Why It's Hard to be a WWE Fan in 2018

I've been planning to write this one for a while (the original idea was called "Why it's hard to be a WWE fan in 2017") but today's announcement about the XFL inspired me to actually do it.

In Vince McMahon's new XFL, not much is known, except for the fact that players will all stand for the anthem, dammit!

This is the kind of MAGA nonsense that will make Trumpers cheer and this sort of attitude from McMahon is the reason why it's hard to be a WWE fan in 2018. (If you support Donald Trump, you're probably better off leaving now because you're not going to like this post, or this blog really.)

Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame and , while WWE tries to stay out of politics these days (because they're a public company now, I guess), Linda McMahon is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration and was appointed to that role by Donald Trump. Don't forget this picture.

But just knowing and working with Donald Trump isn't why it's hard to support WWE these days. (Though I totally expected a big "GOD BLESS AMERICA" and entire roster standing for the national anthem on an episode of Raw back when Trump was blasting NFL players for kneeling.) No, the problem isn't that Vince McMahon associates with Trump, it's that he shares a lot of Trump's values.

The WWE may try to be "family friendly" these days, but we all know what their DNA is. This is a company where still, in 2018, almost every foreigner or wrestler with darker than white skin is a heel. It's one where black wrestlers almost exclusively tag with other black wrestlers (I truly believe Vince McMahon thinks all black people are friends and that's why he always tags them together.) This is where the gimmicks available to these black wrestlers ranges from "thug" to "guy who dances."

Look at WWE's history of non-white wrestlers. Outside of The Rock, who is a generational talent, how many have been treated seriously? And how many have had something other than a stereotype as a gimmick? And this isn't just about race. Today's WWE is the same WWE that partnered with GLAAD to get publicity for Billy and Chuck's wedding only to swerve everyone and upset GLAAD in the process. WWE doesn't care about social values or progress. It cares about making money.

The problem is and always has been Vince McMahon. This is the guy who only cares about wrestler safety once a whole bunch of wrestlers die. He pushed it for as long as it could go, and created an environment of unsafe working conditions and testosterone that caused wrestlers (most of whom don't get benefits or vacations) to push and abuse their bodies all in the name of profit. If you were hurt and wanted time off, you were either let go from the company (until WCW hiring ex-WWE guys made this a tough thing for him to do) or demoted down the card. The result is that way too many wrestlers got addicted to drugs and way too many died. The result is Chris Benoit.

WWE's history is Vince McMahon's history and Vince McMahon's history is not good. For a recent example, consider CM Punk's situation.

Notice how WWE didn't show much footage of its female competitors on RAW 25? That's because we all know what the "Divas" division used to be like before. Now, kudos to WWE for recognizing what year it is and actually allowing women to have competitive match-ups, but that's a Stephanie and Triple H thing, not a Vince McMahon thing. Apparently, Vince "is said to be unmoved by what’s happening in NXT, and he isn’t interested in making any major changes to the main roster women’s division." Apparently his history with women's wrestling has shown him that women's wrestling isn't a draw. WWE has given women more of the spotlight recently and even had them main event shows, but I can't help but think that this is more of an "Look, we're not sexist, look!" than a genuine attempt, but I'd love to be wrong.

Of course, Vince McMahon's history as a promoter also shows him that it's a good idea to have Muhammad Hassan turn from an Arab-American (actually an Italian-American) who is upset with how people like him were being portrayed in the media post-911, into an anti-American heel who called a group of masked men wearing camo pants out to the ring to choke the Undertaker with piano wire. Why did the guy who was upset with unfair media coverage have to be a heel? And why did he have to call out masked men in camo pants to attack his rivals? On that note, why did Scott Steiner and Chris Nowinski "debate" the war in Iraq on Raw in 2003 with the reasonable, educated views of Nowinski making him the heel while the "Big Poppa Pump" babbled out his usual nonsense and was therefore the face?

Bottom line, in WWE, foreigners, people with dark skin, people who don't fit into the stereotypical view of "masculinity," and people who have nuanced views are automatically the heels. Who else does that sound like the opinion of? Hint: He's the President of the United States.

And that's why it's tough to watch WWE in 2018. Because, even though the explicit sexism and racism are mostly gone from the on-screen program, the same feelings run through the show. Chant USA, boo the guy from the other country, and hope someone gets hurt real bad.

It seems strange to criticize a pro-violence mentality when you're watching professional wrestling, but a company that is based on fake violence doesn't have to be as cutthroat and brutal as it is. You can have wrestlers pretend to fight and get hurt in front of the crowd without treating them like circus performers in reality.

The #MeToo movement has brought to light serious sexual assault and misconduct allegations among several powerful people in politics and Hollywood. Now, I'm not going to give any specifics, and I have no proof that anything has happened, but I have certainly heard many rumours about absolutely awful things happening backstage at WWE events and how women (and many men) have been treated by those in power at WWE. I'm honestly shocked that nothing concrete has come out recently.

WWE is a company of hypocrites. It preaches "Be A Star" and anti-bullying, while continuing to employ and put the spotlight on someone like JBL who Sports Illustrated states "has been accused for years of being a locker room bully", while Deadspin adds that "backstage tales of Layfield's hazing and bullying have long been legend among hardcore wrestling fans."

Remember when Mauro Ranello took a leave of absence from WWE at least in part due to how JBL treated him? JBL has Vince McMahon's mentality and that mentality is wrong.

WWE has a history of being hypocritical as well. Remember those "Don't Do Drugs" ads in the 80s while Vince McMahon was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for routinely obtaining anabolic steroids for his wrestlers?

Now, you might be thinking "Sure, but a lot of this stuff happened ten, twenty, or thirty years ago and don't all large companies have their share of scandals?" That's partially true, but the attitude and mentality that plagued WWF/E in the 80s and 90s is still there. Most of the same people are still in charge, specifically Vince McMahon.

Professional wrestling is a shitty and shady industry and Vince McMahon is its king. We could all overlook this stuff many years ago because society was different, but in today's society, with modern values, there are too many bad things about WWE to ignore.

In summary, sorry for the very long post. Now I'm going to give Vince McMahon money this weekend because I want to watch the Royal Rumble and I hate myself for it.

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