SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Readers respond to McMahon-WWF editorials (Part 2)
I wholeheartedly agree, big changes do indeed have to happen to the WWF and wrestling in general. But calling for McMahon's head is not one of them. It was mentioned how wrestling, and in particular the WWF, has gotten stale in comparison to years gone by. Yes it has.
In my opinion, the WWF has saturated the entire market and has shoved wrestling right down everyone's throat. It has become too much. They have two 2-hour shows every week, a 2-3 hour PPV event at least every month, titles changing left, right, and centre, every week. The same storylines dragging on for months at a time, involving the same individuals over and over again. Viewers are sick and tired of the same old boring weekly shows.
Back in the '80s and early '90s, fans were hungry for the Big Story, or seeing a run in, or a title changing hands. We had the weekly Superstars of Wrestling, and once in awhile a Saturday Night Main Event show. And only 5 PPV's per year. The house shows were constantly sold out and the PPV's successful. However, somewhere in the '90s, McMahon went for the big bucks, culminating with having two weekly TV shows and monthly PPV's. Very successful for the short term yes, but a killer for the company in the long term. He is indeed a marketing genius, and has taken wrestling to the top, but everyone makes mistakes, even risky ones. However, you stick with these decisions, live and die by them, and learn from them.
McMahon is now stuck with boring entertainment, some overpaid athletes, too large a roster, leaving many great wrestlers underutilized, low ratings, no competition, a large deficit created by the flop of the XFL and the purchase of WCW, and a slowing economy that will get worse as time goes on. A lot of these issues were not his creation, or his fault, but some were.
I think to get back to respectability, he will need to make some hard decisions. Some changes that should be made: The roster needs to be trimmed dramatically. One show, maybe Smackdown!, needs to be cut out altogether. Two weekly shows, 2 hours long, plus Excess, Heat, and all the others, is way too much, the ratings numbers back that up.
And finally, I believe they should eliminate 2 or 3 PPV's per year. As much revenue generating as they are, they lead to long term storyline and roster problems. McMahon has weathered every storm he has ever encountered before, and because of this, I have all the faith in the world, that he will overcome this one, make the right decisions, and return wrestling back to it's rightful spot, on top of the world.
- Steve Pilon Hamilton, Ont.
I agree with on the issue, but I wondered if Vince were to retire, then who
could fill the shoes of this great promoter. Shane, the son, couldn't do it
because father would most likely try to run the company though Shane. So
would the change be to hire a new promoter one that no one knew? Or look for
someone within the company that can tell the retired Vince to shut up, this is my company now?
- T. Kaiser.
Right on! I've been suggesting for the past few years that ALL of the
McMahons should keep their mugs off of TV. I also agree that new leadership
is needed. Although the sluggish economy may be playing into some of the
dip in live show attendance, concession purchases and pay-per-view buy
rates, Vince has so much talent that he should be doing so much more with.
The only problem is who could "take the reigns"? Obviously not any of his
offspring! That may be a good discussion for another time.
May the pinfalls be with you!
- Mark D.
That was very well stated. Thank you for defending a man who has and will continue to revolutionize wrestling. It is my belief that Survivor Series will bring a new dimension to the current stale state of affairs.
- Mike Ercolano.
Great column!!! I've been waiting for ages for someone to bring up the fact that almost no TV show stays hot forever. With all the hours of TV the WWF produces per week it is no wonder they have trouble keeping it fresh. Consider this also, other TV shows have a week to produce one half hour or hour show. The WWF talent has to do everything on Monday and Tuesday then go on the road for several days of house shows. It's easy to sit back and whine and complain without understanding the situation. Internet armchair bookers would not last five minutes in the real world of wrestling. I don't really believe John Powell believes Vince should retire. It's more like "If I write a controversial column people will notice me and I'll feel more important than I am." Once again a great and long overdue column.
- Scott MacDermott.
Great Article there on Vince McMahon and the WWF. I've had enough of the armchair QB's as well. Finally someone's voice is heard. Hopefully a lot of people read your column. Great job!
Hi. I just wanted to congratulate you on an excellent piece of writing on canoe.ca. I agree wholeheartedly with your argument that Mr. Powell has conveniently left out some of the points that run contrary to his views. I hope you will continue to write for canoe.ca as it was a refreshing article to read. Take care.
- Anthony Doran.
I was thinking of sending the following article in as a guest column candidate a few months ago, but decided against it. Now that I finally saw an article on SLAM! which was actually critical of the WWF, I thought I would send this to you for your opinion. Please keep in mind, I wrote it near the end of August. Please let me know what you think:
The World McMahon Federation will, in a few years, be but a bitter memory. What? I said the WWF has numbered days ahead. Sure, they may draw crowds and fan support, but just as their ratings are dwindling, so will that support.
Gone are the days of diverse and intellectual stories and what we are left with is regurgitated material which, ironically, is being "borrowed" from the very organization recently purchased by WWFE. Casual wrestling fans might not understand what I am talking about, so I am going to explain.
A few years ago, there were two men who "invaded" a wrestling organization and created quite a stir in what was arguably the best story of the '90s era sports-entertainment industry. Two men sought to overtake this organization and "run it out of business". In a climactic battle, a champion of the people betrayed the hopes of the many praying he would push back these Outsiders, opting instead to join and lead them to greatness. Sound familiar? Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, bearing the nWo logo, plowed into a main event against the heroes of the WCW. In a surprising development, Hulk Hogan went Hollywood, turning his back on fans for the first time since Hulkamania ran wild as the force that made the WWF a household name. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Now we have, "for the first time ever", an invasion of a wrestling organization! Say it ain't so! This time, the "Outsiders" are the WCW/ECW "Alliance", and the role of Hogan is played by Steve Austin (brings back "Stevester" memories) as the "hero gone bad". Now the goal is to "bring the WWF title back home". So you see, this is nothing new. It's just an unoriginal idea done more poorly and more hurriedly than the first time.
Lack of creativity is only part of the problem facing the WMF. Sure, there are infinite more examples, such as Mae Young giving birth to a rubber hand (or Mae Young appearing on television at all).
Since the infamous Survivor Series of 1997, Vince McMahon has injected himself into main event status and virtually every storyline since. He has said it was to draw crowds with his portrayal of a villain, but some might speculate that another reason was to try to downplay the double cross of Bret Hart. It is no coincidence that since that time, 90% of title changes involved someone getting "screwed". Not only do we have to deal with "Daddy Mac", we now have to endure his children being injected into plots as well, taking the spotlight from performers who have worked their entire lives to get there. In a way, he is the Aaron Spelling of wrestling. I thought it was funny, in a non-humorous way, when The Rock mocked the title history of the WCW. Having any McMahon hold a championship is just as disgraceful as what WCW did with actor David Arquette. In my opinion having The Rock hold any title is a disgrace as well. He is only where he is because of whom he is, and not what he can do; but I digress.
Do you remember what happened on RAW following that Survivor Series? Shawn Michaels had a miniature version of Bret Hart come to the ring to face him. Could this be where The Rock's idea for "Booker Wee" came from?
Every WMF show follows the same poor format. On average there are 66 minutes of talk segments, 31 minutes of commercials, and 23 minutes of ring action (approximately 5 matches). Most of the talk segments are far longer than they need to be. I included replays into the talk time. These replays include those from previous shows as well as what happened "moments ago". These days, you don't have to watch RAW, you can just tune in to Smackdown and see it all on replay there. Heck, you even see Smackdown twice per night with all the replays, as with RAW. Perhaps this might be yet another reason the ratings are falling?
Gone are competent colour commentators. Instead, we are stuck with drips like Michael Cole and Jim Ross, both of whom must have graduated from the McMahon school of commentary: "What a maneuver!" Not only do they not call the action in the ring; they rarely talk about the match at all. Part of that might have to do with the fact that they don't know what any of the "moves" are called. Commentators are now just running commercials for monthly pay per view events. I have even seen Cole grab his script and read from it on camera when the ring action spilled onto the table. Granted, we will never again see the days of a Monsoon/Heenan or Monsoon/Ventura combination, but these guys don't even try. No, Heyman is not much better.
Inconsistency is another huge problem facing this company. For example, it wasn't too long ago when Tazz bullied Ross around, then he stood up for Cole against Austin, now he's allied with Austin? Princess McMahon very recently called Austin the "greatest WWF Champion of all time", yet previously she vowed that he would suffer for his harsh criticism against the injured Hunter Hearst Helmsley?
Triple H is expected to return within months. Just like the nWo split into two factions, so will the new alliance in the WWF. The lack of a large roster will no doubt leave the WWF with the same situation it had when it went into a failure of a gang story (NOD, DOA, Boriquas, etc.).
These are a few signs of the beginning of the end for the WWF. Personally, I feel the WWF purchased its own burial plot when it murdered the Hitman. I hope to write more about this topic, should the opportunity arise, but for now, I leave you with this: The bottom line is that the fans today are fickle. The WWF is digging a deep hole for itself, and unless it can change from this disastrous course, it will soon find itself going the way of the XFL. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. The WWF is pushing a mediocre product. It is only a matter of time before people figure this out and find other ways to spend their time and money.