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Guest Columns

Michael Cavenaugh



Falling Down

Greetings and salutations. Thanks for taking a moment to check out my latest ramblings, it is, as always, appreciated.

Before I delve into today's topic, I would like to give you a little background on myself, and my writing. Seeing as how this is my first Slash appearance, it's only fitting, is it not?

This will be the third wrestling web-site I've had something placed on, fourth if you count Rantsylvania and Smarks seperately. Of course, most people would not count the Rant or the Smark crew, so... Second web-site, if that's the way you want to be.

Those of you with long memories may remember me from EmZee's last appearance. Whether you do or not, I was there, with two columns: "Through My Eyes," which tend to be short rants, and "In the Crosshairs," which are longer, more detailed, and usually require some sort of research.

With that said, a little about myself- I'm 19, Pisces, and male. I live in Fayetteville, NC full time, and attend Methodist College. My majors are Political Science and Mass Communications, and I'm trying to pick up a minor in Philosophy. Of course, since I'm on summer vacation, I'm not in Fayetteville now- don't come looking for me.

Currently, I'm working at Movie Gallery, which is great because I get free rentals, and I love movies. When I'm at school, I'm a bouncer at a little club called "Double Bogey's," right on Ramsey Street. If you're in the area, drop by and see me- I'm usually the one manning the door.

Enough prelude, let's get down to business...

Yes, it's time for me to share another view "Through My Eyes." But what topic will I be addressing? Will it be the current trend of writer's trying to recapture their innocence? Or maybe I should discuss the apparent renaissance the WWF has put on the last two weeks? Or will this column exude gloom and doom for the wrestling industry?

Of course not. Who ever heard of a teaser actually giving away the topic? Today's topic will be, as the title may show, "Falling Down."

But what does "Falling Down" refer to? Simple. Salaries.

I may not be an actuary, like Tom, and I may not be an accountant, but I do have a fairly good grasp of the economy, and I do consider myself well versed in the law of supply and demand. I also know what happens when one company holds a monopoly. More importantly, I understand and accept that wrestling is a cyclical business.

Let's start with the economy. America's economy has been strong the last few years, with more jobs than applicants. As Dennis Miller said: "It's getting to the point where a blind ex-felon can get a job as a night watchman." People were earning more, and, therefore, people were spending more on frivolous expenses. More revenue for movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, and wrestling.

In wrestling, the revenue I am referring to is ticket sales, pay-per-view purchases, and merchandise sales. These increased revenues led to more coins in the coffer for the World Wrestling Federation. Knowing that the talent was the heart of the business, Vince McMahon was smart enough to re-invest the extra profits in his entertainers, signing big name free agents, and locking established stars into long-term deals.

Think about the performers who have either signed with the WWF or re-signed with the WWF in the last few years: The Dudley Boys, The Undertaker, Triple H, Stone Cold, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Tazz, Jerry Lynn, and the list could continue. These are athletes who could have signed elsewhere, but chose not to. Why not? No matter what the WWF's locker room reputation is, one must accept that money was a motivating factor in most, if not all, of the decisions.

This is possible because there was a supply of wrestling, while the fans demanded it. Vince and company supplied the action, and the fans demanded that the amount of action increase. Thus "Smackdown" was added to the television cycle. Now there was MORE of a supply of action, but it seemed to be just enough to meet the demand.

Did I mention that wrestling is a cyclical business? For years at a time, wrestling can be the "big thing." After a few years, though, the interest wanes, and wrestling is back in a recession. These crashes eventually end, when wrestling becomes popular again. Of course, wrestling has never been as popular as it has been the last few years.

Which means the crash has never been as severe as it will be. There are more pay-per-views, more television hours, and more merchandise than ever before. The salaries of the athletes are also much higher. This means there is more money coming in then ever before. Therefore, wrestlers salaries are higher than at any point prior to today.

But I said I was not going to talk about the impending collapse of the wrestling industry. And I'm not. I was just getting to the point of where wrestler's salaries are.

Which brings me to the fact that the WWF currently has a monopoly over the North American wrestling industry. Vince did not become the head of a billion dollar organization, and purchase his main competition, by being an idiot. He knows that wrestling runs in cycles.

And he knows where he can pull the belt a little tighter. Not on merchandise, because that brings in serious money. Not by cutting back on the number of pay-per-views, because just the hardcore fans will make them worthwhile.


Really, for athletes used to making six-figures a year, what other option do they have? WCW? Owned by Vince. ECW? Gone. Independent promotions? The payouts are next to nothing. What about Japan? Sixty thousand a year is considered a small fortune there. Granted, it's for less days... but it is for half, to less than half, as much as many of the performers already make.

But what are they going to do if Vince decides to cut every salary in half? The company would save millions and millions of dollars, and the athletes would have no other options, realistically. Yes, there would be locker room repercussions, but again, what do the wrestlers have to threaten with?

If one athlete, let us call them "SuperstarX," decides to leave the WWF because he is unhappy his three hundred thousand dollar a year contract has been cut to one hundred and fifty thousand a year. Vince simply finds an independent worker, one with plenty of talent and skill, but who needs a steady paycheck, to take their place. There will always be hungry independent workers.

The days of the free agent in wrestling are all but gone. The days of the million dollar bidding wars are also over. Wrestling will always be a profession where someone CAN make a living, but that living is no longer going to be on the level of a doctor or a lawyer.

But is that really a bad thing?

(Author's Note: In the event of another major promotion arriving on the scene, with billions of dollars to back it, the previous column is null and void)

Michael Cavenaugh

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