HomeContact UsLinksSubmissionsGuestbookOrder Form

Video StoreMuseumContestsMessage BoardFeaturesWhat's New?

The Nature of the Beast
Features Panel

By Paul Herzog

I do not remember the exact text of the parable, but it goes something like this:

An Indian woman, walking along the side of the road, found the body of a cobra. The animal was not dead yet, but had been attacked by a mongoose, and would surely not live much longer without care. The woman placed the snake in her basket and brought it home, where she nursed its wounds, fed it, and slowly brought it back to health. Over time, the cobra had become a member of the family. One day, without warning, the snake struck bit the woman's infant son, killing the child in the blink of an eye. As the woman cradled her dead child, she glared at the cobra and wailed, "Why? I brought you into my home and nursed you back from the dead, and this is how you repay me?"

The cobra replied, "Madam, I'm a snake. You knew my nature when you took me in."

The World Wrestling Federation has sponsors that have been part of the "family" for many years. Most of them make children's toys, candy bars, or video games, products aimed at and marketed toward those under the age of 18. In the quest for ratings, the WWF radically changed the focus of their programming, without regard of the focus of the sponsors. Needless to say, folks like Milton-Bradley have voiced their displeasure, because Monday Night Raw is no longer suitable for their target audience. Their arguments may have a ring of truth to them, but they reveal a total lack of understanding with regard to the wrestling business. Professional wrestling has always had one focus, as should any business: making money.

For most of its history, wrestling has tried to appeal to adults. After all, it is one of the most violent forms of entertainment, outside the question of "real v. fake." Its practitioners appear to be breaking bones, tearing ligaments, and pummeling each other into helplessness. Even the hidden methods of providing this entertainment are harsh by any standard. While doing the initial planning of the Muhammad Ali v. Antonio Inoki fight in 1976, Inoki's people approached it as a worked fight, like a wrestling match. As they were discussing things, Ali's people were horrified that Inoki would volunteer to cut himself on the forehead with a razor blade. Euphemisms such as "gigging" or "getting color" hide the reality. Wrestlers cut themselves open as an indirect (or in the case of ECW, direct) way of providing entertainment to a paying audience.

Vincent K. McMahon, like his father, never lost sight of his primary focus: making Titan Sports a financial success. In the 1980s, the violence was toned down and wrapped in a shell of cartoon characters and Hulkamania. It may have insulted the intelligence of anyone over the age of 12, but for those under it, it was thrilling and extremely appealing. Ad men noticed that the product was aimed at their demographic, and climbed on board the backs of the Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior. But if they believed that the WWF was trying to provide responsible children's entertainment, they were sorely mistaken, as they are now finding out. Vince McMahon doesn't care about keeping his product safe for the youth of the world. The true nature of the beast has been revealed.

In offices, board rooms, and videoconferences across the country, marketing departments are feeling betrayed. "Oh my Lord! The WWF made Dennis Knight a human sacrifice on Raw Is War, right before our company sponsored the Slam of the Week! How did this happen?!"

Paul Herzog has spent far too many hours as a columnist for various Internet sources, and the Wrestling Lariat newsletter, over the past six years. He is a systems engineer at Tellabs in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and is lucky to have a wife that likes the wrestling business, too. He can be reached at grapsfan@aol.com.

Back to Top of Page  |  Return to Features Page

1999 Content: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1999 Design: Jan Herod
Advanced Programming and Web Editing: Dave and Kim Kandz