Vince’s “Please Watch My Show” Giveaway
In 2008 the WWE was having a hard time keeping their ratings up which is totally unlike today. They had a few options: A.) Write a better show, B.) book better matches, or C.) produce a hipper product. All three of those would have made sense which is why they went with choice D.) bribe their fans with money. To put this into perspective, it would be like watching Ken Kennedy and a gimmick-less Paul Burchill in a match with zero stakes on the line just to get to a segment where people who are not you win large amounts of money that mean nothing to you. If you didn’t understand that analogy, that’s because it wasn’t an analogy; it’s literally what happened. To get more people to watch, they forgot to include something to actually watch – which I believe is the summary they use to describe RAW in the TV Guides nowadays.
“Do I eat this phone?”
We kicked this angle off with a promo from Vince McMahon where he flat out tells us that he’s bribing new viewers to watch the show. This is the thing that shareholders love to hear: A million-dollar commercial that doesn’t advertise a product. Why didn’t anyone else think of this before? Literally nothing could go wrong by throwing money at a tree and expecting more trees to grow around it. Vince announces that he was going to give a million dollars of his own money to random fans and all they had to do was answer their phones and say the password. No problem, right?
You know that hilarious gag where your grandma reaches for her cellphone, takes 5 minutes to read the numbers off, gets the wrong number, and then repeats it until she either gets the correct person or she passes her expiration date? You don’t remember that joke? Are you sure? That’s because it’s not a joke and it wasn’t funny, but that didn’t stop the WWE from putting us through it multiple times in one show. Vince McMahon dialed his phone with all the grace of someone slamming their elbows against a calculator. Sometimes he’d stop to stare at his phone as if he’s trying to decide whether he’s actually been dialing on his phone or if he grabbed a sandwich by mistake. This wasn’t a gag they were doing for laughs.
The Password is: Watch Another Show
Something that is really important to note here is that the WWE gave the password at the very beginning of the show, meaning that you only had to watch around 5 minutes of the actual show to win the money. Once you heard the password, you could go back to practicing your kegel exercises and just wait for the phone call. Absolutely nothing was keeping you from walking away. The only appeal to sticking around was if you wanted to watch a show that Vince McMahon admitted was tanking just seven days prior or if you wanted to watch other people win the money you were hoping to win. The WWE severely overestimated people’s joy in being disappointed which is evident if you watch literally any RAW in the past 10 years.
Never Gonna Give You Up
Usually the person would pick up, recite the password, and win money. Other times, Rick Astley would answer and Vince McMahon would try to hold a conversation with him as if this wasn’t unusual for him. The first time the music started playing Vince responded by saying “hello” not once but twice, except the person on the other end was never gonna give him up and was never gonna let him down, was never gonna run around, or say hello. Hilariously the guy on the other end does end up picking up the phone after all but Vince McMahon is too busy cutting a promo on people who don’t answer their phones to hear him and he hangs up. Vince calls back and screams at him to answer his damn phone while he gets Rick Roll’d right in the face. Finally, the guy answers and gives Vince the secret password to win $200,000 and cementing himself in history as the only person to find Rick Rolling funny and be able to afford a room outside his parent’s bedroom.
Never Gonna Let You Down
How well did it go bribing people to watch a show they didn’t want to watch? It didn’t. Ratings tanked. Here’s the thing: When the WWE takes a major dip in ratings, the magic bullet is to send Vince McMahon out. So logically when Vince McMahon is the reason why ratings are tanking you have to do the complete opposite. To get out of this terrible gimmick and pretend like it never happened, the WWE killed Vince McMahon for the second time in two years. Okay, they didn’t technically kill him this time, but they did rig the stage to fall apart in the most gingerly way possible so that it appeared to crumble all around him and collapse on top of him. I’ve carried newborn babies around mosh pits less gently than this stage collapsed. The following week they stopped mentioning the giveaway, the stage collapsing, and Rick Astley.
If this is what the WWE was willing to do when their ratings went down to the low 3’s, imagine how much it would cost the WWE to keep the fans now. You can see a video of the stage collapsing by clicking here.