Go back to the year 2000, just prior to WWE’s well-documented downward spiral. In a really great angle and match, Triple H, or the Game, defeated Mick Foley in a retirement Hell in the Cell match. Just prior, Foley promised he would be true to his word and retire. But it was not to be as Foley was brought back, shortly thereafter, just before WrestleMania 2000 to create a four-corner McMahon-backed match. The Big Show (with Shane) vs. Mick Foley (with Linda) vs. Triple H (with Stephanie) vs. The Rock (with Vince McMahon). The situation exemplified a continual theme throughout the years. A chronic self-titillation, self-involved, and self-indulgent use of one’s self. But in wrestling, denouncement of conflict of interest is anathema, just ask Triple H. In this case, however, it may have overshadowed the actual thing. The example is also very current and is not a shot at the McMahons, per se. Vince Russo has done it too, for example. Mick Foley would quit years later in one of the weirdest segments in pro wrestling history – a worked shoot based in genuine emotion. Over the years, discussion has been rampant as to what the effects of the case are, and perhaps the only conclusion is that in mild doses it’s okay, but each case is different.
Years later, what’s old is new again, as the saying goes. This Sunday on PPV, WWE presents Vengeance. Two of the more promoted match ups that will occur are Vince McMahon versus Zack Gowen, amputee debutant and the only women’s feud of meaning of late with Stephanie McMahon versus Sable, for whom I have no comment.
Internet-based editorials and messages boards have always found the chasm between WWE and their main critics an interesting topic of discussion. With recent comments made by Chris Jericho and especially Triple H, the arguments have become more strenuously battled. Triple H may be one of the more criticized characters of all time. He comes under fire because of perhaps a blind hatred but also because of the following facts: Triple H’s run has factually been below mediocre and he has a conflict of interest with the company in terms of his prenuptial relationship with Executive Vice President of Creative Stephanie McMahon and fairly-consistent attendance of meetings catered to the booking staff and not the wrestlers.
But what about that little thing? That thing of lore and legend. Conflict of interest. Triple H, Vince McMahon, Vince Russo, and even Jim Ross would dismiss it. After all, what’s so bad about Stephanie being a writer and TV character? I am usually against the idea on historical grounds. Look at Kevin Nash in WCW, for example. But in this specific case, the argument against it holds weight as well. For the past several months, the wrestling talent that at the end of the day, draws money, has been pushed to the side to develop angles situated around Vince McMahon. In the case of Stephanie McMahon, the same thing has been happening since she was appointed general manager of the SmackDown brand replacing, coincidentally or not, her own father, on July 18, 2002, almost a year ago. She was simply placed there to counteract the position and character on RAW played by Eric Bischoff. The last main event that happened between the two was a spontaneous kiss which was never addressed again. Eventually she was just there for the purpose of being there and accomplished little. At the same time, Eric Bischoff was, yes, a supporting character on RAW, but one with a point and duties.
As it pertains to the matter of professionalism, there is no pussyfooting that can be done. It’s clearly unprofessional conduct by any definition. The company’s board can’t see it when Vince McMahon is chairman of the board, the head of the writing staff, the head of everything that goes on, and is one of the highest paid on-air talents in the company at the same time and how that’s an issue.
Their would be some merit to the pro side of the argument if there was, with the addition of the McMahons, an appreciable difference in the respectability, entertainment value, or drawing power the company as compared to if similar authority figures or no authority figures were put in the same spot. If they don’t care now, there’s always room to pay for the mistake in the future, just like they are now. Right?
And if I may, let me end with another rhetorical question. What is the point of having brand-specific PPVs, if the point is only to add more segments like Stephanie/Sable and the Redneck Triathalon showcased at Bad Blood last month? How can the same arguments presented before the PPV split still hold weight when the Ultimo Dragon push didn’t happen and he has no match and neither does Rhyno, who’s feud with Chris Benoit was dropped? What about when the only outlet on PPV for Spanky (Brian Kendrick) is that in a gimmick bar room brawl as a jobber in the same match as Doink the Clown and the Easter Bunny?
Give me a break!
The card for this Sunday is the following: WWE Heavyweight Championship— Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Big Show; WWE US Finals Title Match— Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit; John Cena vs. Undertaker; WWE Tag Team Titles Match— Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman; Billy Gunn vs. Jaime Noble; Vince McMahon vs. Zach Gowen; Stephanie vs. Sable; Barroom Brawl. Review next week.
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