I was intrigued by Jason Powell’s ProWrestling.net article, “Strange Update on Alberto Del Rio” which stated that the official WWE website tweeted: “(1/2) @VivaDelRio is responsible for his own actions. If you’re angry at anyone, be angry at Alberto. (2/2) There’s no excuse for a pro athlete not to conduct themselves in a professional manner.”
This is a bizarre move by WWE that makes me wonder if Del Rio is still with the company or if someone went into business for themselves. It's not like the company to issue a statement in this manner let alone plug the Twitter address of a fired wrestler.
Being a wrestling fan, I too thought it was a work (damn you, kayfabe!), until I discovered this article at uproxx, which purports to have the full story courtesy of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
In a nutshell (allegedly): Cody Barbierri, the road social media manager for WWE, made a joke in catering that Alberto Del Rio was a busboy. Citing the Wrestling Observer’s report, uproxx claims Del Rio confronted and then slapped Barbierri with such force that it knocked him to the ground, and a big scene ensued. Barbierri threatened to sue WWE, and Del Rio was swiftly fired for unprofessional conduct.
It seemed to make sense to me that if Barbierri is the “social media manager,” then he was in the position to use the corporate account to, as Powell phrased it, "go into business for himself," using his social media position to tell WWE’s fanbase to “be angry” not at Alberto Del Rio the wrestling character, but at the athlete playing the character, hence linking to the real man’s Twitter.
Del Rio should have been fired, as other options, such as going to Human Resources, were open to him in the workplace.
I don’t see why Barbierri should not be fired, as well. First, he reportedly made a racist comment in the workplace. But if it was Barbierri who also posted those tweets (WWE has not made clear which employee did), then he should be fired all the more.
Second, he used WWE’s corporate site to air his own personal views. Third, this is someone who claimed that he was such a victim of anger and unprofessional conduct that he was going to sue WWE, then unprofessionally uses WWE’s brand and resources to incite anger toward someone else.
The Wild West days of wrestling territories that fostered environments, such as the one that made it possible to murder Bruiser Brody, are over. WWE is a modern workplace, and certain standards have to be adhered to. Athletes cannot go around slapping or otherwise intimidating non-athletes.
Likewise though, the non-athletes cannot be of the mindset that just because it is pro wrestling, they have free reign to tell racist jokes or conduct themselves in a manner different from any other film set or corporate office.
In sum, if Del Rio has been fired for unprofessional conduct, then Barbierri needs to be held to the same standard and fired for his equally unprofessional conduct, as well.
Don’t be angry at me for saying so.
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