SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: A satirical parody
An open letter to WWFE
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
Sports Entertainment sure is 'big business'. Nowhere is it more readily
evident than in the WWF's head offices where decisions are made which
directly affect the marketplace, the fans and the news media. Though SLAM!
Wrestling commends the WWF for their over-enthusiasm in defending their
product and their company, Wednesday's judgment to severe all ties with the
professional wrestling newsletters and websites is nothing short of
shooting down a pigeon with an anti-aircraft rocket. It is also just as absurd.
What the WWF did is akin to what my two-year-old son has done on occasion
when he has become miffed at me for telling him not to throw his ball into
the neighbour's yard or use his broom as a baseball bat rather than purpose
for which it was intended. He cries..."No play with Da-Da no more!" and God
bless him, defiantly stomps off in a huff with his toys as fast as his
little feet will carry him.
In my mind, there is no difference between the two circumstances. Angered
at having their "dirty laundry" aired in public despite benefiting from the
mega-hype for WrestleMania X8 over the last few weeks, the WWF decided we
weren't playing fair, gathered up their toys and headed home. It's not
exactly a mature approach to a problem.
I expect such a reaction from my toddler not a company listed on the New
York Stock Exchange.
For a firm striving to shrug off the unfair negative connotations of being
a pro wrestling company and desperately wanting to be viewed as a
legitimate world-class corporation, Wednesday's action only serves to
embarrass the company as a whole. The "shadowy" statement
posted on the
WWF's Internet site (to which nobody has stood up and taken credit for) was
unprofessional and certainly not the way a multi-million dollar firm should
do business in this day and age. In my books, such a knee-jerk and rabid
reaction certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the company's leadership
if a real crisis ever erupted.
With one statement, the WWF damaged valuable relationships with the news
media. Relationships that took years to build. Relationships that may never
be repaired as this is the second time the WWF has unexpectedly taken this
course of action. Sooner or later, even the most patient people can longer
just forgive and forget.
Any public relations expert worth their salt knows that nothing good can
from banning everyone, especially those who in the past have acted in a
forthright manner and given you equitable coverage. Turning friends into
enemies is not good business sense. A far better solution would be to work
with those people to find an agreeable resolution or to counter the
supposed "misinformation" with a statement of your own.
That, of course, requires keeping the lines of communication open. Under
the current WWF policy, a roadblock has been erected effectively cutting
off any reasonable and positive dialogue. It wasn't a smart move on their
part. Neither was posting a surprise statement on their Web site instead of
doing the professional thing and contacting those involved to notify them
of or discuss the change. It all boils down to a matter of common courtesy.
Respect, afterall, is a two-way street.
As far as the issue of "anonymous sources" goes, they are a fact of life
for the news media. Having covered everything from criminal court cases to
school board meetings and everything in-between, I can honestly say that no
reporter wants to go that route but sometimes it is the only option. The
person providing the information could face being fired or even worse for
agreeing to be your source. As long as the source is verified and can be
contacted as a way of sustaining their identity and claims, there is no
problem. Some readers don't understand the reasoning behind the "anonymous
source" categorization and therefore jump to all sorts of fanciful
conclusions. If faced with the decision of costing someone their job, life
or reputation over criticism from the public or the subject of the story
for using the "anonymous source" label, I think the choice is obvious for
any ethical journalist.
Wednesday's statement also made reference to the WWF's continued
dissatisfaction with the happenings and results of their taped Smackdown!
broadcast being revealed beforehand. I don't know about you but I am tired
of hearing the same old bitching and complaining. Who or what is the real
issue here? The WWF itself. The problem ends and begins with them. They are
the ones who tape the show instead of airing it live. The solution to their
nagging concern is in their own hands. They have no one to blame but
What the WWF doesn't realize and the producers of Internet sites do is that
the readers have expressed the desire to know the details and fire off a
nasty message to you when you don't publish them. In my experience, the
number of want-to-knows far outweighs those who don't. It is as simple as
this...fans want to plan their Thursday nights and what is going to happen
on Smackdown! is a factor in that. Everyone's time is valuable and nobody
wants to waste two hours watching a do-nothing, mean-nothing episode.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn't some grand plan to ruin WWF ratings.
They seem to be doing a good job of that on their own with pet dogs and the
like being worked into the storylines.
The WWF has given us a chance to prove to them why SLAM! Wrestling should
be exempt from the current ban. We are stating publicly that we refuse the
invitation. The decision to decline the offer isn't some sort of protest on
our part. It is that the WWF should have a firm understanding of who is
legit and who is not. If they aren't aware of that now, they never will be
and nothing will change that. If they don't have the desire to familiarize
themselves with the newsletter and Internet landscape then they are doing
themselves and you, the fans, a great disservice.
SLAM! Wrestling has, like others out there, strived to function as a true
journalistic wrestling site. We carefully scrutinize and validate
information before posting it. For example, you won't read here who's been
hired or fired without us verifying the story. You need not look any
further than John Molinaro's pieces on the return of Hall and Nash
Lynn and Rob Van Dam
to see that. My piece on the Big Show's gaffe on an
edition of Raw Is War is yet another example.
Since the blacklisting of SLAM! Wrestling in 2000 by the WWF, we have
worked diligently to meet with the WWF's policy on obtaining interviews and
clarifying news. To their credit, the WWF has always held up their end of
the bargain with flying colours. With Wednesday's decision, it just goes to
show you that even if you go through the "proper channels" as they request,
you can still get screwed in the end when the WWF decides to once
again...paint everyone with the same brush and issue a blanket ban.
What is most disturbing about all of this to us -- besides the obvious
-- is that a person whom SLAM! Wrestling has the highest regard for as a
true gentleman and an individual who has the same respect for the business
that we do, couldn't or wouldn't break the news to us himself. As you can
imagine, the situation is disheartening to everyone here in the office
especially after a relationship of mutual admiration, trust and respect was
We wish the WWF continued success. However, it is important for the WWF to
understand that business will go on as it always has...with or without
their support. Their action on Wednesday won't colour or influence our
coverage of the World Wrestling Federation, as the posting of our readers'
various reactions today proved. As always when something like this occurs,
it is the WWF fans who suffer and the legitimate news media who tries their
very best to bring you the news and views that we hope adds to your
appreciation of pro wrestling.
One day my son will grow up and mature as a person. The temper tantrums will
disappear and he will have the tools to act in a civil way towards any
tough situation life throws at him. I hope the same is true of the