Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Tyranny of American Corporatism in the Squared Circle

Vince McMahon and his WWE are emblems of rotten American capitalism at work
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Ricardo Rodriguez was released last night, and if the rumblings coming forward from the WWE's fiscal forecasts are accurate, he won't be the only one being joined in the unemployment line. Whether today, tomorrow, next week, or whenever in the near future, WWE will be shedding what its board, chaired by Vince McMahon, sees as dead weight, much like it did about a month ago when the first bloodletting occurred. Whether the released include wrestlers who haven't been on screen forever like JTG or people currently in programs like Curtis Axel and Ryback (among the rumored cuts), guys who have spent years drawing paychecks for the biggest wrestling company in the world will have been thrown off the biggest cliff in terms of financial disparity between the market leader and even its closest domestic competitors.

The reason why financial analysts and people with financial stakes in WWE are running around like decapitated chickens is the plummeting stock price. Unless you've stayed away from Twitter and haven't read any wrestling news sites whatsoever, then you already know this drop in the stocks has caused McMahon to lose a lot of money, and it's tied directly into overzealous forecasts for subscribers to the WWE Network. He boasted that the new over-the-top venture would have a million-plus subscribers within the first quarter of its existence. When that number fell well short of that milestone, WWE went into cost-cutting mode, a mode that persists even now.

Basically, Vince McMahon oversold the size of his cock, and so far, the number of releases is up to 12 if you're only counting on-air talent. If that fact doesn't seem fucked up to you, then maybe you're one of the people who likes to say that my politics "get in the way of my vision."

What is happening in WWE is not any different than what happens in a lot of companies around the United States. Haughty executives make bold claims about fiscal futures. Through no fault of the employees at large, those forecasts fall well short of goal. The stock price tumbles. In order to cut costs, the first "things" to go are workers. In order to succeed in business, you seem to need to possess a Randian disregard for human life as a special entity. Workers are not people, they're fungible assets, and ones that are not nearly as worthwhile to hang onto as the things that can accrue dust or that can't talk back. So whenever costs need to be cut, employees' salaries are the first in the firing line.

The American financial system has been aided and abetted by big government to be allowed to exist in this manner. Job creators are more valuable than the actual jobs. Corporations are people, and thus their rights to accrue wealth as quickly and ruthlessly as possible are allowed to trump the wage needs of the workers that these legal fallacies require in order to function. The current WWE climate can be described by this process to a tee. No one will bat an eyelash either, because WWE is too big to fail by the definition set up by the banks whose unscrupulous behavior and subsequent razing by the ruptured bubble they created.

However, WWE's condition doesn't seem nearly as extreme. Yes, McMahon has lost a lot of money, but most of that was speculative in the first place. He didn't lose any liquid assets; it was all tied up in the stock, which is a volatile, fickle beast regardless of market. Even if he closed the company tomorrow because he adjudged it to be too expensive, he would still have millions of dollars, a big house, cars, and whatever else he has in his personal possession. Still, the first thing he and his board look to cut is not the collective salaries of the boardroom. They're not going to sell off any of the inanimate assets. Sure, WWE could get a pretty penny for, say, the WCW library, but that thing is more valuable to a person as a possession rather than a selling chip.

That mindset makes sense if the goal of business is seen as a means to personal wealth. Personally, I think the goal of any business should be to serve some kind of societal good, both with its product and with the gainful employment it provides to the people at large to be able to function in society. But then again, I'm some pinko commie liberal who is dreadfully outnumbered, especially among the people who already have money.

Vince McMahon is part of that ruling elite, and he and his robber baron peers can set an arbitrary line of poverty that even the shrinking-middle class would kill to attain. Wall Street overreacts to forecasts like his egomaniacal overshot on WWE Network and irresponsibly plays with the fortunes of millions if not billions. And thus, perfectly capable performers get shot out into space more or less.

Wrestling is as close to a virtual monopoly in America as one can get. WWE is the biggest game in town, and everywhere else offers peanuts in comparison, even TNA. Even now, getting released from WWE doesn't mean a steady payday from the Impact Zone, since that promotion's future is in limbo. Just like going from the dingy, musty, low-pay world of the indies to the Performance Center can seem like manna from heaven, the reverse reaction is just as jarring. If a wrestler wants to make any kind of money in the industry post-WWE, they either have to barnstorm like crazy, or they have to go to companies in cultures where they may need a lot of time to adjust (Japan, Mexico).

And the worst part of it is that this entire situation could have been avoided if McMahon didn't flap his gums like his onscreen character was never, ever turned off. Mr. McMahon is the one who makes the false promises backed by massive bravado. Vince McMahon, however, can't really afford to posture that way because jobs of thousands of people, whether they work on camera or behind the scenes, are at stake. The WWE right now is a microcosm for everything wrong with capitalism, especially as it's executed in America.

So remember that later on today if the hammer starts dropping WWE superstars who more than likely don't deserve to be tossed out on the street. Remember how this situation came about if you're the kind who starts licking his or her lips whenever someone's about to lose their jobs. It all could have been avoided of McMahon didn't play the game so hard, but then again, the game should not have been able to be played this way in the first goddamn place.