AS I SEE IT - 3/27/2002:
Thoughts on the WWF's
"Open Letter to Wrestling Newsletters and Websites"
This week, thoughts on the WWF's "Open Letter to Wrestling Newsletters and
The WWF, in an unprecedented attack on newsletters like the Wrestling Observer and Pro Wrestling Torch, and websites like 1wrestling.com, PWBTS, and the other sites on which you read this column, railed last week at "unnamed sources", which are used by most websites to report news and information about WWFE, with the obvious exception of press releases and other information directly issued by the company.
The letter further states "Despite our efforts to make ourselves available for official comment, it is the rare occasion when you call to confirm your facts or to get official comment before publishing information about the WWFE."
The implication is then made that any information published by wrestling websites and in wrestling newsletters that is not officially issued from the WWFE offices is somehow less than true... or merely rumor and should be regarding as such by WWF fans.
News has been broken independently by many of these same websites, such as 1wrestling.com, on such stories as:
Steve Austin's recent dissatisfaction with the WWF.
Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan's return to the WWF as the NWO.
Mike Tyson's involvement with the WWF as "ringside enforcer".
Jerry Lawler's return to the WWF.
Bret Hart and Vince McMahon's discussions with the WWF about returning for the WCW Invasion, then about returning at Wrestlemania.
Each story was denied by WWFE, including the Bret Hart story, which caused a great deal of controversy, with all parties denying the story...until Bret Hart's recent confirmation in the Calgary Sun prior to Wrestlemania, and WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco's confirmation on WWF.com.
Many people online went so far as to accuse 1wrestling.com's Bob Ryder of making up the story to get hits for his site. Those people have been proven to be totally mistaken, and Ryder's story been proven in time to have been correct.
It seems that the real reasoning behind part of the "Open Letter to Pro Wrestling Newsletters and Websites" was the fact that 1wrestling.com dared to report that Steve Austin went home after Wrestlemania. It's notable that at no time has the WWF denied the facts behind what appeared in Ryder's reports; but merely attacked the website for reporting on the story.
It's also been suggested that the WWF wasn't happy with Dave Meltzer for being the source in a recent Eric Boehlert article at Salon.com story on professional wrestling (and specifically on the economic fortunes of the WWF), largely because the WWF chose not to give comment for the article, and used Meltzer's comments in lieu of official WWFE comment.
Dave Meltzer's reputation for breaking stories has been well-established over 15 years. Even the mainstream media became aware of it 10 years ago during the WWF sex scandals involving Pat Patterson, Terry Garvin, and Mel Phillips. Meltzer was quoted, as he should have been, as a legitimate independent source for news.
For the WWF to attack Meltzer's reputation defies any sense of logic at all...with fans knowing of this reputation which has made him the pre-eminent trade newsletter writer in the industry.
Another website presumably included in this attack is SLAMWrestling.com, a website affiliated with SLAM! Sports, and owned by the Sun newspaper chain that operates newspapers in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, London (ON), Ottawa, and Winnepeg...this, after having assisted WWFE in the publicity prior to and during the Axxess fan festival and WrestleMania, with heavy press in the Toronto area.
Even Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch provided excellent news and interviews over the years, most recently with considerable coverage of the WWF purchase of WCW (almost a year ago to the day I'm writing this column). The reports had an unique awareness of the problems with the original Fusient Media Group purchase, and scooped other sources about the eventual purchase of WCW at fire sale prices by WWF Entertainment.
This was at a time when many involved denied the story, and publicly trashed Keller and his reporters for their coverage.
It also presumably includes PWBTS.com or other websites on which you read AS I SEE IT.
WWF Entertainment can post all the rhetoric that they wish to on their site about wrestling news sources, such as those mentioned above.
The fact of the matter is that the sources I've mentioned above have a well-deserved reputation for reporting stories, using sources that are most often unnamed, because those concerned want to keep their jobs...and because WWFE has had less than a stellar reputation for dealing with the online wrestling press and newsletters when said press tries to deal with WWFE in the way they claim that they wish to be dealt with.
All of this, of course, unless the story is flattering to the company...or unless they need the publicity, such as during the period before the most recent Wrestlemania.
Are there websites that make up stories, and deserving of any and all criticism they receive?
But these are the websites that are run by 13 year olds, who post false news links or outlandish rumors to get hits; or promise nude pictures of women in wrestling, or who even post items regarding so-called "contests" for people to get compromising pictures of Stephanie McMahon by means that would constitute assault... or who use copyrighted pictures of female WWFE personalities illegally to get hits for their websites....or who "borrow" news from the above sites and sources without credit.
These kiddie sites are not regarded by anyone over the age of six as serious news sources, and WWFE knows that.
1wrestling.com, SLAM Wrestling.com, Wrestling Observer, and the Pro Wrestling Torch, among others, are regarded as being credible sources for news. No WWFE generated story will change that fact that they are regarded as such now by wrestling fans, or in the future.
As a wrestling fan who reads this column, or reads sites like 1wrestling.com, SLAM Wrestling.com, Wrestling Observer, and the Pro Wrestling Torch and/or other sites that you believe to be delivering responsible news...you may wish to let the WWF know how you feel.
You can do so by e-mailing WWF Entertainment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let them know that you feel the statements made on their "Open Letter" are irresponsible for a publicly-owned entertainment to engage in, and that the particular wrestling website (or websites or newsletter) that you read delivers news in a manner deserving of being treated as a legitimate media source, not as an inconvenient annoyance to be publicly attacked on the pages of WWF.com.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)