Over the past week, there has been a lot of talk concerning last Monday's Raw program. Many wrestling commentators, and journalists suggest that the World Wrestling Federation is guilty of utilizing the bait and switch tactic on whom I consider to be the lifeblood of the sport, the fans. Still others suggest that McMahon and company kept to their words in showing clips of this year's Royal Rumble. After all, they did promise shots from the Rumble, and they delivered.
To all those who truly believe that the WWF delivered last Monday night, please allow me the opportunity to sell you the WWF title belt I once wore, as my days as Hulk Hogan in the WWF. Ok. Ok. Maybe that was a bit harsh, but I can't see how any true understander of wrestling, as well as any fan can honestly say that McMahon was a man of his word last Monday night. To illustrate my point, I will make mention of the promo that aired the week proceeding the raw broadcast. The promo talked about how not since 1989 has the WWF shown a Royal rumble match on Television. Of course since the beginning of the Royal Rumble in 1988, WWF television programing has shown highlights of this event every year, on all their family of programs. Therefore, the fans including myself thought since such a big deal was made of this occurrence, we were going to get the Rumble match. Of course, since I was able to watch the PPV on scramblevision, I could care less that they were going to show any part of the Royal Rumble on national television.
The more I examine what the WWF did last Monday, the more I am finding an underlying issue mixed up with all of this. The bait and switch tactic has been around longer than Fred Blassey, and not many things can make that claim. It is a form of ruthless business, and it is quite evident in many businesses. The real issue, at least to me, is the WWF's continuing lack of covering up their own mistakes.
If the WWF is guilty of anything, it is bad planning in the case of accidents. Does anyone remember in 1985 a certain Rick Mcgraw issuing a challenge to Roddy Piper on Piper's Pit? The challenge was accepted, and the match was to take place the following week on Superstars of Wrestling. As many fans know, McGraw would die before the challenge was to take place, due to some drug problem. If one looks back to the way the WWF handled this situation, no mention was made of the untimely death of McGraw at all. I am aware that the WWF probably didn't want to divulge the cause of death, since they at that time were really pushing the younger market to "train, say their prayers and take their vitamins." The show went on with a completely different match, and the fans were left to wonder.
Does anyone remember in I believe it was 1990, when a masked wrestler would come out of the dressing room and attack heels such as Rick Martel? This trend went on for about three weeks, and then it was dropped and swept under the rug. Another similar thing happened with Bob Sparkplug Holly. One week he was Thermond Sparky Plug, and then, wham! He was Bob Holly. Why?
Perhaps the most amusing of all these botched angles was the one involving Harley Race in 1988. Race Wrestled Hulk Hogan in a match in March of that year. Race would show his ECW side, by breaking a table in half with his head, in his attempt to finish off the Hulk. In may of that same year, Bobby Heenan began hinting around that Race was layed up as a result of that match.
I would like to make a few points about that match. First, after the breaking of the table, Race went back into the ring, and maintained control over Hogan, even landing a headbut from the top rope. Also, Race would go to Wrestlemainia IV and participate in the Battle Royal that opened the event. When it appeared that race had had enough of the WWF, McMahon and company had to come up with something to keep the King of Wrestling Title a part of the Federation. They used that match as the point of reference. Anyone who knew anything about wrestling probably shook their heads and laughed at this attempt of a coverup.
While we are on the subject of the WWF and mistakes they have made, why can't anyone do anything about the opening of each of their family of programs? "The World Wrestling Federation. For over fifty years, the revolutionary force in sports entertainment!" Hmmm. There is something wrong with this picture. The WWF came into being in 1963. Even if we give the WWF the benefit of the doubt and say maybe it started up a year previous, that still puts the federation about 10 years behind their assessment. Correct me if I am mistaken here, but I think this is still 1997?
And with that, the Eye is closed until next time.
Jeremy Hartley is a regular contributor to Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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