Make no mistake, I understand the purpose of each and every WrestleMania is to do one thing – make money, lots of money. After all, WWE is the most expensive brand in sports entertainment because Vincent Kennedy McMahon knows how to make it. He is not a stupid man. Billionaires cannot be stupid unless all of their money is inherited. Vincent Kennedy McMahon inherited money from his father, Vincent James McMahon, that the younger McMahon made for him when he purchased the company from his father in 1982 and went international.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon has done just about everything as an owner of a wrestling organization that his father opposed. The older McMahon said owners should not be seen or heard. He said that owners should not involve themselves in matches. He opposed wrestlers branching out into other fields like music and movies. The older McMahon fired Hulk Hogan after the Hulkster signed to appear in Rocky III in 1981. Vincent J. McMahon also believed owners of wrestling organizations should honor their designated areas of the country.
As you can guess, Vincent Kennedy McMahon went right out front and became a ringside announcer to gain name recognition. He began a wrestling talk show on the USA Network so that people around the country began to recognize him. He thought Hulk Hogan’s appearance in Rocky III was great publicity for his organization’s former wrestler and quickly signed him back to the organization with intentions of making him its major star. With his talk show growing in popularity, the younger McMahon got the USA Network to give him air time for a two-hour wrestling show each week – Saturday Night’s Main Event I believe was called at the time. Vincent Kennedy McMahon was determined to go national with his brand and then international – dang the territorial boundaries.
And one thing Vincent Kennedy McMahon did that was the biggest “No-no” in the sport was he admitted professional wrestling was scripted. For you who may not understand what Vincent Kennedy McMahon was doing, he was admitting professional wrestling is not real – it’s fake. The world did a collective yawn. “Who cares?” was what followed. Professional wrestling was no different than watching a soap opera on television. The drama in both is created by a team of writers. Some storylines work. Some do not work.
I have confused most of my readers so far because I have written nothing to give you any idea why I was disappointed with WrestleMania 35. I promise I will get to that very soon.
Let me tell you one more thing that Vincent Kennedy McMahon has done better than any other promoter in the business. He adapts to change. Professional wrestling purest believe the sport should never change. Gorgeous George was basically shunned by many promoters in the early years of professional wrestling because he represented change from what was considered the norm. The ones that recognized his value made tons of money by booking him as much as possible. Vincent Kennedy McMahon understood this part of the business better than anyone. In his eyes, the more outrageous or flamboyant a wrestler was the better. Remember we got to see Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer. He saw Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, The Brooklyn Brawler, The Macho Man, Mr. Wonderful, Mr. Perfect, The Undertaker and many, many more cartoon-like characters in the early years of the organization. Why? Because Vincent Kennedy McMahon knew his financial future relies on kids. There always seems to be a comical character of some nature there among the wrestlers at WWE.
He moved on to what became known as the “Attitude Era” with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Razor Ramon, The 1-2-3 Kid, Road Dog, Billy Gunn, The Heartbreak Kid and Triple H to name a few in that time, Yet, rather than Austin spraying everyone in range with beer, I remember Kurt Angle spraying the “bad guys” with milk. Always something for the kids was what was important.
Now we are in the “PG Era” in WWE history and a new group of wrestlers are coming in and the old guard is stepping away. This gets me finally to the point I want to make about why WrestleMania 35 disappointed me. Kurt Angle lost his final professional wrestling match to Baron Corbin. What a crock of . . . you know what. A former Olympic Gold Medal athlete that gave 20 years of his life to entertaining millions of wrestling fans lost to a bum that the organization is trying to push. Of course the bun is Baron Corbin – real name Thomas Pestock who had a brief NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals. That’s it.
My disappointment stems from what I perceived as disrespect for one of sports entertainment’s all-tme greats. I was pleased to see the fans’ opinions played into which wrestlers – male or female – won titles during the event. I was pleased with John Cena going back in time to pull out the Doctor of Thuganomics identity he once used. I was pleased with Shane McMahon’s winning his match with The Miz, even though I was cheering for Miz to win. That’s enough. If I keep writing I will give away what happened in all of the matches.
But, Baron Corbin you better appreciate what Kurt Angle did for you Sunday night. He gave you a chance that few wrestlers will ever be able to talk about. Apparently he saw more in you than anyone else. Otherwise, he would never sacrifice a final opportunity to go out a winner in sports entertainment’s biggest event. Be appreciative, very, very appreciative of that sacrifice.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for
The Citizen of East Alabama.