Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels may have beaten Vince McMahon inside the ring, but outside of the squared circle, the Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment is unbeatable (unless he’s going up against a bunch of tree-hugging panda-lovers claiming the rights to the initials “WWF,” but that’s a story for another day).
The federal government tried to indict him on steroid charges in the early 90s and failed. Ted Turner created WCW to compete against the WWE and in the end, WCW went bankrupt and McMahon bought out the company. And now, Kroenke Sports and the NBA have crossed the WWE’s boss and chances are McMahon will once again come out the victor.
Next Monday, McMahon’s Monday Night Raw is scheduled to take place live at the Pepsi Center in Denver, but now Kroenke Sports, which owns the building, is telling McMahon that he has to find a new place to host his flagship show. The reason the WWE is getting the boot? The Denver Nuggets are hosting the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference finals the same night.
How did Kroenke Sports end up double booking the Pepsi Center? Well, it turns out that the company didn’t have much faith in the Nuggets making it this far in the playoffs, so they gave the date to the WWE last August (and finalized the contract on April 15 of this year, the final night of the regular season). Perhaps they shouldn’t have been so confident that the Nuggets would be out of the playoffs by now, but considering that the team lost in the first round the last five years (and are the number two seed in the West this season for the first time since 1985), you can see why Kroenke Sports thought next Monday would be wide open.
Kroenke Sports is doing all it can to diffuse the situation. Paul Andrews, executive vice president of the company, issued a statement saying: “We are working with the WWE to resolve the situation amicably.”
Unfortunately, resolving situations amicably isn’t exactly McMahon’s strong suit. In fact, the billionaire wrestling promoter has already gone on the offensive, taking shots at Kroenke Sports. He told the Associated Press that he didn’t think there was “any malice” in the company’s decision to kick the WWE out of the Pepsi Center, “just ineptness.” McMahon also added that “fans in Denver had a lot more faith in making the playoffs than the owner.”
McMahon, who lives for this type of media attention, has also been playing the role of the victim.
“I’m up the creek, and I don’t have a paddle either – I really don’t know what to do,” McMahon told the Denver Post. “We can’t reschedule the event. We can’t get out there as often as we would like for a television event, because we’re the second-largest traveling show in the world to Ringling Brothers. The amount of equipment we have is extraordinary.” The Chairman said that 10,000 tickets have already been sold to the event and he expects a sellout.
“There’s no provision in the contract whatsoever that states we could be preempted,” McMahon went on to say. “We would have never played the date if we [had] known we could be preempted. We’ve been working around NBA dates for a long, long time, and had we know that this was going to be something unceremoniously thrown out on, we never would have taken the date on a tentative basis. We don’t do that.”
“I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do, whether I’m going to produce a show out of a parking lot somewhere,” he said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen.”
The NBA is unsympathetic to the WWE’s dilemma.
“The Nuggets and the WWE understand that the date of Game Four of the Western Conference Finals cannot be changed,” said NBA senior vice president Mike Bass. “We are confident that the Pepsi Center and the WWE will resolve their scheduling conflict.”
I highly doubt that McMahon understands that Game Four’s date can’t be changed, since even I don’t believe that’s true. Earlier this month, the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play two playoff games on back-to-back nights in different cities because the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh had a scheduling conflict because of a Yanni concert. If the NHL can be flexible for Yanni, the NBA can work with McMahon. Besides, the NBA loves to stretch out the playoffs for as long as possible, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t just push everything back by one day.
As it stands, the NBA and the Denver Nuggets have won the battle by forcing the WWE to find a new arena next Monday, but they won’t win the war. McMahon will continue to bash the league and the Nuggets owners in the press and there are even reports that he may pursue litigation. He’ll milk this story for all it’s worth and will come out on top once again. The NBA will come out looking like stuck up, inflexible douchebags and Kroenke Sports will look like a bunch of bumbling businessmen who had no faith in their team’s ability to make a playoff run. And McMahon has already gotten more mainstream publicity for next Monday’s show than he gets for most Wrestlemanias.
So, unless David Stern is as good with a sledgehammer as Triple H is, the NBA and Kroenke Sports better find a way to let McMahon have the Pepsi Center next Monday. Otherwise, McMahon will have them down on the mat in no time.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.