Archive for February 19th, 2010

Linda McMahon’s WWE Needs a Declaration of Dependence

James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch has a good analysis of a New York Times article about President Obama’s position on taking on companies that abuse the category of independent contractors for what are really regular employees, and what it could mean for World Wrestling Entertainment. See http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_39191.shtml (which includes a link to the root Times story).

Readers of this blog will recall that I included a question on independent contractor reform in a hypothetical list that I hoped Rick Green of the Hartford Courant would raise when he interviewed Linda McMahon last week.

Irv Muchnick

Will ‘Heel’ Vince McMahon Turn ‘Babyface’ After WrestleMania to Support Linda’s Campaign?

On Raw, Linda McMahon’s husband Vince, the hated potentate of their World Wrestling Entertainment, has “broken the leg” of poor, lovable Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

Where all this leads, of course, is to a “street fight” at WrestleMania on March 28. It will come a scant three days after my book signing at Borders in Stamford for CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, and a day after my similar event at the Borders in Farmington.

At the big show, this explosive feud, simmering for a dozen years, should have its “blowoff.” Vince will get beaten to within an inch of his life, sending home happy the more than 60,000 fans in attendance at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona and the more than a million who forked out $44.95 to watch it on pay-per-view.

But is that really the end? Hardly. In wrestling, as in politics, storylines never completely resolve. They grow, they fester, they evolve.  And right now the first family of WWE has its eye on the prize: a U.S. Senate seat for the Über-Carny herself, Linda McMahon.

So what makes the most sense to me is that, right after WrestleMania – perhaps as a subtle consequence of something planted within that show itself – “Mr. McMahon” somehow remakes himself again as a good guy. In wrestling parlance, the “heel” will become a “babyface,” turning all the hatred and heat inside-out in service of a new feud and a new agenda.

Predicting wrestling storylines is, quite literally, a fool’s errand. After all, McMahon vs. Hart pits a 64-year-old professional exhibitionist against a 52-year-old ex-wrestler who has made it as far back as you can come from a 2002 stroke that partially paralyzed him. At WrestleMania, one or both could sustain a fake coronary or cerebral thrombosis – or a real one. (I’m sure neither minds my teasing the possibility; it sells tickets.)

Moreover, any smart wrestling promoter (or prognosticator) knows the limitations of “the power of the pencil.” In other words, you can’t script the future. You can only show off your focus groups to Kevin Rennie, then go with the flow.

There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that the Booking 101 playbook calls for Vince McMahon to make the big switch this spring. Wrestling demands it. So does his wife’s campaign. So does his wife’s campaign’s sinecure press spokesperson’s husband — the state Republican Party chairman, who is drooling over what else Linda’s $50 million self-funded campaign can buy.

Through an intermediary, a spokesman for the Taliban declined to comment.

Irv Muchnick


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