What does Paige's leaked scandal mean and reflect on the WWE's culture?
WWE got hit with a massive scandal this week when nude photos and videos of Paige were leaked online.
There were a number of clips and pictures that, even if only one had been released a la Seth Rollins, it would have been an issue for the company. But with such a large amount of lewd material making its way around the internet, it has become an enormous issue.
The public relations backlash WWE is going to receive will certainly be sizable.
Although she hasn’t been on television in a long time thanks to her neck injury, Paige is one of the most popular women’s wrestlers on the roster. Little girls look to her as a role model, and for a long time, she was the face of the women’s/diva’s division. Now, things will likely be much different.
Paige was shown doing a number of sexual acts in the leaked videos and pictures, one of which included the desecration of the NXT Women’s championship. If this situation wasn’t bad enough already, it was made a lot worse by Paige having no regard for one of the most prestigious prizes in WWE, one that represents their company as a whole.
So the entire situation begs the question of what exactly WWE is going to do about this. But perhaps an even more pressing matter is what this says about WWE’s culture overall.
We’re not in the business of questioning the decisions that adults are making regarding their sexual behaviours. Obviously, the pictures and videos in question were meant to be private and only shared amongst Paige herself and probably Brad Maddox and Xavier Woods.
But the situation does call into question the culture that exists in the WWE locker room that leads to this sort of thing.
In general, dating in the workplace isn’t a great idea. If things go south, you still have to see your co-worker every day, and that can lead to a hostile or even unproductive environment.
This goes for all jobs, be it in a cubicle, in sports, whatever. But in WWE, the opposite is true. If anything, they encourage relationships among their Superstars. Several of them are highlighted on Total Divas and many of them are even shown on Raw or SmackDown.
Just look at The Miz and Maryse, Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella, Natalya and Tyson Kidd.
Even the relationships that were seemingly being kept under wraps like Dean Ambrose and Renee Young or John Cena and Nikki Bella eventually came to light. WWE knows they can make money off these relationships because of fan interest. And wherever there is money to be made, you know WWE is going to jump at the chance.
It’s clear that WWE isn’t necessarily discouraging these backstage relationships.
At the same time, they definitely didn’t want anything like this Paige situation to happen on their watch. But does this culture of encouraging backstage relationships lend itself to something like this occurring?
In other words, is WWE partially at fault for these videos and pictures being leaked?
Whose fault is it?
There are two sides to the coin.
On one hand, you could say that if WWE were more strict and discouraged relationships among their Superstars, this kind of thing would not have happened. After all, the two men featured in some of the videos were WWE employees, and Woods still is.
If WWE had a policy that at least discouraged relationships among their Superstars, maybe Paige would not have done those things with Maddox and Woods, thus meaning that there would be no videos of this nature.
That’s not to say that Paige wouldn’t make these kinds of videos or take pictures with some other men, but at least WWE could have avoided the PR nightmare regarding their Superstars doing these kinds of things with each other.
On the other hand, you could say that this would have happened regardless of WWE’s culture or which men were featured. Fans have always found Paige attractive, and unfortunately, there are people out there who are willing to invade her privacy to find these pictures and videos.
The fact that Maddox and Woods were also in the videos isn’t really the point, and it likely wasn’t the goal of the leakers to expose the two men.
The lewd content would have been just as interesting to fans and to those who find Paige attractive even if the men were nobodies. In fact, it probably would have been just as interesting if there were no men at all. People just want to see Paige.
Obviously, there are questions about whether WWE’s pro-dating culture is healthy.
But in the case of Paige and the leaked photos and videos, it says less about WWE’s culture and more about the culture of the internet as a whole and their willingness to invade someone’s privacy for the sake of finding a few scandalous clips.
Paige’s career may be in jeopardy for basically no fault of her own, and that really is a shame.
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