WWE vs Glen Beck
By Chris Wayne (www.StiffWorker.wordpress.com)
You know, I thought one post about this situation would be enough, but I keep on seeing these bloggers taking this on, trying to concoct a sorry excuse for an argument that WWE is actually coming out of this whole Glenn Beck/Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter/WWE mess.
My advice to you: STOP IT. My advice to WWE: STOP IT.
Glenn Beck holds ALL the cards, and WWE can only hope that, at best, this goes away. Here’s why:
1. Glenn Beck is a professional talker. How do you think he got to where he is? I have been in the radio business for over 20 years, and I coached/developed talent for well over a decade of that time. From extensive experience, I can tell you that Glenn Beck (and every other big-time talk show host like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, the recently-retired Neal Boortz and Laura Ingraham) is extremely gifted at dissecting a piece of news and accurately identifying four things:
- The ‘legs’ of a story…is a story to which people will attach themselves?
- The ‘fit’ of a story…is it something that will go well with the agenda and flow of a broadcast?
- The potential ‘swell’ of a story…when he attaches his angle to the story, how viral will it become?
- The potential ‘blowback’ of a story…how much grief could he see by sharing his angle on the story.
When the Swagger story – the arrest, not the character – crossed his desk, Beck did his due diligence, and hit on the story of the character, and knew he could immediately score on all four counts. For Beck, it was a slam dunk (check it out the video of him tearing apart Swagger/Colter, WWE, and Linda McMahon in about fifteen minutes).
2. WWE’s press release took things to a place they don’t want it to go. On Feb. 22nd, WWE sent out a release in which they invite Beck to appear on Monday’s edition of RAW for five uninterrupted minutes to support his criticism of the Tea Party angle. It was a publicity stunt, and to WWE’s credit, it worked…until the end of the release. It read:
Similar to other television shows and feature films, WWE is in the entertainment business, creating fictional characters that serve as protagonists or antagonists. To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines. WWE is creating a rivalry centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view. This storyline was developed to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE’s large Latino base, which represents 20 percent of our audience.
Here’s the problem: WWE is now attempting to insert themselves, as a corporation, into the story. In other words, they’re attempting to push the company into the spotlight instead of the characters. Beck has, and will continue to, pounce on this if WWE doesn’t back off. In the clip I referenced, Beck’s first shot was at Linda McMahon (he goes after her just :30 into the segment); he did this because the real issue for Beck, and everyone outside the WWE fanbase, is WWE’s apparent desire to demonize the conservative “tea party” movement. Their press release was an indicator that they’re happy with the program, and subsequently happy to throw conservatives under the bus. No corporation wants to put themselves at odds with a group that large.
3. Beck doesn’t care about what the WWE thinks. This man, on a daily basis, takes on some of the most powerful people in the world – Obama, George Soros, and the leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties. In 2010, he put together the Restoring Honor Rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, drawing around 100,000 (average of several wide-ranging estimates) people. He’s a multi-time bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. I’m no Glenn Beck disciple, but facts are facts: Glenn Beck is in no way phased by anything Vince and Co. say or do, and his response to the invite proves it. Everyone knew – including the WWE – that Beck would not agree to come on the show (wrestling apologists have been screaming that Beck was scared, or he knew he’d get booed out of the arena, etc). In fact, conventional wisdom would suggest that he wouldn’t acknowledge the invitation at all (there’s an old Chinese proverb that states “the dragon does not swing his tail to rid himself of a fly”…it’s kind of like that). However, he did respond, and it was a message aimed directly at the McMahons: “you don’t matter to me”. It was humiliating. I mentioned this in my previous post, but it bears repeating.
4. Beck is using this entire situation to his advantage. Glenn Beck knows that his name is the most powerful name in this story, and the WWE, their Tea Party angle, and their invitation are nothing more than tools to use. We, as wrestling fans, cannot allow our love for pro wrestling to cloud our vision; we MUST be cognizant of the fact that Beck’s agenda is to bolster the strength and resolve of the conservative/tea party movement, not to right the wrongs committed by the WWE creative team. He knows it’s easier for his listenership/viewership to stand up and fight when they can see the enemy, and he’s using all this WWE hub-bub to be that short-term enemy. He also knows WWE is a great enemy to have, because they look to be easily defeated for those who aren’t emotionally invested in it. He’s not doing this to get publicity – he’s engaging WWE to restate his status and influence.
Here’s the most important to recognize when taking all this in and formulating your opinion on it: Glenn Beck is using pro wrestling’s greatest script against it. This is ‘vintage’ Ric Flair! Beck won’t allow WWE to have a shot at the title, because they’re not good enough to deserve it. WWE hasn’t “walked that aisle, looking as good as only Glenn Beck can look”. Glenn would rather be “booked to do anything” than show up on the show run by those “stupid wrestling people”. It’s “The Nature Boy” running down the “American Dream” all over again.
Hard times, brother…that’s hard times.
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