You’ve more than likely heard the story by now. Vince McMahon offered a huge announcing contract to Mike Goldberg, who has been the UFC’s play-by-play man for many years. The multi-year WWE contract that was offered to Goldberg had a total value of more than $1 million over the life of the contract, and it was offered to Goldberg partially as an attempt by WWE to hurt the UFC, and partially because WWE already planned to fire its own long-time play-by-play man, Jim Ross, due to the fact that Ross has Bell’s Palsy and is not as physically “attractive” as WWE would like. Goldberg seriously considered WWE’s offer, before ultimately re-signing with the UFC.
However, there is more to the story, and these additional details shine a bright light on just how dirty Vince McMahon’s business tactics can be when he thinks of himself as being “at war” with another organization. Vince McMahon’s original plan was to secretly sign Mike Goldberg before the WWE vs. UFC showdown on October 3rd, and then have Mike Goldberg no-show the UFC event without notice, according to a report by the Wrestling Observer.
If McMahon’s plan had gone as he hoped, the UFC would not have heard from Mike Goldberg at all on October 3rd, and would not even have known where he was. Goldberg would have no-showed the UFC event, and Zuffa would have found out that Goldberg had signed with WWE by seeing him appear on live television as the lead announcer of WWE Raw on USA Network that same night.
By doing this, Vince McMahon would have not only signed Mike Goldberg away from the UFC, but he would have left the UFC with literally zero notice to find someone to do play-by-play on the UFC’s live broadcast on Spike TV. And while this detail wasn’t part of the Observer’s report, sources tell MMAWeekly that WWE was ready and willing to pay Mike Goldberg a one-time bonus in the high five-figures (possibly even as much as $100,000) simply for the act of no-showing the UFC event without notice in order to sign with WWE.
So, why didn’t the double-cross take place as Vince McMahon wanted it to? Quite simply, because not everyone thinks like Vince McMahon does, and Mike Goldberg is a decent human being who wouldn’t do something like that. As the Observer reported, “The only reason it didn’t go down as planned by McMahon is because Goldberg was professional enough to refuse to no-show the UFC event.”
Not only did Goldberg refuse to double-cross the UFC by no-showing the October 3rd event without notice, but when he arrived in Las Vegas for the UFC event on October 3rd, he told Zuffa about the double-cross offer that had been made by WWE.
At that point, with Goldberg fulfilling his play-by-play duties on the UFC’s October 3rd Spike TV show, while also missing the October 7th UFC pay-per-view because of a previous committment, Goldberg would spend much of the next week trying to decide whether he was going to sign with WWE or re-sign with the UFC, and he eventually decided to re-sign with the UFC.
Promotional tactics like this are nothing new from Vince McMahon, as numerous pro wrestling promoters from the 1980’s and 1990’s could tell you. When McMahon views himself as being in competition with an organization, he will do anything to hurt that organization. The Observer report on McMahon’s offer to Mike Goldberg stated that WWE deemed it to be extremely important to “send a message to its competitors and get the paranoid mind games advantage.”
The Observer also reported that despite Vince McMahon’s long history of doing these kinds of things, Zuffa was completely naive about it and didn’t think such a thing could happen to them. The Observer reports that the whole experience with the Goldberg double-cross offer from WWE was “a major eye-opening for the UFC, as those in the company had largely believed it was bullet-proof from McMahon’s direct business attacks because of the difference in the product.”
In reality, if Vince McMahon thinks he’s at war with you, then he’s at war with you, regardless of whether you’re running a pro wrestling company or an MMA company. Further evidence of WWE aggressively going after the UFC was the fact that the “WWE Homecoming” special re-aired on USA Network last Friday night at 10:00 PM, not-so-coincidentally head-to-head with the UFC’s pay-per-view.
In the process of finding someone to do play-by-play for the October 7th UFC show, Zuffa kept Craig Hummer’s name very quiet because it was widely believed in both the pro wrestling and MMA industries that WWE would have offered Hummer a very large amount of money (likely well into five-figures) not even to work for WWE, but simply to no-show the UFC’s pay-per-view without notice. Hummer did the UFC pay-per-view as scheduled on Friday night, so either WWE couldn’t get in touch with him on Friday, or they did get in touch with him but he turned down their offer.
MMAWeekly.com also just posted an interview with Goldberg. Here are some comments:
“They contacted me through a talent agency six weeks ago…” Goldberg told MMAWeekly.com. “I got the message through my agent, that they had a great interest in me and I’ve always heard they were a great organization so they were interested in talking to me and I was interested in hearing what they had to say.”
“I was skeptical leaving everything I’ve done for years, meaning the UFC and my sports broadcasting background with Fox Sports Network. I was not really skeptical of the WWE though. They treated me with great class through the whole thing. They are the best at what they do which is sports entertainment. I believe the UFC is the best at what they do and that’s Mixed Martial Arts. What I was originally hopeful for was that I could still have a role with F.S.N and the UFC and begin a role with the WWE. I wanted to see what my other employers would say about working for both companies, because at the time the WWE was still with Spike TV, as was the UFC. When it got latter in the process I found out I would have to leave my other things and make a decision one way or another.” Goldberg said.
So after a six week negotiation period with the WWE, Goldberg verbally accepted a deal with the WWE. “We agreed to financial terms at one point, but we still had to work some things out contract wise. I never signed anything however. If I signed a contract I would have been with them. That’s how I do business. If I sign something I stand by it.”