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  June 23, 1999



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: McMahon, the beacon and blight of pro wrestling
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

 Recently, fans across North America let out a collective moan when Vince McMahon was revealed as the "Higher Power" on RAW. The WWF couldn't have picked a better or worse person for the role.

McMahon is unquestionably the most powerful and influential figure in wrestling history. Since buying out his father's shares in the business, Vince McMahon has made the wrestling industry his personal playground, stepping over long forgotten competitors as if they were carcasses left to die on the side of the road.

He's been ruthless, cutthroat and single-minded in his attempt to rule the wrestling world. It is only fitting that we should now officially refer to him as the Higher Power. After all, who else but the almighty and exalted McMahon would be able to create and mold his own version of the truth? Who else but McMahon would be able to sell a revisionist version of pro wrestling history to an unsuspecting and unquestioning pack of wrestling fans? And who else but McMahon would be able to get away with holding his competition up to one standard and his own company to another?

Consider McMahon's statements on an AOL Chat from Dec 11, 1995. When asked about Nitro competing against RAW, the "exalted one" bellowed that he was "upset when Ted Turner chose to present its Monday night show head-to-head with RAW," and that it "showed no regard at all for wrestling fans here in the U.S.". The implication being that it would split the TV viewing audience for wrestling in half.

How ironic that a mere four years later McMahon would announce plans to launch Smackdown, a two hour weekly special scheduled to air on the UPN network on Thursdays, directly against WCW's Thunder program. Parting the seas of hypocrisy, much like Moses parted the Red Sea, is but one of the many powers of the Higher Power.

Lest we not forget his actions of Feb 8, 1996 when "the devine" one filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against TBS and Ted Turner stating that "TBS has been engaged in a systematic plan, implemented by a series of steps, to destroy the WWF in order that TBS might achieve a monopoly over the professional wrestling business."

The Higher Power likened himself to David who fearlessly battled Goliath, convincing his legion of minions that he was up against an insurmountable power (TBS).

Yet, for the better part of his career, it was McMahon himself who was Goliath, strong-arming his competitors and driving them into bankruptcy. In an attempt to corner the entire PPV industry for himself, the Higher Power staged the first Survivor Series on PPV directly against Jim Crockett Promotion's Starrcade on Thanksgiving 1987. Threatening the majority of cable operators with a WWF pullout if they decided to carry the NWA event, the Higher Power was able to commandeer the reigns of the PPV industry and drive Crockett out of business.

Or how about the time he reportedly tried to get the AWA's SuperClash PPV from Chicago canned when he informed the Illinois State Athletic Commission that Kerry Von Erich, scheduled to appear in the main event vs Jerry Lawler, had a prosthetic foot. It seems the state of Illinois had a century old ordinance on the books prohibiting athletes with artificial limbs from competing in sporting events, and although it was never enforced, the Higher Power took it upon himself to try and shut down the AWA's PPV before it even got started.

And how about my personal favorite, when the Higher Power appeared on the NewSport talk show on June 15, 1995 and in a moment of true revelation, told host Chet Coppock that "(WCW) allows so many things to go wrong in terms of chairs being used and women being clotheslined and things of that nature. I think they give our business a bad name. It's so important for us to be able to uphold this standard of ethics we do."

A curious statement to say the least considering that the current WWF product, with its focus on chair shots, blading, foul language and treating women like sex objects, is a far, far cry from the days when he proudly referred to the WWF as wholesome, family-sports entertainment to the point of nausea.

Alas, McMahon is the Higher Power, and he has the good fortune of being able to turn yesterday's truth into today's reality. Truth, ethics, morals, principles and consciousness. These are all abstract terms to the Higher Power, meant to be shaped and molded to his benefit. None do it any better, or worse. McMahon has always believed he was a deity of some sort; only now has he conjured up enough gall to call himself one in public.




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