The week that was - Did controversy really create cash?
2015 has definitely has had its share of controversies for the WWE. The company is not a stranger to controversies but the nature of these issues has been more vociferous than ever before since the advent of the PG Era. Firstly, the biggest controversy of the year came in the form of the heir apparent Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble to a chorus of boos. It led to #CancelWWENetwork trend worldwide. Roman Reigns was the next John Cena and conversely the next Batista. He is in a very precarious situation. He hasn’t had a lot of wrestling experience and he was given the ball to be the face who runs the place. Nobody would decline that opportunity. And as Triple H recounted in the Steve Austin podcast, there are so many things that combine to form the ultimate star but that’s a deeply rare combination. All those ingredients- looks, wrestling skill, promo skill- are like puzzles and not all of them combine to form masterpieces.
And with the dawn of ‘The Reality Era’, it’s been challenging to lead the audience into a narrative.
In a chapter in Bret Hart’s autobiography, Hart writes that during his early years he realized that each and every superstar was dispensable. He also recounts Vince McMahon saying that any publicity, good or bad, is best for business.
Just like that a few weeks later WWE announced that they’ve now attained 1 million subscribers. There will be an asterix situation involved, but they are even in the ‘Reality Era’ trying to lead an audience into a narrative - Controversy creates cash.
And according to that motto, this past week may well be somewhat profitable. And it has nothing to do with the fictional realm of the WWE. It is all to do with the personal lives of some of its superstars.
Triple H’s opinion on Chyna’s impending Hall of Fame induction drew attention and criticism. And then there was this tweet on Chyna’s Twitter account which had a very optimistic tone. Next thing we know, Vince Russo has a different perspective on this thing and he revealed how Chyna was bullied by the company during her last days in the company. We are then told that Chyna wasn’t the one who wrote the tweet on her account. And then came the revelation that she was physically assaulted by Triple H. WWE and Paul Levesque himself were quick enough to respond and they obviously denied all allegations.
That right there, brought out the gender bias in the WWE to the front.
Moving from one personal relationship to another- Seth Rollins’ Instagram and Twitter account, for a few moments, emerged with a nude picture of a recent NXT signee- Zahara Schreiber. And then simultaneously Seth Rollins’ fiancé posted a couple of nude pictures of Rollins; on her own account with just one word –‘Zaharah?’
And obviously, that just fueled the Internet to find every little detail to this incident.
WWE issued another statement and that was stating that it was personal matter and that is all there is to it.
The Personal is Political
Along came the tour to Abu Dhabi and Darren Young voiced his opinion about touring in a place which looks down upon women and homosexuality.
Another statement made its way that though WWE supports homosexuality, it can’t control how the subject is viewed in other countries.
This has been a week of issuing statements after statements.
If that wasn’t enough Vince McMahon took lightly the stir created by enraged fans to cancel the network.
There are still gender biases in the WWE considering how much emphasis is put on the womens’ matches on the main roster and storylines. Rollins’ burgeoning career may have just suffered a roadblock and Darren Young is still not getting much screen time. As much as it may create media attention and cash for the company, how well is all of this for the many superstars and divas in the company? The answer has never been that positive.