When “Stone Cold” Steve Austin asked Vince McMahon if he’s giving the WWE fans exactly what they want during the “Stone Cold” podcast two weeks ago, I wish Austin would have followed up that question by asking McMahon what it is he thinks the WWE fans want, just so everyone could see just how clueless and out of touch McMahon is.
Every genius in any line of work has a shelf-life, and McMahon is no exception. Unfortunately for WWE fans, McMahon has stuck around as WWE’s head man for about 10 years too long.
There’s no question that McMahon isn’t giving the WWE fans what they want, and former WWE play-by-play announcer Jim Ross addressed that subject in an indirect way in one of the Road to Wrestle Kingdom 9 videos. To paraphrase, Ross said that the North American promoters aren’t giving the wrestling fans what they want, and that’s why there’s so many empty seats at wrestling shows in the United States these days.
Take something as simple as Daniel Bryan last year. WWE fans were begging for Bryan to be WWE champion. However, just because he wasn’t the guy that McMahon picked to “get over,” he did everything he could to try to bury Daniel Bryan enough to where the WWE fans no longer cared about him, much like he did to Zack Ryder. But unlike Ryder, Bryan was just too good, and after nearly half of a year of the WWE fans directly telling McMahon what they want and McMahon ignoring them, they were finally able to force his hand, and Bryan ended up winning the WWE title in the main-event of WrestleMania 30, instead of having a lame, mid-card match with Sheamus.
Let’s look at a recent event, the WWE Slammy Awards, and how Roman Reigns somehow won Superstar of the Year. Like many others, I’m of the opinion that WWE had to have just planned out all of the winners, and just told the fans their opinion mattered, and that they could vote on the WWE app. Think about this: Every other time WWE opens up voting on the WWE app, they show the results on-screen when they’re tallied. They didn’t do that for any of the awards on Monday. So, did Roman Reigns really received more votes than John Cena or Daniel Bryan? It’s unlikely, but I guess no one knows for sure. When you think about it, what did Reigns do that would make the fans vote him Superstar of the Year? Break the record for most Royal Rumble eliminations? I don’t know, it just seems like Reigns winning Superstar of the Year was a Vince McMahon call, and it’s likely the fans voted for Daniel Bryan or John Cena.
In McMahon’s conversation with Steve Austin, he came off like a clueless old man that just needs to step away. He kept telling Austin that the business has evolved, but he never gave Austin an explanation as to how WWE has evolved. Honestly, I’d like to know what’s evolved in WWE, and why it has changed. It’s still wrestling. There’s a ring, there’s an entrance way, there’s a referee, there’s announcers, there’s championships. It’s wrestling. It always will be, no matter how badly McMahon wants to change that second “w” in WWE to wide, so he can get rid of the wrestling word, and call WWE “World Wide Entertainment.” McMahon probably regrets naming WWE’s biggest event of the year WrestleMania. I’ll bet that’s one that he wishes he could go back and change.
When McMahon told Austin that the last superstar who had the ambition to go out and grab “the brass ring” was John Cena, I just shook my head. What about CM Punk? What about Batista? What about Daniel Bryan? All of those guys had, and have the ambition to grab “the brass ring,” and other than Batista, WWE has never gotten fully behind any of those guys because they weren’t the guys they wanted to be on top.
McMahon will justify that he gave CM Punk the chance to become a John Cena-level star by saying Punk held onto the WWE championship for 434 days. But, in reality, during those 434 days, Punk never once main-evented a pay-per-view unless it was against John Cena, or unless John Cena wasn’t going to be on the pay-per-view. The only exception to that is when Punk dropped the belt to The Rock, and then faced The Rock again a month later. While Punk was the champion, he was never pushed as the main guy.
Daniel Bryan would have been in the same position as Punk had he stayed healthy. WWE fans forced Vince McMahon to put Bryan in the WrestleMania 30 main event, but because he wasn’t the guy McMahon chose, instead of just going with what the fans want, McMahon was on the road to making Bryan’s title reign much like Rey Mysterio’s was back in 2006, where Mysterio lost nearly every match, much like Dolph Ziggler was doing before he lost the Intercontinental championship to Luke Harper.
The bottom line: Vince McMahon has not given the WWE fans what they’ve wanted for a very long time. I’ve made the comparison before, and I’ll make it again. Vince McMahon is a lot like former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. He used to be great, and his team was on top of the world. Then he got old, incompetent, and his team became the laughing stock of the league. It took death to get Al Davis out of the owners’ seat, and unfortunately it’ll take the same to get McMahon to relinquish his position as WWE’s head man.
[Image via WWE]