SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: The WWF's war on internet sites
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
"You're a reporter for SLAM! Wrestling? Yeah, I go to your site. How
come you don't interview more WWF guys?"
That was a question posed to me this past Monday at a local bar here in
Toronto by a fellow patron while watching Nitro on the big
"Well, we can't contact the guys directly," I answered. "The WWF have
this policy in place where all media requests have to go directly
through their offices and they make it a point to say no to wrestling
I didn't want to get into it. I was in no mood to give him a detailed
explanation. Several pints of Keith's had dimmed my senses considerably
and besides, I was off duty, dammit.
"Check out the site on Thursday for my column," I told him. "It'll
explain the whole situation."
So here goes.
No doubt, many of you have noticed that save for a recent interview with
, SLAM! Wrestling has not conducted an interview with any WWF
star since April. Surf around the net for other wrestling web sites and
you'd be hard pressed to find any other interviews with a WWF
Why? Because the WWF brain-trust sitting in their ivory tower in
Stamford believe wrestling web sites are competition for wwf.com and
they don't want to help supply content for their competitors. (Insert
hysterical snickering here.)
Who does the WWF take us for? Their thinly veiled attempt at cloaking
the truth is so transparent that it's insulting.
The real reason is because the WWF have declared war on the media. Not
the entire media, mind you. They'll gladly talk to newspapers, radio
and TV stations or any news agency that doesn't regularly cover pro
wrestling. But they've cut off wrestling Internet sites almost
Not unlike any major billion dollar corporation, the WWF wants to manage
its image and control how it's portrayed in the public eye. To that
end, they've cut off contact with media agencies that could potentially
It's one thing for the WWF to talk to a wire service, a sports
radio station or have one of their stars appear on a local news
broadcast. As sad as this is to admit, the truth is the mainstream
media provide poor coverage of pro wrestling. Because they don't make
it a point of covering it regularly, they don't do their homework and
are easily conned and duped into reporting whatever organizations like
the WWF tell them.
It's another thing entirely to speak to informed reporters who can
challenge them on points of fact. Because wrestling is the bread and
butter of sites like SLAM! and hundreds of others, the WWF is hesitant to let us interview their wrestlers. They'd rather feed off the inept reporting of the
traditional media who don't report on pro wrestling with the seriousness
It's this weakness in mainstream coverage that the WWF systematically
seeks out and exploits. Countless times, they have snowed hapless
reporters and broadcasters into reporting their own version of the
"Facts" as reported by the mainstream media over the past months have
included RAW running neck in neck with Monday Night Football in the
ratings and Vince McMahon having created the wrestling industry out of
thin air in 1984.
Several media sources even picked up on the downright laughable "press
release" from the WWF stating that they have over 14 million viewers
watching their programs each week and those same viewers will elect the
This is especially disturbing because the news media reported it almost
verbatim without looking into it. Had they done a little digging they
would have uncovered that the WWF do not have 14 million individual
viewers each week and thus the possibility of the WWF fan base coming
together to elect the next president would be, as Pro Wrestling Torch
columnist Bruce Mitchell so aptly described, "a miracle on par with the
loaves and the fishes."
These are just some of the mistruths and distortions traditional media
have reported after contacting the WWF. And the WWF likes it that way
because it means they can easily hoodwink a major media agency into
reporting their revisionist view of wrestling history unchecked.
Wrestling Internet sites, on the other hand, pose a problem. Because
sites like SLAM! and others are comprised of -ahem- informed reporters
who understand and know the wrestling business, we're not as easily
conned by the WWF. Internet reporters, the good ones any way, will know
when the WWF is in "spin doctor" mode and will challenge their
statements. The WWF's shroud of deceit that they so easily spiel over
TV and newspaper reporters, is usually questioned by Internet reporters
because they are more "in the know".
What the WWF has done is construct an impenetrable wall where no
self-respecting reporter can get through. The WWF insists that all
media requests go through them. Yet, they've demonstrated that this
policy is a mere tool to weed out potential damaging interviews with
competent wrestling reporters.
Faxes, e-mails and letters sent from our office have been summarily
ignored the past few months. Phone calls go unreturned. Media
credentials to live events have been denied. Direct phone calls to the
wrestlers on our part are met with reluctance, as they tell us to call
the office to arrange something. About the only time we hear back from
the WWF is when they fire off a nasty e-mail or leave an irate phone
message voicing their displeasure with us for contacting the talent
directly and not going through them. But they do fax us their press releases for both the WWF and the XFL -- just no interviews.
Here's a good example. Last week, Greg Oliver contacted Gerry Brisco for a couple of old-timer stories. Brisco, who still works for the WWF as a road agent, was able to talk about the past freely, just not the present. "It depends on what the subject matter is," Brisco said. "If it's a WWF-style interview, of course I've got to clear it with the WWF. If it's an interview about other characters that I've experienced in the past, my past life, I can
do pretty well what I want to do."
SLAM! has been blacklisted for the simple reason that we do an honest
and critical job of reporting on wrestling news. And we're not the only
ones. I've had conversations with colleagues and fellow reporters from
other sites who run into the same walls when trying to land interviews
with WWF personnel. And not just for other web sites. Our newspaper colleagues both at the Suns and other papers have expressed similar frustrations in dealing with the WWF media machine.
This cat and mouse game should dispel the myth that the WWF is a warm
and fuzzy operation, run by people who are not image
conscious at all. The exact opposite is true.
The WWF is a cold, heartless corporation. Bottom line. They will stop
at nothing to protect the Mary Poppins-like image they have created for
Shutting out a portion of the media that doesn't buy their line of bull
is just an means to a end. Machiavelli would be proud.
Aug. 31:Consider The Radicals before jumping
Let's see : Malenko books the light heavyweight division. Benoit has been I-C champ and is considered main event material. Guerrero just got the I-C title last night and looks to be heading for a profile feud.
The only Radical who has been let down is Saturn but then that could
change when Raven enters the picture ( at least that's what I'm hoping )
Whatever the case it beats running around WCW, playing "Revolution" and
threatening to burn American flags. Besides all 4 radicals were never going
to stay on top in WCW for long. How would Nash feel about seeing one of the
"Vanilla Midgets" holding the world title. I'm glad Benoit got away so he
wouldn't have to do the inevitable job.
Save your pity, where the Radicalz are concerned. When they first
jumped to the WWF, they were handed the keys to the city. They were on
every show, they had title belts thrown their collective ways, while
guys like D'LO Brown were buried. They were given weekly opportunities
to shine. The fact that they have so far failed are their own faults.
With the exception of Eddie Guerrero who I think has gotten over in the
WWF, they are still dressing and acting like they are in a second rate
promotion. Chris Benoit is still wearing the same ratty tights he wore
in WCW. He is strange looking, and has poor mic skills. I appreciate
great technical wrestling as much as the next person, but this is 2000.
Benoit needs a complete overhaul. Perry Saturn is just plain weird, and
appears to have an attitude outside of the ring. Maybe Raven can get him
over again, but I'm not holding my breath. Dean Malenko, again you say a
great technical wrestler. That's nice, but the guy is boring and he
looks like a business man in his underwear. . He desperately needs a
makeover. I like Edde Guerrero, of the four, I think he belongs in the
Lest you think I'm just a negative person, I will bring up Y2J. Chris
Jericho came to the WWF amid great fanfare also. He had a bit of trouble
adjusting the first couple of months because the WCW style is so
slow-paced. Look at Chris now. He shifted his gears, he worked hard and
he is now more famous then he's ever been. Chris Jericho wanted it, and
he was willing to adapt to make it happen. He's also willing to spend
money on new tights, so that his look is always changing.
Ironically, a year from now, maybe sooner, I predict Malenko and Saturn
will be buried. Don't blame Vince McMahon. He gave them an apportunity,
they needed to do the rest.
I've been waiting for someone to write a column about this for quite
sometime! The grass does seem to always be greener on the other side and
maybe...just maybe... the Radicals made a huge mistake going to the WWF. By
the way, can you imagine the uproar with people (especially with Malenko
and Saturn) if WCW had misused them (if they actually were misused) the
same way the WWF has with the Radicals? Imagine the internet people besides
themself about Malenko not being used for a month and being a midcarder at
best! Let's just say it like it is. In the WWF, personality means
everything! With the exception of Eddie Guerrero, the Radicals just don't
have personality or really any character. I believe Malenko is about as big
as he ever will be, Saturn will get better but will never be a main eventer
or anything close to being World Champ, Guerrero may get more exposure as a
funny character like Al Snow but that's about it, and Benoit (the best of
the bunch) might possibly be given a World Championship but not a
significant reign and will never be the champion that guys like HHH, the
Rock or Stone Cold have been. They just aren't WWF quality! That's not to
say that if you aren't WWF quality that you are bad. It's just that WWF
quality is different from WCW or ECW quality. One side note, I also hate
the way they have used Tazz. To have him not use his stiff suplexes only
hurts his character! I wish he were back in ECW and I can't help but
wonder if he wishes the same thing.