Sasha. Even months later when Paige trashed the entire angle as well as every woman's character on the roster at the start of her FaceHeel Turn borne of jealousy for Charlotte becoming the new Divas Champion instead of her, Stephanie was conveniently left out of that tirade despite the fact that she could reasonably be seen as responsible within kayfabe for everything that had gotten Paige frustrated in the first place. Only after the designated teams fell apart and the Divas Revolution branding virtually disappeared did the women's division start to change for the better, meaning Stephanie's actions in one promo ultimately held back the positive progress she claimed to be facilitating for several months. Yet even a year later, Sasha Banks gave her credit for helping pioneer women's wrestling in WWE in a promo which only highlighted the arguable decay of Sasha's character on the main roster.
- Lack of comeuppance: Vince had humiliating things happen to him at the hands of the wrestlers he tried to screw over every single week back when he was the active Big Bad, and when he had his character introduce major events it was done in a way that increased their credibility as opposed to making decisions for a wrestler's character that said character could easily make themselves. Even Triple H, despite his reputation as one of the biggest self-aggrandizing politicians in the history of the business, is willing to take the occasional beating for the good of a storyline when the time calls for it. The last two times Stephanie as a character was hit with a Finishing Move prior to Ronda Rousey breaking her arm at WrestleMania 34? February 2009 and March 2016, literally over seven years apart. The 2009 one generated a face pop for Randy Orton during the time in which he was supposed to be the top heel because of how unsympathetic Steph had been coming off as a supposedly Reasonable Authority Figure in a preceding period of several months, while the 2016 one proved that between The Authority and top face Roman Reigns, both acts the fans were thoroughly tired of to the point that Triple H and Reigns each got one big pop in recent months solely by beating the hell out of the other, she was the most hated person in the entire arc. Her most embarrassing moment over the past couple of years? Openly tweeting her agreement with a quote from one of the founders of Twitter stating that philanthropy is the future of marketing. In other words, not a storyline moment that helps any of WWE's performers or characters get ahead, but a real-life moment that made her look like a tone deaf suck-up and added fuel and substance to the fire of the "charity exploitation" accusations that certain critics dog WWE with whenever they hamfistedly showcase John Cena's magnanimous endeavors. And at the worst possible time, too in the midst of the company launching the Connor's Cure program.Wrestlecrap: It's pretty amazing how neutered she makes everyone look, honestly. Then again, this is the same person who they had a trainer for, and then canned that act because if she needed a trainer, that must mean she was fat at some point. Eh, whatever, shes the boss' daughter and the heir to the throne. We'd all best get used to this.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: When you're such a Hate Sink, yet almost never get any Laser-Guided Karma for Catharsis Factor payoffs, your feuds and screentime are pretty much guaranteed to suffer from this.
- On the Face side, her 2003 feud with Daddy when she was the SmackDown GM. She'd finally had enough of his crap and decided to stand up to him... only to consequently be Curb-Stomp Battle'd by several big-time Wrestling Monsters on his payroll. Ultimately, Vince challenged her to an "I Quit" match where the loser would be fired... which she lost and not from any fault of her own, but from Linda (in Steph's corner) finally having enough and literally throwing in the towel. And worst of all? It's been heavily implied that said Trauma Conga Line eventually resulted in Steph finally breaking down and becoming the sycophantic Hate Sink that she is today meaning that she didn't even get to be a Doomed Moral Victor. Basically, the whole thing was just unpleasant Adult Fear with the only consolation being The Undertaker later retaliating via Cold-Blooded Torture on Vince in a Buried Alive match (but even then, Vince ultimately won due to Kane's interference).
- Foe Yay:
- With Chris Jericho in the early 2000's. While a lot of the wrestlers mocked her, Jericho was obsessive about it to the point where fans were wondering when the two were just going to have planet-cracking hate-sex and get it over with. When you think about it, Jericho's hate for her made a lot of sense. He would always mock her for being easy for everyone except him.
- With Trish Stratus. On the January 1, 2001, Raw, Stephanie told Trish that while she may have Vince wrapped around her finger, Trish's "big-breasted ways" would not work on her. Yes, Stephanie's message was that Trish couldn't manipulate her the way she manipulated men, but, doesn't this sound like a Suspiciously Specific Denial, as if simply saying "You can't manipulate me" wouldn't have been enough to get the point across?
- With Sable. Stephanie randomly scrapped Sable's Les Yay program with Torrie Wilson so she could feud with Sable instead. See below under Writer on Board.
- Hollywood Pudgy:
- "Molly Holly has a big ass," anyone?
- Stephanie's own weight was commented upon when she made her last few appearances prior to the Authority run. Of course, that's post-three children. Ah, wrestling. People on the Usenet newsgroup rec.sport.pro-wrestling had even been making jokes about her body well before she ever had kids. Of course, this was partially due to how unpopular she was in general. Before the HHH-The Godfather match on the March 16, 2000 SmackDown!, the Godfather told Stephanie that there might be a place for her in the Ho Train, but it would be in the caboose. Stephanie now averts this, as these pictures demonstrate.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: "Muffy," the evil fitness trainer character. See the WrestleCrap item on the Trivia page.
- Love to Hate: When she's at her best, she's very good at getting this reaction (she learned from one of the best) Unfortunately, in recent years her chronic Karma Houdini status tends to make people just hate her.
- Most Annoying Sound: Her voice when she was younger. If you ever wanted to know what a parrot sounds like when you crush it's throat in a vice, that was it. Especially when she sang... (Though, she was actually trying to be annoying at that point.)
- Never Live It Down: Comparing 9/11 to the time Daddy was put on trial for supposedly encouraging steroid use among his workers was unquestionably one of the dumbest things anyone in pro-wrestling has ever said (and as you can imagine, that's up against some pretty stiff competition there).
- Take That, Scrappy!: It seems to have become tradition for her to get some comeuppance at Wrestlemania. Aside from the example at 32, she got humiliated by Ronda Rousey at 31 and, at 33, got knocked off the apron and through a table when Seth Rollins sidekicked her husband into her.
- The entire spring of 2018 can be considered to be one long Humiliation Conga for Stephanie. At WrestleMania 34, she was obliterated by Rousey in her debut match. It was incredibly cathartic to see the finish where Rousey performed her brutal armbar on McMahon. And then the next night on Raw, McMahon came out at the start to a series of absolutely merciless boos. After cutting a promo during which the crowd loudly chanted "YOU TAPPED OUT!", she invited Rousey out to the ring to congratulate her. After embracing, Rousey smiled at her; only for it to immediately turn into a scowl. She then dropped Stephanie and applied the armbar once again. The cheers as Ronda pulled McMahon to the ground were unheard of.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
- Since she was so hated that she failed as a Face against notorious Real Life Jerkass Bad Boss Eric Bischoff when they were dueling GMs. When WWE fans are siding with the guy who, as the boss of WCW, wanted to put WWE out of business, you stink at being a face. While Shane and even Vince can usually handle the "stern but fair" archetype plausibly, even as a Face, Steph often fluctuates as the Spoiled Brat/Mean Boss/Smug Snake. She was pretty much played off as an innocent victim during Randy Orton's feud with Triple H and the McMahons, despite the fact she had in part set it off due to turning into a Control Freak as GM for Raw, and trying to bully around the wrong superstars. Not to mention while she had very coldly turned on her brother for trying to compromise "her show" beforehand, she had nothing against him taking a solid beating for her to fix the mess she'd made. She fails to even gain the Love to Hate reputation as a heel, since divas rarely challenge her and doing so would usually be considered a Moral Event Horizon for most male wrestlers, often leaving her a Karma Houdini building up heat for a comeuppance that never arrives.
- Another notable example is the Raw 1000 segment between Triple H, Stephanie, and Paul Heyman in 2012. On the one hand, Hunter was challenging Brock Lesnar to come back and fight him at SummerSlam to get revenge for Brock breaking his arm a few months ago, only for Heyman to refuse on Lesnar's behalf and repeatedly stall mainly by calling Steph and Hunter out as bad examples to their children. On the other hand, Hunter repeatedly physically threatened Heyman, who is not and has never been a wrestler, and Stephanie insulted Heyman by declaring him a business failure and a parasite before jumping on him and attacking him in order to finally provoke him into giving Hunter the match. Hunter and Stephanie, who were supposed to come off as Guile Heroes, were instead seen as the conniving ones to the point that they were booed in this segment, and Lesnar coming out afterward to attack Triple H made him look like he was the cavalry, especially due to the Helmsleys' milked 'chickenshit'-esque reaction of horror. As before, Steph leaves Hunter to take it from there and is absent from the rest of the entire feud.
- Stephanie's tearful act on the 07/28/14 RAW. While turned out to be a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, it seems like the writers's intention was to get the audience to start feeling sorry for Stephanie, if only to make her actions at the end of the show pack more of a punch. However, the massive heat Stephanie gets meant that she got her zero sympathy from the audience, even with her looking pitiful and broken as she detailed how getting arrested has damaged her personal and professional life. You know you're a Hate Sink when you get a stadium of thousands of people cheering on how your innocent young children are hurt, shunned, and scarred for life.
- X-Pac Heat: "STEPHIE SWALLOWS!" "STEPHIE SWALLOWS!" "STEPHIE SWALLOWS!"
YMMV / Stephanie McMahon