City Paper is not for tourists
Yesterday’s news out of Connecticut that it’s OK to wear a WWE championship belt into the voting booth reminded Cheap Seats Daily that time is running out to make political endorsements. So, here goes: Linda McMahon for the U.S. Senate!
Sure, neither of my readers is registered to vote in Connecticut. And, O.K., she’s said a lot of dumb stuff during the campaign.
But, she’s a McMahon! And the way I see it, if Linda McMahon comes back to D.C., there’s a chance one of the greatest slights in American cultural history will end, and our town will finally get the recognition it deserves: As the birthplace of modern professional wrestling.
For those who don’t know a souplex from a megaplex: McMahon’s father-in-law, Vincent J. McMahon, founded the global ring empire now known as WWE more than half a century ago right here as Capitol Wrestling. He had his offices downtown, and produced weekly TV shows at Turner’s Arena on W Street NW and monthly big-ticket live extravaganzas at Uline Arena. The Turner’s shows were filmed and shipped out to TV stations in markets up and down the Eastern seaboard. Wrestling promotions were mainly controlled town by town before the visionary McMahon began expanding his business, which he later called the WorldWide Wrestling Federation (WWWF).
Linda’s hubby, Vincent K. McMahon took over Dad’s business for good in the 1980s, moved the headquarters from D.C. to Connecticut and shortened the name to the World Wrestling Federation. After using the USA Network to take over America, Little Vince and his wife/business partner made WWF the preeminent international wrestling brand. (A lawsuit by the World Wildlife Fund forced the corporation to change its name to its current WWE. If she gets elected to the Senate, hopefully she’ll use that position and the full power of the U.S. Government to smash those acronym-thieving Panda huggers!)
Every now and then, to remind myself of D.C.’s singular role in spawning the pastime I’ve loved for so long, I read this 1965 Washington Post article about Turner’s Arena, written by Post sportswriter, William Gildea. Gildea went over how back in the day the town’s power-people loved the McMahons’ product, shown on local TV every Thursday night: “According to [Vincent J.] McMahon,” Gildea wrote, “two regular wrestling fans via television were the late Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Mrs. Harry Truman.”
Gildea’s article made Truman out to be a wrestling nut: “The late Edward R. Murrow on his ‘Person to Person’ show once asked Mrs. Truman, upon her return to Independence, what she missed most in Washington. ‘Wrestling on television,’ she replied.”
Wrestling has played a big part in the current U.S. Senate campaign. Just yesterday, a federal judge in Hartford ruled that it’d be OK for wrestling fans to wear licensed WWE garb to the polls without fear of getting DQ’d for politicking out of bounds. Vince McMahon filed the suit, surely for publicity rather than fear that somebody in a “Austin 3:16” shirt would be turned away while trying to cast a vote.
Linda McMahon has been cast as the heel in the Senate race, and had to answer for pro wrestling’s seamy side during the campaign. Saddling her with rasslin’s baggage seems as misguided as blaming Al Franken for “Saturday Night Live”‘s occasional uncouthness. Some of her attempts to deflect the criticisms, however, have made her seem dishonest or dumb.
A February 2010 profile in the Washington Post included this doozy about the impact of steroids, which by appearances have enhanced the performance of everybody who’s gotten in a WWE ring in the last couple decades: “The thing of it is, there is no competitive advantage for using steroids — it’s not going to make you jump higher, run faster, hit the ball farther or anything like that,” McMahon said.
The ability to spew such nonsense with a straight face should serve her well in the U.S. Senate. Bring Linda McMahon back to D.C.!