Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The curse of being Vince McMahon

Once hailed as a visionary in professional wrestling, Vince McMahon can't seem to make any headway in any other venture, and that misfortune has extended to his wife, Linda. Consider the litany of McMahon's failures over the last 20 years.......

The World Bodybuilding Federation (early 1990's). McMahon started to make an inroad into the bodybuilding market that was virtually monopolized by the Weiders around 1990. First, there was a magazine comparable to the fluff mags that McMahon produced for the then-World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). In 1991, McMahon launched the WBF, and followed that by adding a weekly TV show, BodyStars, which debuted on USA in April 1992, only to be cancelled 9 months later. The WBF folded at the end of 1992.

ICOPRO (1990's). McMahon sunk his money into this line of nutritional supplements, which his WWE & WBF talent promoted weekly on TV. Today, ICOPRO is just a faded memory, and McMahon sort of poked fun at this folly a few years back, hiring wrestler Mike Bucci to play a heel fitness guru named Simon Dean, a flopped negative parody of fitness icon Richard Simmons.

Xtreme Football League (2001). In 2000, McMahon began beating the drums for a winter-spring football league that would help gridiron fanatics deal with the NFL's offseason. Franchises were placed in markets large (NY, Las Vegas, Los Angeles) and small (Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando). However, McMahon reckoned without the media bias that had been built up against him over the "Attitude era" content of his wrestling programs. Gadflies like Phil Mushnick of the New York Post (and, at the time, TV Guide) essentially warned viewers away, for all the wrong reasons. It didn't help that McMahon also relied on some of his own announcers, including Jim Ross, Memphis legend Jerry "The King" Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman (now with ESPN), to call the games. The XFL lasted just the one season, folding in April 2001 after the league crowned its only champion.

WWE Studios (2006-present). McMahon has only had one real box office hit, and that came when he was given an executive producer credit for "The Scorpion King" (2002), which jet propelled Dwayne Johnson (formerly The Rock) into superstardom as an action hero by going straight to #1, despite negative reviews from some critics. Jonathan Foreman, writing for the New York Post, blasted the movie, even though it read as if he hadn't really seen it and slammed it just because of the WWE tie-in.

4 years later, with Johnson long gone from WWE, McMahon decided to launch his own film division. The critics have savaged virtually every film to come from WWE, with one lone exception to date. "Legendary", which paired John Cena with screen vets Patricia Clarkson & Danny Glover, received glowing reviews before a brief 2 week run in theatres in September. While the movies aren't making hay at the box office, McMahon is making his money back in DVD rentals/sales, and that's why he continues to crank out the flicks. Cena has another one due next year, and there are also films on the board starring Randy Orton and Triple H (who has 2 in the can), the latter of whom hasn't made a movie since "Blade: Trinity" 7 years ago.

Finally, there was Linda McMahon's run for US Senate as a Republican candidate from Connecticut. As I noted last night, there's been no connection between the McMahon family and the Tea Party movement, not that the Tea Party would've been of any help. Vince McMahon, as I suggested last night, sabotaged his wife's campaign with an ill-advised comedy skit on Monday Night Raw, failing to realize that a regional Senate race is of little consequence to a world-wide audience. As of press time, there were indications that Mrs. McMahon might give it another try in 2012, but if I were Linda, I'd make sure Vince stayed far, far away from the fray this time.

Try as he might, Vince McMahon may never be able to succeed outside his own professional balliwick, if you will. If Donald Trump taught him anything about business, McMahon probably ignored it. His loss.

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