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Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Wife of WWE CEO Confirms Wrestling is Fake

a blogumn by Jersey Joe

It’s one of the most well known, yet little talked about taboos in the world of sports and entertainment.  For over 50 years the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment, has been thrilling fans with slams and moves that seem bigger than life.  Accusations have been aimed at the organization for years that the matches are rigged and the wrestling is fake.  Never before has any solid proof existed to confirm it is indeed fake, that is until Linda McMahon, wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon decided to run for Senate.  Her latest campaign commercials airing in New York flat out confirms the show is mostly scripted.

For years, the WWE wrestlers — actually “superstars” as they are supposed to called according to the company’s policy — have denied that what we were seeing in the ring is fake.  One bad interview with then ABC reporter John Stossel ended in disaster when he flat out asked wrestler Dr. D for the truth.

Since 2008, the WWE has clearly taken a more family-friendly attitude toward the show.  Some speculate that it is due to Linda’s run for congress.  The days of hard blood and adult storylines are long gone.  The biggest evidence is the show’s rating, which now carries a TV-PG.  Most dramas in prime time carry at least a TV-14 or more.  Even the cable versions of WWE’s programming are only listed as TV-PG.

According to online reports, the company has landed more sponsors and celebrity involvement now that the show is less violent.  However, these changes have not set well with many old school fans, who have turned away from the sport or have turned to their rival leagues for more action.  The WWE claims that their ratings are actually up and that women and young children are now 40% of the audience.

Superstar Triple H, nee Paul Levesque, in an interview with The New York Times, stated that he would not allow his children to watch the show during the more violent days.

“I’ve got young kids… Years ago, we were what we were, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have my young kids watch that product. We’ve evolved.”

Although, the show is more family friendly, there’s still a bit of blood and gore.  Not the massive amounts gushing down superstars faces as was common in the 90s Attitude Era.  Now it’s simply a little blood caplet and a trickle down the face.  But, that too is scripted.    Check out this video where you can clearly see the referee passing a caplet or something into the hand of Mr. Kennedy.

Linda McMahon was part of a pivotal ruling in 1989, to have wrestling deregulated as a regular sport in the state of New Jersey.  Another bill, signed into law in 1997, allows the WWE to classify it’s wrestlers as “independent contractors” as opposed to employees.  Also, the company does not have to pay $100,000 media tax for staging televised events and the wrestlers are not forced to undergo physical examinations for insurance purposes  (although the company policy says the stars do have routine exams).

On September 16, 2009, Linda announced her candidacy for U.S. Senator from the state of Connecticut and is spending $50 million of her own cash on the campaign.  Residents of the New York metro area have seen her campaign ads airing in just about every other commercial break on the local stations.  Linda is a strong opponent of the Obama administration’s economic policy and is a strong opponent to budget deficit and proposes a balanced budget amendment.  She is also a strong supporter of offshore oil drilling and is pro-choice.

So, have the changes to the WWE affected her campaign?  Most certainly, yes.  Having a family-friendly show as opposed to blood and violence can’t hurt your political image.  For me, I am a moderate wrestling fan.  I’ve attended Pay-Per-View events and watch the shows on-air from time to time.  As long as the storyline is good, I will still watch.  For me, the show was much more entertaining in the past and they seem to be running out of ideas.  Last year, I was at a Pay-Per-View event at the Nassau Coliseum, where the crowd actually began to boo a really lame talk show segment that brought the action to a dead stop.  Not good television.  I’m not saying let’s go back to the days of ripping people’s faces open with a 2 x 4, but boring babble and predictable storylines are not the way for this franchise to go.  Several former wrestlers seem to agree and have jumped ship, including Hulk Hogan and Rick Flair, to join a rival company, TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling).

TNA will most likely never have the success that the WWE sees today.  For me, the glory days for the company were back in the late 80s.  I miss the days of The Junkyard Dog, Sergeant Slaughter, and Andre the Giant.  Sure, some of the older superstars have made appearances in recent years, but the magic and the storylines from the 80s were pure gold.  This move for a more family-friendly show might mean more advertisers, but they are on the brink of eliminating their core fan base with the lame stories.  Let’s go back and see what made the storylines in the 80’s great and try to go that direction.  (and yes, even the cartoon version from back in the day was glorious, too!)

As for Linda’s ads.  As a wrestling fan, I find them a little insulting.  It’s fine that she flat out claims the shows are a soap opera and they’re not real, but she probably could have sugar-coated that a bit better for wrestling’s hard core fans.  But, that’s where she’s trapped against a brick wall.  Most of wrestling’s target audience, men (and not affluent men either) are not running to the polls to vote for her on Election Day.  She is not their target candidate.  Who is?  I have no idea.  But, she kind of had to slap the fans in the face to distance herself from the organization, or risk being the laughing stock of the election by everyone else.

As for wrestling being fake… sure, it’s scripted.  But, so are CSI, Survivor, The Family Guy, and The Apprentice.  It doesn’t make the shows any less watchable.  The wrestlers still take a pounding in the ring.  Sure, the moves are made to make it all safe, but they are still taking punches, falls, and real hits.  They pretty much know where the match is going to go and what they have to do to get it there.  It is very operatic, like a nighttime soap opera for men.  But, as a fan, I suggest just hanging on for the ride and enjoying some mindless fun.

THE 411:


Shows: WWE Raw, Friday Night Smackdown, WWE NXT, WWE Champions, and various pay per view events.

Networks: USA Network, MyNetwork TV (until fall 2010), Spike TV, WGN America, Syfy, and Pay Per View

Rating: TV-PG

Headquarters: Stanford, CT


JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Still a good show to watch for most men, still not the pick of the night for most women.  A new move to make the company more family-friendly risks the  loss of the real fans, even though viewership is up.  I think Linda’s run for the Senate is benefiting from the change in the company, but she is not the prime reason behind the programming changes.  The WWE needs to work on better storylines for the immediate future, but it’s still great entertainment and mindless fun that I suggest you watch.