We always have those moments where we literally couldn’t believe what was allowed to air on WWE television. Those moments where we feel as though WWE went too far for the sake of a storyline. Two nights ago, on Monday Night RAW, in what seemed to be an innocent segment used to just fill up time, Bayley gave Goldust a late Christmas present, being a teddy pear donned in a black and yellow polka dot color scheme. This was a reference, of course, to one of the great pioneers in wrestling, and Goldust’s real life father, Dusty Rhodes, who had passed in the summer of last year. Karl Anderson then took the head of the teddy bear and ripped it off. Now, when I watched that live, I didn’t think much of it. I simply thought it was a way for The Club to get some heat (and based on how they’ve been booked since their debut, they need all the heat they can get). However, Goldust’s real-life brother, Cody Rhodes, who had left the company earlier this year, didn’t seem to take too kindly to WWE’s little stunt. Here was his reaction on Twitter.
Not gonna’ say something mean or blow a whistle. All I can say…is that whoever produced that, I hope they never know what this feels like
— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) December 27, 2016
Now, I think we all know that this segment wouldn’t have happened had WWE creative not run it by Goldust before the show. While many thought that it was just using a real life experience to gain heat for superstars, others portrayed it as a below the belt, unnecessary exploitation of a real life incident for the sake of character enhancement. That has always seemed to be the two opposing sides when it comes to controversial segments in WWE. I personally think that the world has become increasingly politically correct over the years, and with all of the deaths and outside activities that WWE could be used on TV, they will be called out on incidents that make them seem as if they have no care or regard for people that they affect.
A recent incident happened around four years ago. Remember when Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack live on RAW back in 2012 and nearly lost his life? Remember the visible look of concern on Michael Cole’s face as he broke down what had happened and what had caused the abrupt stoppage in commentary? The world was relieved to know that The King was able to survive the health scare and was received with a warm ovation upon his return to the commentary booth. However, then WWE Champion CM Punk, who had a little mini-feud with Jerry Lawler for not respecting him and perpetuating John Cena’s virtues, went into the ring, had his manager, Paul Heyman, pretend to have a heart attack and then revive him, a clear reference to what happened 9 weeks prior. There were some that obviously defended the segment, saying that people should man up and not complain because it was edgy TV. Others thought it was out of line because it made light of a real near-death experience just to get Punk some heat.
One of my favorite superstars ever, Randy Orton, was caught in the middle of this controversy as well about a decade ago. After Rey Mysterio had won the Royal Rumble, Randy Orton went a little low to bait Rey into putting his WrestleMania main event spot on the line and had some striking words about one of Rey Mysterio’s best friends, Eddie Guerrero, who had died the year prior and the man Rey dedicated his Royal Rumble victory to. Rey looked up towards the sky when the crowd was chanting Eddie, and Randy told Rey he’s looking the wrong way because he’s not in heaven, but rather, in hell. Rey in an interview had said that while it was strong, since Eddie was all about the business, he may have allowed it.
A few years later, Eddie Guererro was also the center of the controversy, while Rey Mysterio and Batista were cutting a promo. Batista had just turned heel and while Rey was trying to convince him of the good times between the two of them, the moment he brought Eddie, Batista in a stone cold tone simply stated, “Eddie’s dead”. Looking on his facial expression, I could tell that not even Batista wanted to utter those words, but he did anyways.
I can go on and on and on about the times that WWE invoked some of the ire in some sensitive WWE fans. There was the interview done by Vince McMahon to Brian Pillman’s wife 24 hours after she found out her husband was dead, and Vince sort of pushed the envelope by asking questions such as how she’d support her five kids. There was the whole fiasco with The Big Bossman and The Big Show’s father. There was Kurt Angle trying to rape Booker T’s wife, Sharmell, CM Punk rubbing the ashes off the urn on his body in reference to Paul Bearer’s death, Road Warriors Hawk’s alocholism being used for storyline purposes during the Attitude Era, Edge telling Michael Hayes that Terry Gordy was dead, and who could forget Triple H getting in a casket and having relations with a mannequin while a funeral was going on in the next room? I could go on and on, but it just goes to show that WWE, and more importantly, Vince, sometimes, really just doesn’t care. Sometimes, I get the impression from them that sometimes they don’t even do some of these controversial angles for the sake of ratings or getting talents over. Sometimes, I think Vince has this insane part of his brain that tells him that he’s Vince McMahon, he’s worth millions (if not billions) and he can do whatever he want and anyone who hates his decisions can suck it.
The bottom line for me is that if it’s within reason, and most importantly, if the talents involved are okay with it, then I see no problem with it. Sometimes, I think the sensitivity that some fans can show obscures the point of these angles and why they are done. WWE isn’t real life. It’s a bunch of characters portraying certain attitudes. That’s why we have faces and heels. Heels are supposed to do things that invoke the ire of the crowd, and while sometimes things said may be considered pushing some buttons, then that’s simply them doing their job. But sometimes, I do believe there is such a thing as “too far”. Real life incidents, if it’s very seething, shouldn’t be used for television’s sake. So, should real life issues or deaths be incorporated into storylines just to invoke that shocking reaction? What say you? Was there any moments on WWE television that you thought went too far? Let me know! Until next time, y’all.