Sunday, November 2, 2014

Post for 10/22

Epilogue on Sex, Lies and Headlocks
I found the last several chapters of  Sex, Lies and Headlocks illuminating as to answering several questions I had about wrestling history during the end of the WCW period, and where the WWF was during 1999-2002 and shortly thereafter. Regarding the WCW and Ted Turner, the answer of course was Time-Warner’s merger with AOL, and how both Turner and wrestling were ousted. McMahon picked up WCW for next to nothing for the name. He had out-lasted Turner, not beaten him, according to the reading. McMahon also picked up the defunct ECW too during this time-frame.

Also, it was interesting to see how Viacom wooed McMahon away from USA Networks, after 17 years, by offering him the “kitchen sink,” and how once again McMahon lost focus of his main bread-and-butter, wrestling, to starting a football league. After opening to great ratings, by the fifth week, everyone knew the league would be gone.

In the book, we see a trend during this time with a more provocative sexual aspect in wrestling, especially within the lady wrestlers, but also of McMahon’s scripted sexual exploits. During this time, the fans were getting tired of McMahon’s self-involved family story lines and Raw’s rating suffered. Vince turned this around by using himself, and scripted storylines of grudges with Ric Flare and the bloody head of Vince at the Royal Rumble in 2002. McMahon also made up with Hogan, where Hogan challenged The Rock to a match, and where The Rock was hit on the head with a hammer, and the announcers led the charge, stating another tragedy is now happening. So Vince went back to his formula to up his ratings, that of “unsettling fiction and frequently tragic fact.” Going into 2002-3, there was more tragedy with the death of Davey Boy Smith, and “Miss Elizabeth.”

The book ends with the authors’ jabs at wrestling with statements about how McMahon is relying on the past glories, and that he seems to be more out-of-step than ever, and no one says no to him, except the fans.  Of course, that was then, this is now. This reading filled in the blanks in my wrestling history.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

Ratings-wise, wrestling has certainly never re-reached the period of television viewing success it had during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Yet, the predictions that WWE would suffer as a business hasn't really been true, as evidenced by the case that we're a decade later and their model seems to be continuing on. The question from a business standpoint is how WWE continues to build beyond the model they've now created to try to build on a deep core fan base and get more people to regularly subscribe to their content via the network, etc. Vince certainly subscribes to the "disrupt yourself, before someone else does it for you" from a business model standpoint, although some have questioned whether they have taken the same risks from a storytelling standpoint. But they have certainly showed, thus far, that--even with not reaching the numbers they'd hoped on their network, they have found a way to maintain a profit level by operating more leanly as a company and aggressively trying to figure out how to make the network work over the long term...