Stand Up To WWE

Columns, Top Story

The McMahon family has, for decades now, failed to grasp the concept that they are wrestling promoters, unfit and unqualified to do anything else.  A rational individual would look at World Bodybuilding Federation, the XFL, WWF New York in Times Square, the failed attempt at creating a WWE Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, and WWE Films’ multiple critically panned, box office DUDs and say “you know what, we should stick to wrestling, because everything else we do is a cataclysmic failure.”

But Vince McMahon and his wife Linda are not rational people.  This is clearly evident in Linda McMahon’s campaign for the United States Senate in Connecticut.  Regardless of how you feel about politics, whether you are a conservative or a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, a citizen of a red state or a blue state – if you are a wrestling fan you should feel used at how the WWE has turned YOU into a political victim.

Linda McMahon’s campaign is looking to be a tremendous failure.  In the latest poll at, Linda is currently down by nineteen points to a seedy, shady, very suspect character in Richard Blumenthal.  Blumenthal has ran a campaign that targets the WWE’s various business policies, while the media, perhaps unfairly, has pointed to the various former WWE employees who died at a young age as evidence that Linda McMahon is a corrupt, immoral person that is unfit for office.   Well, let’s talk about that first.

Standing Up For WWE

In my eternal efforts to keep things real, I’ll start by defending the McMahons.  The WWE’s Wellness Policy seems to work.  And blaming the WWE or the McMahons for the deaths of Lance Cade, Umaga, Luna Vachon, Eddie Guerrero, or Chris Benoit and his family is absurd.  Whatever happened to individual responsibility?

The WWE runs a wrestling company, not a babysitting agency.  Professional wrestlers are grown men, not children.  Nobody is drafted into the professional wrestling business.  It’s a business that involves pain, self-injury, long hours, many miles, and a degree of celebrity that will result in your life being lived inside a fishbowl.  But anyone who doesn’t grasp these very easy concepts before they enter wrestling school is ignorant.

On your first day in wrestling school, you will learn just how hard a wrestling ring is.  It’s made of plywood covered in a thin layer of canvas.  The ring ropes are typically elevator cables that are wrapped in tape and thin strands of rope that are designed for stability and durability, not comfort.  When you throw your body into these objects at high speed, your body will inevitably suffer damage.

Human beings are incredibly adaptable, and so a person can build a tolerance to the physical grind of professional wrestling, but never full immunity to it.  The more years that pass with you throwing yourself down on boards of wood or your back and body into a tight elevator cable, the more your body will break down.  This is the physical price that wrestling has attached to it.  In reality, it’s not all that different from legitimate athletic events such as football where, make no mistake about it, if you are carrying the ball every single person tailing you on the other team is out to injure you.  Just ask any NFL lineman.

If you’re in the WWE, you’re at the top level of your profession and, regardless of whether you’re a main eventer or a curtain jerker, you are in the top level of compensation among all wrestlers in the United States.  A jobber in the WWE is making better money then main eventers in any independent territory, and they have better benefits.  WWE Superstars who are injured on the job have access to the most distinguished, regarded sports surgeons in the country, and the best rehabilitation clinics to recover from your injury.

No, the WWE doesn’t have a retirement plan.  A lot of people are outraged by this, but it’s not as if people go into the wrestling business under the impression that after putting in twenty years they will get set up with a desk job and a pension plan.  Again, nobody is drafted into wrestling.  People talk about wrestlers as if they are deceived victims of a global conspiracy to keep them in the dark about what they are signing up for.

Of course, it’s only the old guys who’s time in the spotlight is up that bitch about how there’s no pension or retirement plan.  Or perhaps it’s the guys who never made it at all.  Boo hoo.  Poor you.  You were paid, you could have done stuff with your money instead of buying fancy cars, mansions, and drugs.  You could have saved up your money, and now that you’re old, broke, and broken down, you want to blame anyone but yourself for your current lot in life.

And then someone will inevitably scream “wrestling needs a union!”  Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate, is falling in line with his party’s pro-union stance and accusing Linda McMahon of being anti-union.  Which she is, don’t get me wrong.  But I fail to see how unionizing is going to help anyone who is a victim of their own drug abuse from dying before they reach 50, maybe even 40.

I’m not anti-union.  In fact, I was raised on union wages.  My father was a longshoreman, and I know first-hand what union benefits can accomplish for families.  But a union in professional wrestling will not make the ring any softer, the ropes any less painful to hit, the airplane rides any less tedious, or the celebrity status being a WWE performer brings you any less anxiety-inducing.  To those who say that it might make the schedule lighter, it might.  Sure.  Perhaps even likely so.  But that will come at a price be being paid less money.  After all, if you work less dates, you will be paid less money.  That’s kind of how the world works after all.  You work, you get paid.  You don’t, you don’t.

Oh, and let’s not forget unions are not free.  You have to pay for them, and they’re not cheap.  Once you start paying union dues, you can’t stop paying them.  They pay for the administrative costs of running the union, getting insurance on yourself and your family, paying the legal council your union requires to stay active, etc, etc.  Of course, every single benefit related to retirement plans, medical insurance, 401k plans… that stuff you can acquire for yourself and cut out the middle man entirely.  It’s actually pretty easy if you want to take the time to do it.  If you blow your money without setting up your future, well then you’re just not behaving like a responsible adult.  But wrestlers often don’t do that.  I don’t see how you can blame the McMahons for that.

A union is never going to stop a drug addict from taking drugs.  The WWE can only do so much towards preventing a person from taking drugs.  The best option they have is to threaten that individual with termination.  Under the Wellness Policy, if you get one strike, you’re suspended 30 days, and the public is notified why.  I’m sure it’s humiliating, but it works.  Fewer and fewer are testing positive.

A second violation is 60 days plus mandatory rehab.  The old saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is spot on.  Umaga had a second strike on him.  Rather then enter rehab, he asked for his release.  He didn’t need no stinkin’ rehab.  179 days later, he was dead after mixing hydrocodones and somas, and the media in Connecticut is blaming Linda McMahon.  That’s BULLSHIT!  There’s only one person to blame the death of Eddie “Umaga” Fatu and that person has been in the ground for the last eleven months.

The third violation is termination of your WWE contract.  Period.  End of story.  You’re fired.  Ah, but not so fast.  Because if a union gets involved, they might be able to undo the Wellness Policy.  You see, unions in sports have this funny way of deciding how their members should be treated when they act badly.  When NBA players run into the stands and attack fans, as was seen in the Pistons/Pacers brawl, the NBA decided one punishment was appropriate.  It’s their business and their league, after all, so what they say should be final, right?  Wrong.  The union stepped in and appealed the decision.  It ended up having to go to court, and as a result the NBA’s authority to govern it’s own business was lessened, and the legal costs to defend those players were in essence paid for by all players on all teams.

Right now, when a wrestler goes to rehab on the WWE’s dime, it’s paid for by the McMahon family.  If a wrestling union is created, they will say which wrestlers go to which rehab facilities, and their treatment will be paid for out of the dues from all wrestlers.  Ask yourself: is the current system (zero wrestlers pay zero dollars when a drug addicted wrestler accepts help) so bad that the only solution is a union (all wrestlers pay money when a drug addicted wrestler accepts help) that really won’t stop anyone from getting addicted in the first place?

So let’s assume now that a union was in place for Eddie Fatu when he failed a drug test.  What happens to him?  Well, that’s really up to the union.  The WWE has the right to say “we believe he should be suspended for sixty days and have to attend mandatory drug counseling.”  And then the union has the right to say “well actually, we feel this is a little too harsh.  Maybe a thirty day paid leave of absence is more appropriate, along with drug counseling to be set at a later date.”  Umaga is free to return to work, consequence free, continue to use drugs, and then overdose and die as an active WWE employee.  Who gets blamed then?  Not the union, not the wrestler who died, but WWE and the McMahon family.  So yes, I would say the McMahons are right to try and fight a union from forming.  The less bureaucracy, the better, especially when the system they have seems to work.

The WWE has an amazing policy that is unprecedented in sports and entertainment.  They offer all wrestlers, with apparent disregard of whether they worked for WWE or not, the opportunity to enter a rehabilitation facility on their dime.  No questions asked: if you want to get clean, the WWE will help you and pay for it all.  What more can WWE do, besides replace the ring with a stack of pillows?  The WWE has done every single thing a responsible company can do to respond to the drug problems that plague the business and in their open-door rehabilitation policy has actually gone above the call of duty.  What more do people want?

Yes, World Wrestling Entertainment and Linda McMahon specifically has been unfairly targeted for their roles in the deaths of various performers.  Following the death of Eddie Guerrero, the WWE has placed multiple safeguards to protect the wrestlers and to protect themselves in the future.  To anyone who says the Wellness Policy is self-serving towards their own interests, I say DUH!  At the end of the day, WWE is a business, and any business who doesn’t look out for itself and act in a way that is best for their self-interest isn’t much of a business at all.

Stand Up For Yourself, Bitch.

Now that’s I’ve “Stood Up For WWE” I would like to take issue with the “Stand Up For WWE” campaign.  You see, Vince McMahon has decided that the true victims of his wife’s delusional campaign are actually wrestling fans.  And I fully agree with him for once.  It’s because of his wife’s political ambitions that the WWE product has suffered.

In 1999, during the Superbowl, the WWE ran a commercial in which Vince McMahon asked “Get It?”

We got it, Vince.  Anyone who wasn’t a moron got it.

In 1999 and 2000, the WWE and it’s Smackdown program in particular were targeted by the Parents Television Council (PTC) which placed Smackdown on it’s annual list of the worst shows on television.  The PTC also raised money by claiming that WWE programming was responsible for the deaths of various children who were killed by other children doing so called wrestling moves.  In reality, they did no such thing.  In most cases a larger child simply beat a smaller child to death and the parents, not wanting to admit they raised a monster, blamed the WWE instead of themselves.

The WWE successfully sued the PTC for this and actually won $3,500,000 and a public apology from L. Brent Bozell III, the head of the PTC.  It’s worth noting that Bozell is prominent member of the Republican Party and that, when this stuff was going down, the Vince McMahon and WWE CEO Linda McMahon publicly spoke out against them and the conservative movement that was targeting them.  It’s odd now that his wife is catering to, and in fact asking for the endorsement of, the very establishment that was out to destroy them only ten years ago.  That’s politics for you.

During this fiasco, the WWE created the Right To Censor (RTC), a faction that was created to mock the Parents Television Council.  This was a typical McMahon move.  Whenever the WWE is singled out by critics, McMahon decides to mock them using his product.  The WWE was hardly alone when it was being attacked by the PTC.  Another show that often ranked near or at the top of their annual list was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And much like the WWE, the attacks by the PTC on Buffy were successful enough that many sponsors dropped the show.  And, again like WWE, the people behind Buffy had no problem at all finding new sponsors.  And that was that.  Unlike WWE, Buffy didn’t call attention to the attacks against it.  If Vince McMahon had been in charge of it, there would have been an episode where Angel lost his soul and Buffy had to get it back by staking L. Brent Bozell III, who was really a Varniak Demon in disguise or something like that.

Vince McMahon told wrestling fans that the PTC’s efforts were really a campaign against them, but it wasn’t.  It was a baseless attack by a conservative movement against a company they didn’t agree with that in no way posed a threat to anyone’s way of life.  One day the WWE was sponsored by Coke and the next day it was sponsored by Pepsi.  Big whoop.  And yet Vince felt this was enough to devote time on his programs to the situation, involving characters who were not over and were poor at performing when we would have rather watched anything else.

Vince: you don’t “get it.”

Wrestling fans don’t give a rusty rat’s ass about anything BUT wrestling when we’re watching it.  We don’t care if your wife is being called out on stupid shit that we know is not true, anymore then we cared when the PTC was saying it was the worst show on television.  It doesn’t effect our lives.  It effects your life, and your wife’s life, but she volunteered to be held to scrutiny when she ran for office.  Now that she is, as baseless as some of the stuff is, it’s up to her to defend it, not wrestling fans.  Wrestling fans want the best product that WWE can put out.  And you’re not giving it to them, because you’ve watered it down so that people will see that you offer family values, not sex and violence.

Richard Blumenthal is not campaigning against WWE fans.  In fact, he’s not campaigning against WWE.  He’s campaigning against Linda McMahon.  And Vince, if your wife wasn’t running for the same seat as he is, the WWE would never have come up during this election.  It’s not as important as you would like to think it is.  It’s not on the tips of tongues of politicians.  But because your wife is running, the WWE is an issue because it’s what her life has revolved around for the last thirty years.  It’s her calling card.  Because she was the Chief Executive Office of the company, she is accountable for what the WWE has done for the last thirty years.  Wrestling fans are loyal to the product, but that shouldn’t mean it’s up to them to defend your wife’s actions as a business person.  And some of those actions might not be stuff the average voter would approve of.

Earlier this month, the Secretary of State in Connecticut declared that anyone wearing WWE shirts would be turned away from the polls or asked to cover up.  Naturally the WWE and some especially thick wrestling smart marks cried bloody murder over this.  The Secretary of State was absolutely correct in issuing this order, because Linda McMahon is directly associated with WWE.  It’s safe to say that anyone who knows Linda’s name will first and foremost associate it with World Wrestling Entertainment.  It would be no different then if Bill ran for Governor here in Washington State and the Secretary of State here issued an order saying that Microsoft t-shirts were banned from (non-existent, it’s all mail here) polling places.

Linda McMahon is the candidate.  She was CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.  World Wrestling Entertainment is thus now a political issue in Connecticut.  The rules state that clothing of a political nature is banned from polling places.  So don’t show up to the polls wearing World Wrestling Entertainment stuff.  That’s hardly unreasonable.  It wasn’t unreasonable in 2008 when Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut’s Secretary of State then and now, ruled that voters could not come to the polls wearing shirts that said “YES WE CAN!” because that phrase was directly associated with Barack Obama, just like WWE is associated directly with Linda McMahon.  But in typical Vince McMahon fashion, he publicly declared victimization and persecution and got the ruling overturned.  Good for him.

But now he’s decided to rub it in.  This is what a child does, not a mature adult.  He’s going to be giving out free WWE merchandise 75 feet away from polling places around Connecticut this Tuesday in what is, let’s be honest here, a laughably transparent attempt to lure WWE fans to the polls to vote for his wife.  He’s telling people that the State of Connecticut and Richard Blumenthal are campaigning against WWE, and that WWE fans should turn out in numbers at the polls to “Stand Up For WWE.”  Of course, WWE is not on the ballot, but former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, is.  They are married, so it’s not as if he can claim he has no horse in this race.  The course of his life from this point forward will be determined by what happens on Tuesday.

Not only the course of his life, but the direction his company takes.  Vince McMahon is basically telling people that WWE is on trial here, and that people need to stand up for them.  The WWE’s shift towards a more “family friendly” product started around the time it became known publicly that Linda McMahon had political ambitions.  It was just four years ago that WWE had Degeneration X on stage declaring that Vince McMahon “loved cock.”  Just four years ago that Vince McMahon beat Shawn Michaels in a tag team match that also advertised God.  Wrestlers bled, wrestlers cussed, the action was better, the storylines less predictable, the promos less hokey.

Now, in 2010, the word “ass” is being censored from Attitude-Era footage on WWE DVDs.  It’s a word I heard on a sitcom on the Disney Channel just this week.  Wrestlers cannot bleed on pay-per-view, even though network television shows that air an hour before WWE Raw is on the air on cable often show lots of blood.  Vince McMahon has censored his own product in a way that L. Brent Bozell III would never have thought possible in his wildest dreams.  Vince McMahon, the bad boy of professional wrestling, has become a sniveling, crying wimp, all so his wife would look better as a candidate for office.  This is hypocrisy at it’s finest.

So to wrestling fans, I make this suggestion: since Vince McMahon says that the campaign in Connecticut is about WWE, then let your vote be decided by how you feel about the WWE’s direction.  A vote for Linda McMahon is an endorsement of World Wrestling Entertainment censoring your television shows, your DVDs, and your On Demand programming.  If you believe in censorship, then continuing Linda McMahon’s political career is a way to insure it continues.

If you believe that WWE is not going in the right direction, if you think the WWE should not censor blood from it’s DVDs and pay-per-view events, if you believe that the Attitude Era is due for a comeback, then cast your vote for anyone but Linda McMahon, and tell the WWE that you are standing up for them in the best way possible: by saving them from themselves.

Vince McMahon is ashamed that he runs a wrestling company.  There’s no other way to explain various moments that have happened since 1989, when the WWE produced No Holds Barred starring Hulk Hogan.

In 1990, Vince McMahon and his wife Linda founded the World Bodybuilding Federation.  How successful was it?   If the McMahons had paid every person who ordered the second WBF pay-per-view $10,000 and never started the company to begin with, they would have come out ahead on where they actually ended up on it.

In 2000 and 2001, the WWE was busy with the XFL.  We all know how that went.

Currently the WWE seems to waste a lot of time with it’s films division.  It’s been a consistent failure since it was put in place, with it’s latest film earning under $75 at the box office.

So what does this have to do with professional wrestling?  Because these things are distractions.  Whenever the McMahons are distracted by outside projects, the wrestling product starts to suffer.  Linda McMahon’s campaign for the United States Senate is just another outside project by a person who is embarrassed to be a wrestling promoter.  The fact that she now represents a party that, in essence, was trying to contribute to her company’s demise just ten years ago really shows what little value her and her husband cherish in the “Wrestling” part of “World Wrestling Entertainment.”

Considering the McMahon family’s track record with outside projects, voters in Connecticut should vote against Linda McMahon.  When wrestling is taken out of the picture, the McMahons have failed, failed, failed.  It’s one abysmal failure after another, whether they are promoting boxing, body building, football, restaurants, or movies, the end result has always been the same: returning to wrestling, tail between legs, and then playing the victim card.

Stand Up For WWE is the latest “everyone is picking on us” pity party by the McMahons after the media has laughed at them for failing yet again.  They’ve read the same polls we have.  Linda McMahon is going to lose on Tuesday.  She’s likely going to lose very decisively.  And now it’s time to play the “blame game.”  They blamed federal prosecutors and the body building business at large for the WBF’s failure.  They blamed the sports press and media for the failure of the XFL.  Now it’s time to blame someone for her failed campaign.

When the WWE tells people to “Stand Up For WWE”, if you think about it, in a way they’re blaming you.  They’re asking “where have you been when people are saying bad stuff about my wife in her partisan race for the Senate.”  They’re telling wrestling fans that you should put away your personal and political principles and stand up to the attacks (some of which are unjustified, some of which completely are) that Linda McMahon asked for when she began this vanity project.  They’re saying you’re not big enough fans because you haven’t shouted down those who ask what Linda’s role was in the death of Lance Cade, or the Chris Benoit murders.

If you want to stand up for World Wrestling Entertainment, the best way to do so is to tell Linda and Vince McMahon to fight their own battles.

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