...AND MARKING OUT
Checks and Balances
American government works for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is a democracy and it has a built-in system that prevents any ONE person from abusing his or her political power and taking vantage of the masses. We have three branches of government, each with its own individual powers and a limited amount of authority over the other two. This keeps any one branch from becoming too powerful and abusive. The President writes the budget, Congress approves it. Congress makes the laws; the Supreme Court decides if they are constitutional. The President picks Supreme Court justices that Congress must approve before they begin working. You get the idea. This system that prevents the dominance of one over the many is called Checks and Balances. It's as integral part of America as freedom of speech.
The WWF, however, has no such system in place. Or if they do, they certainly haven't been using it while pasting together the majority of their television time the past few months. WWF TV has been awful of late, but you don't need me to tell you that. Instead, I'll offer a few reasons why. People around the Net have become so disenfranchised with the Fed of late that they have even started speaking about Vince Russo again. As in, Russo could do better than this. And while I am not endorsing his return, I do agree with the premise that the WWF, no matter how outrageous the plotlines, was a lot more entertaining from start to finish when he was writing than it has been over the past few weeks. Why? Because there was a system of checks and balances in place when Russo was writing. His latest and zaniest idea had to pass the Vince McMahon test, before being given the light of day (or night, if you will). That's not presently the case. Why?
Because the WWF isn't a democracy; it's an aristocracy. In an aristocracy, the ruling family has all the power and authority to do as they please no matter the consequences.
So, while King and Queen McMahon are busy creating sports leagues and reality television shows, Prince Shane and Princess Stephanie are tasked with keeping the ship afloat and steering the boat onward towards it destination: High Ratings and Compelling Stories. And they have done a horrible job. Like the power-drunk aristocrats that they are, Shane and Stephanie assume that they and only they know what's best for the WWF. Need an Invasion angle? No problem. They'll simply book themselves as the owners of the invading companies and proceed to flush the potentially greatest mark-out moments and storylines of all time down the drain in one feel swoop.
How else do you explain why Shane and Stephanie have made themselves the mouthpieces of the Alliance when Paul E does it so much more effectively?
How else do you explain why the owner's daughter gets to pin the Top Star in the business while the last guy to get a pin fall win over him-Rhyno --languishes without a title shot?
How else do you explain that suddenly half the locker room pines away for Stephanie, inflated chest or not?
How else do you explain why the Prince and heir-apparent to the McMahon Empire could place himself next to his champion (because he needs the rub, or so Shane thinks) and yet proceed to steal all of his champion's heat and credibility with show-stealing high spots and weakening match interference?
Simple. Shane and Stephanie are drunk with power and an over-inflated sense of WWF-related self-importance. And since King Vince is busy doing whatever, there is no one around the writing staff or television crew to either tell Shane that he is very over-exposed and that we want to see wrestlers in main events or to tell Stephanie that she is in no way deserving of a pin fall over the Rock, no matter what the circumstances. No one can stand up to them, certainly not the wrestlers. After all, the McMahon Show is the ONLY show in town right now. And wrestlers need to work, so they do what they are told.
So the Rock sells Stephanie's slaps as if she were the Big Show and sees ceiling for her gratification. Kurt Angle loses championship credibility by facing Shane in the SmackDown! main event while his current nemesis, StoneCold, is off television, told that the writers have "nothing for him." I mean, how do you have nothing for the company's top heel after he just lost his title under extremely questionable circumstances? Surely someone thought this was a bad idea. They had to. Somebody on that writing team thought, "Boy, that it the stupidest idea, ever." Some of the wrestlers probably felt the same. But they didn't say anything. Why? Because you can't protest against the royal family in an aristocracy and win. Vocalizing displeasure with one of Shane or Stephanie's ideas must be the equivalent of firing yourself. It's just not safe to disagree with the governing family of aristocrats. Those writers and wrestlers work for the royal family. Writing and performing for WWF television is their bread and butter. Those writers and wrestlers need their checks.
Hopefully, before it's too late, the Royal siblings will realize that the WWF also needs some balance.
Until next time: Be a fan. Drink a few. Mark out a lot. Have no shame.