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  Jan 18, 2001



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: What is a Commissioner?
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling

From Webster's New Riverside Dictionary - Revised Edition Commissioner: 1) A member of a commission. 2) A governmental department official. 3) An administrative official in a professional sport.

So the two major feds, being the WWF and WCW, have been using the position/character of a Commissioner over the last little while, and using them extensively.

The real question is -- Why?

Even if you buy the third definition from Webster's, nowhere there does it say "booking" or "match making" duties. Now, maybe that's splitting hairs, but you really have to ask -- do we need these positions?

Well, it depends on how they're used, and in the case of these two esteemed companies, both have it wrong, although the WWF is a little closer to having it right.

LASTMAN WCW Commissioner Ernest "The Cat" Miller and Miss Jones.
The Cat talks about being Commissioner
Starting with WCW, all they've done with the Commissioner's position is replaced the TV title, except they've made it more important than the World heavyweight title. Seriously, no joke, it's more important than the World title.

Why? Because the Commissioner in WCW can actually order around the heavyweight champion. The last two to hold the position, being The Cat and Mike Sanders, were making matches left, right and centre, including booking the respective champs, and putting themselves in matches to elevate their wrestling careers.

So tell me, if you have all the booking power, why would you go after the World belt? You're the champion's boss for God's sake. If he irks you or ticks you off you can strip him of the belt. Ostensibly, by giving the Commissioner so much power (even though it's only a storyline), WCW is demeaning it's own heavyweight title. It doesn't matter that Scott Steiner can kick the crap out of the Cat -- the next night on Nitro the Cat will strip him of the title, or put him in a handicap match, or whatever. The Commissioner's symbol of his status is not a belt but an office, and that's the only thing that separates the two.

To support this fact (yes boys and girls, it's now past the theory stage), WCW even has wrestlers competing for the position of Commissioner -- if that's not an indication that it's a title, then you're thicker than Viscera's mid-section.

I can see it now. Booker T versus Scott Steiner at Starcade 2001 for the office of the Commissioner -- has a nice ring to it don't ya think?

This is where the WWF has at least drawn the line and not sunk to the level of WCW. Outside of a corporate power struggle angle, which really didn't involve in-ring competition, they kept the Commissioner as more of a booker. Outside of Mick Foley being named the Commissioner (his name alone adding credibility to the position), the position is that of a figure head who makes decisions, but doesn't really get involved in physical confrontations (the exception being when he was fired, and still, that physical altercation wasn't a match).

But while the WWF hasn't attached the same level of importance to the position, they've still gone to the same lengths as WCW as making the Commissioner all powerful in terms of booking.

To be honest, while many may not share my views, I believe this to be a mistake, mainly for two reasons. One, because it's kind of repetitive when you have a company CEO (in WCW's case), or family running a company (in the WWF's case), also calling the shots. Now you've got two groups of bookers making the matches, with one always trying to out-do the other, taking away from the action. And two, the position as both companies have set it up, is just too powerful. Instead of being impartial, like Gary Bettman of the NHL or Bud Selig in MLB, they have the commissioner taking sides, only making decisions that benefit him or herself.

The good things about having a Commissioner? There are a few. One being that it helps advance storylines somewhat, and two, the character, as in Mick Foley's and the Cat's case, can be very entertaining. But to be honest, as the positions are set up now, the negatives outweigh the positives.

Until WCW takes away the title aspect of the Commissioner's role, and until both feds get rid of duelling structure between the Commissioner and the other hierarchy in the companies, the Commissioner's role remains moot. Why have the Cat make matches if CEO Ric Flair is already doing so?

To finally sum up, and to possibly answer my own question, it appears the Commissioner is a good idea gone bad because of incorrect decisions that have made the role unnecessary, and overly-important.


Reader Feedback

  • Jan. 11When the soap opera becomes too much



  • The ECW PPV was a work. It's meant for adults. I cannot believe you fell for this. Go back and watch some early ECW, they always pushed the envelope, that's why the WWF is so good these days, they push it to a limit to keep fans watching. Paul E. is the master. There is no second person on this earth that can book talent like he does. The PPV wasn't that bad. Sex In The City is worse than any ECW show and I bet there's a lot more shows that are just as vile. ECW is for adults, not kids, and parents should take note on what their child is watching. Just look at WCW ... now that's offensive.

    YPaul RJ, Australia


    I do agree with you to a certain point. The Rhino talking to Sandman was total crap, they should have just left it as it was, and let Sandman walk away with the belt. As for Missy Hyatt, well, she no longer looks good, I thought she was on the scary side. Yes, it would have been better had this been an angle for her stealing Justin, but I guess not. I do watch ECW for the wrestling obviously, but I get a big kick out of Joel Gertner's beginning speech, and yes they are not the only guilty ones. Remember when Brian Pillman first started out in WWF, they had Stone Cold go to his house with a gun, I believe it was. That was totally unnecessary. Just like some of the stuff that happened at the ECW PPV. Hopefully they'll smarten up by the time the next ECW PPV hits our TV screens.

    Goran


    I'm sure that many will dismiss your article as dribble. I've felt the same way since Steve Austin "broke into" Brian Pillman's home with a gun. In my mind that was the turning point. I grew up watching Stampede Wrestling. Stopped watching during the squash era, started again during the Hitman title reign. Stopped again. I miss the matches that the angles involving bathroom humour and families I don't enjoy.

    Dale

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