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  March 21, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Readers respond to new WWF policy
Over the course of the morning here at SLAM! Wrestling, we have gathered some of your emails concerned the WWF's new policy towards the pro-wrestling media. The reaction has been very diverse and passionate in tone. Below are some of what was sent to us so far.


It seems a shame that Vincent K.'s megalomania has struck again. Besides squandering a wealth of talent and wasting a string of seemingly golden, ready-made angles in the last year, Vince wants to maintain an absolute grip on media spin. While it is not at all unusual for a major media player to try and control information and thus reaction to news, it is rare that a major company takes such a public and petulant stance. Perhaps Vince has forgotten the golden rule of entertainment press, any coverage is good coverage.

I read a number of what might be called "dirt sheets" and I always do so with a grain of salt handy. It is as much fun to play spot the B.S. as it is to read the "official" party line. I am a wrestling fan and I appreciate a diversity of opinion and news. Frankly, the rumours and nonsense are often more entertaining than the refried crap coming out of Titan Towers these days.

Mr. Vincent K. McMahon, you've got the greatest pool of talent ever assembled, a vast financial resource and the best you can give us fans is a bald heat vacuum?

Your "creative team" hasn't had a good idea in months. The WWFE's vaunted ability to create stars has done what? Squealing Stephanie and her ugly implants every week? No thanks. Even HHH, the smartest man in the game, as we're led to believe, has had his triumphant return and feud for the unified strap wasted by his shrill girl friend, the head writer, daughter of the chief. If Austin is indeed annoyed with the current path you've chosen, he isn't alone. My Monday night ritual no longer centers on RAW, it just isn't compelling or fun to watch talent misused and knee jerk angles.

To quote some kids on the bus a few weeks ago, "Did you see those old guys man? They f-----g suck. I guess the bald guy used to be a star."

Surely, no one expects an entertainment giant to be happy about negative comment or leaks from within but that is the way of the world. Let's face it the people behind the net sites and news sheets are your fans. They care about the product and the stars, they are your audience and they reach out into your audience. Adopting a siege mentality only serves to alienate your company and your product from the fans that pay your bills and fill your coffers. All of the smarts and marks are wise to the work these days. The sheets and sites won't disappear because Vince has taken a page from Bret Hart's book of pouting, they will continue to seek out or create news.

If WWFE wants to generate a positive image, give the fans engaging stories, elevate younger, fresher workers and deliver on your promise of entertainment. You will always have critics, why not address them in a professional manner, offer avenues of information and accept debate and disagreement as part of the natural cycle of entertainment coverage. There will always be liars and rumour mongers in the media, both professional and amateur, the best defence against them is to provide better information. One would imagine that the WWFE, out of all entertainment giants, would be able to take the occasional bump.

As a fan I will close by suggesting that until you shake your collective heads and stir up an original idea or two, you Mr. McMahon will be the author of your own shrinking buy rates and ratings. I think it is fair to say that, at this juncture in your product, I could do a better job of booking and creating angles than the hot shot, desperate tripe you've resorted to. Hell, the kids on the bus could do a better job.

Cheer up Stone Cold, we fans know that you deserve better and we still care. What? We still care. What? We still care....for now.

Lindsay Stewart




Slam! Wrestling,

I am a loyal fan of the WWF and of the wrestling industry as a whole. At first glance this whole situation would seem like it threatens the rights of fans with internet access and wrestling journalists to the true story of wrestling.

It is an unfortunate fact that the WWF has taken this stance. But as a fan I'm not too worried. I compare this to the WWF Magazine that blends truth and fiction together. I recall that the PPV results they post in the magazine are true but I also recall that the depiction of a wrestlers life is simply a character in a continous storyline.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Undertaker was never from Death Valley nor is he really a "dead man walking." As much as I support non-WWF sponsored websites, the WWF letter will not affect my overall view of wrestling, which is a continous story line involving modern day scripted gladiators. The child in me will always see The Rock as the good guy, and Vince McMahon as the bad guy. In some ways, I miss the days when I had no clue that Vince McMahon was really the owner of a major business and not some "ants in his pants" commentator. As much as the internet has served to open our eyes to the reality of the wrestling business, it has in some sense taken away from the mystery that is Pro-Wrestling.

Ben Alvarez
Ft. Worth, TX





As a former member of the media myself, now on the other side doing public relations I can tell you the "head in the sand" attitude the WWF is taking is all wrong. Like journalists on wrestling websites, I used my share of "unnamed sources" to gather information not found on any press release.

I always took the step of giving the company or other entity the opportunity to comment on my information. I got one of two reactions: The contacted entity would comment, either that the information was not correct or give me at least a partial comment. The other: the ever popular "no comment". If that was the case, and given my unnamed source was reliable, I would go with the story.

The fact is, Mister Vincent J. McMahon and the powers in Titan Towers will not be able to stop the flow of inside information to the pro-wrestling media. If they were smart, they would embrace the coverage they do get on the Internet. Tout the good when it's mentioned, deal openly with the bad when it's mentioned. The days of doing business behind closed doors is over in the wrestling business.

In conclusion: Vince McMahon has discovered one thing that won't join his "Kiss My Ass" club. The first amendment and those who make sure that right stays free!

Thanks,

Mike Goins
Ashland, Kentucky




Pro wrestling journalism has come a long way in the last ten years. For the longest time, the best we had for news on the wrestling industry were magazines like PWI that kept kayfabe, treated everything as if it were real, and never gave us a chance to hear more about the real lives of wrestlers. People who read these magazines were either reading it because they bought into it and thought it was all real, of those who knew it wasn't and read it because it was entertaining, and the only "news" they could receive.

Now we can hear about plotlines weeks in advance, get interesting tidbits about the superstars and generally get all the important info we want about our favorite form of entertainment. People who read magazines about wrestling pretty much know it's "entertainment" but still have to spend a lot of time defending their pasttime to friends and family.

In other words, it's gone from the National Enquirer to Soap Opera Digest.

Wrestling is an entertainment medium, and the coverage of it more akin to Entertainment Tonight than Nightline. Steve Kmetko is no Walter Cronkite. And a story about Steve Austin going home from Wrestlemania does not have the investigative weight of the Watergate break-in.

People who write about wrestling (myself included) are gossip columnists. Entertainment critics. Pundits. Sites like this and 1Wrestling (both of which I read regularly) are akin to Harry Knowles' 'Ain't it Cool News' site, where film plots are revealed regularly for the pleasure of those who like to know what's going to happen before everyone else, for the joy of feeling "In the Know".

The WWF's letter is bewildering in its tone, straight out of deep roving left field in its unexpectedness, and ultimately a bad idea that makes them seem more like the all-controlling conglomerate that it, of course, ultimately is. Their goal is simple - they want to be the source people come to for news about their product. If someone puts out bootleg t-shirts they are stopped, because those shirts reduce the value of the ones the WWF are selling. If someone puts out unauthorized information (in many cases, better information) than the WWF's site, it might reduce the hits the WWF site gets. So the goal is obvious, but the method is poorly chosen. And I feel we'll see an about face as fast and furious as the pulling and recanting of JR's diatribe last year.

But the reaction by some of the wrestling sites has been hilarious. I'm sorry, anyone covering wrestling referring to themselves as a "journalist" is taking themselves just a little too seriously. Mary Hart is not a Journalist, nor Chris Connelly. Kurt Loder...okay, he came close, because there's a certain risk to sitting in the same room with Ozzy Osbourne.

Wrestling is a business, anyone involved in it is out to make money, not improve the world. Clinging to claims of restricting free speech is just plain assigning too much importance to what is ultimately a diversion. You're not being censored on reporting news about a war, you're being denied tickets to the Oscars because you're not a big enough star. To take on the mantle of something you're not demeans the thing you're trying to aspire to.

Bono is not a political leader, Charles Barkley is not a role model, and Hulk Hogan will not end the crisis in the Middle East. There really is a difference between news and entertainment. Please recall that before you start claiming one is on par with the other.

Vinnie Bartilucci




I think that this is so typical of the WWF. First they put all the other promoters out of buisness, and force us to watch the "CRAP" that they deliver. Now we can't get any straight shooting comments from the boys, unless they go on OFF THE RECORD, or some other WWF sponsered show. Bottom line is, with ratings and profits dropping, I'll bet Vince is trying to find a way to make money, by making his stars available for interviews. Forget Garth Drabinsky, Vince is the devil.

Angelo Varvouletos (Hurricane Hugo)




I think point blank that what they are doing is total bulls--t and Vince is a hypocrite if he thinks that the wrestling media isn't going to comment on his company.

I believe that they should be happy that other sites are talking about them. Bad publicity is better than no publicity. The bottom line is that sites like www.1wrestling.com and Slam! are the only places the wwf fans and wrestling fans can voice their opinion.

WWF.com used to do a good job of talking to the fans when they did have great ratings was because they used to give a damn what the WWF fans wanted to see and now because they have no competition they all of a sudden have let our voices fall on deaf ears. I for one am sick of this. I think that by them putting a statement like that on there site just shows paranoia.

Here is something someone really needs to explain to me...If the WWF does take time to read what is written on these sites...Why don't they pay attention or at least read the fan's opinions? Hell, we are not on the road and we dont fly and take bumps and no we are not wrestlers but dammit we respect love and admire what the wrestlers, the ring crew, the tech guys, the office people, sacrafice to put on a show that is unlike any other.

So, if someone from the WWF is reading this tell me... Why do a lot of fans feel that wrestling sites are our last voice? As my mom says..If you don't like the situation you are in then do something about it. Don't bitch because more times than not you have no one to blame but yourself.

deadmandta@aol.com




I think it makes sense for the WWF.

They are an entertainment industry. No one gives out scripts before the show. As long as they ban ALL online media and not just selected ones, they'll be fine. It would be interesting for the 1Wrestling and the rest to trace the validity of their posted rumors of returns, character turns and plot lines. Most news organizations would not last with all same splattering of misinformation they post. The WWF also has its own website. Why help the competition? Does NBC give out press releases to ABC and expect them to be used? Nope.

I think the message was more for those feeding information, a company policy posting in public, to cut off anyone thinking of helping a website.

Mike Siroky




I think its great. Finally, those obsessive dirt-sheet writers will move and do something better with their non-existent lives. I hate all rumours, spoilers, and so called "smarks", *COUGH*, and im very thankful to SlamWrestling for providing real information and news articles on the wrestling business, not endless crap about "Oh he cant sell moves" or "HBK got drunk and was sent home", which rumour site marks always regurgitate on message boards. I think its a shame that these nobody's have spoiled many future opportunities for SlamWrestling to get interviews with people like Jim Ross etc, oh well, what can yah do ?. At least SlamWrestling will still have Bret Hart's column !!!, and that other guy's, what was his name again, the Jackal ???.... ;)

Aki
(HiTMaN 9497@aol.com)

P.S. I hope the WWF will keep the ban on these waste-of-internet-space sites like 1wrestling (Who ?) and Wrestling Observer, but will lift the ban on real wrestling media sites like SlamWrestling. BTW: What's Meltzer's real job ?




I take it the WWF has opted to close their company to the online media. This decision is totally with in their rights as an operating organization. The WWF has every right to handle online media relations any way they want.

Having access to the WWF was never an undeniable right for the online media, it was and always will remain a privilege issued to the online media through proper WWF channels. What has happened is the WWF has decided to cut off internet web services & online newsletters because of a few unethical organizations, individuals and news services.

I am not offended by the open-letter. I wish it had not come to this but I can certainly understand the frustration of the WWF. There are a lot of organizations online covering this business, some of which I feel have hidden agendas. These organizations don't cherish or love this business as much as the rest of us do (in my opinion). These organizations publish unsubstantiated drivel to further social, political and economical agendas. Often times these services provide information with 'unamed sources'. Nine times out of ten these organizations produce incorrect information & even when proven wrong they offer no corrections, apologies or retractions.

It was only a matter of time before the WWF cut everyone off instead of trying to correct the incorrect information themselves. The WWF will simply inform their fan base they are the only official source of WWF News (WWF.COM). Another decision which is totally with in their rights. Does this mean the WWF is the only reliable news source? No. But it does mean the credibility of outside online news services will be effected in some capacity. And that, to me is a shame. But if we had responsible online journalists covering this business using good ethics and common sense, none of this would have happened. This is not a problem strictly confined to the wrestling media though or the wrestling business.

The entire media world has been corrupted through a panic to reach a wider audience and increase circulation. Western culture has witnessed its main source of information become corrupted. This is a growing problem. It is only going to get worse before it gets better, because of unethical organizations, services, and individuals who would rather increase their publications revenue, circulation, or would rather continue along a path of self-promotion then release information involving good ethics, morals and values. Until our culture demands otherwise, the sad fact is these services, organizations and individuals will not change their practices. This is simply supply & demand at work here. As long as unethical journalism is high demand it will exist in some form or another.

Fortunately, you, as the reader dictate what is or isn't published. You as the reader can and should demand better. You can demand publications promote good ethics, morals, and values. The truth is, you as the reader control the publication. If the product is not in great demand, the publications will have to change to supply you, the reader, with the product you demand. If the publisher fails to change to the product you as the reader demand, it will cease to exist. However; none of this can happen unless you, the reader, make it to happen.

Mark R

Previous Stories:

The WWF's war on Internet sites
SLAM! responds to J.R.




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