Sports’ new bizarre tag team: Falcons and Wrestlemania

Yes, that is a long-time NFL executive, Rich McKay, standing between WWE eye-candy "Eve" and "Kelly Kelly."

Yes, that is a long-time NFL executive, Rich McKay, standing between WWE eye-candy "Eve" and "Kelly Kelly."

NFL executives generally are concerned when they walk into a press conference accompanied by possibly artificially enhanced athletes, who might one day embarrass the organization.

Funny. Falcons president Rich McKay didn’t seem to mind Monday  when he was escorted to the dais at a Wrestlemania news conference by “Eve” and “Kelly Kelly,” who appear to share the same dentist and magical female balloon doctor.

“I would like to thank Arthur Blank, who couldn’t be here today,” the Falcons’ president said, standing between the Stepford escorts. “If not for that, I wouldn’t be here.”

How much has sports changed? So much that the once snooty and better-than-everybody-else NFL is now crawling into the same promotional bed with professional wrestling. It’s debatable whether the NFL has dropped down, or the WWE has risen up, or they’ve just met somewhere in the middle — at an ATM.

Vince McMahon was laughed out of the football buisiness with the XFL.

Vince McMahon was laughed out of the football buisiness with the XFL.

But when Wrestlemania XXVII — it turns out the Super Bowl didn’t have a copyright on Roman numerals — officially was announced for April of 2011 at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons had a high presence. Their logo was on the backdrop.  Four of their players were in attendance. Their team president and former general manager, McKay, had a seat on stage — just in front of  “Big Show” and “Rey Mysterio” and “Edge” and “Kelly Kelly.”

That's the "Big Show" (7-foot, 485 pounds), towering over Falcons, Quinn Ojinnaka, Ovie Mughelli, Verron Haynes and Erik Coleman.

That's the "Big Show" (7-0, 485), towering over a group that includes four Falcons: Quinn Ojinnaka, Ovie Mughelli, Verron Haynes, Erik Coleman.

Go ahead, laugh. But this is where we are. How many millions did Vince McMahon have to make before the NFL realized he might not be a bad guy to partner with? And isn’t this the same Vince McMahon who was mocked by “real” football people for his XFL experiment? And it seems to me the WWE also has at least one edge over the NFL in 2011: There’s no threat of a lockout.

McKay — whose brother J.K. was the general manager of the XFL champion Los Angeles Xtreme — acknowledged the Falcons are helping promote and market Wrestlemania. They will sell corporate sponsorships. The Arizona Cardinals have a similar arrangement with the upcoming Wrestlemania event in Phoenix in two months. As part of the Falcons’ deal with the Dome, they share in profits from the stadium. So there could be an obvious benefit to their participation, even if, as McKay said, “We’re doing this for the community.”

And that is why Eve and Kelly Kelly looked so happy Monday. Because they’re all about the community. And we, gosh darn, care all about them.

McKay: “They distracted me.”

Go ahead, laugh. Wrestling isn’t going anywhere. The numbers scream people don’t care that it’s a scripted exhibition. Vince McMahon’s little venture reportedly has generated over $2 billion in pay-per-view revenue and $600 million in annual retail sales.

The WWE speaks NFL.

It’s scripted. It’s a sideshow. It’s a bizarre mutation between sports and entertainment.  Pro wrestlers are the most lampooned individuals on earth, outside of those who hold public office.

But an interesting observation from Mark Henry, a former Olympic weightlifter in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, who has done this for 14 years: “What we do is Broadway. It’s Broadway plays with physicality and life-threatening injuries.

“Some people who criticize feel like we’re such  intellectuals that we can’t enjoy ourselves and [escape]. The fact is, that’s why we read books. Maybe we’re not always high-brow, but it is what it is.”

He also said this: “Anybody who wants to trivialize it, say it to my face.”

“The consumer knows who we are,” McMahon said. “The media doesn’t understand us very well because we’re not sport, and we’re not the strictest form of entertainment. You can’t put us in a box. We’re not Beyonce. We don’t we fit anywhere. We’re a hybrid. But our audience understands that. We’ve been an exhibition since Abraham Lincoln wrestled.”

Erik Coleman of the Falcons stood next to the “Big Show.” “Walking into here with a 7-foot, 485-pound makes you think about things,” he said, laughing. “Anybody who thinks these guys aren’t athletes is crazy.”

For the record, McKay joked that he tried to recruit “Big Show” for the Falcons’ offensive line, “but Vince McMahon pays him too much.”

Lampoon that.

86 comments Add your comment

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February 1st, 2010
4:37 pm

even I dont want to be first on this one

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 1st, 2010
4:40 pm

Talk about with us tonight! The Sports Buffet” blogtalkradio.com 8p ET

just wait

February 1st, 2010
4:42 pm

well maybe this deal can pay for the falcons to sign peppers

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 1st, 2010
4:45 pm

oh no now a folding chair will be part of the uniform , there are a few opponents i wouldn’t mind seeing get blindsided with a chair hey maybe that could fix abraham

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 1st, 2010
4:45 pm

McMahon cannot crack the NFL club which he wanted to do with the XFL, but the billionaires club cannot denie the influence the WWE has had on how the NFL is shown during games.

Jimmy

February 1st, 2010
4:51 pm

I can’t wait for Wrestlemania here in Atlanta. Just went to the “Royal Rumble” last night and was very much entertained, which is why I paid $100 for my ticket. Wrestlmania tickets will pail in comparison to that, unfortunately.

for those who judge us wrastling fans, we’re just there to be entertained. Like Mark Henry said, it’s Broadway, on steroids(no pun intended). We all know the outcome is predetermined. It’s how they get to the outcome is what is entertaining.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 1st, 2010
4:54 pm

I watch rasslin tonight
not.
Bill Goldberg did very well for him-self in wrestling entertainment anybody remember why he washed out of football?

Paul H

February 1st, 2010
4:55 pm

I’m not a fan of WWE but I understand it for what it is. It’s entertainment – a soap opera in a ring. It is what it is. And millions of people love it.

Paul H

February 1st, 2010
4:56 pm

Jeff, I just saw a headline that read “ex-Falcon leads parade in drag.” Now tell me THAT doesn’t make the Tuesday countdown tomorrow!

Reid Adair

February 1st, 2010
4:57 pm

If Mr. Blank had any idea what “Eve” and “Kelly Kelly” looked like, he would have done this himself – and not turned it over to Rich McKay.

1eyedJack

February 1st, 2010
4:57 pm

Wrestling scripted? Not real? My old granny is spinning in her grave. Next you’ll tell me the fishing show that came on afterward was faked too. She’d be clawing her way out.

Barry Osborne

February 1st, 2010
5:00 pm

What was that little wrestling shop inside the Omni … WCW, or something like that? Former Bulldog and Falcon Bill Goldberg was one of the stars? Whatever happened to that?

Reid Adair

February 1st, 2010
5:05 pm

Barry, I believe WCW got bought out by Vince McMahon and the WWE.

Bob Horner had sweet compact swing

February 1st, 2010
5:07 pm

Schultz comes through again with sexy lady pix…..

falcon71

February 1st, 2010
5:09 pm

this is sick

Steve Carter

February 1st, 2010
5:11 pm

WCW was bought out by McMahon in 2001. Goldberg was with company in later years he never wrestled in Omni. :-) have a nice day

2sweet

February 1st, 2010
5:28 pm

mdr

February 1st, 2010
5:34 pm

todd grantham

February 1st, 2010
5:37 pm

At last the Falcons found an endeavour that fits McKay’s level of competence.

todd grantham

February 1st, 2010
5:38 pm

“Arthur Blank couldn’t be here” :)

ASHEVILLE DAWG

February 1st, 2010
5:53 pm

Well anytime you get 50,000 to 70,000 fans into a building, I call it well attended. It is what it is, but it will bring a “different” crowd to downtown Atlanta. I believe the money will be green and the retailers, hotels,bars etc. need any bump in revenue they can get.

That’s why the Atlanta Sports Council pursued the event. And if the Falcons can gain some extra coins from this event, why complain?

Limbaugh is Fat

February 1st, 2010
6:16 pm

Ahh, professional wrestling. . .well what can I say. . .whatever

McKay

February 1st, 2010
6:20 pm

todd ouch..your 5:37 post hurt me….

Gary

February 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

This is good news and I can’t wait to get tickets later this year. The WWE is sports entertainment. Yes the matches and events are scripted, but they are fun and intriguing. It’s ok if it’s not your cup of tea so to speak, but it makes for a fun night out with friends and/or family for those of us who like it. Some friends and I were contemplating going out to Phoenix this year, but since the show will be closer to home next year, we’re changing our plans.

Jeff, thanks for posting the pictures of Kelly Kelly and Eve. It’s too bad they couldn’t have Maryse (Google her) there as well. :)

David

February 1st, 2010
6:24 pm

ASHEVILLE DAWG I agree. Let’s just hope the “different” people already downtown don’t try shooting and robbing too much so that they come back.

steve

February 1st, 2010
6:25 pm

“A sucker is born ever day”!!

Being Honest

February 1st, 2010
6:30 pm

So is WWE supposed to be any more of a freak show than tractor pulls, monster trucks, etc.???

No, it’s not. We (society and REALLY the media, who are the biggest group of ‘know it all’s’ on the planet, ridicule what we don’t understand.

Just because pro wrestling doesn’t have a “home” and has no local media, it is laughed at by the media (i.e. – 4-eyes at the top of the column).

Now then – would I pay to go to an event? HELL NO. But would I ridicule someone that does – certainly not.

Bottom line – I never trust someones (4-eyes) opinion on a business side of anything that gets to go to events for free.

Seriously, how can any columnist “speak” for the fans (which is basically what they do – offer unsolicited opinions) when they don’t pay.

Jeff, Mark, etc. – go spend $75 – $100 on a Hawks ticket instead of sitting in your free press seat (that’s the price range for FANS seats around the 2nd level press area) and come back and tell us folks that actually DO spend the money to keep the teams around (that basically need to be there OR YOU BLOWHARDS ARE UNEMPLOYED) how we should feel about the teams success or lack thereof. You have no idea how to be objective about how fans feel because YOU ARE NOT ONE OF US. Enjoy your free seats while you write your columns – but please don’t try to act like you really know how real fans feel or what we like and don’t like.

Tom

February 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

Who screwed up and linked this in the “Sports” section?….shouldn’t this be in an accessatlanta blog?

WILL

February 1st, 2010
6:46 pm

there is a god i will be there in my ric flair attire and wooooooooooooooooo ing all night long and kelley kelley WOW, IHAD A KELLEY SHE DIDNT LOOK LIKE THIS .

Tom

February 1st, 2010
6:47 pm

and doesn’t this town have enough weekends designed to lure SEC fans as it is?

Gwinnett Fred

February 1st, 2010
6:50 pm

Not in April it doesn’t!

And nothing the SEC can do will pump $50+ million into the Atlanta economy (SEC shcmpionship game brings in about half that)

Ron

February 1st, 2010
6:51 pm

Tom, what is wrong with you? What’s wrong with having an event that brings in more money to the city? Enough SEC weekend events? We have the college football kickoff, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and the SEC Championship, that’s it. Occasionally we have a basketball tournament but nothing else. 3-5 events a year is not that much. Maybe you should move to Omaha?

Devildog

February 1st, 2010
6:57 pm

Pro “wrestling” is dying, it just doesn’t know it yet.
The wrestlers are just steriod clowns who bounce around the ring and act out.
The UFC is much better AND they REALLY fight!!!

Tom

February 1st, 2010
7:01 pm

it still shouldn’t be in the SPORTS section….because it’s NOT A SPORT.

Just because the actors in this genre of theatre are athletic doesn’t make it a sport. It’s “Days of Our Lives” with HGH and ‘roids.

Tom

February 1st, 2010
7:03 pm

I know. let’s make it a double-shot weekend! Someone get Jerry Springer on the line…see if he can tape a show next door at the WCC to coincide with WrestleMania!

Heck, I might have to get a license to set up kiosks for wife-beaters and discount dental work.

bigstack19

February 1st, 2010
7:10 pm

Wrestlemania will bring in $50 to $60 million dollars to the city of Atlanta. Plus I hear the ghost of a certain nameless steroid using family murdering “Rabid Wolverine” might “hang” out at the dome that night.

Gwinnett Fred

February 1st, 2010
7:12 pm

Tom:

Perhaps you missed the part where Jeff linked wrestling to the Georgia Dome to the FALCONS. I know that’s a lot to process, but the column involves the FALCONS – last time I looked, a SPORTS team.

Quit trying to stir up a pot that doesn’t need stirring.

We get it, you are bashing red necks. Well Mr. Elitist – live with it or as Ron suggested – move to Omaha, though they probably have the same problems, just with the BIG 10 instead of the SEC and tractor pulls instead of pro rasslin. So I guess you are just screwed – so go play with yourself, just don’t use any NCAA or WWE licenced items to do it!

David Stern

February 1st, 2010
7:15 pm

There is nothing wrong with a scripted outcome.

Jeff Schultz

February 1st, 2010
7:16 pm

Paul H — I do believe that’s Bobby Hebert. And yes, it’s possible.

Jeff Schultz

February 1st, 2010
7:16 pm

David Stern — Now THAT’S funny.

Jeff Schultz

February 1st, 2010
7:18 pm

South Ga Dawg– because Goldberg wasn’t very good in football, that’s why.

Jeff Schultz

February 1st, 2010
7:19 pm

Bob Horner– I try.

David Stern

February 1st, 2010
7:21 pm

Oh yeah… Go Hawks.

Jeff Schultz

February 1st, 2010
7:21 pm

Tom — You don’t think Falcons’ involvement makes it a sports story?

Truthpaste

February 1st, 2010
7:36 pm

Well, if the WWE can hold their biggest event in the Georgia Dome next year, the argument for a new venue doesn’t hold too much water, does it?

Gwinnett Fred

February 1st, 2010
7:44 pm

Aw heck Truthpaste – don’t you know a 20 year old Georgia Dome is good enough for rednecks to watch rasslin’???

We ain’t talking about sophisticated fans of the NFL here (insert picture of ridiculous Oakland Raider fan dressed up as Dr. Death).

Matt the Brave

February 1st, 2010
7:46 pm

I think that this will be great for Atlanta, and for the Falcons in terms of money. And that’s what it’s about. Heck, it might get WWE to continue to bring these events to Atlanta.

In the simplest of terms people, it means that people are going to be in the hotels, people are going to eat at the restaurants, and they are going to go to other attractions.

Gwinnett Fred

February 1st, 2010
7:49 pm

Aw heck Truthpaste – don’t you know a 20 year old Dome is good enough for redneck rasslin’ fans???

It ain’t like weez talkin about sopisstokated NFL types (insert picture of any idiot dressed up with total face paint or body paint or Raider fan in their Road Warrior outfits).

Paul in RDU

February 1st, 2010
7:51 pm

“magical female balloon doctor” – I’m still laughing about that one.
Jeff – which school gives out PhD’s or MD’s in that field? Has to be one of the most popular majors on campus!

Just sayin'

February 1st, 2010
7:57 pm

Well, WWE is 1 for 1 in sellouts this year at Philips – the Hawks are 3 for 24. So ridicule them all you want, but the almighty dollar talks and the WWE appears to be SCREAMING!