The Heavy Opinion - Has Vince McMahon Lost His Touch?
The Thunda King is Back, with an all new Heavy Opinion where he delves into the current situation surrounding Vince McMahon and his opinion of WWE's Product and discusses if the leader of the McMahon Family has lost his touch!
Hi, their folks, it is your resident Thunda King and Bloke from the Land Down Unda, Hev coming at you with another meaty edition of The Heavy Opinion. Today I am going to discuss World Wrestling Entertainment and more specifically the position they are currently in. A position that seems to be making record profits but has had fans left scratching their heads as to what the bloody hell is going on up in Titan Tower over in Stamford. So, buckle yourself in for another Heavy Dose of Opinion!
“WWE remains to this day the most watched and most well-known pro-wrestling promotion that has ever existed, but with fast dropping viewership numbers and more competition than Vince McMahon has seen in over 20 years, things aren’t quite as wonderful as they once were. Therefore, surely fans can expect to see a change in the product. Perhaps some fresh ideas, new stars and storylines?” – Andy Datson, WRESTLETALK
The above quote from a recent article by Andy Datson over at WRESTLETALK seems to be hitting the nail on the head at the moment. WWE is by far the most watched and most well-known sports entertainment product the world over. Their reach is incomparable at the moment, they are raking in record profits, they have a lot of eyes on them especially at this time of year when we are firmly on the Road to Wrestlemania, yet their popularity seems to be on a downslide. Why is it that the biggest sports entertainment company in the world, is not currently the most popular sports entertainment company in the world? Well there in that sentence lies our answer people, you see WWE has touted itself as being a Sports Entertainment product now for decades, they pride themselves on the fact that they offer a wrestling product while staying as far away from the word “Wrestling” as superhumanly possible. For the last twenty-one years, Vince McMahon and WWE have ruled the industry with an iron fist. They have dominated the industry and moulded it into what they wanted, to fit their vision for the future of this sport we all are fans of. In doing that Vince McMahon has created a thirst, a hunger and desire for the way things used to be. The fans have towed the line and swallowed the bitter sports entertainment pill for long enough, mainly due to their being no viable competition or counter product to the Stamford company. But now, us fans have had enough, and it is time for a change!
If it is time for a change then why is WWE programming following the same trends and giving us the same recycled angles over and over again? I’m glad you asked! Below is an excerpt from Mike Johnson over at PWInsider that can generally give you fans the answer you are all craving.
“In his mind, he [Vince] doesn’t think anything is wrong. The company made a billion dollars last year, so there’s a billion reasons for him to shrug off any criticisms. We are told he pushes and presents what he likes and wants and nothing else makes a dent in that vision. That’s why the shows are presented the way they are and that’s why nothing is going to change anytime soon, if ever.” – Mike Johnson, PWInsider.
As you can see, quite clearly, the reason why WWE is stuck in the same old cycles is literally because WWE made 1 Billion Dollars last year. The only reason that Vince McMahon is not evolving his thinking is because his company, this sports entertainment juggernaut is making huge profits! This singular reason gives Vince McMahon all the reasoning he has to keep pushing forward with outdated concepts, repetitive feuds, and a second rate illogical product that only cares about shock factor, which in turn brings the money in. You know what, they are pretty sound reasons too, I mean you don’t get into business to not make money right? Like you wouldn’t go into a business that has been involved with your family without any real passion for the business and only to make a profit? Surely there must be something other than financial gain that drives a person to be successful and provide content that is suitable for the era which it lives in? According to Vince McMahon no, its all about the “Benjamin’s” because if all that green is rolling in then there is nothing wrong. Well, I think, and don’t quote me here, but I think that is a very superficial and safe way to look at things. If history has taught us anything about Vince McMahon, it is that he is willing to fight for success, that he wants to shape the world he operates in around himself and the most important is that he thrives on competition… well, he used to anyway. It has become very clear and apparent that Vince McMahon has become complacent and that is a very damaging trait to have when your company is literally at the top of the mountain in an industry that you have dominated for so long.
Now let’s take a look at those things we have learnt about Vince McMahon in closer detail for a moment. He will fight for success, yes that is absolutely correct. We have seen Vince McMahon take this sport by the throat and fight to be the face of it. He wants to shape the world he operates in around himself, also very true.
In the 80’s, Vince McMahon went against the handshake agreements of the old territories and single handedly shut down the only way the business had been operating for decades. That he thrives on competition, yes that was true, once upon a time. Back in the 90’s, during the Monday Night Wars when WCW was kicking the then WWF’s ass, Vince McMahon was backed into a corner. He was losing the popularity and demand he had once created for his product. The competition was taking over the industry as the number one promotion and it was looking dire for WWF’s New Generation. With that Vince McMahon was set to lose it all, lose his spot as the face of the industry and his financial status. Everything he worked hard for was going to go down the toilet, so he did what he did best when he was backed into a corner. He thought of a way out and he did that with Attitude. The rest is history, we all know what happened from there. WWF had its biggest boom period and at the front of it was the biggest feud we had seen in years, Stone Cold Steve Austin versus the evil boss, Mr McMahon. In the end it was the fear of losing that brought out the best in Vince McMahon.
Fast forward to today and WWE’s strong financial status has created a bubble where Vince McMahon sees how many dollaroos he has in the bank and thinks that is the best indicator that he is doing well and that things do not have to change. That in itself is very archaic thinking and its because he has had no credible competition for two decades, but now he has that competition in All Elite Wrestling, which is officially the number two promotion in the world today. AEW is providing the people with an alternative to WWE, to their kid friendly, recycled product. They are giving us aspects of the business that fans have wanted to see for such a long time. Big Bloody Gimmick Matches, CHECK! Long Term Storytelling, CHECK! A product that is not solely focussed on the big men of wrestling, CHECK! Credible, meaningful matches and feuds in a Women’s Division, CHECK! But that is not all, AEW has also taken part in the biggest turn of events in this industry for decades, that is the Forbidden Door concept. The Forbidden Door for those of you who don’t know is when wrestling promotions work together and share talent in a effort to not only get over their product with the fanbase but to also put over the product of other promotions you’re working with in an effort to provide more options to the fans, which in turn strengthens the industry as a whole. With more options comes more variety, more dream match ups, and it gives fans control over what they want to watch. Yes, fans did have a choice to not watch WWE for the past two decades, but then how would they get their wrestling fix? The wrestling industry has gone through such an expansion in the last few years that we are essentially seeing the resurrection of the Territory Days… yet Vince McMahon doesn’t think, or more importantly, doesn't want to change his thinking to keep ahead of the curve and fresh with the times.
Over in AEW, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, NWA and other promotions they are showcasing varying personalities and different types of wrestling. In AEW for example, not one of their World Champions could be considered as the pure definition of a Large Heavyweight Wrestler. In Impact Wrestling they showcase their lightweight wrestlers perfectly in their X-Division, and late last year Ring of Honor put their title on Jonathan Gresham, who does not have a large stature but is one of the best all round wrestlers on the face of the planet. What is WWE doing to counter this? Are they creating new viable stars? Giving new viable stars the support and patience they need to thrive? Are they giving us fresh main event angles? No, to a degree. In the last 5 years we have seen TWO home grown WWE talents rise to the Main Event scene. One was Jinder Mahal, his push came so out of left field it couldn’t be more of a shock if it bitch slapped you across the face. It was evident that two things got Jinder his push; he increased his size, and the fact that having an Indian WWE Champion was good for business as the company was looking to make it big over in one of the biggest, most densely populated regions in the world. Fans hated that Jinder Mahal was going over talent like Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura.
The other push was just this past year when we saw Big E finally get his chance. One of the most loved, respected and hard-working guys in the business finally won Money in the Bank and got his shot at the WWE Championship. When he won the title, it sent positive shockwaves throughout the industry! The fans loved it! His WWE peers loved it! People from the industry over loved it! There was no one more deserving, but instead of getting a career cementing reign what we got could be best described as disappointing. Big E held the title for 110 Days and when you look back at his title reign, and his title defences, it is a mess of a match history that is not deserving of a new main event calibre talent. When Big E lost the championship at Day 1 it was the first time in my life as a wrestling fan that I was genuinely heartbroken, not just because I wanted him to retain but because you could see the utter disappointment and sadness on his face when he lost. Now, Big E has been relegated back to Smackdown where he has been put back with his New Day brethren and is feuding over the Tag Team Titles. So far to fall, in such a short time.
So now we sit firmly on the Road to Wrestlemania, the biggest time of the year for WWE and do we have fresh new faces in the main event or fresh feuds going into the Showcase of the Immortals? No, we have the same old recycled nonsense that WWE seems to constantly reproduce. It has become so recycled and so reproduced that it becomes crystal clear to some what lies ahead. A pure example was when Brock lost the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble, as soon as that happened you could see the writing on the wall as to what would happen next, and low and behold WWE did not try to shock us there as Brock Lesnar won the Men’s Royal Rumble. And who did he choose to face at Wrestlemania? That’s right, Roman Freaking Reigns! Ok, well that isn’t so bad, at least it won’t be a unification match now… oh wait a minute, for no logical reason whatsoever storyline wise, Brock Lesnar is now in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match at Elimination Chamber! You can definitely see it now, can’t you? Brock has been ham-fisted into the chamber match so WWE can still get their unification match at Wrestlemania. It wouldn’t be such a bad idea, I mean unifying the titles is a smart move as right now Smackdown’s main event scene is literally Roman Reigns and it is clear that the roster split is way too one sided… the biggest issue here is that while the unification of titles is something fans would be interested in because lets face it, the Big Blue Candy Strap looks like a goddamn joke, it is the same match we have already seen at two previous Wrestlemania’s, it will also be the 5th Wrestlemania Main Event for Roman Reigns in the last 7 years. It will be a match that we have seen countless times in recent years and for what? Because Vince McMahon likes big man wrestlers. Because Vince McMahon doesn’t actually listen to fans and what they want. Because Vince McMahon prefers to recycle the same old crap instead of taking a chance, all because he still has his billions of dollaroos! I mean take a look at the Universal Championship Match for Elimination Chamber. Instead of offering up a fresh new face for Roman to compete against, one that could actually provide something new and exciting, we get Goldberg being hauled out for yet another title opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Goldberg back in the day and I do believe he has his spot in the modern day product when used correctly, but giving him title matches out of nowhere is not right when you have a whole roster of awesome talent to use in your main event scene.
Vince McMahon is still so obsessed with big muscles on big men that he even posed with his shirt off, showing off his big muscles with a chain wrapped around his neck for a fitness magazine some years back… Like We WANTED to See That, Seriously!
At the end of the day, Vince McMahon does what he wants, he books the product the way he wants to see it and be damned if anyone else actually thinks of a positive, logical and successful idea that the fans actually want to see. We all saw what happened to NXT, the Black and Gold brand was handed to Triple H and he along with Shawn Michaels and William Regal made the development brand the most sought-after brand in the company. Then WWE had the smart idea of having it go head-to-head with the fresh new product in town, why? I have no idea, maybe Vince thought he won one ratings war, so he can win another, but when NXT lost in the ratings, he saw that as a sign of weakness then completely overhauled NXT into the Art Attack 2.0 Version we have had dumped in our laps in 2021. Mind you it didn’t cross his mind that the reason ratings weren’t as high is because we live in the digital age where ratings are not the truest form of data collecting to analyse popularity. Right now, we have so many different ways and platforms to watch wrestling on, this is not 1998 anymore where our huge boxy televisions are the only way to get our fix for wrestling.
At the end of the day Vince McMahon doesn’t feel threatened enough to change his ways. He doesn’t feel that anyone is a threat to him and his company and in a way he is right. They are a billion-dollar company, their money is not going to run out anytime soon, especially with all the money that’s been freed up with releasing talent and the money they gain from their deal with the Saudi government to run events over there, which is controversial to say the least. It is no wonder they have recorded such huge profits when you look at those two factors alone. In the last two years WWE has released so many wrestlers that myself and another Real Rasslin member were able to create two brand new promotions in the wrestling simulator game Total Extreme Wrestling 2020. With such a dumping of talent it is no surprise that WWE has had great profits. If Vince McMahon and WWE are not careful they could end up in a situation like they were in during the Monday Night Wars, but this time it could be fatal for them and history could very well be re-written, but this time without them as the victors. Yes, it is not going to be an easy fall from grace, it wont even be a quick one either, but if WWE keep ignoring the fans and what they want simply because they are making huge bucks, then we may very well be watching the AEW Network one day to sink ourselves into WWE Nostalgia… I could be dreaming, but in this industry and life itself, stranger things have in fact happened! Right now, WWE is making very similar ill fated booking decisions that WCW made, decisions which cost them everything. The only difference is the financial backing behind both companies. In one case they have all the backing they could ever want and more. In the other they lost it due to such monumentally illogical ideas and decisions… maybe it is time for Vince McMahon to take other lessons from the defeat of his competition two decades ago. To me, it seems like Vinnie-Mac is losing his touch, after all these years at the top!
So, there is my Heavy Opinion on the matter. Sorry for such a big read, this idea came to my attention about 12 hours ago and I only sat down to write it two hours ago, but when I did the ideas and words just flowed…. But then again when you’re passionate about something, its easy to get caught up in it. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it.
Please feel free to comment and share your theories below and on all our social media platforms. Until next time, this is Hev signing off on another Heavy Opinion… say Hi to your Folks for me!