Counterfeit Pennies: Analyzing WWE’s “Ripped from the Headlines” Approach to Sports Entertainment


Vince McMahon has deservedly been criticized throughout the past few weeks for bringing the heated pop culture feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell to the forefront of sports entertainment. In fact, some of the vignettes and segments on Raw have been so atrocious that people are lambasting the Chairman of the Board for reverting back to his “Nacho Man”, “Huckster”, “Billionaire Ted” days, which was one of the darkest eras in WWE history (the pre-Attitude era, which also featured the likes of Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon).

WWE fans are certainly rightful to be angry about two wasteful segments in particular: 1) the match between “Rosie” and “Donald” that culminated with a Fudgie the Whale to the face; and 2) the skit where Carlito came to the aid of Torrie Wilson (who was forced by Mr. McMahon to be Miss USA), only to be destroyed by The Great Khali (a.k.a. Giant Gonzalez, Version 2.0).

It’s obvious here – especially after last week’s episode of Raw, where Donald Trump gave the Dallas fans their money’s worth – that Vince envisions a confrontation between he and The Donald as a perfect idea for WrestleMania because he feels it will generate the sort of mainstream pop culture buzz that he so desperately craves. It is this Ripped from the Headlines approach that can really frustrate and alienate actual wrestling fans that just don’t want to see – or pay to see – this type of storyline.

For instance, it’s truly an excruciating experience to see Kevin Federline – Britney Spears’ no-talent deadbeat ex-husband — pinning the WWE Champion under ANY circumstances. Or, as B.G. James put it, “No matter how many bones you threw him at the end,” the Champ still got disgracefully pinned by K-Fed.

But what did Vince see with the Federline storyline? He saw John Cena giving his finishing move to Kevin Federline on shows like VH1’s Best Week Ever and E Entertainment’s Talk Soup, and he loved that these clips made the rounds on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The Insider, Extra, Et. Al.

To be fair, Vince McMahon has actually implemented this approach in good ways on occasion. Two instances that currently stand out are 1) The fact that Matt Striker was hired and given a chance to make a wrestling career for himself because of a full-page New York Post article that discussed his unceremonious firing from the New York City School System; and 2) The spoof of the infamous Monday Night Football Intro from a few years ago, where Shelton Benjamin and Torrie Wilson reprised the roles of Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan for a pretty hilarious parody.

Whatever the case may be, we just have to come to grips with the idea that the WWE will keep antagonizing the wrestling fans as they attempt to reel in those fish in the sea known as the casual viewer … Why? Because Vince knows better than anyone that enough of us diehards will stick around no matter what is on the card

That’s all for now PEACE.


CB is an Editor for Pulse Wrestling and an original member of the Inside Pulse writing team covering the spectrum of pop culture including pro wrestling, sports, movies, music, radio and television.