Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Division in the House of McMahon

Last month, Linda McMahon resigned her post as Chief Executive Officer of World Wrestling Entertainment in order to pursue an opportunity to run for US Senate as a Republican candidate from Connecticut next year. Instead of promoting either one of their two offspring, Shane or Stephanie, to fill the vacancy, Chairman Vincent K. McMahon decided that he would wear the two hats as Chairman & CEO. More grist for the mill for Vince's detractors, to be sure, considering that he is no longer the creative dynamo he was 25 years ago when he helped usher in the "Rock & Wrestling Connection".

Ah, but there is a silver lining to be had here. What if Linda fails in her bid for the Senate, failing to become the GOP's answer to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Her old job will be waiting for her back in Stamford. Vince has seen to that. To promote either of the kids would send the wrong message as it relates to Linda in the eyes of the critics and general press.

Meanwhile, in a move that some might suspect may be tied to Linda's departure, Shane announced his resignation as Vice President in charge of Global Media last week, taking effect January 1. A mixed martial arts fan, Shane McMahon, 39, had wanted his father to take a chance on promoting MMA himself, which would put them in direct competition with UFC, whose own top gun, Dana White, has already drawn comparisons to Vince in the media. Vince didn't want to take a chance, no doubt, citing past failures at expanding the McMahon empire (i.e. the XFL in 2001, the WBF in 1991-2). One has to assume that Shane might just take the plunge himself as an MMA promoter, but will soon discover that the media bias against WWE will extend to whatever new venture he starts. There aren't that many that truly believe Shane will manage on his own without his father's intervention, positive or negative.

With Linda gone for at least the short term, and Shane to follow after the holidays, Vince & Stephanie have the company to themselves. That won't last with the current business model they have now. As it is, Stephanie's husband, Triple H, has been routinely raked over the coals by critics for hogging camera time on television, thinking the company should still revolve around him, even when he isn't champion. With a staff comprised mostly of failed Hollywood writers, WWE is lacking a consistent direction in its product, and that is largely Vince's fault, since according to press accounts he is constantly changing his mind on a daily basis. That makes him no different than, say, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who also is stubbornly holding on to past successes and unwilling to embrace the present. Vince, at least, needs to realize this before it's too late.

Bank on this, though. By this time next year, the McMahons will be one happy family again, because in this case, failure could be the best medicine they could use.

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