SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Financial Post story full of holes
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
WWF Canada President, Carl DeMarco.
In an article appearing in the July issue of the Canadian Financial Post
Magazine, writer Noel Hulsman interviewed WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco
and reports that the Vince McMahon "merged with local wrestling syndicates
in order to build his wrestling empire."
This is but one of the few statements Hulsman reports as fact in his piece.
It is disturbing if for no other reason than it gives a pretty clear
indication of the quality of reportage by the mainstream media on
pro-wrestling. This piece is representative of what passes for
investigative pro wrestling pieces these days and it's troubling that a
journalist from a magazine with the stature and reputation of the Financial
Post was taken in by the WWF's corporate-speak language.
Even more unconscionable is that the article shows little evidence of the
kind of research necessary to tackle the subject of pro wrestling.
Take, for example, the notion that McMahon "merged with
local wrestling syndicates." It is downright laughable. The truth is many
wrestling promotions went out of business after McMahon invaded their
territory. Several of those operations' top stars were convinced to leave
and sign lucrative deals with the WWF. Then TV contracts were signed that
gave McMahon a wrestling monopoly in the area.
None of this is mentioned in the article. Sadly, Hulsman has become another in a long line of people who have fallen victim to the WWF's revisionist version of pro wrestling history.
The inaccuracies doesn't stop there either. Hulsman also reported that the
WWF have had an extensive drug policy since 1987, that the WWF grosses $1
billion a year in merchandise revenue alone and that in the promotional war
between WCW and the WWF, "WCW landed the first blow when it lured away WWF
icons "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (among others)."
The truth is that the WWF instituted their drug testing program in 1994 in
the wake of the McMahon-steroid trial and that the program is rarely even
mentioned these days. The $1 billion a year figure in merchandise revenue
a gross exaggeration considering that the entire gross from all forms of
revenue is around $230 million, according to leading wrestling journalist
Dave Meltzer. And to refer to Ric Flair as a WWF icon, well, I won't even
comment on the absurdity of that statement. Suffice to say no intelligent
person will think of Flair as anything but the greatest NWA World Champion
Hulsman also goes on to report that McMahon largely fashioned Hulk Hogan
and Andre the Giant into the stars they became. It may come as a surprise
to Hulsman, but Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were huge stars before Vince
McMahon ever got his mitts on them. Andre was one of top working heels in
Japan, earning one of the most lucrative contracts in wrestling at the
time. Hogan split his time between touring Japan, where he was crowned the
first IWGP (New Japan Pro Wrestling) Heavyweight champion and was one of
the top gate attractions in the U.S. as a main event star for Verne Gagne's
American Wrestling Association outfit.
McMahon and the WWF gave Andre and Hogan a bigger stage. But to suggest
that he took them from obscurity and made them into something is
Then Hulsman rolls out the cliches, referring to the WWF roster as no-neck
bruisers and silicon-enhanced centrefolds, ignoring the fact that these
same bruisers maintain a work schedule that's far more gruelling than any
other professional sport.
Just for good measure, Hulsman claims rather emphatically that wrestling
"remained largely a trailer park distraction until 1982" thanks to McMahon.
The characterization that pro wrestling appeals only to people of a lower
class income is not only unfair, it's also untrue.
When wrestling first exploded on a national basis back in the 1940s with
the advent of television, the typical live pro wrestling crowd consisted of
middle and upper class men and women, dressed in suits and ties and dress
skirts. Working professionals comprised the demographic of wrestling fans
back then, and it was hardly a sport with that appealed to young children
and teenagers, as it does today.
Some might be tempted to blame this article on the WWF. That is too easy.
All Carl De Marco is guilty of is successfully spinning the WWF's
version of the truth.
No, the real blame here lies squarely with journalists who buy it hook,
line and sinker. This article is a serious indictment against the
mainstream media. The fact that the quality of reportage found
in this article passes as the standard when it comes to pro wrestling is a