Straight Shooting - Issue #105
Since 1997 - The Standard Bearer For Wrestling Columns
by Fritz Capp
February 04, 2001
The XFL : For Better or Worse it's Here To Stay
The initial marketing and the first night of the XFL has come and gone and to be quite honest there are many varied opinions as to what really transpired. One thing is to be sure, as with any other sporting event one cannot predict what will happen.
This was obvious as the XFL's first televised game had the Las Vegas Outlaws pitted against the New York/New Jersey Hitmen in a dismal game which actually looked more sophomoric than it did big league instead of it's other game (which they finally went to in the fourth quarter) which had the Orlando Rage against the Chicago Enforcers that looked to be on more of the level of game that at least I myself was expecting from a Vince McMahon run company.
Browsing the Internet in the aftermath of the first XFL broadcast has brought a wealth of praise and criticism from every walk of life. From sportscasters to ministers everyone seems to have an opinion on what they saw.
Associated Press columnist Howard Fendrich saw fit to dissect the show, throwing disparaging remarks at what he saw throughout his column. Over on the MSNBC site, an uncredited Associated Press column took it upon itself to criticize Jesse Ventura's role in the announcing booth. iWon.com took the more politically correct route and just gave a Reuters account of both games, which was basically covering the games. Les Carpenter, an MSNBC contributor and someone who covers "pro" football for the Seattle Times was also less than gracious when writing about the XFL. He refers to the Orlando team as the Orlando (ROID) Rage, claims that we need another football league about as much as it needs a monster truck hall of fame and finds many places to shoot his interesting and sometimes biased barbs at the XFL, the WWF and Vince McMahon.
Now if the XFL games all looked like the Las Vegas/NY/NJ game I am afraid I would have to be inclined to agree with some of their assessments. Watching that game gave me the impression of a High School National Championship game at worst, a poor college game at best. The play was poor, the cheerleaders were defiantly not the caliber of what I was expecting and some of the things I saw (like He Hate Me across the back of a jersey) in actuality turned me off. It was less than a professional debut. But then they switched to the Orlando/Chicago game. Here there were 35,000+ fans, two teams that looked like they knew how to play the game and while some people will vilify me for saying this, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler doing an outstanding job on commentary. I actually got kind of mad that we were not given this whole game instead of the other one. But it does present that the fact that there are a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong with the XFL, which is to be expected on it's inaugural night.
One thing is to be sure, that this league will not fall into the financial trappings of the USFL. There are no Steve Young's drawing $40,000,000.00 contracts. But then again it will be hard pressed to find a wealth of talent like the USFL had also. The USFL accounted for many great players who eventually wound up in the NFL. Can the same thing be said about the XFL? That question can only be answered in time.
The premise of the XFL is to once again give the kind of football that our fathers grew up watching. You know the kind of football I am talking about. The kind that allowed Joe Namath and the New York Jets to pull one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl or football history. The kind that we always hear about when talking about the legends of yore. The Y.A.Tittles, the Sonny Jorgenson's, the "Mean" Joe Greene's and the "Hacksaw" Reynolds. The kind of football that when someone was hit, they felt it but they got back up and played the next play. Not todays's NFL players who are protected by every rule imaginable and are so used to living La Vida Loca due to their huge and mostly undeserved multi-million dollar contracts that they would not be able to take a true pounding from the dreaded Pittsburgh "Steel Curtain" for one quarter let alone for four. The question is can Vince McMahon deliver this and match the hype he has put out for his new football league?
I highly expect for there to be some indications of this but it is hard to build what you hype overnight. To expect Vince to come right out of the box and deliver all he said is ludicrous. Rome was not built in a day, neither was Microsoft or the World Wrestling Federation as we know it today. To build something it takes time and someone of Vince's obvious understanding of how to build a successful company understands that concept very well. To say that Vince's XFL is a huge success at this time is not right. On the other hand to say he failed in his vision is equally wrong. Also to judge the XFL by the standards of the World Wrestling Federation, as a lot of "sports columnists" are doing right now shows their complete misunderstanding for what Vince is trying to accomplish while allowing their own personal bias to protrude from their columns.
The XFL, for better or worse, is here and will be here for a long time I believe. While the NFL sits back and watches and steals whatever ideas they like one thing is for sure, Vince McMahon is going to change football as we currently know it. Just as a fledgling little independent wrestling promotion based out of a bingo hall in South Philadelphia changed professional wrestling forever, Vince McMahon could do the same to the NFL. It will be interesting to watch to be sure.
Wrestling Websites Shutting Down In Alarming Numbers
People recently have been shocked at the recent closings of Scoops and iWrestling. This shows that most people do not have a full understanding of what has been going on as it pertains to the Internet at large. For those people who just think the Internet is something that just goes on and on I have some sad news for you. The Internet is nothing but an extension of pure capitalism plain and simple. This past year has seen the Internet go from a huge money hog to broke, broke, broke. Well not actually broke, but a lot of companies on the Internet are not realizing the huge profits they thought they would, so they scaled back. Even the huge money backed websites such as Disney and Warner Brothers are cutting back and consolidating their Internet interests. The days of free money on the net are gone. Don't get me wrong, a lot of companies went broke or bankrupt, but that was due to mismanagement or not having a real viable and usable product. At the height of the Internet glut many sites, in an effort to draw more people to their sites or just for the sake of cashing in on the net, decided joint partnerships with other sites or companies were in their best interest. This is not always the case though. When Scoops and iWrestling joined IGN they were under the impression that it would be to their benefit but that was not the case. When IGN first started their wrestling section it showed a lot of promise. Their mind set was to compete with the ever present and huge wrestling website, 1wrestling.com. But they failed in that goal. This was due to the fact that the people who were actually running IGN Wrestling allowed their ego's to get in the way of their goals.
Al Issacs's "Scoops" is just another casualty of the Internet gone bad. A partnership is never a full partnership unless two or more people start out the project together. Scoops was an afterthought of IGN and Snowball and would of course be the first to go in crunch time. I guess Isaac's really doesn't understand business and the ramifications to his site if something was to go wrong. Now I do not know if Isaac's sold the right to the name of his site to Snowball in this deal and if he did he was a complete idiot. Hopefully he did not. This would mean that he could restart Scoops at anytime if he wanted to.
IGN has degraded from what was potentially a great wrestling website with editorials that covered such topics like - January 25, 2000: Do wrestlers need a union?", January 19, 2000: Do The Disgruntled WCW Workers Have Options?, January 30, 2000: How to successfully raise a wrestling fan and May 15, 2000: Bruce Hart reflects back on the life of his brother Owen on his 35th birthday to February 2, 2001: Billy Gunn has been a namby pamby, Sabga says it's time for "The One" to break Chyna's neck, A Hermaphrodite's Revenge - January 25, 2001: Chris Sabga says that Kevin Kelly needs to turn ugly on The Rock. It's time for the abuse to end! and January 24, 2001: R.D. Reynolds, being the spiteful little punk he is, opens up a can of whoopass on the 9th wonder!. What a change from when they first started to now huh? On top of that, they do not want to report on indy promotions that don't use "names" regularly. Now of course they will report on you if that name would be Barry Darsow who couldn't draw flies at a cow manure party or some other relic that isn't even talked about anywhere, but if you have some guys that are up and coming they don;t want to have anything to do with you. Man, what a long strange trip it's been for IGN Wrestling. My hats off to Blake Norton for taking a great idea and concept and shoving it down the hopper while shutting down two of the better wrestling websites in the process. If you can't beat the competition, take it out right?
And with that I am outta here. Remember wrestling is nothing more than it appears to be!
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