Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

Cyber Sunday is a WWE pay-per-view event that claims to give fans some control over certain parts of the show. Via online voting, the public can choose match stipulations, select challengers in championship matches and guest referees, and crown the all-important winner of the Diva Halloween costume contest. But does your vote actually factor into the equation?

The Diva Search contest pits 10 women of questionable beauty and sex appeal against one another, each equally willing to degrade herself week after week to become the next WWE Diva. The fans theoretically vote off one contender each week until the last woman standing gets to join WWE and become the next useless, bland, money-wasting piece of eye candy on television. But do the fans actually have control?

TODAY’S ISSUE: Trusting a wrestling promoter.

Professional wrestling as an entertainment form was predicated on the very notion of fooling the audience or “marks” who didn’t know the matches were being staged. Promoters have been lying to and misleading their own patrons since the late 1800s, when traveling strongmen used to offer open challenges, for money, to any locals in the crowd who could either defeat the man or survive 10 minutes of combat against him without giving up. The carnival operators or “carnies” soon realized that allowing these matches to be contested fairly could lead to financial losses, so they wisely decided to rig the action, with the local guy agreeing to take a dive for a share of the profit, or by using a plant in the crowd instead. Either way, the concept was to fool the crowd into betting their hard-earned cash on a fake contest they could never win.

From these roots arose a fictional world so strictly protected that for years, good guys and bad guys were not allowed to travel in public together for fear of ruining the illusion that wrestling was legitimate.

When in the presence of people who weren’t “smartened up” to the business, wrestlers used a version of “Pig Latin” to communicate with each other and keep their secrets veiled. One word that derived from their odd language is “kayfabe”, meaning fake, which relates to protecting the secrets of the business.

“Kayfabe” is still used in insider pro wrestling circles today. When we say something is kayfabe now, we mean that it’s part of the show. As in, “HBK is out with a knee injury, but it’s kayfabe. His knee is fine, he’s just spending some time at home with his new baby.” Or “Jim Cornette firing Sting on iMPACT!was only kayfabe. His contract isn’t up until next year.”

The idea of “working” the crowd in order to make the show compelling and generate interest in the product (and revenue) is one thing, but reviled booker Vince Russo took things to another level. He crafted storylines which confused and misled other wrestlers within the promotion, which is about as wise as having one actor on CSI not know what his fellow actor is going to say or do in their scene together. Blurring the line between reality and performance might make sense when you’re filming a science fiction movie, but trying to trick your own employees to create a backstage buzz more in line with what you’re hoping to generate is highly illogical and tasteless to say the least.

In pro wrestling, nothing is as it seems. Chris Jericho’s wife once bought a WCW action figure set of her husband and fellow grappler Dean Malenko, but the receipt indicated she’d just purchased a Hulk Hogan & Sting set, meaning the royalties from the sale went to the Orange Goblin instead of the men whose visages actually moved the merchandise from toy store shelves. Obviously wrestling puppeteers are not generally thought of as the world’s most trustworthy people.

So when Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the con-man of all con-men, claims to host contests in which decisions are at the whim of wrestling fans, I have a great deal of difficulty swallowing it. After all, in the early 1980s McMahon muscled in on his own father’s business and took it over just months before the senior McMahon passed away. Vince Jr. and his WWF then proceeded to drive many competing promoters out of business by signing every decent piece of talent away from the major companies with large, exclusive contracts that he couldn’t afford to pay, while crossing previously unbroken territorial lines by presenting shows in other promotions’ backyards and undercutting local television deals, forcing his own product down the throats of fans who didn’t even want it. Would you buy a used car from this guy? If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Case in point. Shawn Michaels won the vote to challenge for the WWE title, and it’s quite obvious this is the result Vince McMahon intended on from the beginning. Coincidence? You decide.

Look at the history of the Diva Search contest. Even if WWE did allow the actual votes to decide who “won” the competition, they negated the entire process by hiring the ones they liked anyway. How many non-winners have found themselves in full-time television roles in the company? Amy Weber, Michelle McCool, Maria Kanellis, Joy Giovanni, Rebecca DiPietro, Krystal Marshall, and Maryse Ouellet were all voted out of their respective contests but ended up on the main roster shortly thereafter. You’ll notice a few of the ladies listed above still appear each week on WWE programming. What an honest competition that Diva Search is.

Vince McMahon is as crooked as a dog’s hind legs, so while he can claim to allow the fans to have a say in these two events, trusting a pro wrestling promoter is like having a suit made by Tarzan’s tailor.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Before you go, check out our roundtable for WWE’s Cyber Sunday, compare our picks to PK’s live coverage, and look below to see how we fared.

IP Staff Roundtable Results for Cyber Sunday

Paul Marshall
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 5-0
Total: 12-8

Iain Burnside
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 5-0
Total: 104-54

Mark Allen
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 5-0
Total: 47-20

Vinny Truncellito
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 4-1
Total: 155-100

Matthew Michaels
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 4-1
Total: 83-80

Paul Beasley
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 4-1
Total: 17-10

Danny Cox
WWE Cyber Sunday (28 Oct 07): 3-2
Total: 99-85

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