Sometimes I have no clue what the WWE Creative team is doing. Which is appropriate, because I don’t think they do, either.
Case #1: Recently the WWE made a token donation to Chris Nowinski’s organization, which is dedicated to studying and preventing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
The gift is being made to the Sports Legacy Institute, a Boston non-profit with a mission to advance treatment and prevention of the effects of concussions in athletes and others, such as soldiers concussed by blasts. The Sports Legacy Institute has a pro wrestling connection: Co-founder Chris Nowinski played football at Harvard but also wrestled in the WWE under names that included Chris Harvard.
Nice gesture, and one that’s potentially even more powerful if Creative can put a storyline behind it. Almost immediately they had HHH, aka Paul Levesque, the company’s COO and one of its biggest stars, sustain a storyline concussion in a pay-per-view match with Brock Lesnar. Excellent, I thought – they’re now going to use this to illustrate the dangers of messing with a head injury.
Well, not exactly. They had HHH attempting to get back in the ring immediately, where his symptoms manifested in a match against Curtis Axel and he was unable to continue. So far, so good. But then they trot out his wife, VP of Creative Stephanie McMahon, and his father-in-law, CEO Vince McMahon, to explain that he was being withheld from further competition in the interests of his health. Great.
Except that they played Vince and Stephanie as heels and HHH as the good guy for wanting to come back and endanger his physical and neurological well being. They worked the angle so as to incite the crowd to scream for HHH’s return.
WTF? Do these people even read the company’s own press releases?
Case 2: In another extended program, Creative pitted Sheamus against the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, Damien Sandow. If you don’t follow WWE, Sandow plays an insufferable elitist snob and Sheamus is the lovable rough-and-tumbler from the mean streets of Dublin. In show after show, Sandow attempted to outsmart Sheamus and to make him look foolish in the process. Each time Sheamus comes out on top via a boot to the face.
Now, there are a couple of issues here. First off, Sheamus was being played as a straight-up schoolyard bully. And second, he’s the face. The storyline set the smart kid up as the smarmy asshole, the bully up as the good guy, and the payoff was when the bully beat up the brainiac.
The crowd goes wild!
So yes, WWE Creative concocted a program where the bully was the hero. Well, so what, you say? You don’t necessarily expect pro wrestling to be a font of intellectual enlightenment, right?
No, but it might not be unreasonable to expect better of a company that’s explicitly pushing a goddamned no-bullying initiative!
Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011. The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
Currently, Be a STAR has 58 alliance members, including National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), GLAAD, STOMP Out Bullying, The Ad Council and the United Federation of Teachers all partnering together to take action against bullying.
Furthermore, The Alliance debuted Be a STAR Chapter Toolkits to help schools and communities start their own Be a STAR chapters. The free kit includes a guide on how to start a Be a STAR chapter, suggested activities, resources, a poster and other useful tools to combat bullying. The chapter toolkit has been downloaded by more than 4,000 students across the country.
Through the Be a STAR website, over 30,000 people from all 50 US states and from 91 international countries have taken the pledge to end bullying through WWE’s Be a STAR program.
In an ongoing effort to spread the word about tolerance and respect, WWE Superstars and Divas visit two – three schools or community centers per month to speak with students about bullying issues including sharing their own personal stories.
I repeat, WTF?
It’s like Creative is somehow engaged in a battle for the soul of the organization. By golly, corporate and diversity can go out and fund all the prosocial bullshit they like, but tune into Monday Night RAW to see us undermine every bit of it. Take that, goody-goody bitches.
If we ever see the company unveiling an anti-racism campaign, I guess we’ll know to expect an R-Truth heel turn where he’ll team his Negro Drug Dealer persona with “The Minstrel” Cody Rhodes (wearing blackface, of course) in a program against a fan favorite Ku Klux Klansman character. And since he speaks German, maybe you add in Antonio Cesaro as The Midnight Rider’s cool Nazi sidekick.
It makes every bit as much sense as some of the other angles we’ve seen lately…