The pro wrestling world was sent into a tailspin on June 27 with the news that WWE has appointed two legendary figures to oversee the creative on its biggest programs. Former WCW President Eric Bischoff will serve as Executive Director for SmackDown Live and former ECW owner Paul Heyman will hold the same title over Monday Night Raw.
It was indeed a shock for fans and insiders, who were completely caught off guard with the news. Both men will have major influence on each brand and for many, that’s a very good thing. The overall WWE product has needed a refresh for quite some time. But the truth is that no matter how promising this looks, it will only succeed if Vince McMahon allows it to happen.
This is the one catch to the story and everyone knows it. Vince McMahon, for all of the tremendous genius he has shown over the years, doesn’t typically surrender control to anyone. Even when things look rough for his company, Vince McMahon keeps the reins and snaps them even harder than before.
Check out WWE’s announcement from June 27!
The man just does not know when to say when and for the most part, there’s nothing wrong with that. Had it not been for his ambition, stubbornness and ego, WWE would not be in the position it’s in now. McMahon has been told no many times over the years. He’s also been told that he shouldn’t do certain things, just as he’s been told that he would never make it. Lesser men would take all of that criticism to heart and just give up.
But Vince McMahon is no ordinary man. Vince has proven time after time that no matter how big the fight is or how long it may last, he will never give up. If he listened to his critics, he may never have achieved the level of success that WWE enjoys today. That much is certain about this story and everyone knows that as well.
However, the idea that Vince can do no wrong died a long time ago. Even the most loyal of the WWE faithful knows that he is not infallible. The boss has made his fair share of mistakes and many of them seem to center on the notion that he just refuses to listen. He doesn’t listen to the agents, the writers and most importantly, the fans. Vince has his way of doing business and he typically doesn’t like to stray from it.
Watch Heyman talk about CM Punk!
So why would that change now? Why would Vince McMahon, the man who has always had to fight for his life in the industry and deliver pro wrestling his way, suddenly be content to hand his shows over? Could it be that Vince is indeed beginning to slow down and he needs a break? Or is it possible that his commitment to the XFL is so large that he has no choice but to step aside from WWE, at least in the short term?
Or does the company’s current situation now dictate that something has to change? Ratings are down. Live event, as well as pay-per-view attendance, are both down. Fan criticism is at an all time high, as WWE continues to disappoint on TV. While much of this has been happening for several months, it could be that only now has the company actually realized the gravity of the issue.
Perhaps the hiring of Heyman and Bischoff was a necessary evil because at this point, there doesn’t seem to be any other options. Non-Wrestling people have called the shots creatively for quite a while. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether or not it’s ever worked has never been up for debate among fans, who firmly believe that only wrestling people understand wrestling. For them, using anyone else never seemed like a good idea.
So now Paul and Eric will come in, to presumably dive head-first into the creative waters of Raw and SmackDown. Vince is likely still there, at least for now. Each program will surely get tweaked, or possibly even rebuilt from the ground up. Either way, a veteran pro wrestling mind will be in charge and that’s exactly what many fans have always wanted.
Watch Bischoff talk about AEW!
Maybe this will be the cornerstone moment that will change WWE for the better. The company is indeed facing rough numbers, but they’re also staring at a SmackDown Live debut on the FOX Network. Then there’s the fact that WWE is looking out at the busy pro wrestling landscape, which is about to get even more crowded. That’s due to AEW, which will also make an impact on TV this fall. How could WWE remain the same while everything around the company changes?
Vince’s refusal to stand still is precisely what led WWE over WCW. McMahon knew that in order to grow, WWE had to evolve. The company could not conduct business as usual while its rival was hammering them on a weekly basis. Something had to give and Vince made it happen. Is that what WWE fans are seeing right now?
Yes, all signs point to Vince McMahon finally getting the realization that WWE needs to once again evolve. It does seem that he’s ready to allow others to step in and make a difference. But if that is not the case, then this new experiment will probably fail. Heyman and Bischoff are surely excited about their new roles, just as fans are excited to see what will happen next.
But the truth is that if Paul and Eric are met with resistance from day one, then this will not work. Vince McMahon has to be willing to listen and to let go, when it’s needed. There’s no way to know if Heyman and Bischoff will excel in their positions. But to not give them a real chance is to once again admit that Vince already has all of the answers and simply doesn’t need anyone else. That’s one part of this story that definitely seems to be false.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live