June 14, 2008
Mike Abitabile

The Devilís Advocate:
Who Wants to be a McMillionaire?

McMahonís Million Dollar Mania. The mere mention of it can send the self-proclaimed Internet Wrestling Community into a collective tizzy. Since the contest was announced on the May 26th episode of Monday Night Raw, all weíve heard from the insider news sites is that the contest is stupid, horrible and just about any other synonym for those words. Everywhere you look, it seems everyone on the internet hates it (shocking, I know). Itís been called a ratings ploy, a waste of time, and, now that itís actually occurred, downright stupid. Looking around, it seems Iím the only person who said to himself, ďA chance at free money for watching a show Iíd be watching anyways? Fine by me.Ē

All the big boys of the internet news sites chimed in, including Alfonso Castillo who has been posting what seems like daily rants about the stupidity of the contest over at the Newsday wrestling blog he shares with former WWE creative writer Seth Mates (here). Even Bob Ryder, of 1Wrestling.com, was quick to point out that Eric Bischoff was going to run a similar contest in the summer of 1999, right before he was replaced and told to go home by WCW (here).

Oddly enough, Bob failed to mention the fact that WWE actually did attempt to give away one million dollars once before Ė at Summerslam 1997. That contest is still a sore spot for me. For those who donít remember, there were 100 keys in numbered envelopes Ė pick a number and if the corresponding key opened the casket filled with money, you won. As a lifelong Dale Earnhardt fan, the minute the rules were announced on the pay per view, I said out loud ďOh, Iíd go with 3.Ē The contestants picked other numbers and lost. The correct key was hidden in, thatís right, envelope number 3. But I digress. Even then, you had a 1 in 100 chance of winning once you were picked and no one went nuts over that contest. Now, itís pretty straight forward and simple. You get picked, you win and the masses somehow still find justification to freak out.

Amazingly enough, the internet wrestling writers that lambasted every aspect of this contest were able to find one possible positive in the whole thing Ė the opportunity for someone to plug their sites during a winning call! Thatís right, such sites as PWInsider.com (here) and ProWrestling.net (here) will shamelessly take a plug during a contest they have had so many bad things to say about. If they hate it so much, why would they even want their names associated with it? I guess that doesnít matter when four and a half million people are watching.

And speaking of audience size and ratings, this past Mondayís Raw rating has come in at a 3.0, which was down a tenth of a point from the previous weekís 3.1. Every writer has been taking this as validation for all their complaints. The most ridiculous thing I read about the number was at Wrestlezone.com, where Ryan Clark proclaimed the Raw rating dropped ďbig timeĒ (here). It sounds like someone must have attended the Tony Schiavone School of Exaggeration. Nonetheless, all the experts will be happy to tell you that they were right. But what they wonít be telling you is that this shouldnít be coming as a shock to anyone.

If there is a problem with this contest, itís the way it is designed. Vince McMahon has stated publicly that this contest is a way to reward loyal fans, as well as to bring in new ones by giving them a taste of the product. But, if the contest was solely designed to pop ratings, it should have been created a little differently. Technically, you donít have to watch one second of Monday Night Raw to win the money. This is because the code, which must be given to Mr. McMahon if he calls you, is posted on WWE.com (although, it should be noted that this also helps those in the Central and Western time zones who watch Raw on a delay). And even if you were to tune into Raw, the code is announced by the Chairman at the top of the show (a fact that was told to fans beforehand). So now, even if you donít check the web site, casual viewers can tune in, get the code, and change the channel for the rest of the night. Because of this, it would be interesting to know if the first quarter hour of Raw saw a rating spike or not.

If I could make a suggestion, it would be to somehow give different codes out for each phone call McMahon is going to make. The code could be given out during the match occurring prior to each segment where Vince calls the winners. This way, casual viewers have to watch your whole show and hopefully they get hooked. And even if they donít, youíre forcing them to be exposed to more of your product than you are with the current way the contest is being run.

If Mr. McMahon randomly calls someone who writes for a news site that has been proclaiming this contest the worst thing ever, I wonder if theyíd tell him to keep the money or if they would take the money? Well, seeing as they already showed off their hypocritical nature by asking you to mention their sites by name during a contest they criticized every step of the way, I think I know the answer to that question. So Iíll make another suggestion. Since so many people hate this contest, do me a favor. If you are a winner, contact me and Iíll be glad to take the money off your hands. Or better yet, donate it to your favorite charity if you hate the contest so much.

Oh, and one final suggestion Ė chill out. If people are getting themselves this worked up over free money, they might have too much free time on their hands. If you donít like the contest, thatís fine, either donít watch or ignore the segments. Complaining every step of the way about the possibility of winning free money just seems counterproductive, but, I guess, to each their own. I just hope they donít try to give away a house again Ė I have a feeling the masses would make this look like a party in comparison.

Feedback is always welcome at figurefanatic@gmail.com.

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