On The Ropes: Creating Opposition

Hello ladies and gentleman and welcome to yet another edition of the one and only “On The Ropes” series by yours truly. It’s been a while, indeed it has, and A LOT has happened since my last column. We’ve seen a Tough Enough competitor nearly injure an Olympic gold medallist, a whole host of talent has been released and for good measure, there has been few PPV’s in the middle. Folks, this is just about to get interesting. Ladies and gentleman, please get ready, as you are about to be put “One The Ropes”.

On The Ropes – Creating Opposition

Back when ECW was breaking tables and the nWo was earning WCW a fortune, WWE had opposition. WWE might have been streets ahead of ECW financially and WCW might have been going down hill, but WWE still had opposition. Look to December 2004, and wrestling in general, has nobody to challenge WWE. TNA may have had a PPV, RoH might be having some great matches and 3PW is improving, but still, WWE has no competition in the world today.

Vince McMahon knows this and he isn’t an idiot. When he bought WCW and ECW back in 2001, he knew that he had potentially hurt wrestling in general, but in the interest of Vince, this was fantastic, in his eyes, he was “the man”, he had defeated his rivals. Paul Heyman, Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and more, all said it would never happen. No matter what, WWE would always have competition. WWE would always have an ECW or a WCW to bite them on the ass if they fell out of line. Not anymore. Indeed, not anymore.

Over the past three years, WWE in general, has become somewhat of a shadow of its former self. We no longer see the WCW gimmick rip off’s or the DX invasions or the patriotic WWE interviews, instead we see the miscarriage storylines and face turns in a day. Vince knows something is wrong, Vince knows WWE is going downhill. How do I know? Let’s just take a look.

The UFC fighter

When a UFC fighter was rumoured to have applied for the Tough Enough contest, eyebrows were raised almost immediately. Would WWE, a company which prided itself on being “entertainment based” allow a former caged fighter to be on there television show? Apparently not. Or so we were led to believe. WWE leaked a “fake” press release announcing the seven names of the Tough Enough contestants. When a certain UFC fighter was missing from the list, internet wrestling fans began to think about the “what if” factor. What if this fighter stepped in the ring with a WWE wrestler? What if he was part of Tough Enough?

WWE realised almost immediately that this fighter had created quite a stir in some parts of the IWC. They needed him on this show. Despite them previously releasing a “fake” press release, WWE was still mixing and matching over a dozen final names. The gossip of the UFC fighter, gave WWE the urge to pick up this guy, and after much concern, they did, they went with Daniel Puder, a 6ft 2inches former UFC caged fighter from Sunnyvale, CA.

The competition started, and for Puder, it started with an almighty bang. After being eliminated from the weekly task, WWE Superstar and Olympic Gold Medallist Kurt Angle, challenged any one of the Tough Enough competitors to step in the ring with him, after he had just defeated a fellow contestant. Puder, with a perfect MMA record in shoot fighting, challenged Angle. After years of debating over UFC and wrestling, we were possibly about to get answer on which is legitamte. Here we had an Olympic gold medalist at amateur wrestling versus a former caged shoot fighter. Indeed, my knees are knocking right now, the prospect of it all, is too much to bare. Of course, we all know what happened from here. Puder made Angle look somewhat of a fool and the referee had to stop the thing quick before it became uncontrollable.

The real story in this, for me, was the chanting of “UFC” throughout. This might sound a bit melodramatic or something, but think about it logically. Vince McMahon is feeding WWE fans a competitor who made his name in MMA and ultimate fighting. When fans chant “UFC” and begin chanting Puder’s name, does McMahon really know what he has let himself in for? Would Vince, a man who prided himself on his style of wrestling, a man who wouldn’t admit defeat during the mid-nineties, allow WWE fans to chant a rival promotions name? Indeed, McMahon has done nothing about it, and as it stands, Puder is almost certain to earn a contract, by either winning Tough Enough or by simply impressing the writing team. When fans bring Puder signs, it makes it almost certain that this guy is going to get a contract because; he is getting more cheers than some low-level wrestlers on Velocity (like Scotty 2 Hotty, Shannon Moore and Akio).

McMahon has indeed helped the fans chant “UFC” by feeding us Puder every week. This might sound like a minor coincidence, but I believe McMahon is somewhat smiling behind the scenes. And why? Well, because he is helping to create an opposition, by using a former caged fighter and allowing fans to chant the name of an opposition. This may have been a coincidence, but keep reading, because the following is definitely not a bit of luck or such.

The Mass Releases

2004 has seen more and more releases in WWE than in recent memory. Rico, Billy Gunn, Test and more have been released and have been replaced by the likes of Gene Snitsky, Eugene and Heidenreich. Now, in all fairness, the WWE roster has needed massive cut backs for a while now. With over 80 superstars on both brands, WWE needed some major repackaging and with superstars like Jesus, Simon Dean and Carltio Caribbean Cool waiting to come through, WWE needed to cut back desperately. Now, you can somewhat understand the likes of A-Train and Billy Gunn being released. They just weren’t being accepted by the fans despite being pushed on numerous occasions. The releases of Test, Gail Kim and Rico, were quite a big shock for everyone. Test, at the time, was recovering from injury, Gail Kim was becoming a main part of the women’s division and Rico was unbelievably over despite his poor gimmick. For some reason, it didn’t make sense. Why was Vince McMahon releasing superstars who we had seen on Raw and Smackdown the previous week? Indeed, it doesn’t make sense, unless of course, Vince is actually releasing these superstars to help the indies.

Think about it. How over could Test become in TNA? Surely there is a place for Johnny Stamboli in Japan? What about Rodney Mack in 3PW? Chuck Palumbo in ROH? It all is beginning to make sense. Did WWE decide to release the superstars, superstars who had been on Raw and Smackdown the previous week, because he wanted several companies to have at least some mainstream talent? The superstars were released for a purpose, and in this writers eyes, they were released because they have come as far as they can possibly go in WWE, but in TNA, RoH, 3PW or wherever, they could very well benefit the company, and in the long run, create opposition for the WWE.

McMahon’s excuse of there cutbacks being “financially house show related” is rubbish. If McMahon cared about his money, and he really was in trouble financially, then surely a $1 million dollar Diva Search and $1 million dollar Tough Enough wouldn’t be taking place. If WWE were so desperate to find a new “Maven” or “Miss Jackie”, they certainly wouldn’t have released several superstars, they wouldn’t have released superstars who were on television every week, they wouldn’t have released the favorites of many WWE fans, unless, they felt they could get over. After all, how over was “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn or “The Corporate” Test. These superstars could benefit the indies, and in some ways, create an opposition for the WWE.

The Universal Studios Incident

TNA isn’t exactly a backyard promotion. They are the number 2 promotion in the world. Someone in WWE must have heard of the company and knows, at least, something about them. In my eyes, out of the 50+ staff members WWE has, one of them at least, must have known that TNA tapes it’s events in Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida. They have for months now. So, why did WWE decide to tape its Royal Rumble footage in Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida? Why did WWE decide to tape its footage in the same lot and day as TNA tape Impact? Why did WWE tape its commercial next door to where TNA tape footage? It’s simple, they surely must have known about TNA being there. If WWE didn’t want TNA to be there, then why did they film there and more importantly, how did TNA wrestlers walk so freely past security to go and talk to the WWE wrestlers and staff? I smell a rat and a big one at that. Think about it. By offering a lawsuit to TNA, WWE is getting it’s product mentioned on TNA but at the same time, they are somewhat “helping” TNA to get recognized. All in all, it’s seems that the whole incident could very well been a masterpiece by McMahon. He has somewhat got his company over and he is getting TNA recognized, by offering them a lawsuit.

With the help of Nash, Hall and company, TNA is getting themselves over. They are drawing some fantastic ratings for there timeslot and are getting new fans. Could McMahon be helping the ratings of this company, by linking the WWE name and a lawsuit to the company?

Since the above took place, WWE’s ratings have improved as have, the ratings of TNA. Could McMahon’s smart thinking, have increased these ratings for the better? I’ll let you be the judge.

It might sound silly. Why would Vince McMahon want to create an opposition? Why would he want to risk the future of the WWE, by allowing other companies to take the light? Well, for one, he isn’t risking his company. WWE is still hundreds of millions of dollars in the green and not even close to bankruptcy. But, his product has become stale. He doesn’t have a “Goldberg” to rip off, he doesn’t have an Eric Bischoff to make fun of, and he no longer has to laugh at Vince Russo. He owns wrestling. It may sound silly, but in these columnists’ eyes, Vince McMahon has begun to create an opposition. By giving TNA, UFC and more, recognition in WWE, he is telling his viewers that there is something else out there. He is attracting new viewers to wrestling by using “caged fighters” and he is getting an opposition over, by giving them a meaningless lawsuit. It might sound stupid on McMahon’s part but think about it. In two years, TNA and WWE could be at each others throats in the ratings, UFC viewers could be watching WWE and merchandise for TNA rip offs could be through the roof. How much money will Vince be earning then? He may be slowly losing money right now, but by creating an opposition, Vince could potentially be earning millions in the future. At the beginning of this column, you thought it was simply poor booking. Now, you have begun to realize, that McMahon is one hell of a clever guy. He hurt the wrestling business in general and now, he is giving us back what we so long for, an opposition.

Got any thoughts? What do you think of WWE? What are your thoughts on the column? E-Mail themaneffect@hotmail.com


How many superstars have been GM of Raw for at least one week since the brand split and name all of them?

E-Mail themaneffect@hotmail.com

Recent Ramblings

Looks as if we are heading for a triple threat match to headline the January RAW PPV between Triple H, Edge and Chris Benoit. Ladders match anyone?

Shelton Benjamin impresses me so much. A definite star of the future.

Orlando Jordon is improving every week. Jordon could very well be the breakout star of 2005.

Quick thought, why did “The Coach” last longer than Maven in the battle royal? Indeed, they were building the angle between Eugene and Maven, but still, the fact that “The Coach”, a non-wrestler, was eliminated after several wrestlers, definitely makes the wrestlers seem so poor.

Could Steven Richards be any less over?

TNA has been pulled off UK television, in a move which, made me quite angry. Granted, as a wrestling columnist, I couldn’t watch a product which was 6 months old, not because I didn’t want to, but because it’s important I keep up to date for you, the fans. TNA decided to pull the plug, simply because, The Wrestling Channel wanted to reduce the time gap. How hard up must the Jarrett’s be?

D’Lo Brown’s interview on The Bagpipe Report can only be described as fantastic#

My end of year awards will be presented soon. Look for John Bradshaw Layfield, Alex Shane and maybe even Triple H to play a huge part in those.

When you tell your grandchildren about the year 2004, tell them that it was the year Gene Snitsky was created…or not.

Any thoughts – E-Mail themaneffect@hotmail.com

I would like to thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a great Christmas. I am looking to expand greatly, so if you would like me to write for you site, please get in touch. I appreciate all the feedback sent to me and I read every piece, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Finally, I would just like to wish you guys a very Merry Christmas and have a great New Year. I will be back with my final column of 2004 in the coming weeks, but until then, thanks for reading and take care.


Martin Daniels