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Name: World Wrestling Entertainment
Occupation: wrestling entertainment promotion
Last Seen: Stamford, CT
Bee-otched For: creating another XFL
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is a man of many wonderful ideas.
Despite a crippling bankruptcy at the age of 30, forcing him to work 90 hours a week in a quarry, Vinny Mac bounced back in the 1980's as the head of what was then the World Wrestling Federation. During the 1980's, the WWF gave us Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Bam Bam Bigelow, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and so much more. Vince was even the mastermind of Wrestlemania, one of the biggest pay-per-view events of all time.
But yes, Mr. McMahon is a man of bad moves, too. The World Bodybuilding Federation was a bomb and his foray into football, the Xtreme Football League (XFL) was a money-losing disaster. Now, he's finally done something that he hopes would be successful:
His own cable network.
The WWE Channel was formally announced this past week. It was originally revealed two years ago, but it was never formalized. It was McMahon's hope that he could get the channel onto basic cable systems, but that was a pipe dream. Now, WWE fans can relive all of its history as a streaming service that officially launches next month. The cost is $9.99 per month for a six-month commitment. For that 10 bucks, wrestling fans get repeats of that week's Raw and Smackdown! plus classic matches from the WWE's entire history, commentary, original shows and so much more.
Oh, there's even some 1,500 hours of old World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) programs that the network plans to air. Even better, it's all uncut and uncensored, meaning that there will be some programs on there that will be rated TV-MA (most of the WWE's shows are TV-PG). In other words, there will be some blood and sexy female wrestler boobies and thongs. Rumor has it that the channel will also air some material long-thought to have been erased from the company's history, like Chris Benoit matches and anything having to do with the company's old name, the WWF (which they changed after a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund).
But the question is, will hardcore wrestling fans - especially those that the WWE abandoned when they went from the Attitude era to the current TV-PG one that they're on now?
My answer is no. Look, I've always had a love-hate relationship with the WWE. When I was a little boy, I used to watch the Superstars of Wrestling every week. I didn't have cable, so it was my gateway to the world of sports entertainment. I played WWF video games with the neighbor kids as well.
But guess what? I became a teen. I learned that wrestling was fake. To me, Hulk Hogan was some old steroid-infested dude who did gay shit. With the steroid scandal that almost killed the business in the 1990's and Vince McMahon's career, I was happy enough that the Red Wings were winning championships.
However, I became a fan of Celebrity Death Match on MTV, and one of its "stars" was Stone Cold Steve Austin. I started seeing people with "Austin 3:16" shirts everywhere and so, I started watching again. The Attitude era saved the WWE and made it fun again. True, there was more blood and some stars died like Owen Hart, but all truth be told, Vince McMahon knew that sex, violence and whatever profanities are allowed on cable TV worked. Raw was the highest-rated show on cable and Smackdown! was the savior of the old UPN, which folded into what is now The CW. True, conservatives bashed the WWE for being to racy, but ratings = money.
Sadly, Stone Cold Steve Austin retired, Mankind Mick Foley went to TNA but is back at the WWE as an occasional, The Rock is acting and well, at least Triple H and the Undertaker are occasionally still around. But now, there's wrestlers that to me are just OK like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and total losers like John Cena who was a mastermind of making the WWE more family-friendly.
I watched their yearly Tribute to the Troops on NBC a few weeks ago, and it reminded me as to why I don't watch the WWE anymore. Stale and boring. And not only that, their PPV subscriptions are down ($50 is too steep of a price, IMO) and some cable providers are pissed. Their contract renewals for USA (Raw) and Syfy (Smackdown!) are up (both are owned by Comcast), so god only knows who will run with that.
Oh, did I tell you that Vince's kids aren't really into the family business anymore? Shane left the WWE a few years ago and Stephanie has sold almost all her shares in the company (she's also the wife of Triple H). With wife Linda's failed runs for the US Senate, it's proof that Vince McMahon is the one getting the smacketh downeth. The WWE just isn't cool anymore, and their long-time fans have all moved on. $10 per month for classic events? Thanks, but there's YouTube for that.
Vince McMahon needs to be the one who puckers up and kisses his former fans' collective asses.
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