Heel to Face: Daddy Issues

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Okay, gang, I admit it—I took a week off. I got spent. I watched zero hours. All I did was enjoy this Rolaids ad for Big Show.

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Which is enjoyable, to be fair. I like to imagine the Rolaids marketing department saving up their money in a Big Show shaped piggy bank for years in order to have enough to sponsor Survivor Series, because there is no more apt audience for Rolaids then the WWE universe. I am finally beginning to count myself among them. We are a people of passion and gas.

So I experienced my first wrestling burnout, and then I ate a ton of pizza and watched Survivor Series and made a sick brown liquor-Rolaids cocktail and I’m better now. Using the power of Sheamus’s dingles, I will persevere. Who do we blame for a competently executed but ultimately unsatisfying PPV?

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Hi Daddy. It’s no secret that the WWE Universe has suffered and thrived in the face of some notorious daddy issues, which means we are officially in my wheelhouse hi hello welcome and let’s explore. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to spill some family beans in a disjointed manner before eating myself into a coma, so let’s talk Vince “Dad” McMahon.

Hi Daddy!

Vince McMahon is this generation’s Louis B. Mayer, a surrogate father figure who will protect you to the extent that he can still turn a profit. To an extent, any criticism of Vince McMahon is a testament to him, as well—after all, there would be no WWE in its current form without him, just like there’d be no you without your dad. Can we consensually build this metaphor together? I’m asking because I respect you.

Like many others, Dad was born into a wrestling family and spent his life foaming at the mouth in an effort to expand it. It worked, gang—in spite of his father’s desire for him to shy away from the wrestling business, the prodigal son expanded syndication threefold during his early days with the organization and shaped the WWE into what it is today. We don’t need to get into all he’s accomplished, but the salient point is that Dad excelled in developing a stable of talent that people could get invested in, elevating story and pomp to the same level as athleticism. The heels became heelier, the faces became babier, the ladies got object-ier, and the guys got bulgier.

Here’s where Dad makes a misstep, according to the old school. Bruce Sammartino went on record a number of times expressing disappointment in the way that the younger McMahon ran the company after his father died, particularly his emphasis on the oily man-bods that papered lunchboxes and cum-stained teenage sheets throughout the nation in the 1980s and ‘90s.

So what’s a buff stable to do? Without Dad, they have no career, and with Dad, they are regularly getting juiced to the gills in a practice that would reach its head in a high-profile case in 1993 that has been largely buried in Universe history. In the 1980s, Dad worked in conjunction with a very cooperative Pennsylvanian urologist to supply over forty wrestlers with a steady stream of buff boy pills as the company continued to gain momentum. The guys who cooperated with Dad’s wishes in spite of the ensuing back acne and health complications (hi Hulkie) succeeded, while those who protested saw their stories reduced and visibility lessened.

Why Daddy no think I pretty?, think the kids. Easy enough to stew over in private with Dad’s staying behind the commentator’s table, but the Freudian tension with McMahon skyrocketed once he made the decision to enter the ring himself.

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