Monday, July 23, 2018

For the Greater Glory of Stephanie McMahon

It's all about her, and it always will be
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NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, the first installment, was a landmark event. The biggest reason for that fame, what helped make that specific Takeover NXT's WrestleMania of sorts, was that one of the two or three best matches in its history happened there. Sasha Banks unsuccessfully defended the NXT Women's World Championship against Bayley. It was a thrillride of a contest that put the nascent women's division under the most intense spotlight. Not only that, it wasn't just a showcase of two elite wrestlers; it was the culmination of a story that was set in motion in the pre-Network days of NXT. It could have stood by itself, and it most definitely should have been the final match of the show over a sleepy and forgettable ladder match between Kevin Owens and Finn Bálor.

It could have stood on its own, but of course, it didn't. Stephanie McMahon got on the microphone beforehand and spewed her platitudes about how she gave the women the opportunity to succeed. Her words were about as welcome as a weasel in a henhouse, but the way she was the one to kick off the Women's Revolution or how she introduced the Women's Royal Rumble in the months and years afterwards, she probably felt like it had to be done. You see, because like her father is the reason for wrestling's existence overall, she's the one who is responsible for women's wrestling.

Whereas her father grew up steeped in the traditions of old wrestling, where people learned that they had to sell and put people over, McMahon's heyday came in the era of her family's hegemony, when television ratings told them they were the focal points of the show. Vince, to his credit, always put over Steve Austin. When was the last time his daughter did so meaningfully for someone, anyone? The answer, and the only one I can think of since coming back to wrestling in 2008, is Vickie Guerrero, but only because as soon as that angle ended, the former general manager figure left the company. Yes, McMahon tapped out to Ronda Rousey's armbar at WrestleMania, but afterwards, she continued to antagonize Rousey. The feud is never done, and it probably won't be until Rousey turns or loses to her on her way out of the company.

See, one can only praise Papa Vince for putting Austin over so much, because as much as he laid down for the Austin, as many times as Austin took out his henchmen, the feud never really ever ended until WrestleMania X-7, when Austin finally surrendered and joined the evil empire. That's the example that he set for his kids and his son-in-law going forward. No matter how many times a McMahon has to show ass, they will always win in the end, because they're Randian supermen, capitalist heroes who are the real fuel for the machine, not these lowly proles that they misclassify as independent contractors. Steph, who has to evolve the business from her father, now took that mandate as not even having to show any vulnerability whatsoever. People recoil whenever her music plays for fear that she'll come out and emasculate the male wrestlers on the roster, which isn't so much a sexist idea as it is that she gets to berate and yell at anyone she pleases without ever having to take a bump from them.

For the men, one could blame WWE's skittishness to have a woman bump for a man, but what excuse does that leave for women, who can deliver her physical justice without causing the shareholders to clutch their pearls? Well, she can't really be expected to engage in fisticuffs with the women she's charged with being so benevolent towards, hence all the faux-inspirational rah-rah speeches before big mileposts in this Women's Revolution. McMahon wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants to be evil overlord who gets the crowd to hate her, but also the boundary-smashing woke businesswoman who is raking in the awards and DISRUPTING all the societal norms.
For her, WWE's televised product is just part of her brand, and brands are only superficial. It's what you see passing by a billboard or flicking through channels. If McMahon can sell women on a marquee that's bright enough, it can mask some awful truths, that female performers are treated more shabbily than their male counterparts in an industry where all workers get the blunt end of the cudgel no matter what their gender. It's how she thinks she can skate on naming anything after Fabulous Moolah, someone who was probably nice to her when she was a young'un hanging backstage around the business she'd inherit, but who actively pimped female workers in her past all while holding back women's wrestling for decades so as not to threaten her spot in the business. It's how she can continue to think she has license to disintegrate the fourth wall just so she can pump herself up while announcing all these "groundbreaking" women's events that should have been in place alongside their male counterparts.

So remember that when tonight, she introduces Women's Tag Championships or announces the all-women's event that should have been planned alongside the Greatest Royal Rumble or both, all while she verbally gives herself cunnilingus in the process. WWE is her brand, and it exists to give her all the plaudits that she feels she deserves, much in the same way her husband has made NXT his vanity promotion, set to give him his fucking tribute for giving the unwashed masses the good wrestling they crave. It's why I don't really have much of a hope for WWE drastically changing after Vince McMahon steps aside or passes away. Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon are just as into putting themselves over as he was and still is. Levesque's methodology might have some worthwhile byproduct, but don't pretend he's not going to take chances to put himself over when he can. I mean, just look at WrestleMania 31 and his match vs. Sting as example.

Stephanie McMahon's self-gratification comes in the insidious cloak of social justice, and that's what makes it so much grosser. She's not worse than her father, but if she seems like it, it's because she's learned the worst lessons about self-promotion from him and misapplied them to her worst traits, thinking they're her best ones. The worst of us always learn the wrong lessons, and they never seem to get their comeuppance. They just keep failing upward until someone in the far future pays the price for it.