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November 16, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: More on Ventura winning Governor election, media reaction, tons more


There has never been a period in American wrestling history where pro wrestling has been the subject of so much mainstream media attention.

Between the shocking victory of Jesse Ventura in the race for Governor of Minnesota, which resulted in front page coverage in newspapers around the country, and the attention pro wrestling itself is receiving due to the mainstream media discovering its popularity boom, it is virtually impossible to escape almost a total bombardment of pro wrestling articles the likes of which have never been seen before.

The election of Ventura, a third party candidate from the Ross Perot-formed Reform Party, who had been running third, and up until the final week, a distant third, in the polls, came out on a national basis as the biggest individual election story, almost as much because of a third party political outsider beating the establishment as because of the novelty of Ventura as a former pro wrestler. Most newspapers gave significant coverage to Ventura on 11/5, many printing the New York Times front page story or localized versions of the same. The demand for Ventura skyrocketed, all the way to his appearing over the weekend on "Meet the Press," where his comments on Bill and Hilary Clinton, in response to Hilary calling his campaign a "sideshow" and his responding that "I think that she maybe ought to not leave the White House as often as she used to

Bad things seem to happen when she leaves," springboarded yet another round of front page coverage nationally for Ventura on 11/9. During the show he challenged host Tim Russert to take off his shirt and show off his chest, a challenge Russert didn't take, but clearly clever methods to get as much media stretch out of his time in the sun as well. CNN did a one hour feature on his life over the weekend, and newspapers across the country and actually around the world were preparing major features on this improbable election result that nobody saw coming. His election inspired the "Today" show to interview Vince McMahon on 11/5 about Ventura, a subject he didn't seem all that pleased to discuss, probably because Ventura won a much publicized $1 million plus verdict over McMahon in a lawsuit several years ago, although sensing the media tide, both McMahon and Jim Ross changed their tune from days earlier by the time Monday night came around as everyone in wrestling tried to jump on the bandwagon, none more pathetically, however, than Hulk Hogan.

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