FightBox - Facebook
English (United Kingdom)Polish (Poland)Czech (Čeština)

August 2015: Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes and Life After Vince McMahon

When our heroes die, we suddenly realize that no matter how larger than life they were, or seemed to be, the grim, horrible stench of death humanizes them, if only for a minute, before they become immortal in our memories and in our hearts.

2015 has been a heartbreaking year if you are a pro wrestling fan. In fact, most years are heartbreaking if you are a pro wrestling fan. It’s no secret that professional wrestling has one of the highest, if not the highest early death rates of any sport or entertainment. But with the recent passing of both Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper, wrestling deaths, although both from natural causes, have once again transcended our wrestling bubble and infiltrated the mainstream.

In the WWE wrestlers are sometimes disposable commodities; expendable, rotating puppets who break their bodies and shatter their personal lives in an attempt to entertain us and fulfill their own personal childhood dreams. Guys like Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes don’t come along very often anymore. They were men who are completely original and real in a world of unreal fighting.

Roddy Piper especially strikes me as someone who can never be produced or made. His promos could never be written by a creative writer. His character could never be invented or given to someone as a gimmick. He was the perfect example, the epitome of “turning your own personality up to 10” to make your character, something that is desperately missing from today’s product. He was as real as it gets, spoke his mind, stood up for what he believed in and owned up to his decisions. Irreplaceable is what he is. There has never been anyone like him and never will be again.

But what about the man behind the curtain? What about the Wizard of Oz? What about the man who turned a regional, territorial wrestling alliance into a global, corporate, wrestling money-making machine? It seems that no matter how bitter the pill is - Curt Hennig, Road Warrior Hawk, The Big Bossman, Chris Benoit, The Ultimate Warrior, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Roddy Piper … life and wrestling goes on. But when about when Vince McMahon dies?

I’ve heard numerous people, very close to the inner-workings, say that the reason why WWE has been so successful, the reason why WrestleMania worked, the reason why they conquered the territory system, the reason why they beat WCW, the reason why no one else can compete, is because of one man’s vision and decisions. At the end of the day everything goes through Vince. The WWE is his baby. Vince always has the final word. He and he alone is the brain child and nerve center of the WWE. Sure, he’s been grooming his daughter Stephanie and his son-in-law Triple H to take over, but can they carry on the legacy that he has created?

If anything, the deaths of Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper have reminded me that life is fragile and no one gets out alive. As Jim Ross says at the end of every one of his podcasts “Our tomorrows are not guaranteed”, not even for Vince McMahon. Let’s face it, McMahon is already in his 70’s. Both Piper and Rhodes were younger than him. I don’t wish death on anyone, but it comes to us all eventually.

Vince McMahon has ensured that, at least in his lifetime, he has won. He has secured the perfect situation for his business - a monopoly, a dictatorship. He has destroyed all of his competition and no one has come close to competing with him in 14 years and never will as long as he has a breath in his body. In my opinion, the only thing that can destroy the WWE is the WWE itself. Some kind of internal struggle, corruption or scandal perhaps.

After Vince McMahon is gone, I see a turbulent time for WWE. I see a quick, sudden and unexpected passing of the torch to Triple H and Stephanie. What will come of it will be interesting. Will they have the strength, ability and determination to steer the ship? Will they have the respect and trust of their peers, shareholders and fans to carry on or will the company crumble from the inside out?

It’s been said many times, even by Vince himself, that there is no one man bigger than the WWE, not even him. Maybe he has built an everlasting brand, incapable of defeat, even after he’s gone. Or maybe once he inevitably meets his demise, so to shall the WWE.

In no way would I like or am I looking forward to the death of Vince McMahon or the demise of the WWE. I wish him and everyone else in the wrestling business, long and prosperous lives. I would also not like to undermine the accomplishments or legacy of any other wrestler, living or dead. As Roddy Piper has said on many occasions “Anyone who answers the bell has my respect.”

I only find the thought of the future of the WWE after Vince McMahon an interesting one and what effect it will have on the future of the business. Will the WWE survive and will it be business as usual? What kind of direction change, if any, will Triple H and Stephane take with the product?

If they fall, that opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of possible outcomes. How will the dust settle? Who will step up to replace them? Will it be one new promotion or several promotions who will be competing? Will they work together? Will a new territory system come into play? Will it just be a bunch of independent wrestling promotions all scraping together shows of 100 fans?

Will wrestling ever have another “golden era” like in the 80’s with Hogan or in the 90’s with Austin? How can you replace the WWE with all of its history? How can another promotion possibly live up to its legacy?

Is there anyone else who can replace Vince McMahon and be as great of a leader and visionary to be able take wrestling to the heights it’s reached and push forward though all of the lows it has gone through? Who would be able to build a brand from scratch that would be able to garner enough interest to be successful on a global scale?

These are the questions that rattle around in my brain, wondering if the whole damn business could possibly be teetering on the brink of collapse based on the death of one man. If WCW or ECW were still around as legitimate competition, I might not be so worried, but given the current situation, with WWE having a 90% market share, it makes you wonder.

- Daniel Austin (Don Roid) (blog) (podcast)


  • Sdílet na:
    Facebook Google Bookmarks