Induction: Donald Trump buys Raw: Dropped almost as fast as WWE’s stock

46 Submitted by on Thu, 30 May 2013, 19:00

WWE, 2009

I have never understood Donald Trump’s involvement in wrestling. He is always presented as a face counterpart to Vince McMahon’s evil billionaire character, but the facts tell a different, much darker story. While the wrestling persona Mr. McMahon once made Trish Stratus strip and bark like a dog on television, the real-life Donald Trump once tried to demolish a little old lady’s house and turn it into parking space. Plus, he hosted Wrestlemania IV.

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Not only does Trump have an evil streak in real life, when it comes time to appear on WWE TV as a character, he always comes off as bossy and obnoxious. Vince McMahon has been willing to bleed, pee his pants, and have his head shoved up the anuses of various super-heavyweight wrestlers to put over story lines, but Donald Trump can’t even swallow his pride and let someone talk for five seconds without interrupting them with lame, condescending comebacks like, “You know what, Vince? I doubt that!” He can’t even take a decent Stunner.

trump stunner

So what happens when you combine Donald Trump’s overbearing personality with Vince McMahon’s love for cheap publicity?

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Wrestlemania 23, actually.

Okay, but what happens when you combine that with a baffling story line that WCW 2000 wouldn’t touch?

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You get Donald Trump’s 2009 purchase of Raw!

DTR-04 The June 15th, 2009 edition of Raw opened with Vince McMahon making the puzzling claim that he had sold Monday Night Raw, which would now be “independently owned and operated.” That’s the sort of thing that might have been expected during the early days of the brand extension, but by 2009, even before Raw was rebranded as a “Super Show,” WWE viewers had grown accustomed to wrestlers jumping from show to show with no explanation.
Vince said that the new owner had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse (perhaps implying “The Godfather” Charles Wright), then teased that he was an old enemy with whom he would never in a million years have believed he would do business. Who could it have been? Randy Savage? Bret Hart? Verne Gagne? Okay, Jerry Lawler didn’t open the show by beating Randy Orton for the title, so it probably wasn’t Verne, but still, the possibilities were intriguing.
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“I think the kid’s ready for another shot.”

 DTR-06 Then Vince came to the ring and announced it was Donald Trump. You can actually hear cheers for a split second before the audience registers what they’ve just heard and shift their pitch down to boos. Donald appeared on the Titantron and had one of his most natural-sounding interactions with Vince ever, by which I mean he appeared in a pre-taped piece of film “via satellite” and made Vince carry the segment by having a fake conversation with the video. Needless to say, the chemistry was a wee bit lacking.
If Trump was supposed to be the new “fan-friendly” boss who vowed to show his appreciation for the audience, shouldn’t he have shown up in person, or at least appeared in some less intelligence-insulting capacity? And when was the last time a “satellite feed” was shot on 35 mm motion picture film? (The build-up to Wrestlemania 23, for the record) DTR-07
DTR-08 The crowd booed The Donald throughout his speech, relenting only to cheer for Trump’s announcement that next week’s Raw would be commercial-free, no doubt excited for the following week’s evening full of dead time between matches but without the thrill of actually being in the arena. At least they didn’t cheer for Raw and boo Smackdown like they used to in the early days of the brand extension.
 
Vince’s reaction to a commercial-free Raw was understandable: he thought Donald was nuts, but of course he didn’t flip out, because it wasn’t his show anymore, and Donald was free to waste his own money, right? Remember this reaction later on.  DTR-09
DTR-10 To further the story line, the USA Network put out a phony press release announcing Trump’s purchase of WWE Raw. Apparently, no one at WWE or USA considered how stockholders might react (leaving the part-owners of the publicly-traded company to figure out for themselves how the sale of their company’s flagship television show would even function), let alone how profits would be affected by having a new “owner” with no experience running a promotion. Unsurprisingly, stock prices went down 7% shortly after the press release.
Although Vince’s publicity grab had backfired massively, he would still keep up the charade… for a few more days, at least. Vince and Donald held a fake press conference in Green Bay on the day of the commercial-free Raw, still insisting that Donald now owned Raw, which I might point out is not an organization, but a TV show. That’s why the NFL has never “sold” Monday Night Football as its own separate league. DTR-11
DTR-12 As bad as the angle was becoming, at least fans still had a commercial-free Raw to look forward to. In fact, Green Bay wrestling fans were so pumped up that they bought up all the tickets to that night’s Raw, selling out the arena. Maybe no one told them that the live audience doesn’t watch commercials anyway.
So yeah, the angle was getting more terrible by the day, but at least WWE was making money off it (helping to offset the drop in stock prices). Except that Trump announced full refunds for all ticket-holders (which, to be fair, they probably would have demanded anyway after seeing the show that WWE put on that night), costing $245,000. Still, the episode would draw huge ratings, making you wonder why more TV shows didn’t go commercial-free (Answer: because they wouldn’t make any money). DTR-13
DTR-14 The first Raw of the “Donald Trump Era” didn’t get off to an auspicious start, as the billionaire apparently wouldn’t spring for new theme music to replace that abomination by Papa Roach. Also, he re-branded the show, “Trump Raw” in keeping with his other famous properties like Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal, and, no joke, Trump Steaks. 
Trump cut a promo, in person this time, letting the fans know that Raw was really their show, not his. He then gave the fans yet another Triple H-Orton match like the one they loved at Wrestlemania 25 (“Better than Vince would have ever given you, believe me!”), but this time with a Last Man Standing stipulation. He then made his refund announcement again, specially reiterating that it would be given “after the show is over,” no doubt to prevent fans from walking out during the Hornswoggle skits. DTR-15
DTR-16 Fans may have noticed that Trump Raw was surprisingly similar to Vince McMahon’s Raw, featuring a John Cena promo and main event. Still, there at least weren’t any commercial breaks. That didn’t mean, however, that there wouldn’t be tons of filler, starting with a skit in which Vince’s car broke down and he tried to ride his chauffeur to the arena, which was about half a mile away (This was after Vince refused to go to a gas station, stating that he’d never been to a gas station in his life. I know a guy who once took a leak next to Vince who might disagree with that claim). You would think Vince could just hitch a ride in whatever car the camera crew arrived in.
So there were some lame skits instead of commercials. Big deal. At least it’s better than being peppered with advertisements every few minutes. Sort of like this. DTR-17
DTR-18 Instead of commercial breaks, Raw’s announcers shilled KFC’s grilled chicken all night without irony as they repeated statements such as, “Tonight’s commercial-free Raw is brought to you by new Kentucky Grilled Chicken.”
Wait, I take that back. It wasn’t just Raw’s announcers doing the shilling, but Smackdown’s as well, as Trump had brought Smackdown stars onto his show, harking back to the golden age of the Monday Night Wars when WWF would often loan its contracted wrestlers to rival WCW Nitro for the sake of the fans. Oh, you mean that never happened? Because no promoter would want his roster making money for another promoter’s TV show? Well, this is news to me, and also to WWE, who didn’t seem to have a good grasp of the implications of this “sale” of Raw. DTR-19
DTR-20 Todd Grisham was just as confused as the rest of us, expressing his astonishment that Donald Trump would sell Monday Night Raw. He was immediately corrected by Jim Ross, since the idea of Donald Trump selling back a show he bought just the week before was surely too dumb even for this angle.
Jeff Hardy was so amazed at the sale of Raw, he slipped during his entrance. It certainly wasn’t chicken grease, as KFC’s new Kentucky Grilled Chicken is grilled, not fried! jeff hardy slip
DTR-00 It was around this time that fans must have noticed the downside to a commercial-free Raw: it forced them to tether themselves to the TV (the same way I feel now about three-hour Raws that make watching wrestling a night-long obligation), without the conveniently-placed breaks that allowed them to, say, go to the john. Trump Raw was fan-friendly enough, though, to include a countdown to the Triple H-Orton match, letting fans know exactly how much longer they had to hold it in. 
Sarcasm aside, at least Trump Raw featured the unceremonious end of the “Santina Marella” angle. Santino himself even made an appearance via some crafty camera work. santina
DTR-22 A few minutes, a Goldust wig, and a toilet joke later, and it was time for Triple H-Orton, which came right on schedule. Good thing none of the previous matches ran longer than expected! The announcers were filled to the brim with excitement over fans getting a match for free that they were supposed to pay $50 for at the over-priced Bash pay-per-view six days later.
The match saw Triple H try to hit Orton in the face with a ladder, but instead miss and hit a production crew member in the face for real. No word on whether trainers held a Trump Steak to his eye backstage. ladder shot 1
ladder shot 2 A Gilette-sponsored replay showed the extent of the damage caused on this commercial-free episode of Raw. 
Both men were counted down at the end of the match, resulting in a rare draw, an outcome that only occurs once in every three Last Man Standing matches. Fans disappointed with the non-finish were no doubt frantically ringing up their cable operators to order The Bash on pay-per-view so they could see The Game and The Viper wrestle three more times in a Best of Three Falls Match. DTR-23
DTR-25 New Raw owner Donald Trump then made his way to the ring for another promo, canceling Vince’s plans for a new General Manager of Raw and replacing the whole GM concept with a weekly guest host, drawing cheers from the audience, who apparently hadn’t heard of Jeremy Piven yet.
Vince then marched down to the ring to reconsider his deal with Trump. McMahon didn’t know that Raw would be going commercial-free, every week according to rumors, and therefore cost him “a lot of money.” Yes, you read that correctly: Vince worried that he would lose money if the show that he no longer owned stopped taking in advertising dollars. He would also lose money, he said, if Trump’s plans to host free Raws every week came to pass. “If you did that, in six months’ time, I’d be bankrupt,” complained Vince. DTR-25
DTR-27 It is at this point that it became clear that whoever wrote tonight’s show had no idea of how “ownership” works. Donald Trump had specifically claimed to be the “sole owner of Monday Night Raw,” and if you own something, you are responsible for the money it loses. You can’t just run a company into the ground and bill it to the previous owner. If that were the case, no one would ever sell anything to anyone. How did two men with a combined 80+ years of business experience go along with such nonsense on national TV? 
Yeah, I don’t know either, dude. Frankly, a dozen Man Mountain Rocks could not do this wall-banger justice. DTR-28
DTR-29 The audience was expected to believe that Vince McMahon sat down with Donald Trump and hatched out a deal where Donald Trump would get total control of Monday Night Raw but assume none of the financial liabilities, which would become Vince’s responsibility. If McMahon had scored that kind of deal in 2001, we’d have free WCW events every week being charged to Ted Turner’s tab.
Donald bragged that it was his show, and he could do “whatever the hell” he wanted with it. And just like in the real world, that’s true. Unlike in the real world, however, he wouldn’t have to pay for any stupid thing that he did with the company he now owned. I suppose it’s called the “WWE Universe” because it follows a different set of laws of logic than the universe the rest of us inhabit. Worse yet, Trump bragged about how he could easily sell the show to his billionaire friends for twice what he paid for it. Would that mean that Trump would have to cover Raw’s losses for whatever stupid business decisions the hypothetical new owners would make? DTR-30
DTR-31 “How could I be so stupid?” wondered Vince aloud. “All this was a well-orchestrated plan!” I don’t think the phrase, “well-orchestrated” has any business being used to describe this angle. Vince was forced to buy back Raw from Donald Trump for twice what he paid for it and then “fired” Trump, who no-sold Vince’s outburst and slapped him in the face.
If the conclusion to this angle sounds like it was thought up and scribbled on a napkin five minutes before Raw made air, it’s because it probably was. The following months of Raw made it clear that the original plan (before WWE’s stock took a nosedive worthy of Hulk Hogan’s plane to Wrestlemania 6) was to keep Trump as the story line “owner” of Raw, with celebrity guest hosts taking over the role of on-screen authority figure each week. Instead, Vince took the reins of Raw back, but still kept Trump’s “guest host” idea for some unknown reason. Apparently, Vince and company had panicked and killed the angle after one week, after which it was never discussed again. DTR-32

The tragedy here is that there was actually a halfway decent way to resolve the angle in a hurry: have Donald Trump give away all the scheduled pay-per-view matches on TV for free (like he did for Orton-Triple H), thus costing Vince PPV revenue and forcing him to buy back Raw. Then again, such an angle would expose the fact that WWE TV is supposed to be just one big commercial for the monthly pay-per-views anyway.

One has to wonder whether this “worst business deal in history” angle could have been continued. Imagine if Donald Trump, having sold Raw to Vince, was now responsible under WWE logic for funding whatever mind-numbingly awful ideas Vince could cook up in an effort to force Donald to buy it back.

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Actually, if you watched Raw for the rest of 2009, you probably already assumed that’s what Vince was doing.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
46 Responses to "Induction: Donald Trump buys Raw: Dropped almost as fast as WWE’s stock"
  1. hulk6785 says:

    Considering Donald Trump has had 19 failed businesses in 17 years, it’s not that surprising that he would go along with such a nonsensical business angle.

  2. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Col. Sanders is no doubt rolling in his grave.

  3. Madman Szalinski says:

    Has Donald Trump ever succeeded at anything? Like, I don’t know if he’s ever actually made money in my lifetime. I just know that he has a bunch of money and never seems to lose any somehow.

    • "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

      Oh, he’s lost plenty of money. Not enough to really effect him, but he’s lost money on stuff.

  4. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Art is really good at these. He’s giving R.D some good competition in the induction writing department. :)

  5. Lee W says:

    This site loves to highlight the idiocy of happenings in wrestling but this one particular effort may very well Trump the rest

  6. adamclark52 says:

    Why do people hate Wrestlemania IV so much? I liked that PPV.

    • The Scanian Maniac says:

      Mostly because of the tournament, which involved relatively short matches with screw job finishes (of 15 matches on the whole PPV, 3 were clean wins).

      The same dilemma as King of the Ring had: several matches on the same night wears out wrestlers and makes them not perform as well.

      • hulk6785 says:

        The biggest problem with the tournament was too many people in it. It should have just been an 8 man tournament with like one match ending in a draw, like at the 1993 King Of The Ring.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >people in this comments section implying they know more about business than Donald Trump

    Really?

  8. hobu0 says:

    Ugggh, this induction reminded me of a couple of years ago when Vince was “relieved of his duties”….He cried in the ring and it was a heartbreaking moment. Then he returned like 2 months later as the boss again without any explanation. Which would have been bad enough, but this all happened during a several week long promotion for one of those nostalgic Raw episodes. So we as fans were supposed to be remembering all these moments from 20 years worth of Raw, but have forgotten about something that happened a few weeks prior.

  9. Alan says:

    I liked WrestleMania IV and V, both held at Trump Plaza, which were huge parts of the history of the WWF/WWE, but besides that, Donald Trump himself has always been useless when it comes to WWE.

  10. Joseph S. Hasan says:

    “Plus, he hosted Wrestlemania IV.”

    I do not hate WMIV, but that line was very funny.

  11. Down With OPC says:

    Was this the same night Punk was on commentary and a gif was made of him checking out the KGC?

  12. Charles belles says:

    As bad as this angle was it was still better than trump versus rosie on raw.

    • "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

      Talk about damming with faint praise.

      • Charles Belles says:

        It was obivious that this angle was not going to work from the beginning when the crowd booed trump right away, all it was was a waste of money, time, and stock since their real life stock took a hit because of this. Makes you wonder what would have happened if vince and Donald had been friends and tried this angle though.

      • John Darc says:

        And this angle led directly into Johnny Damon’s guest host spot on Raw, right?

  13. "B-Rock" says:

    This, by far was the proverbial “nail in the coffin” for RAW. Could you even imagine how (better) RAW would have been if this never even happened? I most certainly could. Case & point, RAW shouldn’t even be called “the B-show” anymore. Its more of a (and I quote) “recycling plant”. Think about it, (some) storylines are terrible, the creative staff should be granted a pension fund & above all, (despite its success on TV) the show is literally buried deeper than Taker in a casket match.

    P.S. If not for this one incident, AJ Lee would have won the (recent) Gooker & have been the “real” death of Monday nights.

    - “B-Rock”; 17 year wrestling fan, faux founder of the “We Hate Y2J” club & “definitely” NOT a RAW fan

    • Jay "The Brain" Mann says:

      You’re right, Raw’s not the “b-show”. SmackDown’s the “b-show”. :P

      • "B-Rock" says:

        That’s debatabale; but the cold hard truth is without a “decent” GM, RAW has no control whatsoever. Look at every GM (excluding guest hosts in this induction) in RAW history, they were terrible. Vince had the best control of that show; Bischoff was a close second & he made it interesting to watch. Now you have Vickie & she is pushing a tweener role. In closing, IF RAW was a lot like Smackdown, people like me would have MORE respect for this show. The moral: RAW needs a “Teddy Long” like GM. Otherwise, it will continue to be a failure.

        -”B-Rock” #tellingitlikeitis

        • 80's Guy says:

          Nooooo, definitely not an “impromptu tag team main event every damn week” Teddy Long like GM…

          • "B-Rock" says:

            @80′S GUY

            How true. We should have more “strange bedfellows” matches like that on Smackdown.

    • Mariano Fernandez says:

      RAW was already horrible before the Trump angle. In fact, it had been bad for several years before that – and it still is.

  14. christian r bauman says:

    The papa roach theme wasn’t that bad… considering it was later replaced by NICKELBACK.

    • christian r bauman says:

      furthermore, you have to admit, the guest-GM angle had SOME success (Shaq, Hugh Jackman, Bob Barker, The Muppets made for good TV, at least.)

  15. Bastard1 says:

    Holy buttnuggets, I just found out the whole Trump thing literally aired two weeks after I’d had enough of WWE in 2009 and took a good four-year “break” from wrestling as a whole. Talk about dodging a bullet; Neo ain’t got nothing on me!

    • Bastard1 says:

      PS: Don’t worry Crap, you didn’t lose my contribution to your invaluable internet ratings (that is a thing, right?) while I was “away.” Some kinds of love never dies.

  16. Sir Thomas says:

    I actually like that song by Papa Roach, though I admit it’s not my first choice for the opening theme of a wrestling show.

  17. John Darc says:

    You forgot Trump Ice, the bottled water empire with his face on it.

  18. John Darc says:

    Are these the guest host RAWs that graced us with Johnny Damon and the beautiful divaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas?

  19. C says:

    Look at the pic of the Wrestlemania IV tournament bracket. That was the old bracket setup until a week or 2 before WMIV. Had they kept that bracket and the match results were the same, Savage would have won the tournament by defeating Don Muraco in the final round, after Muraco got byes in round 2 and 3.

    It’s something that I can remember this, yet I can’t name more than 2 matches at last year’s Wrestlemania.

  20. Sad Truth says:

    So nobody runs a business by doing whatever they want and getting someone else to pick up the tab? That’s a lovely thought, but unfortunately the banking sector tells a very different story. Take no responsibility, cream all the profits for yourself and shareholders, ruin the economy then get the public to pay for it while you keep your annual bonus and pension.

    • The Scanian Maniac says:

      The WWE don’t have a central bank or corporate welfare.

      Or wait… Linda McMahons run for the senate was perhaps just about that? :-)

  21. Dave says:

    If someone actually bought Raw (which would certainly be possible, it’s a matter of “buying” the contracts that cover the wrestlers, broadcast slot, etc.) and then ran it without ads and refunded the gate every week, Vince McMahon would definitely lose money.

    Not because he would still be responsible for the revenues of Raw, but because he would be the owner of the only major competing product and he’d be trying to charge people on the gate and show commercials during his programmes. “Bankrupt in six months” is probably overstating it, but he’d be in real trouble.

    I’m really glad that someone has picked up the baton on new inductions, Art, but you do sometimes get a bit hung up on points like this. Just point out the funny, that’s enough. Keep up the good work.

    • Ray says:

      This^^^^

      Art bringing up the Vince losing money aspect of the story throughout the article threw me for a loop each time. One would assume Vince still had ownership of WWE as a whole, just not RAW. So he would want RAW to profit, as a profitable RAW = Profitable WWE which = healthy stocks which he is the majority owner of.

      I don’t think writers should have expected fans to get this so readily but it still makes perfect sense. It’s probably the only damb part of the entire angle that does make sense for that matter.

  22. DarthObvious says:

    Funny story about the bit where Vince’s limo breaks down and he has to walk to the arena. With where they shot that skit, and assuming that Vince was coming to the arena from the airport, they had actually driven past the arena on the way to breaking down. Or got really lost.

  23. George says:

    Who’s john. The Papa Roach theme is awesome. The fans are awesome.

  24. Guest says:

    He can’t even take a decent Stunner.

    Like he’s the only person who can’t take a Stunner

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