Friday, February 5, 2016

A night that will live in infamy (1988)

28 years ago today, the way most of us look at professional wrestling was changed forever.

Saturday Night's Main Event spun off a primetime special, The Main Event, headlined by a rematch from WrestleMania 3 between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, who was now a full on heel, managed not only by Bobby Heenan, but the two had entered into a shady business deal with "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.

I remember where I was that fateful night. I was at Catholic Central High School, watching the homestanding Crusaders knock off Troy High. An enterprising student had brought a battery operated television so he could watch the game and the wrestling at the same time.

Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura are on the call:

For the first time, viewers saw twin brothers Dave & Earl Hebner in the ring at the same time. Andre's decision to give the title to DiBiase voided his lone World title victory, and sent Andre on a downward slide in his career in the eyes of many fans. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, WWE has never really recovered from a moral standpoint. Nearly a decade later, McMahon traded the righteous indignation of a common play-by-play announcer for the Machiavelli-meets-J. R. Ewing machinations of a corporate baron who would gradually become mentally unbalanced over the course of the next couple of decades.

You can say that this was a watershed moment for McMahon, who shed all notions of wrestling as it was traditionally presented, insisting on referring to it as sports entertainment, dutifully aware that more people knew the matches were pre-determined.

Unfortunately, more people today are turning away from what is now known as WWE, because the product is so moldy & stale, bacteria is threatening to go on strike in protest. McMahon's devious alter-ego is stuck in the latter part of the 20th century, but it's safe to say that Vincent K. McMahon, 70, is also stuck in the past. For nearly 30 years, the worldwide leader in bad business decisions. That's really all you need to know.

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