WWE has been known to be controversial in their time. The Attitude Era saw them breaking new ground in the entertainment industry and it seemed rules were simply guidelines, not forms of law. WWE pushed the limits consistently, and thus were given flak for such actions. The biggest issue people have had against the company in the last few decades was their use of steroids and pain killers, as both have been cited as aides to the deaths of major stars such as Eddie Guerrero, Curt Hennig, and more.
However, one thing WWE has always had rumors of is racism. While not technically fair in some aspects, WWE does try to keep to reality. They realize the way certain races and ethnicities are used in other entertainment venues. They also are not without knowledge of the real world. So due to this, they have had characters that were very much representatives of the race they came from.
The Atlantic, a liberal website that has not be shy about calling out people for several political reasons, has cited WWE as racist and also inaccurately talks about WWE in a light that presents them as unfair to several different parties, including black athletes.
The article claimed that WWE has never had a black WWE Champion. I assume The Rock escaped their mind originally, but when the case of The Rock was brought up the website added a paragraph for clarity claiming Rock was a special case and noted he was of mixed-heritage. I assume they overlook that current US President Barack Obama is also of mixed-heritage and is cited as the first black President in American History. So if one is inaccurate, how can the other be accurate?
The article also overlooks that both Booker T and Mark Henry as well as Bobby Lashley, all three black, have held World Titles in the WWE in the last decade. They didn’t write a note explaining that part.
They also speak of race issues regarding Cryme Tyme. They are displayed as thugs, demeaning to their culture that have a problem with people automatically thinking they are such things without any reason. The funny part is that both Shad and JTG had the idea for the group themselves, and WWE simply signed off on it.
Eddie Guerrero’s beloved “lie, cheat, and steal” gimmick also echoes racial issues. However, it was done in a tasteful and funny way usually. It was also Eddie’s idea.
Many gimmicks that have to do with race end up going back to the wrestler having the idea. WWE even asks wrestlers before they do gimmicks for them if they are okay with certain gimmicks as they are controversial, to say the least.
WWE is cited by the Atlantic from the beginning regarding their angle with Alexander Rusev and his manager Lana. Lana comes out each week to bring down Americans and publicly claim the greatness of Russian Leader Vladimir Putin. The angle has seen Rusev come out on top consistently, and anyone facing him seems to bring an American Flag to the ring only to embarrass themselves and their country. The issue that the Atlantic failed to see is that while yes, this is an America vs Russia aspect that is showing real life portrayed in an entertainment venue, it is simply a storyline… not WWE claiming Russia is awesome.
Interestingly enough, Lana is not even Russian and plays this character on a weekly basis very well (although she spent a lot of time there in her youth). The idea for this story was to have Jack Swagger swing in as our American hero to beat Rusev. Clearly with Swagger having the All-American American gimmick, this was planned ahead of time to happen. Naturally, you have to build up a super heel. Look at what the WWE did with people such as the Iron Sheik. If WWE does not build up a monster heel, how can you believe he is a threat? Will a victory over him mean anything? Obviously they had to push Rusev, and make America look bad, in a sense to the story, for the time being.
WWE has pushed and used foreign wrestlers extremely well over the years; in fact Irish-born WWE Superstar Sheamus has been a World Champion three times in the past 5 years, as has Alberto Del Rio. Both even won the WWE Title, not just the World Heavyweight Title.
WWE pushes people who have talent. However, the main thing they look for is a person who can talk well on the mic or at least be entertaining. While there have been plenty of black and foreign talents that have fit that mold, WWE cannot push everyone. They see someone who is white doing well and they push that person, but if that same person was black or foreign, they would still push them.
It is not down to racism for the WWE, but rather business. WWE does not care about the color of skin a talent has. They simply want to use the people that are the best of the best.
The Atlantic was wrong, mostly. While there have been race issues in WWE, there are race issues all other the world in every company. You cannot escape it. Yes, WWE will have some race problems simply because of that, but they are an entertainment company. They are going to use race and politics on TV because of that. This does not represent them as a racist company, but rather a company with guts. They are not afraid to tackle those issues and show them off in front of the world. While they may get hate for it, they are doing it anyway. Interestingly enough, it is quite entertaining if you actually pay attention to the weekly product… unlike some.
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