The Ringside Sermon: Who Could Compete with the WWE

Dave Goold (C-Nub)

The Ringside Sermon:

Who could Compete with the WWE?

Not too long ago, my personal favorite columnist outside of myself (what, I can like myself more, he prefers himself too) Tim Sampsell (Of the Big Timboski Show) unveiled a column on why TNA was basically failing.

(you can find it here)

I won’t summarize what Tim said, because that would cost him readers who want to see what basically amounts to the first part of this column, but I will ask that if TNA is failing, who, if anyone, can compete with the WWE?

The first answer you have to look at is, well, no one. Yeah, it’s true. TNA didn’t even get close, it hired names and has a tv deal, but in terms of money, in terms of overall fanbase, it couldn’t touch the WWE at any point, and that’s all there really is to it.

No one in the industry right now can afford to spend the money that the WWE does, no one can produce the quality of commercials that they have, no one can match the salaries of it’s top guys, no one can afford it’s fleet of trucks and studio guys, the pedigree of their writers, or the prime rates they get for their advertising time.

The WWE are one of the more profitable companies in America, they are a highly successful company, and Vince McMahon has become rich in the “Impossible Sense” that he has hundreds of millions of dollars in net worth. To put that in scale, he has ten million times what most people will make in their lifetime, assuming you gross a million dollars per average lifetime in overall (pre tax) income. Nothing short of buying a nuclear power plant will bankrupt this man. He could erect a fully constructed Disney Land in his back yard if he so desire, just so that he didn’t have to wait in line.

It’s all about scope.

That said, he’s no Bill Gates, who could have a fully constructed Disney Land built on the moon if it tickled his fancy.

Tim said to me in conversation that Paul Heyman, if he could get the financial backing to start ECW up again, could. I don’t think so. First off, even if Paul Heyman was back in ECW, he had a business that went bankrupt because the only way it could stay alive was to pay guys what they had become worth, or try to, in order to keep them in the company. He had to pay talented guys not to jump ship when they could get more money elsewhere.

He paid out more money than he made.

Paul Heyman’s business model was a design for failure, it had no chance of success, because at no point did he gross more than he was paying out. The company had no money with which to build, and later, it had no money with which to afford the roster it had built. Stars like RVD and Tommy Dreamer, who came to ECW on the rebound became worth a lot more because of how well they were allowed to perform in ECW, they became too known to be worth what Paul could afford to pay them. These men are independent contractors, they aren’t family, they aren’t all brothers. They work for the money, they work to be famous and rich, that’s the dream people, and there’s no reason not to wake up from it. There’s no reason to admire these men less if you realize that they’re regular human beings, no matter how super-human they appear. They might love what they do, but they’d love it even more if they got paid more, you get it? On top of that, there isn’t an investor out there who would back Paul Heyman in the first place. I mean, look at the guy, no one he knows personally would lend him that kind of money, they know him to be the type of guy who listens in on phone conference booking meeting to get a leg up on his co-workers. The guy is a snake; you can’t trust him with your money, even if you do like him. And anyone who doesn’t know him, well, they aren’t going to be very impressed with his rap sheet. You have to understand, someone with the kind of money to invest in this isn’t going to be a novice, he’s going to look at Paul Heyman’s financial history. He’s going to see that while Heyman grew in fans, while he grew in terms of the business he attracted, his profits never grew with his expansion, and he ended up with a net loss after gross profits. He couldn’t turn his commercial viability into financial success. I ADMIT that he was a wrestling Genius, but he wasn’t a good businessman at all, and he failed to turn his wrestling know-how into success. If you doubt me, then why is he out of business today? Why did he go bankrupt, why did some of his employees not get paid? Did the WWE some how screw him out of his growing fan base? No. They hired guys away, but that saved Paul Heyman money, he no longer had to pay them, and he continued to expand in terms of raw fan attendance and interest, and yet the remaining guys on his roster still didn’t always get paid. That’s not the WWE’s fault, that’s not the even guiltier ECW’s fault, they didn’t promise these guys so much more than they could afford to be paid that even though some top guys were hired away, you still couldn’t pay your talent?!

Seriously, that’s something else right there. No one in their right mind with money should ever, ever give it to Paul Heyman.

So there will be no return to Paul Heyman in charge of ECW, unless it’s Paul Heyman booking the Vince McMahon controlled ECW, which isn’t bloody likely, even as a farm-league.

What about Ring of Honor then?

Yes, what about Ring of Honor?

I don’t think so. The WWE is very clearly aware of Ring Of Honor, which distributes WWE Merchandize on it’s website, where Mick Foley works once in a while, where Eddie Guerrero went after he got fired, where Steven Richards is working while under contract with the WWE? I wonder if, were Ring of Honor selling WWE Merchandize without consent, if there were something the WWE’s lawyers could have done about it. I wonder if Linda and Vince McMahon, who guard their wealth with deliberate viciousness in court, who’ve been to court more times than Wal-Mart (not true, it’s a metaphor) would do something about this?

Vince has a super-expensive legal team, how could he not after the Steroid Scandal, with the PTC After him, with the World Wildlife Fun suing him for the VERY name of his company… And before you say he lost, keep in mind that the World Wildlife Fund is one of the most universally donated to charities on the planet, they have a state of the art legal team too.

Vince McMahon, who engineered the ‘No-Compete’ clause in people’s contracts that outright stated that “When you’re fired, you cannot work anywhere related to our industry, as we define it, (defined in the fine print), for two years.), isn’t going to let anybody do anything without a very detailed legal agreement.

What does that mean?

That means, ladies and gentlemen, that Vince McMahon is, in some capacity, a partner with RoH. If it’s limited to them being a distributor of WWE product, if it’s a talent sharing arrangement with merchandizing rights, if it’s a contractual agreement as a farm league, or even if Vince McMahon is personally an investor, possibly even silent partner?

It’s one of them, sure, and some of them are more likely than others, no doubt about it, but it’s got to be one of them, and if it is, how is RoH a competitor? RoH offers a different product than the WWE, they offer wrestling as a boxing style promotion, where fighters are ranked and accorded title shots according to rank. Where Samoa Joe stays on top for twenty one months by beating everyone as a dominant champion, like Tyson, like Ali. Joe didn’t fight every Monday night; he fought as a boxing champion fights.

That’s not the WWE at all.

RoH is making money, RoH is a successful and growing company, and there’s no limit to how good they’ll eventually become, but Vince knows they appeal to a completely different type of fan, and if they’re not on Monday nights, if it’s not a war, then they can very peacefully and profitably co-exist.

So they aren’t eligible, being is that they currently work in some capacity or other with The WWE.

Who then? Who’s left? Japan? No, they don’t show any signs of expanding? Mexico? Hell no, they’re gods in Mexico, only ones that are coming up will be coming up because someone is payin’ them more money than they can make in Mexico.

Well, some people look at the WWE and the UFC as the same, as a couple of guys have crossed over back and forth.

If you happen to hold this opinion, than please picture a small crowd pointing at you and laughing as I explain this. Feel free to read it in a sing song voice, and I shall endeavor to render it in rhyme.

Well listen here, you sissy child,

The WWE is meek, soft and mild,

Wild the UFC is hard, real and wild.

What about Eric Bischoff?

The GM of Raw?

Oh… Well… Isn’t that a funny thought?

Isn’t it.

What if Eric Bischoff was working with Vince, being paid to work with Vince when he clearly didn’t have to, to be present just about every night on Raw, to be in the back, mostly keeping to myself, maybe… Watching…

Where did Vince beat Eric? Where did Vince finally win the Monday Night Wars? Was it on television? Was the Nation of Domination better than the n.W.o? Did Eric have the money to keep the company as edgy as he did based on what we saw on tv? Yeah, he did. Steve Austin did eventually sour, so did Attitude, Eric could have kept WCW profitable up to this point under other circumstances, even if Vince was winning the ratings war. Eric lost the fight, Eric lost WCW because of the back. Because of the boys, wrestlers who’d worked in the business for years, suddenly wised up and lawyered up, and got everything they wanted in their guaranteed money whether you show up or not contracts?

That’s what happened, guys like Hulk Hogan, Nash, Hall, Goldberg, Hart, Savage, Lex Luger, Sting, and others all got. Their lawyers put them in a position where they could be in the drivers seat of the company if they wanted to, and Eric got beat soundly by f***ing up and getting into the wrestling scene, with the women and the drinking and partying, that he didn’t stay as corporate as he should have. Hulk Hogan seduced Eric Bischoff, and gave him everything he wanted. Bischoff came out as one of Hogan’s Lieutenants on Nitro for years, Hogans’s buddies “The Disciple” (who was a chance for Hogan to try to get a rematch against the Ultimate Warrior (and who was fired shortly after it became apparent that the real Warrior was available, who came, was beat one night on PPV by the Heel Hogan, and never seen again. The Disciple, a sub-par wrestler hated in the back for the fact that he was always paid well to be on tv, so was dumped so entirely from Hogan’s inner circle that he later commited suicide with a shotgun.)

Everyone in the business says that those guys poisoned it, they never talk about how, because all those gentlemen have a way of coming back into the company. All three of the worst offenders, Nash, Hall and Hogan came to the WWE, and everyone was asking the boys how they felt, all of whom answered with the same corporate line, “It’s been a long time, maybe they’ve changed, I’ll give them a chance.”

And all of a sudden, Hall f***ed up, and he was gone. That was it, he was cut a week after a major PPV match with Steve Austin.

The whip had been cracked.

Scott Hall, who had made it onto Nitro DRUNK on the nights he bothered to show up at all, was promptly fired for violating his no-drinking clause.

Hogan played along, and actually started to achieve a partial redemption in the eyes of the fans and company alike, only to be cut when he got too demanding with his Mr. America gimmick. He was fired abruptly, he wasn’t even allowed to bow out gracefully until this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony, (presumably). Mr. Perfect was fired for getting drunk on a plane, Eddie Guerrero who’d quit WCW was fired for substance abuse, which the WCW had allowed to continue, Goldberg’s contract was allowed to expire because he was too demanding, Steve Austin was cut from TV when he wouldn’t share the rights to his Steve Austin beer with the company that made him… Nash got hurt, and the WWE paid him out in full while he was rehabbing, and saw that his attitude had improved, gave him a title shot to see if he could draw, and when he couldn’t, they paid him out, pimped his movie roll in the punisher, and parted on good terms.

Now what if Eric got it into his head to, you know, look for a business partner, someone who trusted him, someone he could empathize with.

Someone who maybe had a grudge against Vince McMahon, someone to whom Vince McMahon had once contemptuously said “That’s great Ted, I’m in the Wrestling Business.” Someone who had maybe been mocked for weeks in the Billionaire Ted skits, and then taunted openly when he had been forced out of control of his company after a merger with Time Warner? A man who maybe, just maybe, has a reputation as being stubborn and smart?

Maybe Ted Turner, who’ll be eligible legally to buy a wrestling company and promote it in 2006.

Ok, fine, Ted maybe, but why Eric?

Because Eric ran the company to a three hundred million dollar gross, that’s why. Yeah, ok, he also posted some loses, but the company overall posted loses of sixty million dollars, and most of that was after Eric was removed. Remember Vince Russo? That was the worst WCW Television ever, it wouldn’t have aired if Eric had been in control of the back. Do the math, even if you blame Eric for every cent the company lost after the point in which he’d been hired, he still made two hundred and forty million dollars. More importantly, Eric was the one who stepped up out of no where to take a regional wrestling company and take it national, on prime time, when it was sold because it was losing money?

Someone with money, lots of money, he’s a billionaire, so it’s impossible money, who’s known to be stubborn and has a legitimate grudge, and someone who not only beat the WWE for over a year straight, but someone who’s been learning from his mistakes since day one. Plus, Bischoff owns the rights to Girls Gone Wild, which isn’t much, but it’s enough to INVEST with Ted, and actually own a stake of the company so that he can be as corporate as Vincent McMahon, so he can rule with the same kind of absolute authority.

A lot of people don’t like Eric, but they’ll come for the money, and they’ll see a change in how Eric and Ted to business.

That’s the only potential group that I see competing with Vince in the near future. I hope you guys enjoyed this, it was really quite an enjoyable column to write, you’ll have to excuse the rough financial figures, I’m doing it by memory. Also, once again, this column is sort of a quasi-official follow up to Tim’s, I had the idea and most all of the content inside is mine and all of the work in his was column he did, but my ideas came from conversation with him, he got me thinking about it in the first place ya dig? I’m not going to pimp his link a second time.

That’s it for now, I should do one again near the end of March or something, quality takes time around here.

Peace and Love


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