Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Vince McMahon: Where Is WWE Heading Without Him?

Vince McMahon is 69 today and still by all accounts firmly has a grip on control of his company World Wrestling Entertainment. Many feel this will be the case until the day he dies and it seems morbid to talk about but what will be the WWE’s future with out him in the company by choice or by death. There have been many reports of him and his son-in-law Paul Lévesque clashing on various talents and the direction of where to take storylines and pushing of talents. This is all speculation based on the rumour mill, but it would explain some of the strange things we have seen with wrestlers being pushed one week and jobbed out the next. There has not been a lot of continuity in terms that with certain talents. Cesaro is one name that leaps to mind.

Seems the biggest obstacle the two have is their views on Roman Reigns as the next face of the company. Vince is not sold on the idea where Triple H is all in on it and has used his own in-ring persona to help that along. The Shield is likely the centerpiece of a WWE Creative with Paul Levesque having the final call. They are the first three guys he stuck his neck out for and brought up from when he took over developmental. Triple H often refers to the people coming out of NXT as his kids. He really gets that invested in these talents and The Shield is like his first-born Triplets.

WWE Magazine released the cover of its final edition and many would say fittingly it had the three members of the former group known as the Shield on the cover. Asking the question of who would be first to grab the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? Ambrose predicted at the end of a documentary done on the group that the future of the WWE runs through them as the collective threesome that was and in some ways will always be The Shield.

You can argue that Vince as great as he has been has somewhat lost his “Midas Touch” for understanding what fans want. At least in terms of his core audience, that was a fact C.M Punk made pretty publicly as part of an angle with him leaving the company. This ironically is something that he has done in real life some three years later.  Funny that is seemed the main advocate to keeping Punk appeared to be Vince McMahon. It seems an odd pairing in so many ways, but Punk I guess was the one guy that would push Vince’s buttons and give him a fight. Something that Vince is said to love and thrive on is the idea of conflict and competition. This likely explains why some of the best work from Vince McMahon came with his back up against the wall in the Monday Night Wars.

Some might say the WWE is in its weakest position since that time in some regards. The WWE Network was a massive undertaking and risk for the company. Something that is clearly floundering and still is to a great degree. Turning the price of their network into a punch line for wrestling fans might not have been “Best for Business” when all is said and done. Still the company despite big losses this year has responded with job cuts and is keeping the suits and ties on Wall Street happy to a degree. There ability to keep their customers happy is another issue and one that seems to be a real hit and miss affair from week to week. Heck, sometimes even on a day-to-day basis with this company. They did have a widely successful Summerslam, which they needed badly. Now the question is will they commit to this vision and see it through to Wrestlemania 31. All indications are they will at least for now. Keep in mind the plan last year got totally derailed at the Royal Rumble.

What the ultimate difference will be with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in charge not just on television but in reality remains to be seen. Vince has clearly taken steps backwards allowing Paul and Stephanie to be front and center for major events these days. This is something that started it would appear with the launch of the Performance Center. This has been a project that is Paul’s vision and from conception to completion.  His work in the building of that and the creating of the brand NXT has larger been Paul working primarily on his own. You can see the difference in the NXT product as compared to the Raw product. It might also explain why the bumpy transition for a great many NXT talent to the main roster with Vince being added to the mix and him not being high on some of the characters that Triple H is. Some notable ones that come to mind are Paige and Bo Dallas. \

Therefore, if you want to know what the WWE will be like when Vince is dead good idea is to watch NXT. Where as C.M Punk referenced him in his famous promo the “dufus son-in-law” runs things. As for his idiotic daughter Stephanie there is little question she has stepped into the evil shoes of her father on camera. In terms of behind the scenes, she really has become the face of the company in the corporate sense. Her title is something to the effect of brand ambassador. A role that she is equally as good at even though it may come off as very sappy and disingenuous to wrestling fans.

It was confirmed over the weekend that Smackdown would be making to move to Thursdays, as Vince McMahon does not fear the NFL as TNA likely does and should. Heck Vince was the crazy guy that started the XFL...remember that? Actually Vince would rather you forgot as well as the failed WBF the World Body Building Federation. He lost his company’s name to a bunch of animal loving hippies in the World Wildlife Fund.  The point is Vince despite how he tries to come off has not always hit home runs with everything. In terms of the stuff involving just the wrestling aspects Vince has been very successful and basically has created his empire as the one true giant national promotion left standing.

He is a very interesting character from all accounts of anyone that has had dealings with him. Some of the things that seem to be commonly agreed on about Vince are that the WWE is in fact his life he really does not have hobbies or anything aside from working out. He also is awake to all hours of the night and is available to people almost literally on a 24-hour basis. They say you have to be a little crazy to be a genius and Vince McMahon fits that description. There is no Vince McMahon story that I would hear that I would not at lest consider it to be true given the nature of Vince.

If there is one thing, above all else about Vince McMahon that we have learned it is that he is willing to work with anyone if it means making a profit at the end of the day. Some people that have had the most bitter of break-ups with Vince have eventually always been welcomed back with open arms when it made sense for business. Some that comes to mind that truly shocked the world was the appearance of Eric Bischoff in the WWE. This being the man that tried to put Vince out of business with Ted Turner’s money. The one that we likely never saw happening was Bret Hart returning after he was screwed in Montreal and punched out McMahon in the aftermath. Nevertheless, he came back as well to do business with Vince some dozen years later. Will C.M Punk be the one that does not and stays away? Vince McMahon has taught us to believe in never say never when it comes to the WWE.

A legacy that Triple H has started to continue by bringing back a legend in Bruno Sammartino to the fold to be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame and this past year the Ultimate Warrior. Some of Vince has clearly rubbed of on Paul and the amount of respect both Paul and Stephanie have for him is likely higher than anyone else has on earth.

One thing that will be a major change when the day comes that Vince McMahon no longer in charge will be with WWE production.  Kevin Dunn is loved by some by hated by many more and has been Vince McMahon’s chief butt kisser for years. He is said to be out once Vince turns over the reigns completely to Stephanie and Paul. That might be the most interesting change the WWE has seen in a long time the day it happens. Dunn has been in charge of Raw and Smackdown from basically the start.

It seems as if we are talking about the demise of Vince in this piece but let us face it this is a guy that beat the U.S government and brags about it. He in storyline invented his own religion and challenged God and Shawn Michaels. Slowing down let alone death are not likely words in his vocabulary despite having his own death that never was followed up on in storyline. The Limo that blew up but I am sure Vince would have ended up returning from the dead as only he and the Undertaker can.

In any case, love him or hate him he is the guy that built this business to what it is today so I wish him a Happy Birthday and many more. He has created a world that I have followed since my childhood, which is something that he has done for millions like me around the globe.

So God Damn It!!! Happy Birthday Vince McMahon!!!!

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