The kid-friendly, PG-version of WWE is at it again. WWE is again exploiting nationalistic issues in their programming, which is no doubt a smart move and a common one throughout professional wrestling history, but in doing so, they again go a bit too far.
I remember when I was a kid watching on as WWE exploited the Gulf War during the build-up to WrestleMania 7, which featured Hulk Hogan representing the United States against “Iraqi sympathizer” Sgt. Slaughter pretended on television to be friends with Sadaam Hussain. I thought it was in bad taste even at the time, and I was seven years old.
Last night at WWE Battleground, they did it again.
The recent tragedy involving the Malaysian airplane being shot down was strongly alluded to in the segment involving Lana and Rusev, prior to the latter’s match with Jack Swagger, who was accompanied by pro-American Zeb Colter.
Since last night, there has been a lot of criticism of the segment being in bad taste, so much so that WWE ended up releasing the following statement regarding the matter:
“Last night’s segment during WWE’s Battleground event was in no way referring to the Malaysia Airlines tragedy. The story line with characters Rusev and Lana has been a part of WWE programming for more than 3 months. WWE apologizes to anyone who misunderstood last night’s segment and was offended.”
The statement claims that they were in no way referring to the tragedy, and furthermore “apologized to anyone who misunderstood” the matter.
I call bullsh-t.
The following is an excerpt of my play-by-play results coverage of last night’s Battleground show, which recaps the beginning of the Rusev-Swagger match where Lana made the comments in question.
“Justin Roberts introduces Rusev and Lana. The duo make their way to the ring to a loud chorus of boo’s. Once in the ring, Lana cuts a typical pro-Russian, anti-American promo. Without saying it, she alludes to the recent issue involving the Malaysian airplane being shot down.”
Even as I briefly covered the pre-match promo, which wasn’t very relevant to the story line other than furthering the same issue that started their feud, I clearly got the impression that she was referring to the recent Malaysian airline tragedy in a distasteful way. It wasn’t me “misunderstanding” anything, the same way I’m not “misunderstanding” WWE’s statement to be total crap.
They knew what they were doing last night. Those promos are scripted and in the case of a lower-level talent like Lana, are often scripted word-for-word.
WWE is a PG-rated product that claims to market to children. I’m my opinion, they shouldn’t be doing anything like this under that label, however I am a life-long wrestling fan and I understand that it’s part of the business. My only issue I guess, is that WWE doesn’t cop to what they’re doing when they’re called on it.
But life goes on. Enjoy WWE RAW tonight, everybody!