MITCHELL'S TAKE 25 YEARS OF BRUCE MITCHELL - DAY 5 (1994): “The All-Fun League” - Bruce hatchets McMahon’s characterization of the WWF as all about fun and putting smiles on faces
Oct 5, 2015 - 11:50:20 AM
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This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Bruce Mitchell becoming a Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter columnist. No single person has influenced the editorial tone and direction of the Torch brand over the years than Bruce, who brought a hard-hitting, supremely well-informed, speak-truth-to-power approach to his writing. He went after sacred cows out of the gate, such as the beloved among “smart fans” (today’s “Internet fans” or “IWC,” I suppose) Eddie Gilbert and Jim Cornette. He also went hard after people in positions of authority and power who were abusing or misusing that power, or just not delivering a worthy product. He has also applauded and paid tribute to the greatest moments and movements in pro wrestling over the last 25 years, with a style of writing that has yet to be matched anywhere, I contend (despite Bill Simmons’s arrogant and uninformed contention last year that no one wrote at a high level about pro wrestling until his “Masked Man” columnist came along).
To celebrate and highlight Bruce’s stellar 25 years of influential and eloquent truth-telling about this fascinating industry, we’ll be featuring a single column from each of the last 25 years each of the first 25 days this month. His long-form columns were a pioneer approach to pro wrestling journalism, and the next 25 years you’ll experience a slice of what it is that has earned Bruce Mitchell widespread recognition within the industry over the years as being “Pro Wrestling’s Most Respected Columnist.” We began on Oct. 1st with his very first column, from Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #89 (cover dated Oct. 5, 1990).
Today we feature his column from the December 10, 1994 edition of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter where he hatchets Vince McMahon's self-perception that WWE was "all about fun," as McMahon liked to say before he started saying WWE is "all about putting smiles on faces."
NOTE: VIP members can access hundreds of Mitchell columns instantly in the BRUCE MITCHELL LIBRARY here, part of the massive unmatched online archives of insider wrestling coverage from over the past 28 years.
HEADLINE: THE ALL FUN LEAGUE
Originally published December 10, 1999
Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter #311
"Fun, fun, fun…"
- The Beach Boys
Vince McMahon knows Fun.
For to know Fun, you have to know No Fun.
What is No Fun, you ask?
No Fun is spending your summer days in an orthopedic neck collar in a Federal Courthouse, while a crotchety old judge and a barely awake jury try to decide whether you are going to spend the next ten years in the pokey. No fun is watching your ex-secretary, a former Playboy Centerfold, explain how she used to order HCG for you "because often when you take steroids for a while your testicles shrink and need HCG to get back to regular size" and your wife for some unknown "wink, wink" reason starts to cry…
That, friends, is no fun.
So don't blame Vince if he wants to enjoy himself these days. He wants to relax now. Some guys do that by playing cards or watching NFL Gameday.
He, judging by the last several months, relaxes by exorcising his personal demons when he sets the direction of the storylines of WWF wrestling. McMahon has made his privately owned company a reflection of his own character and biases.
And Vince is a smart guy. He knows it's tough, or at least tedious, to have fun by yourself. So he wants to spread the fun around to all of the WWF fans.
But he also knows it is more fun to be with friends who share your views and look at everything you do with a friendly fondness. So he is using the storylines to make sure that all of his little Whiff buddies do exactly that.
This is the real purpose for the last few months of storylines, not setting up a WWF New Generation. Only at Titan Sports would a guy in his mid-30s who has been a washout for years, Kevin Nash, and a wrestler who had worked for the company for a decade, also in his mid-30s, Bret Hart, be considered a New Generation. Of course, at WCW to do that you need to be in your mid-40s…
So Vince, who a decade ago was definitely cutting edge, is now strictly old school. Not that he cares.
He just wants you to love him and be his bud. So he is going to make sure you see things his way.
Take Lex Luger and the storyline surrounding him. Lex keeps getting pushed despite ample evidence that a lot of fans would not care about him if he were handing out free Sega Genesis systems at ringside. So why push him?
Well, he's the handsome, well-spoken, all-American type with what has been for years wrestling's most bitchin' male body. In other words, he's really Vince McMahon. Vince is certainly more of an "American Original" than Lex Luger is, anyway.
So when Tatanka, someone with "credibility," starts claiming that Vince, uh, I mean Lex isn't really a clean-living good guy, that he is a big phony liar whose wrestlers were all on steroids… wait, I got confused… who is really on the take, people start to listen.
So anyway, a bunch of misunderstandings where Lex "looks guilty" of selling out occur. Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man, keeps showing up around him and telling lies. Tatanka keeps telling people that Lex is no good. Through no fault of his own, even the fans stop believing in the American Original.
So Lex, like Vince, was being accused of telling fibs for money. And Lex, like Vince, was having a hard time getting people to believe him. And Lex, like Vince, was constantly being attacked by someone that people, those dopes, believed. And Lex, like Vince, was innocent.
Well, maybe not like Vince.
And don't fool yourself. Tatanka was also picked for this scenario very deliberately. For who is more "politically correct" to a guy like McMahon than a Native American? Everyone knows that minorities are listened to before men like Lex and Vince, right? Native Americans are the ultimate minority.
Geez, it's just not fair.
It gets better. For if you have a pencil, fiction does not have that nasty habit of kicking your teeth in the way facts can. "Facts are stupid things" President Reagan once declared and no doubt Vince would agree. He would rather book his own reality.
So in his reality those critical journalists did not just go back to work after the not guilty verdict. Tatanka, their surrogate, and not Lex, was actually the liar who sold out for money and broke the hearts of his followers. Lex, therefore Vince, was actually telling the truth all along.
It gets even better. For not only does Vince get to be the good-looking hero whom America adores, he also gets to have another principal represent a side of him.
Remember the Million Dollar Man? For years people have thought, for good reason, that DiBiase isn't the only one who everyone has a price for.
So Vince also gets to be the all-powerful tycoon who buys and sells those phony moralists who try to annoy him. Vince, through DiBiase, shows his critics to be hypocritical liars.
McMahon must have felt much better after getting that out of his system. And all of his little friends understand now.
And he had some other things to get out of his system. McMahon obviously never forgot that he had to spend six years of his youth smiling and lavishly praising the unhippest wrestler to ever wear an ugly brown suit, "Howdy Doody" Bob Backlund. Even though he knew he could make wrestling cool, just like Rock 'n' Roll, if only his stick in the mud dad would listen to him. Then he could hang out with Hollywood types like Dick Ebersol instead of those little old ladies and ancient codgers with the smelly cigars.
So first chance he got he dumped the dork and made wrestling history.
Now he can take all of the things that so annoyed him about that Bob for six long years and make sure his friends understand them, too.
Like that goofy grin. Or that ale white complexion. Or those sanctimonious speeches about being a role model for the kids. Or that gawky ring style. Or the submission hold with the "chicken" name that can only be applied from behind. Or that ridiculous haircut.
Vince took all of these rich elements and built them into a heel designed to remind every WWF fan of every authority figure or Captain Bringdown who ever ruined everyone's fun.
He even was personally involved, on the air, with virtually every interview and angle used to establish Backlund as a "moral" heel.
For it is everyone with those inconvenient morals who gets in Vince's way. Those petty moralists who feel like God are no more fit to judge McMahon than Mr. Backlund is to judge all the great "New Generation" fans. Vince bonds with his fans again.
Incredibly, since the Monday Night Raw where Backlund declared that he wanted to slap the crossface chicken wing on Vince just once before he retired, rumors are rampant that Vince and Bob will face off at Wrestlemania. Every main event babyface wrestler in the company has put over the chicken submission. And Bob has vowed to retire when someone breaks it. Is Vince's ego so large that he, the bi-focaled play-by-play man who has never had a match in his life, will squash the number one heel Bob Backlund and force him to retire? Again? We'll see.
Clearly McMahon would like to squash all of his critics, but this may be the closest he gets. It is the same reason Mike Rotunda has had his "I.R.S." character protected for years from the normal phasing out most gimmicks face. I.R.S. is facing Undertaker in one of the best spots on the card, not because he is such a ticket selling heel, or even because a Death and Taxes feud was "inevitable," but because Titan Sports and Vince McMahon have been audited for several straight years by the real I.R.S. That has obviously interfered with Vince's fun and he does not appreciate it.
Because Vince wants to get down to the business of having fun. That is what all of those wonderful kids out there, even the ones not in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, want. And Vince is determined to give that to them. So he is going to grit his teeth, clench his jaw, and demand that his whole company be about "Fun."
Fun can be a tough business. Ask the aforementioned Beach Boys. Fifty year old men with a history of drug abuse, death, legal trouble, and mental illness that would make anyone not in the wrestling business blanch get to stand with sweat poring down their forehead and sing silly teenage songs about "Fun." No wonder the "Boys" all look so old.
But no matter the cost of "Fun" Vince McMahon wants his fans to have some, whether they want it or not.
Witness all of those Clowns. What's more fun than a clown? If you cried out "Midgets!" you win a kewpie doll.
Only one problem. Clowns suck.
Nobody likes a clown. Take my word for it. If you want to make a child cry, put a garishly painted real life clown, screaming and babbling, right in the kid's face.
"WAAAAAUGH!" One terrified little guy.
Kids like Power Rangers. They never, ever want to see clowns.
Adults hate them, too. That is why you never see clown shows on TV or at the movies or on CDs. Why do you think the circus comes to town only once a year?
But what about those other little guys?
"And don't forget to bring the kids. the lovable midgets will be on the card" they used to cry in the days when Bruno wore a toupee and no one mentioned it. Vince remembers that time. So he had Doink, Dink, Stink, Lawler, Squashy, and the rest play with Silly String, squirt guns, wagons, and tricycles. What "Fun."
Midgets. In U.S. wrestling they are grown men who try to dress and act degradingly childlike to attract the attention of little children. Not coincidently, that is also the definition of a pedophile, something that should make Jerry Lawler nervous, if no one else.
Clowns suck. Wrestling midgets are gross.
But Vince McMahon and Titan Sports want you to see things their way anyway and have fun. Damnit.
MISSED YESTERDAY'S 25 YEARS AGO SELECTION FROM 1993, WHERE BRUCE PROPOSED WCW LAUNCH A LIVE TWO HOUR CABLE SHOW TWO YEARS BEFORE NITRO? CLICK LINKS BELOW...
LINKS TO YESTERDAY’S 1993 BRUCE MITCHELL COLUMN SELECTION: - Bruce proposes WCW launch two-hour weekly live show long before Nitro
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