Usually when people see comparisons between Dana White and Vince McMahon, it has to do with discussions of how the WWE and UFC do their PPV's. Recently, it would be comparisons to the online subscriptions that their companies have put out. Hell, I've even a tell-of-the-tape between the two on Fuel TV if they were to ever fight one another. But this article has nothing to do with any of that.
I haven't followed wrestling in years, though I used to quite closely. Over the last few years I had a friend that still followed that kept me up to date on the major stories, but he has since moved to China (no joke, he really lives in China now) and now I will look up the new stories every few months, but that is it. Being someone who once followed it closely though, I knew that Wrestlemania was coming up as well as the Hall of Fame inductions. So naturally, I was curious about the major matches and who would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
I was very surprised to see the primary inductee is to be the Ultimate Warrior. Not that I don't think he deserves it. He was my favorite wrestler when I was a little tyke and regardless of his in-ring performances (he wasn't considered to be a great tactician), he had millions of fans and did a lot of good for the promotion. But he hasn't exactly had a great working relationship with Vince McMahon or the WWE as a whole.
The Ultimate Warrior was given the keys to the WWE (at the time WWF) in the early 90's when he defeated company poster boy Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, which shows how high of regard he was held. He would then burn bridges by threatening to no-show the company's second largest show of the year, Summerslam, in 1991 unless he received a massive pay bump. Rather than have him no-show a highly anticipated match, he received his pay and was then released shortly after. After a second stint the next year, he was released again for reasons that aren't entirely clear. He was brought back again a third time in 1996 only to no-show numerous events to again be released.
Throughout all of this, Warrior (he legally changed his name from Jim Hellwig to Warrior in 1993... no joke) was considered to be about as unprofessional as they come both in the ring and in the backstage by his wrestling peers. The WWE released a DVD set called The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior in 2005 which illustrates all of this, but all you really need to know is the title of the set to know where he has stood with the company for years.
Despite the rocky past, Vince McMahon has decided to place Warrior in the WWE Hall of Fame. Why? Because the fans loved and adored him. Fans always have and always will have a strong opinion of who belongs in the Hall of Fame of any sport (take Pete Rose for instance) and will strongly voice that opinion. The fans wanted the Ultimate Warrior in the Hall of Fame. McMahon listened and swallowed some of his pride to reach out to Warrior (who would have to swallow some pride himself) and reach an agreement to bring him into the Hall of Fame.
Now the Hall of Fames for basketball, NFL, NHL, and MLB are determined by sportswriters votes, so it wouldn't be appropriate to compare any of those to the WWE Hall of Fame. The WWE selects its members with Vince McMahon's OK to do so... just like the UFC Hall of Fame only has inductees enter with Dana White's OK.
The UFC Hall of Fame has been debated by fans for a long time. How is it that Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, and Don Frye are not in the Hall of Fame (despite their massive credentials), but Stephan Bonnar is? Because Shamrock, Miletich, and Frye aren't exactly on the best of terms with Dana White while Bonnar is forever going to be in his good graces thanks to his first fight with Forrest Griffin... and very little else. It isn't that Bonnar doesn't deserve to be respected for his accomplishments... but ahead of those three? I don't think so.
Its safe to say that the only people whom have not incurred the wrath of White will be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame as long as White is the president of the UFC. Considering that White likes to claim that the UFC does everything that it can to give the fans what they want, the current standings on gaining induction is a load of crap. If its going to be this way we might as well call it the Hall of Dana White's Favorite Fighters. White is not giving the fans what they want at all.
White needs to accept the fact that not everyone is going to agree with everything that he does or felt should be done. Considering he is a very public figure, he is going to hear about that. Instead of lashing out against a former fighter who has voiced their negative opinion about him and black-balling them, he should just shrug his shoulders and move on.
A great example of this is Randy Couture. True, Couture is already in the Hall of Fame (rightfully so), but White expressed last year that he was ecstatic that Couture's contract with the UFC expired and he no longer had to deal with Couture. Even worse though, when he gave Randy's son Ryan Couture a contract with the UFC, he banned Randy from being in Ryan's corner for his fights.
I get why White might not enjoy working with Couture a lot. Couture had multiple contract disputes with the UFC while he was champion and sat out for lengthy periods of time. But there is no denying the impact that Randy had on both the company and the sport. Without Randy, it is very likely that the UFC would have folded. He is a massive fan favorite and was one of the coaches on the original Ultimate Fighter opposite of Chuck Liddell, with whom he completed what was likely the companies most important trilogy.
Since then, Couture's most visible participation in MMA has been in Bellator with their dive into reality TV with Fight Master. While Couture did a fine job, it felt wrong on many levels. Seeing Couture working for Bellator is like seeing Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform... it just isn't right.
White is hurting himself and his company with his divisiveness. I know that he doesn't care how popular he is with fans (I actually admire that about him), but he should care about what it does to his company. As the primary representative of the UFC, he is the primary figurehead of the company. Thus, fans are more liable to turn away from the UFC if White continues to alienate the company's former stars. His reluctance to allow particular fighters into the UFC Hall of Fame is only hurting him and the company. By creating enemies of his own.
I don't write this as a massive critic of White. While I don't worship him, I admire his accomplishments. What he has done for the sport is incredible and he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame himself. Many fans refer to him as an idiot, but you can't be an idiot and have taken the company from the brink of going under to the massive power that it is today. No one in the world would be lucky enough to be able to do that despite being an idiot. But I fear that his stubborness is hurting him and his company.
I don't care how White personally feels about these people. He is more than entitled to hate someone. Its actually refreshing to see someone be honest about how they feel about others in this politically correct world. But don't let it seep into business. Don't let it affect the fans that pay for the product that you put out. Don't let it undermine others accomplishments in the sport that you all represent.
To White's credit, I know that he is capable doing what is best for business. Remember his still-running feud with Tito Ortiz? White brought Ortiz back into the organization not once, but twice knowing that he was a fan favorite and would sell tickets. All of this despite Ortiz publicly referring to White as his bitch. Then again, that is what makes this situation even more frustrating. White is capable of putting his personal feelings aside... so why the hell doesn't he do it?
The Hall of Fame is created to not only honor those who've contributed greatly to the organization and/or sport, but for the fans to be able to enjoy, honor, and revere those fighters accomplishments. To deny the fans the right to that is an injustice.
Vince McMahon has done a number of things that I've disagreed with, but its hard to say that he doesn't try to give the fans what they want. He is bring back Hulk Hogan to host Wrestlemania 30 despite Hogan's latest attempt to put him out of business (no matter how feeble it was) by working for TNA Wrestling for the last few years. He brought Bret Hart back into the organization despite the intense bad blood between them. He has endured multiple beatings over the years by inserting himself into matches that have resulted in such injuries as a broken tailbone and massive blood loss. Why does he do these things? Because the fans want it. And what the fans want is good for business.
Now if only Dana White can figure this out...