While working on news
stories for the two major wrestling organizations, I find I learn more than I
ever wanted to know about the inner workings of wrestling – outside of the
ring and into the world of the corporate offices.
In the short time I have been monitoring
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) news and rumors, it becomes more confusing
every day. Wrestlers are being terminated right and left, suspended, or not
suspended even if they should have been, ratings are down, story lines have
reached an all time low and the last pay per view has the worst reviews of the
With the ghosts of deceased
wrestlers hanging over his head, Vincent Kennedy McMahon rolled the dice and
blew it. He and his staff somehow managed to believe that the Signature Pharmacy
client list would be kept under wraps until Mr. McMahon decided to release it.
The Signature Pharmacy list is not now nor has it ever been the property of WWE.
WWE doesn’t get to say who does and doesn’t know who is on the list and when
and where those names may be released.
The first mistake WWE made
was to believe they are in charge and the world revolves around their mandates.
The plan appears to have been to work WWE Signature Pharmacy client suspensions
into the story lines of Smackdown, ECW and Raw and no one would be the wiser.
None of the wrestlers would be found out until the suspensions were over
– WWE was going to “name names” after the first of November. The client
list became public and every wrestling fan was aware which wrestlers should be
suspended and why. No nice neat package all wrapped up in pretty paper for WWE
to hand to the fans.
Adding to the frustration
of loyal WWE fans, two of the suspended wrestlers had let the public know how
anti drug they were. These two
interviews came out before the client list had been released. Being suspended as
clients of Signature Pharmacy punished William Regal and Mr. Kennedy. They were
not punished for obvious falsehoods. Fans of Regal and Kennedy are still waiting
for an apology from the fibbing duo. Vince McMahon himself showed up with a
story line to poke fun at Congressional and the pending investigation.
WWE’s main goal became
CYA by slapping gag orders on its entire roster and staff to eliminate any
discussions of drug use either past or present in the organization. WWE issued
official denials, denials and more denials. The weekly WWE shows began to lose
viewers amid terminations of employees that were not big parts of the ring. And
we have the one roster member who was on the client list and managed to avoid
suspension all together. That did not, however, make this wrestler a nice guy.
While his employment should have been hanging by a thread and the love of
the fans, he managed to steal a sim card from a fan’s camera outside of the
By ignoring this
wrestler’s behavior, WWE has proved it isn’t who you are or even whom you
know. In the eyes of WWE’s
corporate boardroom, your employment does not hinge on abuse of drugs or bad
behavior in front of the fans, it comes down to how much money you bring into
the corporation. If this particular wrestler had been a member of the road crew
or creative team, he would have been out the door.
Now with his name as a purchaser of Signature Pharmacy’s drugs,
previous suspensions and trouble making, he shows up every week on television
and is headlining pay per views. WWE talent who could easily have been used at
Unforgiven were used in dark matches or not used at all.
I doubt WWE will pay
attention to the fans concerns until WWE stocks drops drastically, box office
and cable purchases go by the wayside and merchandise sales hit close to zero.
There has been no announcement from WWE regarding the ill planned and produced
pay per view called Unforgiven and there is no indication the weekly shows are
slated to improve.
The House Subcommittee on
Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will begin its hearings on September 24,
2007. Will WWE be ready to defend its actions regarding withholding suspensions
until story lines could be created to cover the gaps, the refusal to suspend
wrestlers who were obviously on the Signature Pharmacy client list, and to
explain how not one person on the corporate level realized there was a problem?