September 20, 2006
Mr. McMahon Says, "This Site Sucks!"

When it comes to World Wrestling Entertainment, the line between fiction and fantasy is always blurred. There are economic incentives to blurring this line, especially as it deepens fan relationships with the product through spoiling communities as fans attempt to discern "real" rivalries from scripted ones.

That's why, when a wrestler's girlfriend (who is a female wrestler) actually cheats on him with another wrestler, it eventually becomes a storyline for their characters as well, with fans trying to decide how much is show and how much is real.

And Vince McMahon is a master at this, to both his benefit and detriment. It's to his benefit when fans want to know who the real CEO of the company is, versus the over-the-top Mr. McMahon character, and are willing to buy the McMahon DVD, one of the company's top sellers, to examine just this question. It's to his detriment when he can't escape his wrestling character in public appearances for the company, especially on news programs.

Nevertheless, the WWE has blurred that line again in relation to its decision to continue revamping its Web site, turning their plans for further innovation on the Web site into a mini-rivalry between McMahon and a WWE announcer. Although this rivalry has not come out on the air, the intention on the site is to again blur the lines. Is WWE announcer Michael Cole, who also serves as editor of the Web site in addition to being the play-by-play man for Friday Night Smackdown, really upset with Mr. McMahon's comments?

To give you a little bit of background, McMahon said at an investor's conference last Thursday that "this site sucks." And, if you don't believe it, the WWE has provided the link to a video proving it. An investor is actually praising the WWE for their work in transmedia and their expanding profit through the site, to which McMahon responds that his "people" still thinks the site "sucks."

A defensive Cole then retorts, emphasizing that the WWE is releasing a new broadband network in October, complete with Webisodes, new mobile offerings in addition to their mobile alert system, as well as "a re-vamped subscription site and more exclusive videos and photos than ever before."

Cole finishes it out by saying "the web site does suck, compared to where we are going to take it, but it won't suck for long. Wish I could say the same for the boss" and then resorts to a sophomoric reference to Vince and roosters that plays into a current storyline.

This strikes me as a unique way to handle several issues, both acknowledging McMahon's public comment about the Web site while also using it as a Web-only mini-storyline that explains and promotes improvements to the sites in an innovative way. Fans may have never bothered to read "exciting news about updates to the WWE site," but the controversy over Mr. McMahon criticizing his own site at an investor's conference is more likely to capture a fan's attention.

And now fans can wonder if there really is some hostility in Cole's words, why McMahon would make such a crude statement about his site at an investor's conference, where he is not supposed to be in character as "Mr. McMahon," etc.

In the meantime, the WWE continues to demonstrate its potential as an immersive narrative universe to really explore transmedia storytelling in a way few other companies can or will be able to.

2 Comments

 

An Open Letter to Vincent K McMahon:

Well Vince you did it again! You screwed up a potential money making angle, storylines and a chance to bring back the "true" diehard wrestling fans that left your ugly butt back when you took full control of wrestling. Oh Vince when are you going to learn that a man can never be an island to himself! You can't control wrestling forever. Sometimes you have to delegate responsibilities and trust the people under you to make the right decisions.

The ONLY reason ECW's legacy is ruined is b/c of YOU Vince McMahon and your bimbo daughter. Period. End of story.

You see "moron" unless people play under your corporate umbrella called "Sports Entertainment" no one can survive within your bull%$#t company. Your McEgo can't stand the fact that anyone can come up with a better idea than you or he fact that the man who created a wrestling card in five minutes on a napkin for a show in a bingo hall is a legend in this business. Paul Heyman is a mastermind and is the SOLE reason why WWE and WCW had to change the way they did business back then to keep the true wrestling fans tuned in but you refuse to accept his place in wrestling history. You look down on him and anybody else who isn't "created" by you. You've proven it over and over again with botched invasion angles and misuse of wrestlers talents that came from other organizations. Look at what's happened since then. Your Raw averages between 3-4 ratings at best and SD is lucky if they get in the three's. WWE product sucks and seems to have no life to it. Just average shows with little spurts of greatness now and then. So what do you do when ratings go down? Bring on the lingerie matches or bikini contest. Oh yeah! Vince's great mind at work! And for what? Maybe a tiny spike in the ratings.

Everything in the WWE starts and ends with you Vincent McMahon. Your "Sports Entertainment" ideas are outdated and even you think you know what's best for us the fans by shoving it down our throats. Even if I were on the writing team and came up with the greatest storylines ever you could bet Vince you'll find a sure fire way to screw it up like with the Invasion angles, NWO, the defunct Bodybuilding Federation, XFL, a boxing venture pay per view and now the water down product of WECW.

The new WECW failed b/c Mr. McEgo didn't give Paul the booking power he needed to make it work plus the fact there were many in the company like your daughter, Stephanie "Jackass" McMahon who hated the idea of resurrecting a legendary company not too mention the ECW originals were jobbing out to your WWE superstars. The December to Dismember was a joke b/c you waited until the last minute to promote this stupid card without giving a clue as to what the card was suppose to be plus Sabu was "mysteriously" taken out of the main event. That's how much respect you've shown your loyal fans for their support throughout the years but just remember Vince what goes up must eventually come down. The WWE will someday not have the power it yields today and someone else will eventually come along to dethrone you. Then and only then you will realize that ALL you did for the business will be over shadowed by your shameless ego.

Now I give you credit for a lot of good things you did for the business in the last twenty years but you're so insecure about not getting credit for it that you deliberately control people instead of taking advantage of their true talents. Every time someone in your company like Heyman comes in and does a great booking job, as soon as you hear about it the control freak takes over. Why? Because you're just too scared and insecure to let someone else have some glory or even a little power to make the product better.

The WECW ratings have slipped from a 2 or 3 to a dismal 1 to 2. Vinnie you even admitted after the first show that it sucked. Why? Because it was your dumbass idea to book it the way it went down. Paul's original script was thrown away. And what did we get in return? Hardly any wrestling matches, a woman who couldn't unlock her bra strap and a bunch of WWE Raw guys taking over a show. Only one man responsible for this catastrophe from the beginning and that's YOU Vincent "Idiot" McMahon.

So before you toot that Raw or SD horn just remember the WWE isn't pulling the numbers the way they use to. Once again Vince you dropped the ball on some great storylines and angles you could of had just like you did back when WCW and ECW folded. It's all about the money now and as long as the stupid casual WWE fan is forking it over you could care less about the product or the business itself.

Thanks Vince for the useless memories you've created.

Joe

 

I have included Joe's open letter here, despite the somewhat lack of relevance to this particular story, because it certainly is impassioned.

I don't think anyone would argue that, at this point, WWE has dropped the ball on making ECW what it should be, but I think there are a variety of reasons for that and that it isn't completely as simple as Joe indicates here. Basing a brand on nostalgia is a tough way to go, and there is certainly a disconnect between what traditional ECW fans wanted and what WWE gave. One thing is true--that the old ECW fan base is not enough to sustain a successful national brand. We've already found that out.

But WWE's response is not working either, and I think the focus on strip poker and the clear burying of the brand is part of it. The brand is not too far gone to repair, though, and let's hope for the viability of the industry and the jobs of the people on the ECW brand that it will remain in place.