Vince McMahon is proud of his achievement of producing 1,000 episodes of Monday Night Raw, but is not about to rest on his laurels. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Even though he owns WWE.com, it's very rare for Vince McMahon to speak on that forum in a candid fashion. It has to be a very special occasion for him to break kayfabe and let slip his real opinions behind the facade of the all powerful, macho Mr. McMahon character. Yesterday, that blue moon occurred, as the upcoming 1000th edition of Monday Night Raw was deemed an impressive enough milestone in his promoting history to warrant discussion on his website.
The interview is worth reading in full, but most interesting was his reaction at how Raw ran Monday Nitro off the air and WCW out of business:
I don't think we drove WCW out of business. That was certainly never our intent. That was the mindset of Ted Turner and WCW, but not WWE. See, if you spend all of your energy trying to kill the other guy, your product suffers. If you don't kill the other guy, then he's going to come back at you, and when he comes back, you won't have done anything to make your house better. It's no different than being in a fight and knowing that, if the other guy keeps on hitting you, that son of a bitch is going to wear himself out pretty fast.
This answer is a bit rich coming from Vince McMahon, who expanded nationally in the mid 1980s and took delight at stealing every top star he could get his hands on and running all his regional competitors bankrupt one by one. To think that he didn't take a certain amount of satisfaction from buying WCW that had been bankrolled by Turner for years beggars belief, when it is known he had a deep-seated grudge with the media mogul, ever since Turner was all set to kick the WWF off TBS for failing ratings in late 1984. Instead, McMahon sold the Saturday evening time slot for $1 million to rival Jim Crockett Jr. before he could be kicked to the kerb, telling Crockett he would choke on that million. Not something you would wish on an opponent if you valued their competition.
Unsurprisingly, McMahon repeated the accusations that he made in the mid 1990s that WCW weren't playing fair, even though they were just copying from his own playbook:
They did everything they could to hurt us. They had the resources to attack us. We didn't have the means to do the same thing, so we had to make ours the better product. After they had run out of ways to hurt us, they realized that they didn't have much of a product. They blew out everything as quickly as possible, and only concerned themselves with the short-term. That worked out fine for WWE.
Actually, WCW had a great product until they imploded from the politics of having so many egomaniacs with a certain degree of creative control and shortsighted decisions on who to handle the booking of their promotion. Even in the dying days of the company, they had enough able talent that their product could have been a viable alternative to WWE in the right hands.
Perhaps most revealing is his perfectionist streak, never fully happy with an episode of Raw, which may explain his unrelenting drive, despite being 66 years old:
To be honest, I've never been completely satisfied with a show. And I don't think I ever will be. I'm always of the mindset that "well, maybe I could've done this differently," or, "maybe we could have added more of this, and taken away more of this." And that's purely based on the reaction of the live audience. But, the success of a show is an overall thing. It's not just based on ratings. There are so many different ways to judge whether or not a series of shows is successful.
Indeed, ratings can be a misleading sign of product interest and increases in them doesn't always lead to more bucks being spent by their consumers. Given WWE's obsession with them, it's good to know that their owner still recognises that they're not the complete be all end all.