Monday, January 27, 2014

Dear Mr. McMahon, An Open Letter.

If you aren't a wrestling guy, then this one isn't for you.  So you might as well skip it and move on.  If it is for you, realize that we are entitled to our opinions, this is mine.  I'm happy to have a discussion about a point, but if it is going too devolve into 'Your a Smark' type of crap just save us both the time and energy and move right along.

Dear Vince & Company,

Can I call you Vince or Vinnie Mac?  I figured I could since you've taken so much of my money and time over the years, figured it meant we had a good vibe.  I've always been a wrestling kid/guy.  First the NWA, then the WWF/WWE, to WCW to ECW, to All Japan, to the American Indy scene, and all the way back again.  I've been the closet fan and now I'm the fan who hosts giant viewing parties and co-hosts a podcast about your product.  I feel like I have a reasonable handle on what I enjoy in the art of wrestling, just as I have a reasonable handle on what it is to tell a story.

Last night was an abomination upon the face of storytelling.  I can't throw any hate towards the performers.  I've tried.  I've gone over it in my head many times last night and this morning, and I don't see how the men who put their bodies on the line last night had much of a part in the general lack of coherent storytelling direction and follow through by a creative team devoid of leadership.  There were moments last nigh, scant moments, where the overarching tales that weren't being told exclusively in the ring actually seemed to have had forethought and reasoning behind them, but those moments were few.

As fans on this highest of stages for the art of wrestling we are at a Golden Age of performers.  The matches are safer, better performed, more exciting, and a conglomeration of styles that leads to a level of entertainment that we have never seen before.  That is why it is so inexcusable and offensive for the tales that are being crafted by the so-called creative team to be by and large so mediocre.  Last night you had the very masses shaking the foundation of your carefully constructed Corporate storytelling style to tell you that they were displeased.  Very displeased.  If this had been the first time this had occurred I could understand the state of affairs, but it isn't.

Since the bait and switch that was pulled at Summerslam, and the subsequent car wreck of finishes you have deemed to give us since, the crowds have been quite vocal about what they want, about what would be 'Best For Business', and yet almost inexplicably we are shut out.  In fact I don't even feel we are shut out, we are almost fed something out of utter disdain for having an opinion.  The greatest example is of this is instead of seeing Daniel Bryan's tale come to a real conclusion and giving the 'WWE Universe' the ending they want you keep cramming down our throats the likes of Randy Orton Vs. John Cena for the 15th time.  A tale that has been told, in an almost identical fashion, complete with the beating of Cena's father.

After each subsequent PPV I have found my head shaking in disgust.  And my feelings of your company's lack of interest in the opinions of we, your 'WWE Universe', becoming more and more pronounced.  Again, the in-ring work, by and large, has been great, it is the tales in which these matches are taking place that I find disdainful.  The follow through on stories, the continuity, and even the concepts of Heels (aka Antagonists) and Faces (aka Protagonists) has been shed for something far more nebulous.  Vince, you have always been a man who isn't afraid to take chances, who pushes the product ahead, and innovates that is why it is so utterly and completely shocking to me that you show so little urgency in the devolving of your precious publicly traded product before our very eyes.

In order to have a story you need three elements; The Protagonist, the Antagonist, and the Conflict.  Your entire business is built on Conflict.  However of late you have lost track of what makes the story, the interaction and resolution of this conflict between these two primaries.  You have fed us this narrative of the Authority, the Antagonists in a sense, going at it with Daniel Bryan, the obvious Protagonist.  In that narrative we've seen the Authority in its various agents and incarnations deny Bryan and therefor the 'WWE Universe' its ending time and time again.

And in that denial we've seen the Authority go from heavy handed Antagonist to pseudo-'Cool Dad' Heels as they seem to want to walk the line of being cheered and/or jeered.  This seems to generally be the fate of all on-screen talent who also are put in creative control or in charge of booking.  Have we learned nothing from WCW, or even from the infamous 'Cliques' previous incarnations?  But I digress, in doing this you have seemingly tried to kill the 'Heat' of the Conflict, and all the while fed Bryan to ancillary members of the Authority or to loosely associated 'allies' in a bizarre dance to keep his face on television and producing exemplary in-ring work while denying we the views a chance to see his story arc come to a real and satisfying conclusion.

If you couldn't tell last night, the 'WWE Universe' wanted its conclusion to this Conflict, to this story, and they wanted it at Wrestlemania.  And yet you have felt the need to again deny us.  Instead you have given us a tale that holds very little build up and even less interest.  Our Protagonist, the man who causes a reaction of a nature unheard of since the Austin/Rock era, is instead left in limbo again.  He is left without a true end to this Authority Conflict, while being shuttled from short term, interim Conflict to the next with no resolution and no satisfaction.  

The mob has grown dissatisfied Vincent.  If you are so tone deaf that you couldn't hear or recognize that last night both your Main Event and the conclusion to the Rumble itself were roundly booed in person and panned online then it might be time for you again to do something innovative.  Step down and step away.  The transfer of creative to your daughter and son-in-law has been a mixed bag thus far.  The only constant has been you as not just the figurehead, but the real driving force in the WWE.  It might be time that you allowed the Empire you have built to succeed or flounder without your stewardship, because your obvious disdain for your own creation in the form of its fans has left myself and many others re-thinking our patronage.  If the fate of the 'WWE Universe' really is in the hands of Stephanie and Hunter then let them sink or swim now on that 'creativity' that we have been given.

I have never seen something I have enjoyed so much in my life become so distasteful.  I was very interested in the WWE Network, and very excited for Wrestlemania this year, but now I am interested in neither.  I don't see that there will be any real resolution to any of the 'stories' that have been weaved, and without resolution I see no point in watching some of the best athletes on the planet bludgeon each other.  My final plea to you Mr. McMahon is to please take the time to look in the mirror and realize that blog after blog, crowd after crowd, and chant after chant can't be wrong.  Perhaps it is time for another real change in the way you do the business you so profess to love.

Thank you from a 'fan',
Ben M.    

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