No, this isn't a parody piece or an early April Fool's Day joke. In fact, it is a very genuine story that reveals how obsessed Vince McMahon is with being treated as an entertainment media mogul, not some lowly rasslin' promoter, and how that obsession makes his company look utterly ridiculous at times in the real world. In a press release, TV Week expressed the same shock as many hardcore WWE fans uttered that Drew Carey was being inducted into their Hall Of Fame after just one, not particularly monumental, appearance for the company:
Drew Carey Inducted Into Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. Huh? Drew Carey??!!
Comedic actor and game show host Drew Carey is the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
According to the WWE, "Carey established his place in WWE history as a surprise entrant in the 2001 Royal Rumble. However, Carey's fortunes quickly turned, when the massive WWE Superstar Kane entered the ring, prompting Carey to eliminate himself from the match."
The announcement adds, "The WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony...will take place at the Philips Arena [in Atlanta] on Saturday, April 2, and the one-hour TV special will air Monday, April 4, at 8/7c on USA Network."
I could see WWE being somewhat miffed about the dismissive surprised tone of the headline, but no, they were much more concerned with their Hall of Fame being branded a Pro Wrestling one. This led to a hilarious email and phone exchange between Kellie Baldyga, a publicist for WWE, and Chuck Ross of TV Week, where Baldyga attempted to harass Ross into changing the headline of their press release and when she failed instead had it removed from their website:
Next thing I know, I've received an email from one Kellie Baldyga, a publicist for WWE, DEMANDING that we correct the story. She also copied our owner, Rance Crain, on the email.
What had drawn her ire was the headline. Baldyga wrote in her email, "We are no longer a wrestling company but rather a global entertainment company with a movie studio, international licensing deals, publisher of three magazines, consumer good distributor and more."
... I called her and introduced myself. The conversation then basically went as follows:
Me: Your release says that Carey is being recognized as being an entrant in the 2001 Royal Rumble. I believe that was a wrestling event.
Kellie: No, we don't do wrestling events. They're entertainments. And we don't call them wrestlers. They're superstars and divas.
... Me: Kellie, I really don't have time for this. WWE presents wrestling events. I'm not going to change the headline or anything in the item. If you'd like, I'll just remove it.
Kellie: Huh? What?
Me: Kellie, I don't have time for this. What do you want me to do?
Kellie: Remove it.
So I did.
Kellie sent me a follow-up email saying "I hope nothing was contentious in our conversation..." She added, "I know the perception is that we are a wrestling company but we are actually much more than that--we are a global media company which is how our Chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, positions us."
The end result is that TV Week now thinks WWE publicists are mad lunatics that harass their site for no good reason! Didn't the company do well out of that unnecessary intervention!