Last week, I criticized Marc Kruskol for his stance. To me, underhanded tactics are part of the heel's DNA, and even bullies are to be expected to further the weekly struggle between good guys and bad guys.
This past weekend I had a conversation with Marc in an interview to air on my Kings of Sport podcast. Kruskol, a lifelong wrestling fan, expanded on his stance. And while Kruskol realized the value of heels in professional wrestling, he continued to voice his displeasure with bullying in the WWE:
There absolutely should be heels. There absolutely should be babyfaces. The more despicable the heel, the better, I mean look at Bully Ray. He does absolutely amazing and everyone else out there. I don't believe there is a limit as long as the parents are watching what the kids are watching.
I think the WWE painted themselves into the corner when they created the Be A Star campaign, specifically for the bullying element. Not for being a heel, generally and as an umbrella behavior, but just when it comes to typical bullying type. Things like Ryback did in the craft services area and in the shower area and how Triple H is making certain things happen even the way JBL would say and be horrible to Josh Mathews and the way that Michael Cole would be on the microphone to Daniel Bryan before everyone's turn.
WWE certainly puts itself in a compromising position, especially when heels such as Mark Henry, who once (kayfabe) attacked a helpless WWE producer because he could, appear at Be A Star Rallies. However, one could argue that WWE's usage of heels at these rallies emphasizes the difference between storyline and real life, with villains breaking character to deliver important messages.
Still, Kruskol views this as more of a hypocrisy than public service:
That specifically is my issue, where yeah some is real, some is not real. But when you are marketing to [your] demographic they're the same people that you're going to visit at the schools and your public service announcements and your cut-ins are all about Be A Star. And it's the very same people you're telling 'don't do this to other kids, if other kids do this stand up to them do whatever you need to do' I think it's very contradictory and hypocritical.
Kruskol has worked extensively with professional wrestlers, namely those in TNA, through MJK Public Relations. In addition to his opinion on WWE's anti-bullying campaign, Kruskol offered valuable PR advice for the struggling second-stream brand that has had no shortage of bad press in 2013:
My specialty is not crisis management. I go at this from a regular person's standpoint, I didn't graduate with a degree in PR, PR kind of found me, I didn't go into it. That being said, you have to look at what the perception is by a lot of your fans, or your customers whether its McDonalds or whether it's any company. And if the perception is not really positive—again, if that's the case—then I don't know if it's a great idea for the owner to say 'okay, please throw questions at me.'
Kruskol clearly presents a qualified opinion to assess professional wrestling with a viewpoint that uniquely combines that of a fan and a PR expert.
His take on WWE's Be a Star campaign can be defended just as easily as it can be argued against. Hopefully, WWE's commitment to public service will continue to stand on its own as the bottom line message for young viewers to follow.
All quotes were obtained firsthand.