Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Steve Austin Gets A Hell Of An Interview Out Of Vince McMahon

Perhaps the thing that is most disturbing for wrestling fans is the 3-hour show they watched prior to the Vince McMahon interview with Steve Austin: Vince thought it was good. If he truly believes that boy is this company in serious trouble at this point. The hour and fifteen minutes after Raw trumped anything on this show. It was billed as a no holds bar interview with Austin and McMahon and it lived up to the hype.

He would not only address Punk situation but went into subjects like Randy Savage not being in the Hall of Fame and Jim Ross being let go from the company. There was not a lot of substance to what was said but the fact they were even subjects was fascinating in its own right.

I have always found Vince McMahon to be a fascinating individual and it is rare we get him in a situation such as this. He clearly doesn’t think the same as your average person and that may seem fairly obvious but it is still worth mentioning. If you love or hate Vince McMahon, what you have to admit is he has always had guts and been willing to take chances. Even though, he tried to paint the WWE Network in a positive light, it hasn’t been the success it was suppose to be. Dana White of the UFC has made some comments about what Vince has done has being somewhat reckless and it devalued the WWE product. I think he is right and there likely isn’t a way to go back now with the relationships WWE has burned with cable providers by taking their core product in pay-per-views to the Network. The WWE events have been devalued, to be of a lesser value and likely can’t be turned back. UFC with their fight pass targeted only their hardcore audience and have events that are for mostly foreign markets to expand their brand globally. They still remain on pay-per-view and are not having their top stars appear on Fight Pass. WWE has all its stars on their network, having given up on pay per view before it has died as a business. Perhaps WWE has made this move to soon and is suffering in the short term. There have been many valid criticisms of the network and it seems WWE just continues to make mistake after mistake with it. 

McMahon’s apology to Punk was clearly unexpected but his explanation to why Punk was fired in effect on his wedding day seems highly unlikely to be the case. When you consider the history of Vince McMahon, it doesn’t pass the sniff test of availability. What he did, in what he said about the Punk matter, is left the door open and put the pressure on why Punk is no longer in the WWE back on him or at least that was the attempt. While I do believe, Punk and McMahon have a strange sort of love and hate relationship I do not think Punk has any sort of relationship with Triple H and Stephanie. Which will always be the problem if anyone thinks these sides would ever come together again. McMahon really never addressed any of Punk’s grievances saying he would not air the “dirty laundry” in public. More to the point, the allegations Punk made can’t really be addressed in public without the WWE looking very bad. What you have is two very brilliant individuals trying to compete for the minds of two groups of people. Two gorups of people, that are C.M Punk fans and the larger extent fans of WWE overall. Punk will always win with his fans who are people that share his opinion of the WWE and its lack of direction. They are the people that want change and feel Punk was the type of guy that understands what they want. WWE fans are far more willing to be convinced that Punk is just a bitter disgruntled ex-employee. Vince did a good job of trying to paint Punk as that and make Vince look like the good guy willing to do business in the future.

Vince seemed determined to convince folks that he listens to is audience and is not out of touch. In all seriousness, he failed in convincing most of that fact in this interview. When asked what was wrong with his roster he tried to characterize them as unwilling to take risks and to afraid to fail. That this generation of wrestlers was not as motivated to grab the brass ring a favorite analogy of Vince’s that we have heard before. He says John Cena was the last to achieve this. This was an indirect shot at C.M Punk to suggest that Punk never had that desire to be the very best was absolutely silly especially in the light of what we now know Punk was fighting through during his time in the company. It makes you understand why Vince is so tied to the idea that John Cena is the be all and end all to this company having success.

He did mention hope for guys like the three members of The Shield and Bray Wyatt as guys possibly able to reach for those brass rings in the future. C.M Punk claimed in his famous promo to have grabbed many of Vince’s as he called them imaginary brass rings. To suggest he was not motivated to be the best wrestler in this company would be wrong. The thing is to Vince McMahon as he stated early on in his interview he is not in pro wrestling that is what his father did. Even if you class C.M Punk under the form of sports entertainment, he still for many is one of the best at that. His promos were on another level and he was always focused on the path of his character to get to the next big challenge in front of him.

Vince McMahon in his evaluation of Cesaro kind of showed that he is not exactly the guy with all the answers and that he might not really understand what his audience wants as much as he thinks. He claims Cesaro is not a good enough talker, hasn’t built that connection with the audience. Maybe the fact he was Swiss or too European was an issue. This comes from the guy that took wrestling to a global stage.

Here is one thing about the WWE that has always been true to some extent, it is very much booked to appeal to only one nation and that is the United States of America. At times, they have thrown people in Canada and the U.K a bone with various superstars but they book with a United States focus. They clearly don’t see what Non-Americans see when they look at Rusev. Who is a patriotic guy but unfortunately happens to be for the wrong country in the eyes of America. He is booked like a baby face more than he is a heel. WWE claims to be this global brand, but has screwed Canada with a lesser version of their Network and Vince after making an apology to people in U.K once again claimed that the Network could in fact launch in U.K by start of 2015. Reality is most have turned to alternate methods to get the network by this point in both countries for simple fact they have not been treated well by the company and in effect are second class fans based on the actions of the company.

Randy Savage for the better part of 15 years has been kept out of the WWE Hall of Fame. Vince stated that he will in fact be inducted at some point if not this year than likely soon. No explanation as to why it has never happened until now. The WWE Hall of Fame has become a version of the Vince McMahon kiss my ass club and only when pressured to do so will the company attempt to bring outsiders into it. C.M Punk is likely never going into any WWE Hall of Fame unless he decides to come fix things with Vince McMahon. He will be the Randy Savage for this generation but the difference will be we will no why he isn’t being put in the Hall of Fame. There is no board or voting for the WWE Hall of Fame. You can argue that the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is more valid. Vince would never acknowledge that though as he claims to not listen to critics.

How can you listen to fans and not to critics? Can fans not be critics as well, in what they do? In addition, the people who end up covering this business our for the most part some of the most hardcore fans of the business and product that we have.

In the end both the Punk and McMahon, interviews were very interesting. It comes down to who comes off as more credible at the end of the day at that is really C.M Punk. Vince is still fascinating and interesting but at his core is a promoter and is just by nature prone to exaggerate or out and out lie. Every Wrestlemania is the biggest one ever. Every big event is some can’t miss one of a kind attraction. At the end of all of this while, there have been lots of surprises and bombshells over the last few weeks nothing has really changed my opinion on the core issues. I always felt Punk was justified in leaving and he only strengthened that belief in what he had to say. I have always believed Vince McMahon is losing touch with his audience and that was clearly on display in this interview.

Punk and Vince are likely never to get back together as McMahon leaves open to possibility. Punk is different from all of the other people that McMahon listed it off he has reconciled with. He is at his core a very disciplined individual with a moral set of values that he believes in strongly. He also seems not to be worried about scoring some kind of payday. McMahon has the one carrot that C.M Punk never got of a true Wrestlemania main event but even at this point, I think Punk wants no part of that.

What has also been made clear is the behind the scenes world of wrestling and we are not talking the crap on Total Divas has been far more compelling than the actual product.