Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remember When Vince McMahon's Limo Blew Up?

This post was written for a magazine that shut down. At the time people were speculating whether or not Vince McMahon's limo really did blow up with him inside it. So here you go: 

The WWE is known for pulling out all the stops when the chips are down, or when there is strong competition. However, in recent years, the stunts that the WWE has pulled have been less than spectacular and proven fake. The limousine explosion that concluded a very special edition of WWE Raw was completely fake, and anyone who believes that it was real, is missing the point of wrestling and should stop watching it now. However, this is not the first time that we've seen the WWE involved in an odd angle which was completely fabricated for media attention. While the WWE did do it all as a stunt, no one can deny that they evoked a lot of media attention and boosted ratings, when they were in a slump. There are three major events that can be linked to publicity stuns in recent memory for wrestling fans; Mike Tyson getting into a fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Billy and Chuck's gay marriage on Smackdown, and most recently the limousine exploding. These three events sparked interest in the WWE from fans, as well as the media, however one must not forget that they were just publicity stunts, and nothing more.

Consider the year 1998, the WWE was seeing a steady increase in fans, however there was not a clear cut defined winner in the Monday Night Wars that were occurring at the time. The day after the Royal Rumble, on Monday Night Raw, Mike Tyson made a special appearance, but was interrupted by the number one contender to the WWE title at the time, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin went on a verbal tirade, much to the dismay of Mr. McMahon, causing a stir with the audience and notable reaction. When Tyson and Stone Cold got into each others faces, and Austin flipped Tyson the Bird, pandemonium ensued and the ring was cleared, Austin was arrested, and the media blitz began. The next day all sports pages had a picture of Tyson shoving Steve Austin, and no one could determine whether or not it was a stunt, or if it was an ad libbed venture into live television. We all know it was all for show, as Austin took over the WWE Championship later that year at Wrestlemania, defeating Shawn Michaels for the coved top spot in the WWE.

Now fast forward to where the Smackdown brand was getting notoriety in the news, with mainstream media publishing articles, and major talk shows having a tag team duo known for more than just wrestling together on their show talking about some interesting subject matter. Billy & Chuck were paired together and the gay factor was risen to all new levels. In a publicity stunt that was cleverly disguised as a real event, the WWE decided to run a story line where Billy & Chuck would become life partners through marriage, live on WWE's Smackdown program. Gay advocates jumped on the chance to promote this as a positive thing, and were quick to praise the WWE for their efforts to solidify Gay characters on their programming, showing a line of brevity that most shows at the time were not doing. During the ceremony, there was a melee, and the two were never married, but were instead pummeled by a debuting tag team by the name of 3 Minute Warning. This too was heavily covered by print and major media, only to be subdued into a ratings pusher, and stunt, that has never been revisited again.

Finally, the stunt that involved the WWE chairman was indeed a stunt. A stunt that got major media involved, and major news sources trying to figure out if the stunt was real or not, much to their dismay, it was a stunt and the WWE chairman was alive and well. WWE is known for sports entertainment, and when these sorts of things happen, one must consider the fact that they are in a business model that promotes outlandish stories, in the back drop of wrestling. The WWE would never allow a real situation to air like this, and if you are not convinced, then count how many times Owen Hart's death is mentioned or shown on the air. I rest my case.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! These publicity stunts are a necessity to maintain a healthy fan base. This is the first time I had ever heard of the Billy and Chuck stunt! Great stunt at that. I watched the limo explosion and have to admit that at the age of 15, I was convinced this was the end of Mr. McMahon! It certainly was realistic. However, you definitely have a point in regards to the lack of exposure and commentary in regards to Owen Hart.



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