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COMMENT





McMahons decide to beat dead horse
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


"Hello, Mr. McMahon? This is Debbie in reception. 1999 is on line one, it says it wants its' storylines back. Should I patch the call through?"

Okay, so the preceding conversation didn't actually take place at WWE headquarters this week, but man, wouldn't the world would be a better place if it did?

Fresh from a massive debut rating on USA Network, WWE was in a position to finally kick-start a new era for Monday night wrestling.

They could have pushed a young star like John Cena to the moon. They could have launched a long-term storyline to carry the company into 2006. They even could have dragged out an ageing legend like Hulk Hogan to play up the nostalgia factor.

But instead, WWE boss Vince McMahon decided to make himself and his family the stars of the show. For, like, the bazillionth time.

The entire 2-hour broadcast of Raw was spent hyping the big finale, where long time WWE announcer Jim Ross was "fired" by a gaggle of McMahons.

The segment was nothing short of a train wreck, although train wrecks don't usually drag on for what seems like an eternity, with acting is so bad it makes porno dialogue look Oscar-worthy by comparison.

The big twist was that Linda McMahon, the only member of the family who (until now) had a morsel of credibility, finally joined the dark side, turning heel and kicking Ross where the ring lights don't shine.

Shock value seemed to be the result they were going for, but surprises in wrestling are only a good idea when fans actually want to see them.

I mean, people would also be shocked if Vince McMahon dressed up like a cheerleader and peed all over the entire front row, but that doesn't mean it should be in the script for next week's show. The McMahon family soap opera has simply been done to death. It's not fresh. It's not nostalgic. It didn't draw big money the last few times, and it likely won't draw money this time.

Yet WWE still dedicated over a quarter of Monday's show to all things McMahon.

In addition to the show's climax, there was a lengthy segment at the top of the first hour involving Triple H -- Stephanie McMahon's real-life husband.

HHH took 30 seconds worth of material and drew it out into a convoluted 15-minute monologue, explaining the logic behind his beat down of Ric Flair the previous week. Something about Flair being delusional about his own greatness. Which is both funny and ironic, although clearly not intentionally.

Some people have a gift on the mic. People like the Rock, Hulk Hogan or Paul Heyman. They could sit in the ring and read the phone book, yet do it with such charisma that the crowd would still be on the edge of their seats.

Triple H has the opposite gift. If he were to reveal the winning numbers for next week's Lotto 649 on live TV, viewers would probably still have trouble paying attention.

It was all a textbook case of ego and overkill. Too much Triple H. Too much McMahon. Which will very likely result in too much channel changing from a wrestling fan base that is already looking for other sources of Monday night entertainment.

This isn't to say WWE bosses don't have an ace up their sleeve. It's possible that there's a money angle hidden somewhere in Linda McMahon's heel turn. And Triple H's promo may just be bearable after heavy editing -- for the highlight video package which he'll have them air repeatedly until the tape breaks.

But the ratings for next week's show will tell their own story. And if they take a dip, the McMahons can't point the finger of blame at anyone but themselves.