So, I hear Vince McMahon is finished.
The man who survived a rigged limo explosion, and then somehow staved off death when the “Million Dollar Mania” set fell on him is putting himself out to pasture.
I don’t know; something doesn’t seem right.
You mean to tell me that the man who’s spent the last twelve years developing diabolical schemes to bring down the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, DX, and others, is simply just exiting stage left? The man who openly flaunted his corporate muscle by ogling and ravishing his female employees on live television is going away with barely a whimper?
I don’t know, I guess I’m just disappointed by the meekness of it.
Vince McMahon, for my money, is the most hideously fascinating performer in my lifetime of watching wrestling. There has never been anyone else who has forced me to sit there and not change the channel like the WWE Chairman.
There’s no secret to his unusual charm: the man is a self-assured menace. Even when he’s ranting and raving in his gravelly, spit-laden voice, he’s always in total control of the situation. Have you ever seen anyone else completely lose their mind and not look awkward doing it? If advanced senility hadn’t stripped Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper of their senses, then they’d contend with Vinnie Mac.
But no. Vince stands alone.
The Vince I remember was the one on commentary, who promoted his product with an endless supply of zeal. He was the carnival barker clad in powder blue, sitting in the commentary booth with the likes of Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, and others, defending the virtues of the hard working good guys, while his partner would carry the torch for WWF’s nefarious villains.
It’s hard to believe that, after the Attitude era, I’d remember Vince more for his “babyface” side. But it was there that Vince was at his purest: selling you the wrestling product.
It’s been said that the WWF was nothing more than a giant cartoon, especially from detractors who preferred NWA and AWA wrestling.
I’m sorry, which one is still in business?
With the WWF as said “cartoon”, there was Vince McMahon on headset, selling you the characters. If it were a babyface, he’d excitedly holler about the impressive moves and presence on display, often remarking about what a bright future the superstar had. If it were a heel, he’d demonstrate guttural aghast at the cheating, treachery, arrogance and sadism on display.
Ever wonder why so many WWF fans thought that wrestling was real?
It’s because it seemed like the lead announcer thought it was real too.
Michael Cole, while an accomplished journalist with a resume and credentials that would make most CNN and Fox News anchors cower with envy, is not Vince McMahon.
Neither is Todd Grisham. Nor are Kevin Kelly or Josh Mathews. Mike Tenay will never equal him. Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson don’t come close. Joey Styles? Forget it. Bobby Cruise? Not a chance.
Gorilla Monsoon has long since passed on, and Jim Ross is moving on with his life and career.
Do you know what I think?
I think now’s the time for Vince McMahon to return to commentary.
Now, this may sound like a random concept, since Vince hasn’t been a regular announcer since 1997, but please, bear with me here.
I had such an epiphany on the night of November 23, 2009, when Raw’s guest host Jesse Ventura roped Vince into performing commentary on the main event battle royal with him. In a world where nostalgia tugs at our hearts and wallets, it brought a refreshing taste to my pallet to see old Vinnie Mac, tuxedo and all, at ringside with the former Minnesota Governor.
During the battle royal, glimmers of the Vince of old shone through. While he was no doubt rusty, working with Ventura, who hadn’t done commentary since 1994 and knew little of the current WWE product, there were moments in which Vince sounded like, well, like Vince.
Hearing him complain about Randy Orton lurking outside the ring instead of competing inside, not to mention getting whipped into a frenzy at Kofi Kingston hanging on for dear life over the ropes, I don’t know, it’s just such a fresh feel to months and months of Michael Cole fake laughing and low talking about how great Monday Night Raw is.
So tell me, why CAN’T Vince come back? Who would be against this?
I don’t know who could provide a dissenting opinion, but, in the meantime, let me make my argument further.
SALESMANSHIP: PPV buyrates haven’t been as good as they once were, and that’s a fact. Of course, there are many factors in play here, including a poor economy and a spike in internet torrent piracy, but many will argue that the product just isn’t as good as the Rock n Wrestling era or the Attitude era. With many big stars having moved on, Michael Cole and Todd Grisham are entrusted to get over the modern up-and-comers and sell them to the audience.
Such characters include Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, The Miz, John Morrison, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, R-Truth, Drew McIntyre, and others. This is the group, like em now or not, that will be WWE’s upper echelon within 2-3 years. Guys like Edge, Cena, Orton, Rey, and others will still be there, but this is the younger class that needs to be integrated and ingrained upon the customers.
Do you really think Michael Cole can sell any of them to us?
No. But Vince can.
Vince McMahon can sell you Sheamus’ disturbingly raw power. He can convince you that there is nobody on this planet more annoying than The Miz. He can have you believe that no cooler cat prowls the galaxy like John Morrison.
That’s because Vince McMahon is the biggest WWE fan there is. He once said to a group of reporters at the premiere of the ill-fated “No Holds Barred” movie that you have to wear your company on your back. Vince has certainly done just that.
Besides, remember Vince’s in-ring interviews? These were a staple of Monday Night Raw during its infancy. Since McMahon knows what to get over, how he needs to get it over, and such, why not put him in the ring and have him ask the questions of the talent?
His facial expressions alone are a great storyteller. From disgust (“I can’t BELIEVE Sheamus supports the IRA!”) to fear (“No, Sheamus, please don’t bring the IRA to Raw!) to mirth (“Imagine of the IRA stormed Phil Mushnick’s house….”), Vince conveys what the wrestler is saying and doing with his eyes and mannerisms, which is a far cry from the benign stylings of Cole and Grisham.
COMEDY VALUE: As an announcer, Vince may have been a maven at selling the product, but he also sold us something else: laughs.
Anyone else who remembers Vince McMahon as a broadcaster remembers his heaving, grunting voice bellowing the action, talking rapidfire, sounding like Sasquatch on cocaine. He would yell “WHAT A MANEUVER” in lieu of saying the move name, usually because he didn’t know what the move was called. The only move he WOULD say is the back drop, but he wouldn’t call it a back drop.
No, it was “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK BODY DROP!”.
He would get so pissed off whenever a heel would do anything remotely illegal, and Vince would scream “DISQUALIFY EM, REFEREE!”.
On the other hand, Vince has a patented yuk-yuk laugh that would be on display whenever a commentary partner said anything vaguely funny, or when a babyface did something silly to embarrass the heel, as infantile as it was. It makes you wonder just how hard Vince laughs when watching old comedy specials of Gallagher.
Also, who could forget his erroneous counting during pinfall attempts? The man being covered could kick out about a year before “3”, and Vince would be screaming “YES YES HE GOT EM! HE GOT EM!” like a methed-up, senile George Burns.
Of course, he also had a habit of overdoing it whenever a babyface won a big match. In the cases of Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels, his outright cheerleading for them bordered on embarrassing at times, and led many to believe that Vince was Shawn’s secret boyfriend. Of course, many of us disagree, and we believe that Vince was Shawn’s NOT-SO-secret boyfriend.
In other words, try to imagine the following things being said on Monday Night Raw in 2010.
“Carlito….looking to maybe set up Morrison for the finish, here-comes-da Backst—NO, WAITAMINNIT—NO, IT’S STARSHIP PAIN! STARSHIP PAIN ON CARLITO! ONE, TWO, AND HE GETS HIM!”
“Yoshi Tatsu now, setting up Regal, what’s this….Regal seated up top, Tatsu up behind him, oh, wait just a moment now….WOAH! WHAT A MANEUVER BY Tatsu! AND REGAL’S IN A WORLD OF TROUBLE FOR SURE!”
“Ryder with R-Truth dazed, he charges off, Truth now, ducks the clothesline—BAAAAAAAAAACK BODY DROP!”
“Orton setting up for that RKO, he hooks Dibiase—oh a rake of the eyes by Ted Dibiase! DISQUALIFY HIM REFEREE!”
“(raspy) CHRIS JERICHO AND THE MIZ ARE ASSAULTING BRET HART! AND FOR WHAT?! THIS IS THE BIGGEST DISGRACE IN THE HISTORY OF—(suddenly high strung) WAITAMINNIT, THE HART DYNASTY! THE WWE UNIFIED TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS ARE HERE, A ND THEY’VE CLEANED HOUSE OF JERICHO AND MIZ! THE SAVE MADE BY THE HART DYNASTY!”
“Batista has Cena now, he’s not gonna get up from this! BATIS—CENA DROPS DOWN! HE HAS HIM UP, YES! YES! ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT! CENA COVERS! ONE…TWO….THREE! CENA WINS IT! CENA WINS THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP! OF ALL THE TIMES CENA WAS DOWN AND APPARENTLY OUT, IT TOOK GUTS, IT TOOK INTESTINAL FORTITUDE, IT TOOK DEFYING THE ODDS, BUT JOHN CENA, THE DOCTOR OF THUGANOMICS, HAS PUT BATISTA AWAY AND HE IS STANDING TALL AS THE NEW WWE CHAMPION!”
I mean, wouldn’t you love to hear this again?
Now I know, Vince has his share of detractors. Back in the day, there were a good number of “smarks” who abhorred Vince for his clownish and over-the-top style.
But what’s the alternative?
Jim Ross likely isn’t coming back to commentary, so we’re stuck with Michael Cole.
Think about it.
Michael Cole’s borderline comatose announcing, his overly matter-of-fact and placid demeanor during important moments, it takes you out of the action. His phoniness when Jerry Lawler makes a bad joke or Great Khali and Hornswoggle participate in some lame comedy bit are grating. His robotic shilling of the company line is frustratingly bad.
At least with McMahon on headset, he buys into the action. He may go too far, but he buys into it.
Suppose you’re attending a PPV party with friends, and there’s five of you seated in the living room for this show. Would you rather spend three hours bored out of your mind, sprawled out on the furniture like a crime scene victim, drained of all of your energy?
Or would you rather buy into the $40 event? Wouldn’t you like to be enthralled, start to finish, enjoying what you’re watching with great immensity? Wouldn’t you want to laugh and cheer and get sucked in with your friends, enjoying a monthly experience that you can look forward to weeks in advance while you work and live your life?
Option B is the world that Vince McMahon can provide you.
So let’s politick and start petitions and make our voices heard. Let’s have Cole relegated to selling piddle pads on QVC at 3:30 in the morning, and let’s put Vince McMahon back where he belongs: at ringside, on headset, broadcasting the sights, sounds, and stories of the WWE to the world.
And if I didn’t convince you, then I’ll have Vince himself rewrite my article.
And if he can’t win you over, no one can.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer who enjoys putting his thoughts and opinions into text. His love of professional wrestling, as well as enjoyment of writing, has led to the creation of the Cynical Examination, his personal writing haven. Justin can be found on Facebook, Twitter, his website portfolio, or he can be e-mailed at [email protected].
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