For the last thirty years the term genius has been generously associated with Vince McMahon and with good reasons. But something has happened over the last few years to make me think differently. I think the days of calling Vince McMahon a genius are over.
I tossed around this topic a few weeks ago on The Still Real to Us podcast and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put it down on paper (or MS Word to be exact). I am not a Vince hater but I think it is time to face facts, that this man is no longer a genius.
This isn’t to take away his past accomplishments. His promotional accomplishments are historic. At his best, the man could take a simple pro wrestling storyline or star and promote them further than anyone else in his position could have. As I said earlier, the history is there. However, not all geniuses remain geniuses and Vince is no longer the smartest man in the room.
He is completely out of touch with his fan base. The proof in this is that while he does have babyfaces and heels that are over, none are over like mega stars. Fans are tuning in and out of RAW like never before, with no sign of growth in the immediate future. The big matches he promotes appeal to select niches, failing to promote a big match or big star that appeals to everyone. When is the last time he has done that?
It hasn’t been for a lack of trying. He has certainly tried to create new mega stars over the last few years. Unfortunately his golden touch has turned to rust. Jack Swagger, CM Punk, The Miz, R-Truth, Mark Henry, and Sheamus are all guys that he has tried to push to the elite level in recent years. Success has been mixed but none have turned into the mega stars that they would have years ago with the same kind of promotional push His failures haven’t been for a lack of trying, he just can’t seem to pull it off.
The booking is beyond atrocious. Even casual wrestling fans who know very little about pro wrestling can see the flaws in the week to week booking. Just this past Monday, John Cena was booked to beat down the same two guys he supposedly needs help to beat on pay per view. On the other show, you have the guy going into WrestleMania challenging the champion being squashed by the current champion. These are just this week’s examples, but a look back at weekly booking decisions would have you convinced that Vince’s limousine driver was booking RAW. No genius would certainly book his television like this right?
It just bothers me when I see or read people continue to promote Vince as this mastermind in pro wrestling. He’s not! A real genius evolves with continued success for decades after his first strike. Steven Spielberg and Steve Jobs are two geniuses that immediately come to mind that continued coming up with great ideas past their initial peak of success. Vince hasn’t had a real success in over five years.
Is it age? Maybe it is. The man is 66 years old. It is hard to imagine Vince being in tune with his young audience at 66? On the other hand, a genius would surround himself with people who are, and those people could help craft his “genius” ideas to hit the mark with his younger audience. That hasn’t happened in a long time in the WWE.
So the next time you label Vince McMahon a genius, stop to think for a second about what this genius has accomplished over the last several years. Stop to think about how well he has prepared his company for the future. Stop to think about how long it has been, since Vince McMahon has truly came up with a genius idea.