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A link journalism lesson from Vince McMahon

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Vince McMahon on Monday Night Raw

Source: uacheesehead on Flickr

I’m unable to find whichever sources originally relayed this story to me, so what follows is mostly anecdotal.

Back in 1998, when pro wrestling was at the height of its popularity, the then-WWF pulled this publicity stunt wherin members of their D-Generation-X stable “invaded” rival WCW’s Monday Nitro TV show (WWF’s Raw is War was being filmed nearby that same night). This pretty much consisted of driving a Jeep around and trying to gain access to the arena where Nitro was being filmed. Network competition between the two was huge at the time, so shenanigans like this were, I guess, some attempt to sway the tides (or at least to placate Vince McMahon and his thunderous ego).

D-X was locked out of the WCW arena, so no great drama ensued. Then it dawned on (D-X leader) Triple H that WCW might try the same thing on WWF’s show, so he asked Vince, “What do we do if they try to come in here?” Supposedly, Vince responded with something like, “Screw it, let ’em in. Which would you rather watch: the show with no one on it, or the show with everyone on it?

This doesn’t mirror the idea of link journalism exactly—for that, Vince would’ve had to say, “We’ll just let in the best wrestlers from their show.” The point, however, is that WCW put up a wall while Vince McMahon was ready to bring a larger audience to his show by augmenting it with “content” from a competitor. That didn’t mean sacrificing his show or watering it down with an inferior product, either. It just meant that, hey, you like wrestling and you can either see WCW’s guys on the WCW show or you can see WCW’s and WWF’s guys on the WWF show. (Reportedly, by the way, this show was the first time in almost two years that WWF beat WCW in the Monday night ratings.)

You can sit around and pretend like everyone in town is coming to your site for everything or you can actually make it so that everyone in town comes to your site for everything. Don’t worry about sending people away—they’ll come back. Google does it all day.

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