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?"
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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