World Wrestling Entertainment is known for pulling off stunts to promote its shows. But it may have topped itself this week when it announced it had sold “Monday Night Raw” to Donald Trump.
The so-called sale surprised media outlets including TV Guide and Bloomberg enough to report it as fact. But the show, which airs on USA Network and is consistently one of cable’s top draws, was never up for grabs.
WWE enlisted Trump, who had a fictional feud with company chairman Vince McMahon in the past, to buy “Raw” as part of a storyline that has the recession forcing the wrestling org’s ringleader to sell off some of his assets.
To give the storyline some weight, WWE and USA issued a press release Monday to announce the change in ownership, with McMahon calling it “an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
But when the press didn’t get the joke, USA was forced to release an apology Thursday.
“We intended the release to be promotional for that ongoing story arc on the series,” USA said in the statement. “There is no such actual ‘sale.’ We apologize for any confusion.”
One company that isn’t apologizing is WWE. It generated the buzz it was looking for and always has one key part of its biz to fall back on: “We do scripted entertainment,” a spokesman said.
The Trump takeover plot continues Monday when the exec appears on a commercial-free episode of the show as its new manager.
“I’m going to do things on the show that have never been done or seen before,” Trump said in the initial statement.
Apparently that includes buying something that’s not for sale.