Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Open Letter to Jim Ross

Written by Jeff McGinnis

Dear Mr. Ross,

I hope, if you do read this letter, you take it in the manner in which it is being written. This is not hate mail, nor is it "flaming" you, which as a writer of a blog I am sure you have had much exposure to, as I have as well. I am a big fan of yours, sir, and believe you to be the greatest wrestling announcer who ever lived. So I hope you'll respond to this letter in the spirit of open debate.

I, like many fans, were outraged and disgusted by the release of Brian Danielson from WWE this past Friday. In an effort to express my displeasure, I wrote a column which was eventually posted on several websites, including

In this column, I criticized WWE for the action, and what has been widely reported as its cause, namely Danielson's use of a tie as a foreign object. I connected this decision directly to WWE's "PG"-oriented programming.

It has been reported numerous times in the wrestling media that one of the main motivating factors in the push to become more "family friendly" is Linda McMahon's Senate campaign. It doesn't take much effort to look at the timeline and note that the change in programming happened concurrently with McMahon's campaign for a seat on the Connecticut Board of Education -- which, it was noted at the time, was her first step toward running for the Senate.

Therefore, I felt a connection could be made between Danielson's firing and the McMahon Senate campaign, and said so in my story. Ergo, I hope you understand that I feel the need to respond to your recent blog, in which you took an editorial which made that connection to task.

Now, I am not so vain as to think your writing was about me. The email you wrote in response to was anonymous, while mine was clearly signed. Also, that author apparently made the claim that someone directly connected to the McMahon campaign made the order to axe Danielson, like some kind of Mafia-style hit. I made no such statement. But still, the general argument was the same.

And while I respect you immensely as a broadcaster, and while you clearly have much more experience within the wrestling business than I do, I still must stand by my earlier argument.

The first notion you challenge is the idea that Vince McMahon's actions would never be dictated by an outside force. While McMahon's controlling nature is well-documented (to confirm this, we'd just have to ask your former broadcast colleagues), it is also extremely difficult to believe that as shrewd a businessman and as canny a promoter as McMahon would have made such a nonsensical decision entirely on his own.

Four days after being involved in an incredibly effective storyline, wherein they were involved in the decimation of his company's flagship personality, Danielson was fired -- right when he was at his point of highest popularity and visibility, virtually handing TNA a main-eventer if Danielson chose to go there. I can't believe that McMahon would be so stupid to make this decision of his own accord, and several reports indicate that this was, indeed, a result of pressure put on the company from an external force. Not necessarily from the Linda McMahon campaign, but from somewhere other than Vince himself.

And the relationships that have led to such stringent guidelines being enforced on WWE programming, whether from networks, sponsors, business partners or whoever, are all seemingly connected to Linda McMahon's decision to run for office. These absurd guidelines have led to turning segments of older footage black and white just because they feature blood, the immediate stoppage of any match when a competitor receives a cut, and any number of arbitrary ideas of what makes something okay for family consumption -- all of which started right when Linda's political career began.

Now, the argument could be made that Danielson's dismissal owed more to the Chris Benoit tragedy than the PG guidelines. The choking of someone with a foreign object brings up too many bad memories, I suppose. But that was nearly three years ago now, and I find it hard to believe that WWE really felt an audience would still make such a connection. And all indications from respected news sources are that WWE officials were incredibly pleased with the angle in the immediate aftermath -- hardly the horrified reaction one would expect if Danielson's dismissal were their decision alone.

Granted, I am not an insider with the same track record within the company as you have. But right now, we fans have to make due with whatever knowledge we can get from secretive sources, such as the ones you so deride in your blog. Lord knows no one else is talking. Not Danielson, not McMahon, and especially not anyone in WWE -- the media embargo has seen sure to that.

As my friend J. Michael Bestul has pointed out, when you do something genuinely puzzling and provide no reason as to why it was done, people will fill the information gap with whatever they can. This would be solved if WWE would be a little more transparent to the media, a policy that has long been rejected by the WWE's hierarchy.

So right now, all we have are those "anonymous sources" you discuss. And they must stay anonymous, lest they lose their jobs. All we can do as fans is find news through journalists, who often rely on anonymous sources just like -- gasp -- in the real world. And just like in politics, it's up to us as fans to discern the reliable, reputable news sources from the poor ones. And in this case, every single reliable source I trust is telling the same story. While it's not the "conspiracy theory" your blog illustrates, it's one that raises a number of troubling questions about how WWE is conducting its business these days.

If we're wrong, let WWE tell us why. But when a company leaves people in the dark, they shouldn't scold us for grasping for a light switch. Especially in a situation as utterly incomprehensible as this.

At the end of your editorial, you call the quoting of anonymous sources "stupid," and then, quoting the oh-so-witty comedian Ron White, you say, "You can't cure stupid."

Actually, the line is, "You can't *fix* stupid." Personally, I've always found that line incredibly ignorant. Yes, you can fix stupid. It's called "educating." And it's something WWE has been very reticent about doing in recent years.

Jeff McGinnis

Email Jeff at

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Politics of Hypocrisy: Why the Best Wrestler in the World Was Suddenly Fired

(I wrote this over the weekend, with an eye on publishing it in the Free Press. I decided against sending it in for a few reasons, not least of which being the remaining possibility that this is an elaborate ruse by WWE. But I decided to post it here, because if what happened is NOT a scam, there are things I feel that need to be said.)

The Politics of Hypocrisy:
Why the Best Wrestler in the World was Suddenly Fired
Written by Jeff McGinnis

Professional wrestling is a bizarre business, a product of fantasy built on a façade of lies and ego. For over 100 years, audiences have been exposed many unique and colorful characters, and some truly unbelievable storylines. The funny thing is, for anyone who’s taken a glimpse behind the curtain, often the story of what happens behind the scenes is even more unbelievable than what is shown on camera.

Such is the case this week, with the apparent WWE firing of Bryan Danielson.

Danielson is the best wrestler in the world. This was his nickname while he competed on the independent scene, but it is also my honest opinion. For years, Danielson had honed his craft, putting on classic matches in every promotion he worked in, and earning the respect of fans everywhere. Finally, last year, Danielson signed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment.

How WWE used his talent was questionable, to say the least. He was put on a new show called NXT, designed as a way to introduce “rookies” to the fans. His name was changed to “Daniel Bryan” for reasons that can only be guessed at. He was never permitted to win a match on the show, giving the impression that he was a loser who couldn’t hang in the “big show.”

Finally, on Monday June 7, Danielson took part in something memorable. All the cast members of NXT were shown storming the set of WWE’s flagship show, “Raw,” and laid waste to everyone on the show. It was a new twist on the classic wrestling “invasion” storyline, but the fans clearly were interested. Danielson was a big part of the moment, and it seemed as though he would finally get a chance to demonstrate his skills on a national basis.

Until five days later, when WWE announced he had been released from his contract.

Many fans, myself included, assumed this was a storyline twist -- in wrestling parlance, an “angle.” They wouldn’t really fire him, right? Not five days after the hottest storyline in years. Not Danielson, the picture of professionalism and ability. Not the man who many described as “the kind of guy you want a locker room full of.”

But no, apparently, this is very real. And it happened for the most ludicrous reasons imaginable.

See, Linda McMahon, former CEO of the company and wife of WWE founder Vince, is running for senate in Connecticut. It is largely a fool’s errand, and it’s extremely unlikely she’d win. This is made apparent by the current polls, which currently show her holding a 20 point deficit to her prospective Democratic opponent, Robert Blumenthal, despite the Vietnam service scandal Blumenthal is currently saddled with.

WWE, in a transparent effort to maximize Linda’s chances of winning, made a dramatic shift in their programming ever since her political aspirations were first made known. Suddenly, the company which built its profits in the 1990’s with raunchy and vulgar storytelling was to be “family friendly” once more. All shows were now branded TV-PG. Any blood would not be tolerated. No foul language or gestures. And any explicitly violent actions were banned.

That’s right -- to paraphrase Jim Cornette, a show basically about gratuitous violence was now attempting to ban gratuitous violence.

Part of this massive whitewashing of WWE’s image was an edict that there would be no choking with foreign objects. This rule was probably inspired not only by Linda McMahon’s lofty political goals, but by the wake of the 2007 tragedy where wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his family before committing suicide. An understandable change, I suppose.

But that leads us to June 7, where, as part of the big invasion, Danielson was briefly seen choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with his tie. Small thing. In the heat of the moment, who would have even noticed? The segment featured eight men beating down WWE champion John Cena viciously for minutes on end. Surely, one moment of Danielson using a man’s neckwear as a weapon was forgivable.

Apparently not. Danielson was released for that one violation.

Putting this in context, wrestling news is often filled with stories of talent getting into altercations, trashing hotel rooms, behaving unprofessionally (even childishly) and the like. More often than not, these people are barely even punished for their actions.

And here’s Danielson. A man who, by all accounts, is a joy to work with. And after one violation, he’s shown the door. Apparently because he committed the greatest sin of all -- he could have created controversy that could have damaged Linda McMahon’s political chances.

The sheer hypocrisy of it all is enough to make one’s head explode. This is a company that has told stories involving murder, gunplay, rape, necrophilia, arson, incest, miscarriages, blatant racism, and on, and on, and on. And now, in a laughable effort to bolster McMahon’s meager Senate hopes, they’re suddenly playing nice, like a slob who combs his hair in an effort to look “presentable.”

And the latest sacrifice to the alter of McMahon ego is one of the best talents of his generation. A man who did everything the company asked of him, even when it was ludicrously damaging to his image. And in return, he was made a scapegoat and shown the door.

Of course, this is wrestling. It may turn out that this was simply an incredibly elaborate storyline, and any outrage is in vein. But for now, all indications are that it is very real. And if that is indeed the case, then Danielson’s firing makes clear the horrendously misguided priorities by which WWE’s business is apparently run.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Concerning my virginity...

I texted the following to my pal Lia this afternoon, and I think it sums up pretty succinctly how I view the subject.

" pressures and the guys on the radio show ride on me for being single and a virgin, like they're both failures. Me? I like who I am. I like what I am. Love has screwed me up bad in the past. Not jumping in again unless I know I can handle it. And who I am is not dictated by whether or not I've put my junk in a girl's cooch, thank you. Sex without love is just slightly enhanced masturbation."

Nuff said?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Bad News and the AWESOME News

I can finally reveal to everyone both halves of the secret I have been bursting with for two days. Pardon my silence, but for one half, I was asked to keep it quiet, and for the other half, I didn't want to say anything until I was sure it was happening.

First, the bad news...I didn't win the Face of Fox Toledo competition. Congrats to Ashley, who I'm sure will do an awesome job. Naturally, I was bummed, but still, I know that I did as well as I could. I can walk away from the experience with my head held high, knowing I gave it everything I had.

And, as I've said, the amazing, awesome, unbelievable support I got from all you guys has made it all worthwhile. From everyone who supported me every step of the way, to those who posted links asking others to watch my video on Facebook (Abby, Lindsey, Christen) to those who watched my video countless times on their computer (Abby, Lindsey, Christen, Lia, Gretzinger, Caitlin, so many, if I'm forgetting anyone please let me know! :) ), I appreciate it all more than I could ever say. You guys are just incredible, and I love you so very much.

But now...the rest of the story.

After she told me I hadn't won, the Fox producer asked me if she could forward my contact information to the editor-in-chief of the Toledo Free Press, Michael Miller, who has been a judge in the contest from the beginning. It seems he took an interest in me from my first audition, and had a proposition for me. I said of course she could.

Mr. Miller called me later that afternoon, and he had me into his office for a meeting today. As soon as I walked in and saw action figures of Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Batman, Superman and others lined up behind his desk, I knew I was home.

I start writing a weekly arts/pop culture column for the Toledo Free Press later this month. I’ll also be conducting interviews for the paper’s website.

To say I’m thrilled is a gross understatement. As I stated to Mr. Miller during the interview this afternoon, he’s basically offering me my dream job. And I’m grabbing on with both hands and running with it.

This has been a remarkable, roller-coaster experience. Thank you guys once again for all the support - I could never have done it without you. But I think the real adventure has only just begun.

Excelsior! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Psst. Hey, Over Here.


The call came this morning, but I couldn't tell you guys until the list was posted this afternoon...there is actually a top 6, not 5, as Whitney Brownfield and Ashley Johncola both were awarded "co-fan favorite" status, but...I'm in!

Once again, none of this would have been possible without the amazing support and encouragement of you guys. I have the greatest friends in the universe. Much of what I say on this blog is opinion...that last sentence is FACT.

Thank you to everyone who watched my video, made a comment on the Fox page, expressed their enthusiasm, encouraged me, or anything. You all rock. Hard.

A special thanks to Abby, Lindsey and Christen for their incredible efforts on my behalf. I don't deserve you guys, but I am so happy you are my friends.

All right, time for the finals, and from here on I'm on my own. Last audition is Monday. Wish me luck! Fingers crossed!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Now LOOK What You Guys Have Done... :)

So, last Wednesday, the videos of the 14 finalists got posted on

After 24 hours, the leader, Whitney Brownfield, had over 1,000 views.

I had 37. Thirty. Seven. That's less than two views an hour. To put it in pop culture terms, that's five less than the answer to the Ultimate Question, or the exact number of guys "Clerks."

Then, a couple of my closest friends sprung into action. Abby, whose support through this process has been invaluable, posted several notes in support of me on Thursday. Then Lindsey, my favoritest person in the world, posted several on Friday. Their fervor and support completely bowl me over, and I am incredibly lucky to have them both as friends.

By Friday, my number had gone up to 243. Over 200 more than the day before. Over the weekend, the counter did not update, so I didn't know until this morning what the views were like over the weekend.

And then, this morning, I saw this:

8. Jeff McGinnis - 1,454


To put this in perspective, Whitney, the leader, had nearly 6,000 votes on Friday. Today, she has a little over 6,500. Which means I had more views over the weekend than the contestant who has been the runaway leader in the web polling all along.

You guys are just awesome. I can never thank you all enough for all your support. To everyone who has watched one of my videos this weekend (or watched one a couple hundred times!) I am eternally grateful. I love you all so much.

And a special thanks to Abby and Lindsey, my two most vocal and hardcore supporters. I owe you two the biggest hugs ever when this is over. ain't over! We still got two more days, people! If you wanna watch my video, votes'll be counted until the 23rd at midnight! So head on over to (or, to borrow a phrase, Just You Click here:! The 5th place contestant is only 500 views away!

I love you all!!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I made the Face of Fox Toledo Top 15!

I got word this morning, but waited until the official list was posted before I announced it here.

Thank you all SO very much for your support, I love you! Wish me luck in the second round of auditions! :)