Welcome to the 4th of July edition of the Phat Daily Column. I hope you're enjoying your 4th, as I will, working this evening. Ugh! Today, we're going to change things up a bit, as I won't be hyping Smackdown, as I'll be doing something that has bounced around in my head for a while. I'll try not to hype Smackdown so maybe I could be surprised by it when I watch it later. I know Angle faces Undertaker for the Undisputed title, but that's it.

Congrats to the WWE for their lawsuit settlement against the PTC (Parents Television Council), the parental group who in 1999 and 2000 really went after WWE's advertisers about their content, which worked, because the WWE lost over 10 sponsors because of those bastards. Both the PTC website and WWE.com has L. Brent Bozell's apology, which was that the WWE was NOT responsible for Lionel Tate vicious attack, which the PTC blamed the WWE for influencing the kid to murder someone with wrestling moves.

But the WWE should have did more than just having the apology up on their website for 6 months. The Lionel Tate blaming gave them HORRIBLE publicity that they shouldn't have endured, on top of the large sum of money lost from the advertisers they swindled away from the WWE. The PTC did in fact make the WWE's life a living hell, and they should suffer more than just having an apology up on their website.

Anyway, on to the PDC.

Predictions on a Declining WWE

As the business continues to slide, you'd figure that things would happen to make it worse or that certain employees would "abandon ship", etc, etc, etc. What I'm going to do, based on what I've read or based on what has happened in the past, is to predict what else would happen if the WWE would continue to decline. Now, they could turn it all around in a heartbeat and this column won't matter, but I'm just going to offer some opinions of what could be predicted if the WWE continues to drop every month from now.

1) Jim Ross, Vice President of Talent Operations and Announcer, resigns. I believe that the combination of Steve Austin's departure and the current WWE content will drive Ross out. His job is a burnout one anyway, as he has to deal with and evaluate all of the WWE talent, including those in the OVW and HWA. Then, he has to announce on RAW and the Pay Per Views, and help out with the announcing on Smackdown (Cole's headset). That's a crap load of work for him to handle, and it would have to take someone who is continually dedicated and enjoying the WWE's current direction.

Ross has been much more critical of the WWE as of late. You can sort of hear it in his voice when he calls a match, although we can't officially determine that. We can determine what he writes in his weekly Ross Report, and he's just been in a more sarcastic mood lately. He didn't like the King of the Ring, among the other Pay Per Views lately.

There has to be more to the Austin situation than what we are being told. Jim Ross is the only one who has remained in contact with Steve Austin. Ross is a very close friend of Austin's, as he was one of the few that attended Austin's wedding to Debra and Ross took some time out of his personal life to be with Austin during his neck surgery. I wouldn't doubt that Ross was put up to what he said on Confidential, or he would later apologize to Austin for saying it. The loss of Ross would then put Johnny Ace in charge of talent, and we all know how poorly he ran WCW in its final days. Uh oh.

2) The departure of Kurt Angle. The loss of Kurt Angle has been soo underrated by fans and even the WWE. Angle is insanely over with the crowd, as they chant "YOU SUCK" loudly during his entrance and they are always hot for his matches, even cheering on John Cena to beat Angle's ass. Without Angle, who will take his place at the top of the midcard? Chris Jericho? No, because if he gets a taste of the top, he'll get politically shut down. Nobody will fill Angle's shoes, period.

3) The complete departure of the Rock. The WWE is lucky that Rock has some downtime before filming his next movie, or else we'd never see the him again. He's received plenty of movie offers since the initial success of the Scorpion King, and he'll be out of the WWE after he wrestles at SummerSlam. The film he'll be working on will keep him busy until December, and who knows after that? He is signed up for a few more films after that, so maybe something would start immediately after he finishes the one in December. It's unlikely that the Rock will ever have a free 2 months to help the WWE again.

4) Massive talent releasing to cut costs. It's said that Vince's greatest cost within the WWE is his talent, and with the fact that he's already forced many to take paycuts already, it's assumed he'll start cutting talent, left and right, to keep costs down. Who will be the firsts to go? The younger, yet un-established wrestlers or the ones that Vince just isn't using properly. Once this happens, I believe that start ups like the NWA-TNA will be watering at the mouth to pick these guys up. Just look at how well Jerry Lynn is doing after his WWE release, for example, and what will happen if the WWE lets another AJ Styles get out of their hands? Devastating!!!

History shows that WCW let a bunch of underappreciated talent go, where they'd make it big elsewhere. Oh, let's see here... Mark Calloway, otherwise known as the Undertaker. They let go of the man who would become Triple H. They dumped off Steve Austin, thinking he was worthless with the likes of Hulk Hogan and his close friends now around in 1994. They let go of Foley... They forced Chris Jericho out... I could go on and on! But the younger talent that gets released could be the key, because the WWE has a great deal of talent that they have yet to untap in their lower ranks and in their farm system.

5) Success of NWA-TNA. I don't know about you, but I could see this federation becoming remotely successful in their Wednesday night timeslot on Pay Per View. Fans, for the most part, have been refreshed with a new alternative to the overexposed WWE. If they dump off Buff Bagwell, Scott Hall, and the cast of other rejects, only to focus on creating their own new talent, GOOD LORD, this could get good, especially when pushing the X title division. If they remain somewhat successful on Pay Per View at $9.95, it's only a matter of time when say FX, FOX Sports Net, or any other Cable network would like to pick them up as a legit wrestling federation.

Then again, the possible success of the NWA-TNA could light a big fire under Vince McMahon's ass.

6) Vince Russo becomes more involved. Whatever ideas Vince Russo has in 1998 and 1999 are forever gone. His time in WCW has made him crazy, as his best material just wasn't there. His WWF success came with being the right person at the right time with a hot Austin vs. McMahon feud, the rise of the Rock, Foley on the verge of breaking out, and much more. He doesn't have those "new" things like he does now in today's WWE.

Russo becoming more involved could engage in some nasty political warfare backstage. It's well known that several top-tier wrestlers hate Russo, along with damn near all of the road agents. Stephanie McMahon, of all people, especially doesn't want Russo around because she essentially took over for Russo when he left in late 1999. She's gotta protect her spot... Speaking of Stephanie.....

7) The returns of Stephanie and Shane McMahon. I'd say it's more likely that Stephanie would show up than Shane, but you never know. Vince's theory is that when the ratings drop, more McMahons will be shoved out on television to "help" the situation, only in the long run, to make it much worse. Stephanie has a complex where she can't see her own flaws, and she thinks that she's an instant ratings success the minute she shows up on camera again. It's only a matter of time...

And remember, there's a storyline out there for her to attach herself to. Triple H and herself are supposed to get a divorce, but it hasn't went to "court" yet, according to the storylines. What says that if Triple H has nobody to feud with at the time that she'll come back to try to reconcile with him or to have the divorce hearings on weekly television? I'm telling you, she's coming back and more annoying than ever! Sure, herself and Shane could be SHORT TERM ratings boosts, but in the LONG TERM, the McMahon kiddies will only hurt the overall product again.

8) Failure to sign Bill Goldberg. Probably the last free agent to help the WWE is likely to slip out of their fingers. Bill Goldberg seems to be avoiding any contact with the WWE, blaming its content for a reason not to join, when I really think it's just his tactics to get a larger money offer from the WWE, which is very unlikely to happen. It's not a matter of content, because if he stood up for a show's content for whatever show he was on, then he'd be crying about Arliss's nudity, language, and plenty of sexual content every week on HBO (although it's a premium channel).

It's about money. Is Goldberg worth a $2-3 Million gamble? Was the XFL worth the $50 Million gamble by Vince McMahon? He thought so back then. Of course, why sign Goldberg when one of your top money men, Steve Austin, is no longer around for him to feud with...

9) Paul Heyman leaves. In wrestling, there aren't that many high paying jobs. For Paul Heyman, it's unlikely that he'll make as much money as he does now in any other wrestling organization. This comes after losing lots of money in ECW, too, which some would say he'd never leave the WWE because of that.

But think about it. Look at all of his past ECW wrestlers. They are all WWE jobbers now, and none of them get any quality airtime or storylines, aside from Rob Van Dam, who he is said to personally protect within the WWE. Vince Russo hanging around could drive Heyman nuts. I'm assuming that Heyman doesn't appreciate the McMahons breathing down his neck on every idea, too, when he tries to head up the writing team for Smackdown.

Maybe after leaving, he'd maybe join the NWA-TNA's creative team? You know, I'd KILL for a Paul Heyman - Mike Tenay announcing team.

10) Massive loss in the Stock Market. Today's opening stock price for the WWE was 12.95. That's somewhat reasonable and stable for today's World Wrestling Entertainment, but let's say that stock holders get wind really decide to dump off stock after reading the 4th Quarter results or hearing about any other NEGATIVE publicity the WWE always receives. If that stock price hits a big drop, the overall revenues of the WWE would surely (don't call me Shirley) decline.

Becoming a junk bond in the market isn't what the WWE intended, but when you're overall product doesn't provide the business that stock holders want to see, it will happen. Let's hope that the WWE's CEOs or Vince McMahon have made fair business practices, or else we don't want them to be like say an Enron or a Worldcom.

11) The cancellation of Smackdown and Viacom restructures contract. This is the grand-daddy of them all! With the declining ratings, especially in the Summer season without the excuse of competition, what says that the executives at UPN just decide to cancel WWE Smackdown due the ratings drop and for the fact that it's not very lucrative on advertising now with the lower ratings (note: WWE shows are low on advertising due to negative publicity given to them, like what the PTC did to them. For instance, they could be the highest rated show on your channel, but yet lower on advertising dollars than other shows.)

And what says that can't happen on Viacom's part? Viacom and the WWE have restructured the 2000 deal many times, as the WWE was given extra time for their Tough Enough series, their Livewire and Superstars shows were combined to become a 2 hour Saturday night show, and many other changes. With this, and weak economic conditions of the WWE, Viacom, which is a very powerful media conglomerate I might add, will force a new deal on the WWE which would allow for Smackdown to possibly be eliminated!

Don't doubt that Mtv would cancel Mtv Heat, either.

CONCLUSION: I believe these 11 possibilities are legit if the WWE were to continue declining in their business practices. Compare them to WCW? WCW didn't decline so fast, as it took them roughly 2 and a half years to slowly bottom out. WWE is getting there in a matter of months! If this slide keeps going, don't be surprised if one of my predictions actually happens.

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