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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Two Guys, A Girl And A Wrestling Ring:
Proof Positive That Vince McMahon Is A Genius
September 5, 2005 by Robert Zarp


For years, Vincent K. McMahon has been credited for revolutionizing the professional wrestling industry, and at other times, has been labelled a detriment to the sport. Despite this conflict of opinions, many wrestling fans can agree that Vince is truly a promotional genius, and has indeed changed the face of the business numerous times. Take for example, Hulkamania, back when wrestling was first becoming more sports entertainment than pure sport. Many critics felt that involving celebrities and such in a sports program was highly inappropriate and would only spell failure for WrestleMania; however, as history shows, WrestleMania is now considered the biggest stage in all of wrestling. Many fans can remember a few years back to the "Attitude" era, where controversy was almost constantly on the rise for McMahon's company, and yet the groundbreaking changes made in this time surely revolutionized wrestling amidst all the contention from the media. That brings us to 2005, when Vinnie Mac proved to the world once more that he is legitimately a genius, at least one when concerning the state of professional wrestling.

Since the fall of both ECW & WCW, the WWE has been deprived, lacking the necessary competition that drove the WWF creative staff to make the best shows they could when their rivals were giving them a run for their money. Fans complain the product is stale, old, and boring, seeing as the same faces are being pushed to the top, and a lack of fresh storylines adds to the choler. Vince has been said to be opposed to the involvement of the wrestling business on the Internet community, stating that the 'net fans would be the cause of a major downfall to the business, as nothing is sacred anymore. In a sense, he was right; for example, whenever a new wrestler is slated to debut, or a major change is in the works, anyone with Internet access and the ability to search for wrestling websites will be able to know of the plans being developed. In the old days, this information was available in magazines called "dirt sheets," but the difference being that kayfabe was somewhat maintained in the magazines, as not all rumors were proven true, some were just made for the purpose of drawing the reader's attention. This has always been a pet peeve of Vince, as he feels that with so much easily accessible information, the business would have so much trouble adapting that it seemed next to impossible.

Then along came Matt Hardy, Version 1. Vince is said to be more in favor of the stronger and larger wrestlers, but it is also said that McMahon was very fond of Hardy's work both in the ring and on the microphone during Matt's time on WWE SmackDown. When Hardy requested to be traded to Monday Night RAW in order to be able to spend more time with his off-screen girlfriend, Lita, Vince was happy to oblige to Hardy's request. The only problem was that the writers on RAW were unable to really develop a strong storyline upon Matt's arrival, and this is clearly illustrated by the fact that in his first month on RAW, he had never won a match. Fast forward to an angle with Lita and Kane, where Kane was a creepy stalker hell bent on getting Lita, and Matt was seen as her proverbial knight in shining armor. This feud went over pretty well, and was helping to establish Hardy once more as a top player for the WWE. But, as soon as his star rose again, it came shooting down when Matt was sidelined with serious injuries that put him out of action for nearly an entire year.

Enter Edge, a man now bitter and paranoid over never being given a fair shot at the World's Heavyweight Championship. Granted, Edge had not really been put over in the previous years prior to this push, but he was just not getting over with the fans as a heel. Edge's reactions were that of discontent, not hatred, as the fans were known to chant "Boring" and "This match sucks!" during many of Edge's matches. Hardy and Edge were actually very good friends behind the scenes, and Matt even said he trusted Edge more than most people in the locker room. Perhaps lonely from all the nights travelling alone, with her boyfriend stuck at home with an injury, an affair between Lita and Edge ensued, this a betrayal not only to Matt but Edge's wife as well. Hardy had filmed vignettes to promote his return to the WWE, anticipating a return at WrestleMania 21, and even Triple H, who backstage has a lot of sway with McMahon, agreed that the vignettes were stellar and he was even anxious for Hardy to return.

When Matt found out about the affair, he was irate, livid, there was just so much animosity brewing backstage between now former friends. McMahon decided that since Hardy had been injured, and creative had no plans for him as of yet, that it would be easier and smarter to let Matt go while he worked out these personal problems. But Matt Hardy was not one to be silent about this turn of events, as he funded his own website, discussing all the details from his point of view as to why he was released. With an exponentially increasing number of "You screwed Matt!" and "We want Matt!" chants erupting whenever Edge or Lita appeared on screen, Vince knew something had to be done to control the situation.

Although he has been an opponent of the Internet's involvement in the wrestling community, Vince realized that the times are changing, and it was now the time to use what he had hated for so long to his favor. With Hardy posting numerous public rants about Amy (Lita), Adam (Edge), and the entire WWE, Vince knew that bad press is better than no press at all, so negotiations began for the imminent return of Matt. The negotiations were done very privately, as rumors circulated that Matt would debut perhaps in the Ring of Honor or even NWA-TNA, adding to the uncertainty of what just may happen next in this sordid turn of events. Matt made his return to a WWE ring on Jully 11, but not in an official format. The fans saw Matt rushing the ring through the crowd, and even heard him promote the Ring of Honor on RAW. Furthermore, using the WWE Internet telecast Byte This!, the WWE had Lita as a guest when Matt made a surprise phone call that would further prolong this storyline, as the conversation was candid, very personal, and seemingly true to life. Matt even promoted ROH on the telecast, unheard of even in this day and age. This leads us to Matt making his return to the WWE, and after months of ranting, Hardy and Edge finally collided in a match at SummerSlam, then once more this past Monday night in a brutal street fight match.

This angle is proof positive that Vince McMahon is truly a genius in the world of professional wrestling. Using Matt's website, the Byte This! telecasts, and even their own website, Vince parlayed a hatred of the Internet's involvement in wrestling to creating a storyline based purely off what was reported on the Internet, even going so far as to use the 'net as a tool to further this angle. The fact of the matter is that Vince once again has revolutionized the industry, by creating a storyline drawn from what was reported on-line to be the truth of the situation. Fans are intrigued because this angle is perhaps one of the few things in wrestling today that is still "real," still believable to the casual fan as well as the educated ones. The genius has found yet another way to make sure we stay put in our easy-chairs and stay tuned for his product, and for that, Vince has proven to the world once again that he indeed knows how to change the face of professional wrestling as we know it and still keep all of us hooked on his brand of programming.

by Robert Zarp ..


Colm Kearns wrote:
Great article. I am a big fan of Vince and I think he never gets the respect he deserves among the Internet wrestling community. Vince has made history making decisions that have changed wrestling for the better, he has also made mistakes, but who hasn't" The good decisions he has made outweigh the bad in my opinion. Some Internet cynics will try to dismiss Vince's ideas of pushing guys like Austin and Hogan, they will often say that these guys would be big stars in any promotion but the fact is they weren't. Austin was never given the push he deserved in WCW (he lost to Jim Duggan in 30 seconds!) and Hogan was never given a run with the title in AWA. The only place in their whole careers where Austin and Hogan (not to mention Eddie Guerrero, HHH and Chris Jericho among others) were given a run as the promotions top guy was in the WWF/E with Vince McMahon. Compare it to Jules Rimet orgainising the first World Cup, it was an obvious idea to create an international football competition and it is possible that if Rimet had not have done it someone else would have, but they didn't and thats why Rimet is credited even today because he actually done it even if it was obvious. The same can be said about Vince when he saw a good concept that the fans liked he'd run with it. Another example: people can say that Chris Jericho or Eddie Guerrero should be world champion right now but at least Vince made them champion once, WCW or ECW never done it and even if we say they should have won it long before they did at least they were given that push by Vince. The man is a genius and thank you for giving the credit he deserves in this column.
Justin Garofalo wrote:
Fans chanted his name, and Vince "gave in". He Re-Signed Matt and thus gave us a putrid start to a feud that could ALMOST do no wrong. ALMOST, yet WWE and Vince found what a little they could do to bring the feud into the wrong direction and grabbed there ball and started to run into the wrong end zone. Its not genius, and at times i wonder what Vince is thinking. He shouldn't be ignoring a good portion of his fan base, and instead he should accept it...INCLUDING internet fans. I don't believe silencing out a good portion of your consumer base is a "genius" idea. Wither we know what's coming or not via spoilers, it doesn't matter...where still excited and thrilled when it happens. Especially whenever a big name jumped ship from one big company to another. That's a big thrill i think that got taken away when WWE monopolized the north american industry. But that's another story.

Back on track...The feud was set, the fans craved it, they chanted, they screamed for it...and vince did what they asked. It wasn't a genius idea to put these two in the ring together...it was AN OBVIOUS idea for good ratings. Thus where brought to Summerslam, where the first match to what COULD have been the biggest feud ever. The fans are on the edge of there seats in the arena, the fans at home rush to there TV sets...all eagerly awaiting the big match. Which ends up a 5 minute lop sided match that consisted of Matt getting a mud hole stomped into him, and didn't even finish with a pin but with a stoppage. You'd figure someone, SOMEWHERE, even Vince himself would say..."you know, i don't think that's going to go over well. Nor do i think that's the correct way to usher in this HUGE feud". But nope. Instead they kept running in the wrong direction. We tune in the next night to watch Matt lose to Conway via a top rope elbow...great. What a way to use arguably the hottest guy on your roster. The chanting the signs, everything...it all got silenced out and rather then feed the flame they stomped it out with a vengeance. Genius" If anything this feud and this angle shows the total opposite IMO thus far.
alex martinez wrote:
if you ask me, i think the whole Lita-Edge-Hardty thing is Bull$#!^ , the wwe has habbit of making these controversial storylines, which they make it look so real and at the end of the day, the whole thing was a staged act. here are some example

-Austin downfall -- i'll give the wwe their credit on making a sceneario look so real, that we as as fans buy it. my favorite angel was Austin walking out on wwe in june 2002, they made him look irresponsible because he did not wnt to full fill his obligation. He was not allowed to come back to the wwe for being unproffesional, not even a year in to the situation, and austin was back full time, the whole thing at the end was B.S

the greater power in 1999 -- stephanie mcmahon dissapeard, and was found on the boiler room that same night, mcmahon goes on sunday night heat and talks about how mark calloway was actualy believeing his gimmik, (vince refered to the undertaker as Mark calloway) at the end of the day it was all some soap opera storyline that mcmahon had us all fooled once again, saying that this was no publitcity stunt, and that it had to be real

if matt hardy & edge really dont like each other than why would the wwe be putting these guys together in a ring at summerslam, don't they know that a real fight could brake out. A good example was the real feud between shawn michaels and shane douglas, at "in your house" pay per view in october 1995. The fact these two don't like each other is a fact, they could have drawn money in a P.P.V , but the wwe chose not to, it was just shawn being a prick, he was planning on doing something to Dean Douglas during the match, when dean found out what was going down, he approched michaels and warned him not to do it,knowing shane coming from E.C.W, you know hes not affraid to throw a punch at you. At the end, i'm not bashing edge, he is my favorite wrestler, he is the reason why i stared watching wrestling obsesivley again scince the attitude era. matt is good to and he is champoinship material, but this whole backstage saga, shooting at each other on the web, and now on t.v, is just some scripted angle to work through harty's absence. i dont even thik matt was ever fired. Rememeber when edge was becoming a heel about a year ago,the plan was to make the most hated bad guy on the raw roster and so far he's done a good job. So again wrestliing fans of the WORLD WIDE WEB, dont be fooled, its not the first time the wwe has fooled as and it wont be the last time either, and just for the recored they had me fooled too, but whatching matt come back and showing it on the air, you can not be fooled, you must realize that this a scripted angel, expect Edge, Lita And Matt to from some sord of alliance later on and let but gons be gons, wcw had a habbit of doing this way before the wwe broke big again!
Robert Zarp (original author) wrote:
First things first, I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read the article and I do appreciate all the feedback thus far.

Now to address those who have given me feedback, firstly Colm Kearns, I would like to say that you presented some good opinions, and I do agree with what you said about Hogan and Austin. I do have to say that I wish people like Benoit, Guerrero, and Jericho, etc., were pushed to the top, but that may or may not happen, it's really up to Vince in the end.

And to Justin Garofalo, I do have to say that you are right, the match at SummerSlam between Matt Hardy and Edge was not really a mat classic, but in most cases, I feel that the first match in any given feud is nowhere near being a great match because all you are trying to do is build that emotion, not rush it. With the match at SummerSlam, there was more motivation in the Street Fight on Raw for both men to want to beat eachother down even more than in the beginning. As far as the signs, t-shirts, and chants dying out, I have to disagree as many still have signs in support of Hardy, Matt's merchandise is still a top seller on ShopZone last I checked, and I can still hear a very audible demand for Hardy. No feud ever starts out great, just remember that.

And to Alex Martinez, I would have to say that the "Austin Downfall" was not an angle, at least it did not start out as one. Once again, this time using WWE Magazine to let Austin tell his side of the story before his return, Vince noticed a loud demand, and worked a real life occurrence to his advantage in form of a storyline. The Greater Power was indeed a storyline, I never had any doubts about that, I never felt it was something real, after all, breaking kayfabe is nothing new unfortunately. Concerning Hardy and Edge having so much animosity toward each other backstage, and not being able to wrestle, notice their first encounter was not really a wrestling match. I am sure that they have indeed worked out problems behind the scenes, but you want to have a match where the two wrestlers absolutely hate one another and will do anything to stop the other from winning. And notice as well I admitted that I believe this was all a work as well in my article, I do believe that recent events were totally a work, but what about Hardy's appearances in ROH and on the Indy Scene" Surely WWE would not let one of their talents work these types of shows, so really that goes to show that Matt was really a free agent at one point.

To get to the point, yes, this is all one big work, a rather well orchestrated storyline based upon events that actually took place, and to cover up for what happened back stage, it has been parlayed into a storyline. You'd be a fool to think that Hardy and Edge and Lita did not work things out by now, but you'd be blind to not see the pure emotion in this feud, what makes it feel so real. That's what keeps us hooked, that so many people feel this angle is just so emotionally real, that the hatred is true, so viewers are keen to staying tuned, and that is why I say Vince is truly a genius.
Aaron Tolles wrote:
I would have to say that this was a very nice plan on the part of McMahon.I honestly don't think that Hardy was ever fired and that this is all a work.The pieces just don't add up to the story.I think it was a way to garner Hardy some attention by letting him do indy dates and working the storyline.

I do give credit to all those involved,Edge and Lita were brilliant.But like I said things don't add up.For instance,there was a link to Hardy's sight immediately after the first jumping.Also the Paul Heyman incident,where Edge almost looked surprised.We all knew Hardy was going to be out for a period of time and I think that by doing this they tried to boost up a guy who hasn't been all that sparkling.

Besides why would we really play this out on TV.I know that if were me I'd want to kill Edge and wouldn't want to be in the ring with him because I don't know what I'd do.All in all I think that this is one of the better pull the wool over the fans' eyes in years.
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