Their frustration is very similar to those who refuse to believe that big time wrestling is fake—because they want to buy the story line that political theater can somehow be solved with logic. But it can’t. The system is too far gone for anything like that, and as well intended as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz may be, the political establishment is against them to the death. So for a president in 2016 to be successful they have to be good at two things, they have to understand “big time” wrestling, and they have to know how money works. It is well-known that Donald Trump understands money. He is a mostly self-made man built the old-fashioned way. But he’s also an entertainer who knows the value of a brand—and his brand is so strong that it has even survived the testosterone filled banter of wrestling fanaticism. Out of all his accomplishments, the sentiment that Trump is an inductee of the WWE in the celebrity wing of the Hall of Fame likely makes him most equipped to be President of the United States in the years following the embarrassments of Obama, Clinton and Bush than anything else.
Trump has always been a fan of the WWE and is good friends with Vince McMahon in real life. Trump hosted both WrestleMania IV and V from Trump Plaza. This marked the first and only time a WrestleMania has been held at the same venue in consecutive years.
Younger fans will probably remember him best being involved in WrestleMania 23. It was billed as the “Battle of the Billionaires”, with Trump’s representative Bobby Lashley beating McMahon’s representative Umaga. Trump got to shave McMahon’s hair off at the event.
There was even a storyline when Trump bought Monday Night Raw off of McMahon in 2009. He staged a historic commercial-free version of the show, which was one of the highest rated Raw shows in many years at the time.
Most notably with that “Battle of the Billionaires” was when Trump body slammed McMahon and punched him in the face several times. It was obvious choreography, but think about a 60-year-old Trump actually body slamming McMahon, even playing around. What is important about that event is that the Trump brand was so well-known and respected, that millions of fans supported Trump as the winner of that engagement where McMahon had his head shaved on stage. It was all entertainment theater agreed upon ahead of time, but the fact that McMahon agreed to allow a relatively old man billionaire to beat him in front of millions of people shows to what extent Trump protects his brand.
The pressure on Trump for the CNN debate must be overwhelming. Everyone on that stage will be gunning for him. Everyone in the audience is carefully waiting for him to body slam someone. And the moderators want to be the ones to go down in history as the one who stumped Trump’s 2016 campaign. And he knows that’s what’s going to happen in front of nearly as many people who watch the Superbowl ever year. Talk about pressure—it doesn’t get any heavier. But Trump has set this whole thing up for several decades, and I wouldn’t doubt it if it didn’t play out in his mind when he and Vince McMahon were setting up “The Battle of the Billionaires.” The Beltway types will look at these clips of Donald Trump at Wrestle Mania and consider it low brow Entertainment Theater appealing to the trailer trash of America—as they sip their white wine during the appetizer portion of a tax payer funded dinner. But Trump knows that cultures around the world don’t care about debates or fancy talk. They will know when he comes to the table to negotiate that the 6’ 3” man from America in the blue suit and red tie that body slams celebrities in front of millions of people Trump is not going to play nicely. When people like Hulk Hogan and many other WWE greats will likely be part of Trump’s body guard entourage from the White House, Trump will have built up a mysticism that no body else could have dreamed to match.
I think what Trump has done is brilliant and it all culminates at this CNN debate. It will be the fight of the century, and this one isn’t as planned out as the one between Trump and McMahon—this is a real fight. But the theatrics are what Trump knows and understands and he’s already working at many different levels well ahead of everyone else. To me its clear Trump has been building up his brand to perform this task for a long time. The brilliance of that strategy is to use an unlikely source, such as the WWE to catapult that brand to a voter base that has not been participating in elections—and to also use that footage to gain footage for future capital. There are all kinds of capital. Most of the time we think of capital as money, but there are other kinds. And Trump is planning to use that capital to break through some things that have been in a stalemate for a long time. And it is fascinating to watch. That is for sure.