Inside Pulse 12

The Fantasy Book on Politics Near and Far (WWE, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, The Authority)

Good morning. I apologize for missing last week. A number of items came up and caused significant damage to my availability. I shall endeavor to avoid such occurrences in the future.

I did not see all of WWE Raw this week, and from what I read, it is probably better that I didn’t see it. It sounded like there were too many things happening that were going to happen whether the audience wanted them or not. Too many things being forced down our throat (Roman Reigns push, Big Show’s presence, Ryback’s turn, the League of Nations). Too little of what we wanted (Kevin Owens looking strong, a strong showing and clean finish for Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, an exciting Undertaker appearance). And so many people cry that this all is about the WWE not listening to their fans. But I see it as something different. I see it as a lack of effort (I can’t even say lack of talent because I don’t know the limitations placed on them) from the writers.

My case in point is part of Raw I did see – Stephanie McMahon’s speech. Stephanie came out and looked to give her acceptance speech she didn’t get to do the week before and comment on her brother’s return. At that point, I had the television on mute because I did not care what she had to say. As good as a character I think Stephanie McMahon is, she has reached a saturation point for me, as I believe most people feel about the McMahons on their TV. But when I looked up and saw her knock over the table and start to get into her promo, I turned up the sound and really wanted to hear what she was saying. Stephanie’s performance as a character was enough for me to be interested at that point. And then I listened. And I listened to the crowd. And I just kept getting more confused. Let me explain.

We’ve been told to not like Stephanie McMahon. Basically because of her allegiance to Vince McMahon and Triple H, who we have also been told to not like. And sure, there have been storylines where we want to hate Stephanie because she is going up against our favorites (Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, etc). But there have also been many times where we “think” we are supposed to cheer for her (when she pushes the Diva revolution, etc). At best, her character tries to walk a gray line, not totally defining her as face or heel, but a more nuanced person with good and bad traits. Of course, even this is simplified for the wrestling world, as she is given a more amoral stance with the whole “best for business” characterization.

So why is the crowd booing her? Why is the crowd frothing at the mouth to get her to shut up? In order for any of this to make sense, we have to assume no one was listening to her.

During her promo, Stephanie is not only mad that her moment of glory was interrupted, but that her well-being could be taken away from her. She is angry about the fact that what she has worked for is being yanked out from under her. In this case, she is not the entitled “daddy’s princess,” but a hard-working employee, who, while we may not agree with everything she does, has been front and center in her family company’s doings. Sure, she is megalomaniacal and shrill, but she is making arguments that we should be applauding, not booing.

She is making valid points that Shane has been gone for years while she has stuck in there and tried to make things work for the company. She is making valid points that just because she is Vince’s daughter doesn’t mean she isn’t as worthy of running the company as Vince’s son. She is making valid points about the legacy of the company falling to her daughters just as much as they fall to her nephews.

Within the cacophony of boos and “What” chants, Stephanie was actually speaking on some strong feminist views. Equal work=equal pay. Patriarchy versus matriarchy. The value of gender in the eyes of the parents, and in this case, grandparents. Boiled down to wrestling-speak – girls are just as good as boys. Shouldn’t we be cheering the shit out of this stuff?

And yet, the audience boos. Calls her names. Reinforces the very stereotypes her speech is railing against. And then it feeds off itself, and the boos get louder. And eventually the audience is rallying to support the charismatic Shane over his, at this point, more qualified sister, simply because of his gender.

You know, as I am writing this, I think that maybe the writers are not as lazy as I thought (ignoring that Stephanie’s promo is not leading to any particular match at Wrestlemania). In fact, as this plays out, maybe it will be one of their better pieces. But not in the way you would think. And not in the way that would make anyone want to keep watching the wrestling or ordering the PPVs. But it could be a denouement of a farce playing out on a national scale. Or a rogue writer putting one over on his bosses in grand fashion.

***Switching gears here, so bear with me for the stream of thought craziness in bullet-point form. Tin-foil hats will be offered at the door.***

  • Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda McMahon, had a failed at two attempts to gain a Senate seat in 2010 and 2012. She ran as a Republican.
  • Vince McMahon’s friend and WWE Hall of Famer, Donald Trump, is running for President of the United States. He is running as a Republican.
  • Trump’s platform follows a lot of the stereotypical wrestling cliches, including fear of foreigners and ultra-nationalism.
  • Is it possible that Vince McMahon has been working with Trump on some of the more sensational aspects of his campaign?
  • Is it possible that McMahon and Trump have worked a deal where Linda would receive a cabinet post or cool ambassadorship if Trump wins?
  • Is it possible that Vince McMahon sees Trump’s campaign as a way for Vince himself to achieve “respectability?”
  • Or is it possible that the McMahons blame Linda’s failures in her Senate campaigns on the GOP.
  • Given this, is it possible that Vince and Linda are working with Trump to sabotage the Republican party in a petty revenge scheme?
  • Is it possible that Trump is rallying support only to pull out at the last moment and run as an independent in order to permanently harm those Vince sees as his enemies? (Vince likes to remind everyone that he defeated the government before…)
  • If nothing else, is it possible that Donald Trump is using the carnival-barking promotion techniques he has learned from the McMahons in a careless attempt to win the White House? And if that is true, is it possible that Vince McMahon is pissed off at Trump and trying to get back at him in storyline fashion? It is not as blatant as most of WWE’s political storylines, but having an outsider (Shane) come in and get destroyed by the establishment (the Undertaker), does make a compelling parable.
  • Or, is it possible that one of the WWE writers sees such similarities between the public Donald Trump campaign and the socially-unconscious storyline driven WWE normally is, that they took it upon themselves to set up this storyline to subtly poke at Trump and the hand that feeds him/her?
  • Is it possible that a WWE writer decided to pitch an idea to his boss (Vince McMahon) which would play on his ego, play on his narcissism, and provide enough lip-service to social issues (gender equality) in order to be green-lit?
  • Is it possible that the current storyline involving Stephanie and Shane and Vince is just as real (or unreal) as Donald Trump’s hate-fueled rise to the top of the GOP?
  • Or is it possible that I am giving WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY too much credit to the WWE writers and they are simply recycling the post-Monday Night Wars storyline in some manner?
  • Who raised the briefcase anyway?

 

Sorry for dropping into some odd places here. But the Fantasy Book goes where it goes. And Fantasy Booking the Republican primary race seems to make as much sense as anything going on in the WWE these days…

Until next time…

 

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