I am not a Democrat or a Republican. Heck, I am not even American. I have no interest in the politics of the United States of America, other than occasional random bets on who will be the next president—something, apparently, U.S. citizens are not allowed to gamble on.
However, there is one other political contest that has suddenly come into my radar—Linda McMahon's run for the US Senate.
Normally, I would dismiss this as just a businesswoman trying her hand at something else. I am an avid WWE and pro-wrestling fan, I'll admit. But, I was never more than cursorily interested in Jesse Ventura or Bob Backlund's political careers. And I would not be very interested in Linda's aspirations either—if they did not affect me, living thousands of miles away.
For me, Linda has always been the Marge Simpson of the dysfunctional family—apparently the "voice of reason," but effectively a killjoy. The only time she did something interesting in a wrestling storyline was when she "appointed Stone Cold Steve Austin the CEO." While Vince and Shane—and later Stephanie—did things that would shock us, Linda always brought things down to ground.
While her moments in WWE storylines have mostly been used to balance the odds against the "babyfaces" or good guys, she is not seen with high enthusiasm by many longtime fans. Most websites and forums that cover news and opinions regarding pro-wrestling have seen articles and comments calling her and WWE management hypocrites. This has become especially apparent in recent days, with fans often disagreeing with how the WWE handles "politically-sensitive" issues and remarks.
I will not go into the details regarding the Jericho, Tensai and A.W. stories—suffice it to say that each of those could be considered insensitive, politically, racially or otherwise. However, the WWE has often crossed boundaries that go farther than these issues—which is where the claims of hypocrisy come into play.
Having watched professional wrestling for close to 20 years, I have witnessed lots of upheavals and changes in the sport and in the WWE. I have witnessed multiple "eras" of wrestling, each of which has been different than the one before it. And, I accept that during these changes, a company should try to fit into whatever shape and color of dress best matches the occasion.
The problem, to me—as a WWE fan—is that I am getting a watered down version of the real thing. The show has turned into an almost-farce, with people scared to say or do anything that might be remotely construed as offensive.
I'll be honest—I do not really care about AW as a character. He was just an irritating voice in my ear, saying random things that usually made no sense. But, so are Michael Cole's and Jerry Lawler's regular rants—and often, they have a lot more offensive content.
I'll not go into the hypocrisy of it all because I do not really care about what the "company line" is construed to be.
But, I will attack the WWE on its failings as an entertainment company—its inability to focus on its primary goal of providing quality entertainment.
I understand that the company has its limitations—both in the financial and the sociopolitical fields. I understand that Linda McMahon, the former CEO, is running for office and the company wants her to succeed.
But, in recent years—and, more apparently, in recent months—it seems that her political ambitions have taken the company hostage. The need to be "politically correct" has overshadowed the need to provide a show that entertains the audience and grasps the imagination. Kayfabe no longer exists, and fans have a hard time suspending their disbelief.
How Can This Be Rectified?
Linda McMahon is not a member of the WWE board of directors. She needs to publicly and unequivocally state that she is not a part of the WWE's decision making body anymore and that she cannot be held accountable for its booking or company decisions.
Then, when asked anything of the company's decisions after she leaves it, she can clearly state the "freedom of speech" the company is entitled to and that those decisions are "not necessarily her points of view."
That would be the honest thing to do without trying to cheat either the WWE fans or the voters—of course, honesty is not usually celebrated in politicians.
But, What If Linda Isn't Willing to Take a Bold Step?
Then, it comes down to the WWE. Is the publicly traded company willing to risk its shareholders' stocks, its fanbase and its legacy on the political aspirations of one of its former officials? Or is the company going to take the proper business decision and clearly distance itself from Linda?
While I would applaud either Linda or the WWE doing the right thing, it seems unlikely that either will do so. We have already come too far down the line.
Ultimately, It Comes Down to the Fans
Notice I didn't say voters. Because the voters of Connecticut have different priorities than the fans of the WWE. Maybe she is the right candidate to represent them in the U.S. Senate and her political values reflect theirs.
The priorities of pro-wrestling fans are, however, clear. We want quality entertainment. And WWE, as the largest and most viable professional wrestling company in the world, is our best bet to get it.
The fans need to make their voice clear—that they do not want one person's political aspirations to overshadow an entire facet of human culture. Regardless of which country we reside in, we watch the same show, and we want it to maintain quality.
The WWE product has been watered down and dumbed down. It has become a mere shadow of its former self. Perhaps it is time we stopped hoping the WWE would just come to its senses. Perhaps it is time for the fans to make ourselves heard and reclaim professional wrestling by reclaiming the WWE.
Note: I want to reiterate that this article is completely non-political and does not endorse or oppose any candidate. It merely seeks to impress the need for separation of WWE's daily business from Linda McMahon's political activities.
Also, I am going to be on a road-trip for a few days and will possibly miss out on the interaction in the comments...
Wishing everyone an entertaining Monday Night RAW!