By Lori Acken
Good one, WWE. You had me going there for a little minute.
After boring, confusing and irritating me right into the arms of the UFC with dopey-even-for-wrestling story lines, loathsome new characters, switcheroo casting and just the general feeling that thee and I had been together entirely too long, you almost got me back with Monday night’s announcement that The Vince had sold The Raw to his long-time frenemy The Donald.
“The terms of the deal were not disclosed” said today’s ensuing press release.
“This was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” said Vince (WWE Chairman Vince McMahon).
“WHA’??!” said the world. Or at least those of us who care.
So did Donald Trump REALLY buy a single franchise from the WWE stable of programming? Did uberego Vince McMahon really fork over his biggest, most prolific ratings grabber to a guy that, on camera anyway, he cannot stand?
Sure they did. Just like Vicki and Edge are really married and trying to work it out in the counselor’s office when the cameras aren’t rollin’.
Hence the part where what would have been a ballbuster of a newsworthy financial transaction didn’t quite make the business section of your local newspaper.
Not that the entire thing is an arena full of spandex-clad BS. Take this part of the press announcement:
“The Monday Night RAW franchise has been one of the top cable franchises since its launch 17 years ago,” said Donald Trump. “I’m going to do things on the show that have never been done or seen before. As my first act as owner, I am doing something unprecedented. I am giving back to the people who have been loyal all these years. For the first time in more than 838 episodes of RAW, next week’s show will be live and commercial free.”
We’ll see about the former, but if Wrestlemania 23’s Battle of the Billionaires, Shave Ya Head challenge was any indication, Trump really does trump up the ratings for the slumping franchise. And with summer’s weaker TV schedule leaving viewers open to a change of the usual channel, the timing is certainly impeccable.
So while the whole buyout thing is obviously your basic sports entertainment sham (that’s “kayfabe” if you care to talk the talk), given Trump’s ability to turn a boardroom full of mostly past-their-prime celebs into ratings gold (or, at the very least, bronze) with Celebrity Apprentice, he may be just what the Superstars ordered … and convince plenty of current and former viewers to willing suspend their disbelief.