WWE Chairman of the Board Vince McMahon is one of the biggest ratings draws in pro wrestling of the past 25 years. That's why he's trotted out for an angle or a promo whenever Monday Night Raw falls around a 2.5 or below in the ratings. He comes back, the numbers go up, and all returns to normal.
That's what happened this past week when he gave Raw a ratings boost after the show hit a record low in the past 15 years for a non-holiday show. But lost amidst all the hoopla surrounding CM Punk punching a fan and the controversy surrounding it was the decision to have McMahon wrestle.
At 67-years-old. That's five years older than Jerry Lawler, who wrestled on a show last month and had a heart attack shortly after when he returned to his ringside seat at the commentary desk with Michael Cole.
In a ploy to boost ratings, WWE thought it just fine to have Vince wrestle a hard match just one month removed from a man younger and in better shape having a heart attack live on air.
Although it's cut out of the above video, perhaps signaling some sense of self-awareness by the powers that be with this company, there is a point in the match, just after McMahon sends himself flying over the announce table Lawler had his heart attack at in a different arena in Montreal, where he stands up and gets wobbly. Ultimately, it was just fatigue but there's no way I was the only one who was watching and thought one of two things:
1. Oh my god, not McMahon too, this is so bad
2. Oh my god, please don't tell me they're working an angle with McMahon faking a heart attack
Thankfully it was neither but it does showcase how irresponsible it was for McMahon to actually wrestle, especially a hard match with Punk that ended up getting him cut above his eye.
At some point, there has to be a line drawn. Sure, Vince is the kind of boss who likes to lead by example, who wouldn't ever ask his talent to do anything he wouldn't do himself. But he's old enough now that a few ratings points and an extra 500,000 viewers isn't worth an unspeakable tragedy playing out in front of millions of people.
McMahon did what he aimed to do: he entertained his audience. I had fun watching the show, although the main event match got uncomfortable in spots for all the reasons mentioned above.
But if I had to choose between a normal, run-of-the-mill episode of Raw and one that was a little more exciting but had the potential for unspeakable tragedy, give me the former every time.