Craven Moorehead III
ON THE INVASION
It's a good thing that Vince McMahon doesn't have a history of listening to the Internet. If he did, one might be worried right now that he'd take all of the current bashing of the way WWFE is handling the WCW integration to heart and start doing what the Internet wants him to do.
Almost any site you go to these days, whether it be a commercial wrestling site or a message board, so-called ``smart'' fans are decrying the Invasion angle, calling it a failure and calling for the WWF to rethink the way they are bringing WCW into the WWFE fold.
Anyone who has ever been part of any kind of situation where two businesses become one knows that there are always going to be problems, and it will always take patience and time to get everything right. Unfortunately, the nature of the Internet is that of instant gratification; people want Austin-Goldberg (or some similar `superbout') and they want it now.
But McMahon isn't going to give us Austin-Goldberg, not any time soon, and it's a good thing he's smart enough not to, lest he find the entire business spiralling down the tubes in short order.
Vince McMahon's first responsibility is to the shareholders of WWFE; and Vince knows that. With recent reports that the relevant bits of WCW (mostly trademarks and tape) cost the WWF only 7 million dollars or so, how can he possibly justify the money it would cost to buy back even one of the big-money WCW contracts? It wouldn't be easy to explain that much red ink unless it could be shown to make strong business sense. Which it doesn't.
Maybe Austin-Goldberg would spike a pay-per-view buyrate, but what do you do then? Angle-Goldberg? Jericho-Goldberg? You send him back to WCW and you get a month or two each out of DDP-Goldberg and BookerT-Goldberg? I don't see how either path is a smart investment of the 2 million or so it would cost just to get Goldberg's contract. He becomes just another worker in the WWF or he goes to an anemic WCW that's still just getting its feet under it.
Vince's next commitment is to the talent, the talent of the WWF that is. These are the staff that helped the WWF get to the top again after almost going out of business in the mid-nineties. While others were working fewer hours for more money in Atlanta, and for the competition to boot, the WWF staff did their part to put the WWF back on top. While midcard athletes in the WCW languished under the much vaunted glass-ceiling of the WCW, the WWF was making new stars out of talented youngsters.
For Vince to go out and pay that much money for someone who potentially has never payed that kind of dues would be a slap in the face to all the people who have. Especially when they know as well as he that it's not good business in the first place. That person would be paid at a much higher scale than anyone around him; the contract is guaranteed money. Even if the contract were paid up front in a lump sum, it would be hard to motivate a guy who has a couple of million sitting in the bank. And how would guys like the Rock, Steve Austin, and Triple H feel? On whose back did the WWF ride over the last few years? It sure wasn't Goldberg, Scott Steiner, or Sting.
Vince McMahon's last responsibility is to the fans. That's not to say, however, that it's not an important responsibility. The corporation as a whole needs to take its time with WCW organization. Like it or not, the WCW needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It needs to stand on its own two feet before a true clash of the titans is possible. WCW fans of old have to be brought back into the fold, new fans need to be brought on board.
WCW went out of business. Yes it was mismanaged, but that doesn't change the bottom line. The workers in the WCW need to learn the WWF way of doing things, from the gym to the locker room to the ring. Have we not already heard reports of WCW workers making poor impressions in the WWF locker room based on etiquette alone? Did we not hear the Radicalz speak at length on how much of a change it was coming to the WWF? That kind of structure, that kind of team has to be built under the WCW banner before the WCW can even begin to stand up against the mighty WWF machine. The WWF is going to develop that spirit by keeping the young and hungry workers, the ones who are willing to do the work, the ones who know it's not just about a big-money contract and who have no delusions about what big stars they already are.
Right now you're seeing an old-school rub on the grand scale. If the WWF thought Buff-Booker was going to be a big match, there wouldn't have been a VKM skit so obviously planned to end the show. And one would suspect that the match would have gotten a similar response to what it did at the house show where it debuted a few nights before. The WWF wasn't just letting Booker and Buff get used to the ring, they were gauging the crowd's response, which was predictable. And the crowd wasn't predictable because Buff sucks, it was predictable because `Historic Event' or not, it wasn't what they paid to see.
Internet fans no longer draw a distinction between the WWF and WCW. These are people who were more than likely following both promotions when the WCW was still in business. But there is a large number of fans out there, casual fans, who were WWF marks or WCW marks. To expect the people who paid to fill the building to like the fact that they are being force-fed a couple guys who were the hated competition up until a few months ago would be ludicrous.
The WWF controls professional wrestling in North America. They didn't get to this position by rashly spending money and hotshotting everything. In fact, that's what put the WCW out of business. The WWF needs to introduce the WCW to WWF fans and re-introduce a new WCW to the true believers who had to watch their promotion die a horrible death.
And they're not going to do it by giving in to the huddled Internet masses who want Austin-Goldberg tomorrow. No, something that big is at least a year and plenty of promotion away. This is a business after all.