July 28, 2007
Mike Abitabile

The Devilís Advocate:
Chuck Palumbo Rides Motorcycles, Big Daddy V is a Schoolyard Bully and Rene Dupree Was Fired

Iíve discussed in the past how too many news sites seem to be upset that WWE.com is operated in storyline-mode, as I like to call it. This week, I figure I can expand on this topic.

WWE.com (and even WWF.com before it) has been through many changes over the years. Occasionally, it pandered to the smart audience. Then it ran with storylines. Then back to reporting real news. And so on, and so on, and so on. In recent years, it seems to have settled into a mix of both; a delicate balancing act to say the least. But, I personally think that WWE.com is doing a pretty good job of doing just that. If I had to label each side with percentages, I would say it is 90% storyline driven, and 10% real life.

WWE.com is a marketing tool, plain and simple. It is regularly on the top lists of searched sites and is a revenue device. Much like WWF Magazine years ago, the stories and articles are used to further storylines, and for character development. No one ever revolted when WWF Magazine did this years ago, so why the contempt for WWE.com now?

While most article focus on why Randy Orton is the number one contender to John Cenaís title (here), or how Matt Hardy feels teaming and winning with his boyhood idol, there are also articles on unfortunate passings, such as Sensational Sherri (here), and firings, such as Rene Dupree (here).

Recently, there seems to be a movement back towards some semblance of kayfabe, with many feeling the business is being exposed too much. If rumors are to be believed, Stephanie McMahon and her husband Triple H are behind this movement. Regardless of who feels this way, I think there is some truth to it. The more you expose the business, the more people stop caring. Itís almost like magic Ė when that magician went on Fox years ago and revealed how to do all the secrets, it was cool to know the secrets, but eventually, the fun wore out. Thatís what WWE had to deal with Ė they exposed the business with Tough Enough and reporting ďrealĒ news on WWE.com, and once the polish wore off, the results werenít pretty. I believe most fans know wrestling is scripted and pre-determined, but they donít want to hear it, especially from WWE themselves. Most fans (not the smart fans) want to enjoy the show and get into it. And since WWE.com is what most regular fans go to first, it makes sense to play it in storyline-mode.

Of course, some reporters will complain about whatever stance Stephanie and Triple H take, regardless of how much it may or may not make sense. But an added wrinkle in the situation is that Michael Cole became the head of WWE.com in recent years. The problem there is, most people hate Michael Cole, too. Cole has a history of covering news, as he was a reporter before joining WWE; therefore, it is believed he wants to run the site as a real news source. So, for reporters, itís really hard to take one side over the other when you are known to complain about both parties backing each side.

Far too often I see an editorial comment on sites like PWInsider or 1Wrestling when reporting something that appeared at WWE.com first. It usually goes something like ďÖ. But then again, WWE.com canít figure out if they want to be a work or a shoot and it just confuses the fans.Ē So I have to ask, isnít that the point of wrestling anyways, to confuse the fans and make them believe something is real when it isnít? And that is just to placate their argument. I really believe most fans are smart enough to realize the difference, despite their level of ďsmartnessĒ towards the business.

For example, I think most people would see an article about John Morrison trying to change the face of ECW and know thatís part of the storyline, while realizing the opposite when seeing pictures of Edgeís surgery (although that article was laced with shots at Kane from EdgeÖÖ work AND shoot in the same article? Itís the end of the world as we know it, and amazingly, I feel fineÖ.). And I see that Linda McMahon won an award from Ticketmaster because WWE sold more than 500,000 tickets through Ticketmaster last year (here). Does anyone think that award is fake and WWE.com just made it up because they are mostly in storyline-mode?

Yeah, I know, I am using an extreme example, and that once in a while something might come up to make fans take a double-take, but again, that would be by design. As I usually say in my columns by saying, WWE.com operating in work and shoot modes is not the end of the world. Fans arenít as stupid as some reporters think they are Ė and I think most fans should be upset that the sites are implying they are. They always pick on WWE for insulting our intelligence, but arenít they doing the same by implying I canít tell the difference between Trinity being released (here) and if Irish eyes actually smiled on Hornswoggle (here)?

Is it really worth complaining that WWE.com is trying to work the fans? If the site did post real news, Iím sure people would still complain about something, like the way WWE reports the real news, since thatís what they do. If you want the real news, you know where to find it.

Feedback is always welcome at figurefanatic@gmail.com or you can visit my blog here.

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