Monday, June 29, 2009

An Old Nut Too Tough to Crack

Let me just get it right out in the open.

Vince McMahon just doesn't get it. He doesn't want to get it, and that may hurt him in the long term.

Two months away from his 64th birthday, McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, is up to his old tricks, putting himself on television and picking fights where none actually exist, in a deluded effort to increase ratings. During the last two weeks, McMahon had viewers  thinking he was selling his flagship franchise, Monday Night Raw, to fellow millionaire Donald Trump, only to "buy it back". Having Trump appear in person in Green Bay on June 22 did wonders for the ratings, sure, but it's a 1-week boost, and, with his ego similarly boosted by the deluded notion that he and not Trump should be credited with that spike in the ratings, McMahon has decided to make a public nuisance of himself again, appearing on both Raw & Friday Night Smackdown.

It's a tired act. After the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" that sent Bret Hart out of the then-WWF in 1997, McMahon engaged in a lengthy feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin that is credited with having turned the company's fortunes around in the "Monday Night Wars" over ratings with WCW. After that storyline had run its course, McMahon has tried time and again to recapture that same vibe, but with decreasing results. To wit:

2003: Hulk Hogan is activated from the injured list for a Smackdown episode in Albany. McMahon returns on the same show to start a feud with the legendary former champion, now well past his prime. The two clash at Wrestlemania, with Hogan winning. McMahon, ever a sore loser, decides to "suspend" Hogan, who returns a month later as a masked wrestler. Hogan is cut loose in July.

That should've been the end of it, but it wasn't. McMahon turned his attention to his daughter, Stephanie, the "General Manager" of Smackdown. Believing that Stephanie wasn't doing things the way he'd have wanted, McMahon culminates a lengthy campaign of undermining her authority by defeating her at the No Mercy pay-per-view. This was to allow Stephanie to leave so she could get married. The Undertaker was next, and he was sent off on a winter vacation just a month later. McMahon, satisfied with his handiwork, faded from view soon after.

December 2005-September 2006: McMahon picks a fight with the other participant in the "Montreal Screwjob", Shawn Michaels. Predictably, after getting the upper hand early, McMahon loses at Wrestlemania, but then presses forward, unwilling to accept defeat. This leads to Triple H, then the arch-villain, turning on McMahon and his pet lackeys, the Spirit Squad, and reforming DeGeneration X with Michaels.

2007: McMahon and Donald Trump make appearances on The Apprentice & Raw, respectively, in order to boost ratings for both shows, per a dictum from NBC-Universal, which owns USA Network, home of Raw. McMahon loses his hair at---where else?---Wrestlemania, when Bobby Lashley defeats Umaga. Incensed and unable to avenge himself on Trump, McMahon goes after Lashley and cheats him out of the ECW title, only to lose it back to Lashley 6 weeks later. During this feud, McMahon relies too heavily on his son, Shane, and on Umaga, as he is clearly unable to actually fight his own battles.

In each feud, McMahon has grown progressively more insane in his on-air character, more delusional. And now, it is Trump again that has triggered a run of McEgomania.

On the June 26 Smackdown, McMahon told the current GM, Teddy Long, that he was "on probation". There was no rhyme or reason for him to single out Long, but then again, McMahon is only interested in getting as much TV time as possible. As long as he believes he is the one who is bringing in the ratings, Vince McMahon will remain a constant, annoying presence that needs to go away. He will be 64 in 2 months. He is not the creative genius he once was. He presents himself to his audience as a prematurely senile executive with delusions of grandeur that can easily be rejiggered into a descent into dementia. The right thing to do is to finally admit it's over and step aside, let the kids take over. But he won't. And it may hurt the company in the long term. And it will be his fault, and no one else's.


Rev. Phantom said...

I was an avid WWF/WWE fan since the 80's up until about 2 years ago. I just stopped watching. It became so stale and repetitive that I had finally had enough. McMahon is ruining is own company. I grew sick of all his camera time and the camera time devoted to his family. Flipping channels the other day I caught the RAW A.M. recap w/Donald Trump and it was like no time had passed in the last two years--McMahon was still up to his old tricks and creating storylines that revolve around him. For a former diehard fan like myself, it was a real bummer.

hobbyfan said...

It's like I said, Rev. McMahon thinks the spike in ratings last week was due to him more than Trump, and he lets it go to his head. No one has any stones to tell him differently, because his myopic tunnel-vision has him convinced he can do no wrong. He ignores the obvious flaws in the structure of his programs, such as the inconsistent, often inept writing.

And if you think that's bad, Rev, you should check out TNA, which is infinitely worse.

Rev. Phantom said...

I've tried TNA, couldn't stand it as well. It's a shame really, because I do love wrestling. Hopefully someday things will turn around for the WWE...I'm not holding my breath though.

hobbyfan said...

Given the state of WWE now, I'd recommend Ring of Honor.