Monday on Raw, meta heel Batista was exiting the ring following an error-prone opening segment. First his microphone failed him, then his trusted slim jeans followed suit.
Following a spear of WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton, Batista could be seen with a sizable tear in his jeans, and Christmas came early for Twitter:
LMAO! Batista ripped his pants! pic.twitter.com/rWbU4AupjF— PUNK (@_VintagePunk) March 25, 2014
wait so my prediction of Batista's Skinny jeans ripping like the came true.— Billy Cripps (@StormWarrior86) March 25, 2014
Much has been made of Batista’s fashion sense since returning to WWE. It's just one of several minute details his detractors have extrapolated as part of a smear campaign to will Daniel Bryan into the WrestleMania main event.
Fans in particular have teed off on the tattooed tough guy’s affinity for skinny jeans, which, mind you, are considered contemporary.
In fact, fashion bible GQ magazine pretty much makes it a requirement to go slim-fit in order to land the cover, let alone a feature. Even NFL players—a timeless (and, to be fair, superficial) barometer of a tough guy—have embraced slim-fit.
The obsession with Batista’s unique style is an odd brand of criticism that breaks the mandatory code of suspending disbelief. It speaks to a larger issue of fan cynicism reaching unprecedented highs.
Wrestling fashion plates who are bothered by Batista’s skinny jeans sound more like casual viewers. Are they unfamiliar with the historical street style of professional wrestlers?
Stone Cold Steve Austin, who is universally revered as the toughest S.O.B. in sports entertainment, routinely wore jeans that were basically painted on. When it got too hot, he’d opt for skin-tight cutoff jeans.
Did I mention they were short-shorts? He was literally two cuffs away from being the world’s first Texas redneck metrosexual.
Imagine Batista strolling to the ring in a pair of Austin-tailored short-shorts. WWE Twitter would get nuclear.
Skinny pants don’t just end with Austin, as Triple H, Chris Jericho, Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Kevin Nash are just a few names in a long list of popular wrestlers who rocked the skinniest of skinny jeans.
When Scott Hall marched into a WCW ring to declare a war, he wore a denim vest and matching airtight jeans. Yet all anybody wanted to talk about was a hostile takeover. That’s all they should have been talking about. The look is no different from what wrestlers tend to wear ahead of a stipulated Street Fight.
After all, pageantry in wrestling, while important, comes secondary. It’s a subculture that, until recently, rarely distracted audiences from the matter at hand.
Part of the joy of consuming pro wrestling is that it’s the rare arena where wrestlers can dress unconventionally—in or out of gimmick—without fans even batting an eye.
Tough guys can wear short-shorts. Undisputed world champions can don glittery button-downs. A leather vest, pants and a belt buckle straight out of Diamond W. is totally appropriate for the biggest crossover star ever to come out of WWE.
Is that Randy Savage on commentary in a purple 10-gallon hat? That’s why he’s an all-time great.
It’s all part of an unwritten covenant to accept all aspects of pro wrestling that wouldn’t hold up in day-to-day society, dress code included.
Unfortunately, that covenant has been compromised.
Fans of today look past storylines to tweet questions along the lines of “Why is he wearing skinny jeans?” which sounds similar to the clueless time-honored query of “Why are these guys rolling around in their underwear?”
If that came out of Michael Bay’s mouth one year ago, he would have been hate-tweeted by the same proud wrestling community that knows its sport goes deeper than what meets the eye. That’s a comment better suited for the apathetic spouse in the living room. The one who’s forced to put up with this parallel universe we live in.
And so it’s happened. Through the addictive hobby of cynicism, social media has turned meta fans into novices.