Jul 9, 2022
first saw that headline it barely registered as news. Vince McMahon
and the company he runs are so reliably bad (both in terms of
content and morality) that they merely meet expectations. When
someone meets your expectations, especially if those expectations
are low, their offense doesn't hit so hard. But that's not good.
This news should register as significant, because it is
significant. It should elicit strong emotional reactions. My
initial reaction could be called dismissive, or the act of a mind
shaped by "fake news", a dystopia wherein reality doesn't matter
and "alternative facts" reign. Vince could easily squeak by
unscathed because he's merely behaved as you always suspected he
did. But shouldn't he be held accountable for his nefarious
actions? Has he really earned a free pass, specifically from
wrestling fans, because he's Mr. McMahon, the strutting King of
Sports Entertainment? He didn't "just" have "affairs". He paid
"$7.5 million to a former wrestler
who alleged that McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex and
demoted her and ultimately declined to renew her contract after she
resisted further sexual encounters".
not the story of a horny old man, a cheater, a liar, or even a bad
story of abuse. The abuse of power. The abuse of
terms, the severity of McMahon's actions is more sobering, and we
start to arrive at why he should be held accountable (if
suggest, for starters, that he resign from WWE.
the "Disney of professional wrestling" agrees. How can the company
proceed "putting smiles on faces" when it's headed by a man who
coerced sexual favors and then attempted to hide such activity with
hush money? WWE's options seem blatantly clear and yet I doubt
they'll do what should come naturally - apply pressure on McMahon
to resign immediately and totally from WWE.
no suggestions for what should happen to McMahon in his personal
life. He and his family will have to reckon with his misdeeds in
their own time. That's not for me to judge or
is, however, a larger reckoning that needs to take place in
needs to be better and safer than it has been. As those who dismiss
this story are quick to point out, abuses of power are common in
the entertainment world. The fact that abuse is common doesn't mean
it's okay, and that doesn't mean things can't change.
McMahon story is intimately connected to the Speaking Out movement, which is also
connected to the Me Too movement. Time leaves gaps in people's
consciousness, but these reckonings are not isolated incidents.
They are interconnected threads that strengthen one another with
each story told, each abuse revealed. McMahons outing should
function as a springboard for others, and inspire another call to
action for pro-wrestling to be safe for its employees and
independent contractors. For too long promotions have been able to
operate with impunity, thriving in a boy's club. It's past time the
boy's club disbanded. It leads to nothing but misconduct and abuse,
and this cannot be allowed to go on.
that's where professional wrestling fans must bear some of the
burden. We fund these companies, these performers. What exactly are
we paying them for? Do we prefer to live in a world where we pay
Vince McMahon $9.99 a month so we might turn a blind eye to his
misconduct and watch Brock Lesnar slam someone through a table? Is
that what being a pro-wrestling fan means? Up until now, that's
exactly what it's meant. But we cannot go on turning
a blind eye because it suits us. Identifying as a professional
wrestling fan should carry with it certain responsibilities. To be
honest, to be respectful of others, and to call out bad actors. We
already bear the burden of explaining why we like it in the first
place. Can you not see that those who commit sexual misconduct make
it harder to be a pro-wrestling fan?
consumed McMahon's often seedy product as he operated behind the
scenes in an even seedier fashion. We were raised on his television
shows and the hundreds of electrifying catchphrases his superstars
shouted into microphones. We did this secretly suspecting the
likelihood of his real-world wrongdoing, but looking the other way,
hypnotized by pyro and daring acrobatics. It behooves pro-wrestling
fans to break that spell sooner rather than later. We have immense
power, power that goes beyond our cheer and our boo. We can hold
the whole of pro-wrestling accountable, especially when it has
failed to police itself. That, now, is a part of what it means to
be a pro-wrestling fan; refusing to turn a blind eye, help make
wrestling safer for performers and fans, and stop allowing
nostalgia to corrupt one's moral compass.
can wrestling fans start?
writing articles, conducting interviews, and Tweeting threads that
expose abuses of power in the medium. Tear down the misogynist,
racist infrastructure of the professional wrestling business by
calling it out, voting with your dollar, and shining a spotlight on
oft-ignored voices. Police the pro-wrestling community online and
at live events, not permitting destructive voices a space. People
with more than terrible opinions feel safe when they're surrounded
by other loud and angry people, even if those people share opposing
views. So perhaps some of the work that needs to be done is subtle
yourself what it means, to you, to be a professional wrestling fan
in 2022, and what it means to sing along to "No Chance In Hell"
when Mr. McMahon saunters down the ramp. I contend that you are not
necessarily culpable for his misdeeds when you cheer him, but
you're not entirely removed from them either. And that idea should
grab one's attention if recent headlines don't. What role do we
inadvertently play by offering up our money and our voice to a
system that breeds abuse?
things are going to get better, pro-wrestling fans can't sit on the
sidelines. They'll have to do something to ensure they're able to
watch their chosen promotion with a clear conscious. Only then,
when we know people are safe and wrongdoers are forced out, can we
really enjoy this art.