While this is a Deep Insider column, I can’t help but find myself thinking that Mike Johnson is out to lunch.
There’s a problem I find with a site like PWInsider, in that they consider themselves to be the providers of high-quality, in-demand news that no one else is entitled to report, going to such absurd lengths to “protect” it that they actually deter readers, and hamper their experience when trying consume it.
They think very highly of themselves, to be sure.
But, in reality, to everyone else, they’ve devolved to the point of clickbait rubbish headlines, and increasingly less relevant news.
Sheet Sandwich first called things out as a bit fishy with the way Mike Johnson in particular reported news, and then defended his sloppy facts with the Daniel Bryan return, which was framed as just that–a return–before Bryan himself kiboshed that in the ring, and announced that he wasn’t medically cleared to wrestle. Prior to that Johnson had reported on Bryan’s return using language that he would be “booked” on the show, and set up an angle for his IC title. While never actually saying he’d wrestle, the implication to a reasonable reader would be that he would.
In recent weeks, Johnson has reported two-month old news and presented it in a “PWInsider has learned” format that makes it seem like it’s new information.
Shortly there after, PWInsider “confirmed” that Dolph Ziggler had signed a new, multi-year deal with WWE a few days before Dolph Ziggler denied this, and told the press that he had actually countered WWE’s latest offer, and was considering leaving.
Ziggler is now sitting out of WWE, sent home after an injury angle last week on Raw and “out indefinitely” according to the company in a storyline that other insiders have said could be a convenient way to either call Ziggler’s bluff, or write him out of WWE storylines.
Johnson has yet to run any stories updating his false report that Dolph was “confirmed” to have signed.
Today, Johnson took things to a whole extra level of sleazy, clickbait, non-news.
A story was making the rounds on most reputable wrestling insider news sources that Alberto el Patron (Alberto del Rio in WWE) had no-showed an advertised appearance on Saturday night for which he had been paid in advance, and had not been heard from since. Concern was that el Patron was missing.
Late this afternoon, Johnson on PWInsider ran a story on their site headlined “Alberto el Patron Update.”
It was the first time they were addressing the story on this site, and the context of the information contained therein was a basic recap of exactly the same information that had been presented on other wrestling news sites across the internet. In short, there was no update to be had. Johnson had resorted to a clickbait headline to attract readers to click through and increase ad views.
When confronted about this on Twitter, Johnson attempted to defend his headline, and his news, in perhaps the single most obtuse way I’ve ever witnessed from a wrestling journalist.
First, he attacked the notion that people were complaining to him on “social media” as though it were a dirty word.
“Only problem is people all hyped up on social media mad because they wrongfully assumed something on their own. “People can feel how they want about the update, but seems like only people upset are those who live their lives on social media.” Johnson wrote in two separate tweets.
When pressed on the issue of the headline itself not actually updating the story, or offering something new, things took an even more bizarre twist, with Johnson somehow not comprehending what the actual word “update’ means.
“How is there supposed to be something “new” on a story that was never written about before ON PWInsider? There had been no previous story on PWInsider,” Johnson wrote.
“’Update’ beats the hell out an inflammatory CONCERN ABOUT DEL RIO-esque headline. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” he continued. “My reporting isn’t taking advantage. It’s doing my job. Waited hours for ADR to respond. Nothing inflammatory. The update ‘WAS’ the story. I could have put ADR MISSING if I wanted clicks/hits/impressions. I didn’t want that.”
Of course, one would have to imagine that even Johnson is savvy enough to realize other sites had already run the “Del Rio” is missing angle. and an innocuous, yet truthful, headline regarding the wrestler no-showing would have likely been passed over as old news, too. So Johnson, left with no other option, pretended as though he had new information, and claimed to have an update.
Compounding matters even further, after el Patron had been located, Johnson published another story to PWInsider… this time? The headline read, “Second Alberto el Patron Update” as though there had been a first update at all.
This is the low quality news reporting you can expect at PWInsider it would seem. Broad stroke shots in the dark, with attention-grabbing headlines that lack any sort of substance, critical thought or logical analysis.
While he was by no means perfect, its work like this from guys like Mike Johnson that kind of make a reader long for Buck Woodard.