Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- World Wrestling Entertainment and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are going head-to-head for the second time ever this Monday night, but it's not a battle of the same magnitude as their first-ever head-to-head showdown. Spike TV scheduled the UFC's live two-hour show to run from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM, instead of the previous timeslot of 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM from October 3, 2005. With the later timeslot, only half of the UFC show will be going head-to-head with WWE Raw.
So, if WWE just happens to run all of its hotshot angles and major matches in the 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM hour this week and appears to neglect the 9:00 PM hour in comparison, it will not be a coincidence.
Already, WWE has announced Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels in what is supposedly the final match of their classic series. (Speaking of Angle, WWE decided to move Angle to Smackdown and give him the world title/top position on that brand, despite the fact that absolutely no one in the wrestling business would be surprised if Angle died tomorrow due to his health issues, and he should not be allowed to step foot in a wrestling ring until he gets the help that he needs.)
WWE has also announced new champion Edge vs. Ric Flair in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Even though pro wrestling is worked, TLC matches are very risky due to the dangerous bumps involved in such a match. That's true for normal, healthy pro wrestlers... add in the fact that Edge has a torn pectoral muscle, and it doesn't make sense to book that match. On top of that, add in the fact that Ric Flair is a 56-year-old man with a broken neck and herniated disks in his back, and it's downright irresponsible for WWE management to book that match.
Hopefully it's just another bait-and-switch tactic and WWE doesn't actually put these two wrestlers in harm's way. As Bruce Mitchell put it on the Pro Wrestling Torch's VIP Forum, "If you needed further evidence that Stephanie and Vince McMahon don't give a damn abut what happens to their WWE 'family,' now comes word they've booked one wrestler with a serious back injury against a fifty-six-year-old with a broken back and a broken neck in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match with two days notice."
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Vince McMahon would over-react to the fact that he's facing head-to-head competition this Monday. One of the most overlooked stories of 2005 is how truly insane it made Vince McMahon when Spike TV booked the UFC to go head-to-head with Raw on WWE's first night back on USA Network. WWE blew through at least six months' worth of big-name returns, angles, matches, and special guest appearances in one night.
Then there's the fact that WWE offered a UFC announcer who admittedly knows nothing about pro wrestling a $500,000-per-year contract to jump to WWE (plus a huge bonus if he double-crossed the UFC by showing up on Raw without giving the UFC any notice), and when they got turned down they still pulled the trigger on the planned firing of Jim Ross even though they had no replacement for Ross. The company's subsequent horrible treatment of Jim Ross, including making fun of his real-life cancer scare and Bell's Palsy, led to a major falling out with WWE's biggest star of all time, Steve Austin, who is now considered unlikely to make a WrestleMania appearance as a result. Vince McMahon's over-reaction to one night of head-to-head competition cost his company millions of dollars in potential revenue.
The January 16th UFC show is not viewed as an equally big deal by WWE because it's no longer "the first time" something like this is happening, and it's only a head-to-head battle for one hour of Raw, but there is definitely still some over-reaction going on within WWE.
On the larger issue of how WWE deals with competition, it's ironic that WWE once sued Time Warner and WCW for "predatory business tactics." WWE only knows of one way to react to anything that it perceives as competition, as evidenced by the Wrestling Observer news item about the order coming down from the top (ie, Vince McMahon) for WWE to sign absolutely anyone who TNA is interested in signing, then bury those wrestlers and saddle them with long no-compete clauses when they eventually get released, so that they will be seen as damaged goods by the time they become available to TNA or any other pro wrestling competition.
The Observer specifically mentioned Frankie Kazarian and James Gibson (aka Jamie Noble) as fitting into this category, and one can safely assume that Brian Kendrick and the recently re-signed Charlie Haas also fit that bill. The fact that WWE is suddenly showing interest in Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong is also likely just their attempt to squash any competition, although Strong is under contract to TNA.
When Mick Foley and Matt Hardy were free agents who were each on the verge of signing with TNA in mid-2005, WWE paid Foley and Hardy a lot more than they would have otherwise paid them, largely just to keep them away from TNA.
Hopefully, the fact that Foley and Hardy have subsequently been buried on WWE television, as well as the Observer's disclosure of WWE's new signing policies, will lead to more wrestlers joining the likes of AJ Styles and Christian in flat-out turning down WWE contract offers in order to sign with TNA.