PARKS'S TAKE PARKS'S TAKE: Reaction to Vince McMahon addressing (and not addressing) C.M. Punk, plus other observations on McMahon's demeanor, Savage response, pool story, more!
Dec 3, 2014 - 11:31:15 AM
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By Greg Parks, PWTorch columnist
In the wake of the unprecedented interview conducted by Steve Austin on the WWE Network after Raw Monday night, every armchair wrestling fan and analyst has attempted their own deconstruction of Vince McMahon the person, CEO, and head of WWE’s creative direction.
The interview was a first for McMahon in its depth and breadth, at least, as much that could fit into an hour and fifteen minutes. Even topics that have been verboten in the past, like Shane McMahon and Randy Savage, were broached by Austin. Austin himself pulled few punches and asked many questions that not only fans have wanted to know, but that Austin himself has brought up on his own podcast.
To the surprise of some, Austin even asked McMahon about the C.M. Punk situation that had blown up over the previous week. While McMahon somewhat shockingly apologized to Punk for the timing of his release papers being sent (on Punk’s wedding day), the most important of Punk’s gripes were not addressed.
In any other company the size of WWE, a very public complaint from a former employee about his treatment and well-being while in said company would be taken incredibly seriously. Whether in entertainment, sports, or any other similar genre, you’d see a statement or response drafted that would go something like this:
“We at WWE take the concerns levied by C.M. Punk very seriously. The health and wellness of our sports entertainers is paramount and something that is not taken for granted. In light of the comments made by Punk, we have begun an internal investigation into the accusations made. It is our hope that we can get to the bottom of those issues and continue to provide the kind of first-rate health and wellness attention for our Superstars and Divas that is unprecedented in our industry.”
Instead, McMahon did not address any of the major grievances from Punk, at least from the health side. He admitted, unsurprisingly, that he had not heard the podcast, but seemed to write off the situation based on the language Punk used in the podcast, and that perhaps Punk was disgruntled, hence the comments. The fact that there’s not governing body overseeing the industry has allowed WWE free reign to treat wrestlers as cattle for as long as they have.
From WWE’s point-of-view, taking Punk’s comments seriously opens them up to any and all former employees making outrageous claims trying to get their name back out there, and WWE would be expected to follow up on those, too. They probably feel it’s best to ignore them all rather than pick and choose which complaints to address.
But, this wasn’t a wrestler blowing off steam a month after leaving the company; these were carefully crafted and calculated comments ten months after the fact. It’s unsettling that WWE and Vince McMahon don’t even seem interested in pretending to care about what Punk accused WWE of, and why should they? Until any kind of mainstream media picks up this story, WWE can just sit on it, plug their ears, and chant, “I can’t hear you,” to anyone with a voice on the matter.
The wrestling media harping on it isn’t going to cause them to look into things. McMahon himself has admitted that almost anything he’s done with the appearance of protecting wrestlers has been for public relations reasons. And it’ll take WWE being dragged through the mud in the media, again, before he and the company decided to do something about Punk’s situation. Unfortunately, I doubt that time will ever come.
Other Thoughts: The first thing I noticed about McMahon himself was how tired and worn down he looked. Granted, he was probably stressed after completing a live Raw TV taping, and it was late in the evening, but it struck me more here than ever before... I thought McMahon spoke candidly about every subject he was asked. I didn’t agree with him on a lot of it, but I didn’t get the sense he was holding back or misrepresenting his thoughts on anything (except for maybe how happy he was with the WWE Network thus far)... I wonder how the wrestlers in the locker room will take McMahon’s comments about them basically being too laid back to have the drive and want-to to be at the level of a John Cena. Was McMahon sending a message or was it frustration with the talent boiling over?...
PWTorch contributor Benjamin Tucker noted this on Twitter, and I thought it was an interesting observation: When Austin asked McMahon about Randy Savage being in the Hall of Fame and McMahon responded that he’d be in “soon,” there was a long pause from Austin. It was as if he was thinking about asking McMahon why McMahon has seemingly held a grudge against Savage for so long, but at the last second, though better of it and moved on to another subject... McMahon claims to not be out of touch and feels he still has the pulse on what the fanbase wants. Then he goes and says Cesaro isn’t getting over, perhaps in part because he’s Swiss. I have no idea what that even means... Finally, this exchange captured WWE’s creative problems in a nutshell: Austin asked McMahon why there are so many more writers these days and why wrestlers don’t have the freedom they used to, and McMahon ended his response with a story about him and Pat Patterson booking at his house and him pushing unsuspecting visitors into his pool. It felt like McMahon himself didn’t have an answer (hence spinning the topic on an unrelated yet “humorous” anecdote) and “times have changed” doesn’t cut it.
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