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Vince McMahon is after our women

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Pucker up, buttercup: Vince has decreed that middle-aged men like Marty Jannetty can kiss his ass.

Pucker up, buttercup: Vince has decreed that middle-aged men like Marty Jannetty can kiss his ass.


After a financial quarter he judged to be “fair to poor,” Vince McMahon announced aggressive plans to expand the World Wrestling Entertainment audience. No, not by going after the elusive male audience who has left the promotion in droves in favor of MMA…but by targeting women. This can’t-miss-approach complements the aim toward children, whom the new PG-13 family-friendly sports entertainment product is targeted. (That explains a lot. While watching lame skits RAW—such as last Monday’s “sing-off” with Jillian and Festus, I blurted aloud, “Whom in the world is this shit written for?” Silly me—children and housewives.)

The Pro Wrestling Torch reports on McMahon’s recent conference call with investors:

McMahon said the company needs to strive to be more innovative, especially with the TV product and other business segments to draw more revenue.
McMahon spent a significant amount of time in his opening ten-minute speech discussing the company’s attempt to become “more part of mainstream America.” Part of that was the change to a PG-TV rating that has created a “safe haven for those who are entertaining associating with us.”
“We’ve been sometimes an island in the entertainment aspect at times,” McMahon said. “We’re working with business-to-business opportunities, as well as the media in general to explain what we are.”
McMahon said the cross-promotion with “The View” was an attempt to reach new audiences they haven’t gone for before.
“Not going to put any money in our pocket right now, but opens the door to more women to see the product,” he said.

This announcement is a kick in the groin (wait—better make it “mid-section”…given KFR’s family readership) to fans who long for the days when pro wrestling was treated as a parody of sport (as opposed to a parody of itself), with championships that were at least portrayed and perceived to matter. With stars who were extensions of themselves and their true personalities…with the volume turned way up, acting out coherent, logical angles and programs. But then the majority of those old-school fans left long ago.

Don’t get me wrong: Women have been a part of wrestling’s demographic for decades, especially in Jerry Jarrett’s Memphis promotion, which in the mid-’70s/early ’80s  had much success with the formula of young, good-looking babyfaces bleeding buckets and taking a beating from the heels before making their comeback. In fact, as Dave Meltzer recalled last week when discussing Jarrett’s evaluation of Watts’ struggling Mid-South promotion in 1983: The Memphis promoter reportedly informed the Cowboy that “he needed more blowjobs,” i.e., young stars like Rick Morton, Robert Gibson and Terry Taylor, who could attract starry-eyed female fans.

That’s not whom McMahon is after.

No, Vince won’t be satisfied until his product is accepted a “true slice of Americana”—packed with insurance salesmen, housewives and children. Just when the times seem to be calling for a shift back to an edgier product that treats the business seriously, Vince—and Stephanie and Shane, most likely—have once again decided to snub their noses at traditional “rasslin’” fans and reaffirm their commitment to deliver a banal, homogenized and “soulless” (as New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick recently described WWE TV) product. Hard to believe recent WWF HOFer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wouldn’t even be allowed to get over as a character today, given the nature of his beer-swillin’, cursin’ like a sailor, whip-your-ass-referencin’, ATV-ridin’ sonuvabitch.

To this day, McMahon and Hulk Hogan brag about how they took wrestling out of the dark ages—out of the stuffy, cigar-smoke-filled auditoriums crammed entirely with overweight, middle-aged men. And, to some extent, that’s true, though in many cities, wrestling’s popularity transcended age, sex, race, etc., long before Vince Jr. expanded his circus tent. But it’s middle-aged men today who have nothing to relate in today’s sports entertainment world. For Vince to think women who watch The View are a priority over men who used to watch his family’s product years ago is astounding. Oh, Vince still wants your money, rasslin’-starved men over 40—but he’s convinced the only way to get it is through home video and WWE Classics, the on-demand channel devoted to the territory days, including his most recent acquisition: the Watts family’s Mid-South Wrestling library. Damn shame.

  1. Cleatus
    May 9th, 2009 at 03:01 | #1

    “Whom in the world is this shit written for?”

    Wow, I asked myself that same question. I”m part of that “elusive male demographic” and I”ve turned my back on the product. It”s complete crap. I was pleasantly surprised by WrestleMania this year but I couldn”t make it through the entire RAW the following night. Haven”t tuned in since and don”t plan on doing so for quite some time. As long as Justin.tv is alive and kicking and people are streaming classics 24/7, there”s really no reason to watch WWE anymore. OK, so there”s the Randy Savage 3 disc set coming out this summer. But other than that, they”re starting to run out of DVDs that I”m interested in buying.

    Notice I haven”t mentioned TNA. If there”s a wrestling show out there worse than WWE, it”s iMPACT. Funny…10 years ago it was the best time in history to be a wrestling fan. Now I feel like we”re in exile.

  2. Old School Sammy
    May 9th, 2009 at 06:39 | #2

    I watch pretty much all of the Televised Wrestling that my cable company shows (so sayonara ROH, sorry—you don”t hit my cable box), and my favorite stuff is pretty much the WWE 24/7 stuff. I watch RAW regularly, and go from “it”s okay” to wildly indifferent about the product, and I watch IMPACT every Thursday night too, and it makes little to no IMPACT with me. It is indeed a crappy time to be an over 35 male wrestling fan.

    Until VKM and his little baby girl realize we true fans do NOT want homogenized pablum, and the powers that be in TNA realize we do NOT want re-hashed WWE, it”s going to be a tough time for us older wrestling fans. When I can say without gagging that Sci-Fi”s ECW is the best show weekly on TV (and now they want to “re-brand” it—GREAT!), you know there”s not much good out there…

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