EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, October 5, 2001
Just tired of the McMahons
Though the elder Vince is taking some much-needed rest from live performance, his children are dominating storylines more than ever. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley is the redundant and unnecessary spokesperson for the WCW-ECW Alliance. Paul Heyman and Steve Austin would be fine without her. Shane McMahon, meanwhile, is wrestling in more main events lately than even most main event wrestlers.
For the longest time, I tried to be as patient as I could. I would tell myself to wait and see, that the McMahons generally didn't put themselves over as much as they put over others. Each of them gifted performers, I told myself that they should have a chance to compete in their organization, even if it seems a conflict of interest.
Well, it's been long enough for us to now analyze the results. Without question, Vincent K. McMahon's feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin was a boon to the WWF. That aside, though, I'm not convinced that anything Vince McMahon has been involved with has been better off because of him. Not the Ministry of Darkness, not the Union, and not even the WWF in their war against the Alliance. Sure, the McMahon patriarch is amusing, even entertaining. I surmise, though, that he hasn't drawn viewers or pay-per-view buyers in any role except that of antagonist to Steve Austin in 1998.
Shane McMahon has had some strong pay-per-view matches against Test, Steve Blackman, and even The Big Show. None of those wrestlers, though, have benefited in any kind of long-term way. No renewed push, no high-profile matches, no entertaining gimmicks, and in most cases, no push at all. Historically, match with Shane is at the same time a temporary boost and a career kiss of death.
Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, like her father, was involved in exactly one storyline that really required her presence. In late 1999 and early 2000, the WWF didn't have much in the way of top storylines, and Triple H's sheer dominance was what they offered us. Thanks in part to Stephanie, the Triple H-centric Raws and Smackdowns were very well-received. Since then, though, she has added little value to most of her stories.
Let's not even talk about Linda McMahon.
No one can dispute that the McMahons are better than average wrestler-actors. Vince and Stephanie, certainly have been involved in important stories and made money for the company. For the most part, though, their involvement has led to little in the way of a payoff. That goes double for Shane and Stephanie. Perhaps the feud over ownership of the WWF wasn't so bad a few summers ago, but it wasn't groundbreaking, either.
No other WWF talent would get this many chances to perform, fail each time, and still be offered chances anew. Even Undertaker, who I would argue has made many times more money for the WWF (in terms of onscreen performances, at least) than any McMahon other than Vince, seems to be treading water lately.
When WWF superstars grow stale or cold, they get rotated. If they don't get hot again, then they don't see any more main events. It's that simple. I hate to invoke an accusation of nepotism here, but that's sure what it looks like.
Here's the mailbag:
Loren Ruperts, from Ruperts@webtv.net, writes:
"In your recent article on Kronik you made an interesting comment. 'The WWF, lately, has prided itself on hiring strong workers and non-disruptive talent both in general and specifically from the remnants of WCW.'
I've read that Kevin Nash can be both. Rumour has it that Nash is on good terms with Vinnie Mac and has been in 'talks' with the WWF off and on since the selling of WCW. Also, in his latest commentary at his site Nash eluded to getting back in the ring (with Scott Hall) once he becomes a free agent (January 2002). With the rumors of his backstage politics do you think WWF will take him?"
I think that the WWF can more afford to be strict about the attitudes of those it hires when business is good. When the WWF is at its peak, its top stars are making a lot of money, but history has shown that this is when they are most replaceable. When the WWF faces a downturn, it relies more on the drawing power of its top stars, largely because it needs all the drawing power it can muster.
The short answer is yes, I think that if ratings continue to slide, the WWF will take Kevin Nash, despite the obvious problems that would come with him.
Mark Hull, from Honeybrook, PA, at firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"I've seen this and that written about Scott Steiner and a return. Scott has a great physique, but he almost was painful to watch perform due to being so large. What about his brother, 'The Dog-Faced Gremlin' Rick Steiner? I think pound for pound and pure power Rick is one of the best. It would be very interesting to see Rick take on top performers like Triple H, or even Kurt Angle. Imagine for a moment the war of suplexes in a match with Rick Steiner and Tazz. Rick Steiner would add a 'nasty' type of edge to the Alliance that they were hoping Booker T or even Test would bring. In any event, here's to The D.F.G. showing up soon."
It wasn't interesting when the so-called dog-faced gremlin took on any of WCW's top stars, so I don't think it would be any different in the WWF. Sure, he may be one of the strongest around, but so was Mark Henry, and he wasn't incredibly successful. Steiner may be one of the toughest guys around, but through my previous comments about Ken Shamrock you probably know what I think about legit tough guys with no charisma.
There's no way Rick Steiner would bring anything more to the table for the Alliance than did Booker T, and I hate to disagree so vehemently with a reader, but here's to Steiner not showing up soon or even ever.
That's all for this week. Have a safe and happy weekend.
Send email to email@example.com.