WWE's Red Tape Trauma
Banned words, disallowed movements and even sneezing is frowned upon? Paul takes a look at just what on Earth is going on in Whacky Sports Entertainment.
Blood, choke, belt, strap, diva, head shot.
Trauma, kayfabe, Mofos, house show, DQ.
The Anti-Diva, spinal injuries, victim, violence, violent.
Wrestling, wrestlers, WWF, wifebeater, curb stomp.
Phrases including the word “push” and "being over,” babyface, heel.
Job, jobber, card, strangle, kill and murder.
All of the words listed above are banned in WWE, and in fairness, a lot of them are understandable.
Things like choking, wifebeater, WWF, and even babyface and heel, I completely understand and support why these words are banned, whether due to the nature they portray or to hide aspects of the business, that makes perfect sense.
But what baffles me, to the point of screaming into the vast void beyond, is why a WRESTLING company, has banned the words WRESTLING and WRESTLERS?!
And then there’s “Belt”. Ooooh you CANNOT call a Championship a belt. You absolutely, categorically CANNOT call a Championship a BELT!
Seriously, Vince will be apoplectic with rage if...
Batten down the hatches, he’s gonna blow!!!
This all leads me to ask just one, important, pertinent question: What the f**k is going on in Vince McMahon’s mind?!
I cannot understand why these words are banned. Even DQ, which we all know is shorthand for disqualification, why on Earth is that banned? What possible negative connotation can be derived from such an innocuous abbreviation?
Sadly, this kind of micromanagement is all too prevalent in today’s WWE product. The “powers that be” try to distance themselves from anything that can be related to Professional Wrestling, which given that they are a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING COMPANY, is beyond ludicrous!
But therein lies the issue, as WWE do not consider themselves to be a Professional Wrestling company, but rather a SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT company!
There has been a lot of speculation over the last couple of years that a lot of these changes are in response to the impending sale of the company to someone like FOX or Disney, and while there have been many statements to the contrary, nothing definitive has ever been announced. Even Nick Khan recently was quoted as saying:
“When I say, ‘We’re open for business’ that means if someone credible calls on anything. NFT, trading cards, internal rates. We take the call, we’re inherently salespeople, meaning we’re not like ‘No, we don’t wanna talk to this company’. If you call and if you wanna pitch us something and you’re credible, we’re going to hear the pitch. We’re an entrepreneurial company that Vince [McMahon] and others built over the last 35 years.”
Whilst he hasn’t explicitly stated that Vince is looking to sell up and disappear over the horizon to spunk all his millions into a failing football league project in the vain attempt he’ll be known for something other than wrestling, he hasn’t exactly ruled it out either. And this leads you to question why that is?
Are Vince and his band of merry Yes-men worried that terms like “wrestling” and “wrestlers” is going to deter buyers from making credible offers for one of the biggest merchandise selling companies in the world? Possibly, but any company that is looking to buy them is going to be fully aware of the fact that they are a wrestling company on account of the fact that THEY ARE A WRESTLING COMPANY!
Everyone knows WWE. Even in the office I work in (because yes, sadly Real Rasslin is not yet my full time gig, but we’re working on it...) the mere mention of my weekend plans to attend a wrestling event is met with a chorus of “Oh, like WWF/WWE you mean?”
If Brenda from accounts in an office in Dorset knows what WWE is renowned for, shedding the term “Wrestling” from your internal vocabulary is going to do nothing to stop global conglomerates such as FOX and Disney from knowing that they would be buying into the Wrestling business!
No one at FOX is sitting there going “WWE? What’s that then? Wendy and Wayne’s Electricals? Fantastic! I need some new spark plugs...”
So, the question remains, WHY is the WWE Board insulting fans everywhere, the ones who part with their hard-earned money to buy their merchandise, by banning such innocuous words and phrases?!
This all got brought up again as yesterday, NXT’s first Triple Crown Champion, Johnny Gargano, made the incredulous move to remove “WWE/NXT” from his Twitter handle, and instead put simply, “Pro Wrestler”.
It was reported a few weeks ago that Johnny Gargano’s contract with WWE expires at the start of December, and while he could very well sign a new deal with the company, it seems very strange that he would make that change to his social media accounts if he was planning to continue with WWE.
Now of course, he could be swerving us, but given that “Wrestler” is a banned term in WWE, and the rumours of his soon to be expiring contract, you can be forgiven for seeing the signs that “Johnny Wrestling” is preparing for life after WWE.
With the odd rules in place in WWE, some of which are the alleged “Hold in your sneezes as Vince portrays them as a sign of weakness” to “don’t climb the ropes during your entrance”, not to mention the banned terms and phrases mentioned at the start of this piece, is it any wonder that talents such as Johnny Gargano and countless others may want to leave so that they can be Professional Wrestlers again? It might well be good money working for WWE, but let’s face it, if you can’t get passionate about your job, why stick around? CM Punk disappeared for seven years, such was his disillusionment at the hands of WWE’s corporate machine, and only just resurfaced at All Elite Wrestling where he is now enjoying a career renaissance.
Is selling your soul really worth it when you know you can go to Impact, Ring of Honor, All Elite Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and several others where you will be celebrated as a Professional Wrestler, and still make a good living out of it? The majority of AEW’s roster have proven that you don’t need to take WWE’s millions to make a great living outside of their walls.
It spills further than just banning words and ridiculous rules though. Take the case of Adam Cole.
Rumour has it that Vince McMahon’s alleged plans for him on the main WWE roster were to shave him bald and team him with a heel Keith Lee as a manager.
Adam Cole, your RECORD BREAKING and LONGEST REIGNING NXT Champion, reduced to a mouth piece for someone who really doesn’t need it AND losing his luscious locks?? FOR WHAT REASON?!
Adam Bald BayBay...
It’s no wonder Adam Cole left for AEW, he saw the writing on the wall, as did Bryan Danielson, Christian Cage and a few others who also decided to become All Elite. By banning certain terms and movements, more talents are going to seek opportunities elsewhere to avoid being stifled creatively.
Let’s look at the case of Christian Cage.
Considered to be a WWE Original, Christian had essentially been forced to retire due to injury roughly seven years ago. On being declared fit to return, he made a brief WWE return at the Royal Rumble earlier this year, before swerving everyone and signing a multi-year deal with AEW.
Since then, he has, much like CM Punk, enjoyed a career revival, winning some high-profile matches, and strolling through Tony Khan’s forbidden door to win the Impact Wrestling World Championship. If he had stayed in WWE, the likelihood is he would have been thrust into some kind of storyline with Edge, possibly in a support role, before languishing in the midcard because Vince doesn’t see him as a major star.
But is this the only reason Christian chose to join AEW over WWE?
He is quoted as saying in another article;
“There were some cordial talks, and I can’t really elaborate beyond that. I’m not sure where their heads were at creatively.”
This seems to suggest that Christian knew what was waiting for him in WWE, and he did not like it. He decided to bet on himself, and it has paid off handsomely.
Since the formation of AEW, a number of WWE talents have made their way there and mixed it up with the AEW Originals to create a product so steeped in excitement and unpredictability, that people all over the world are waking up to Professional Wrestling again. The creativity and freedom in AEW is not only refreshing to the talent, but to the fans as well. Tony Khan has captured lightning in a bottle, and whether Vince McMahon likes to admit it or not, his company are in direct competition with AEW, and to be frank, he is currently losing the battle.
Vince was a visionary genius when he first took over WWF, and there can be no doubt that without him we would not have anywhere close to the scene we have now, so we should always be eternally grateful for that. But there comes a time in every person’s life where you have to admit that your ideas just aren’t that good anymore.
Vince probably reached that point at least ten years ago in this writer's opinion, and if he wants his legacy to continue, he should hand the reigns (not Roman) over to someone with new, fresh ideas and who knows the modern business. Triple H, as we all know, would be an excellent choice and has that potential, but given that Vince just turned NXT from “Black-and-Gold-brilliance" to “Disney-vomit-(he)Art-Attack” the likelihood of this happening is slimmer than my chances of scoring the winning goal in the Cup Final at Wembley.
But if Vince is happy to just take his billions and leave, then he will continue to phone it in and put out subpar shows and enforce ridiculous restrictions on talent. He’s made WWE in his image, and it seems he doesn't particularly care for anyone else's opinions...
By the way, if an actual Wendy and Wayne are out there and want to start an Electricals store, hit me up and we’ll talk terms on selling the rights to the name...
For now, let’s be thankful that we have such a thriving wrestling scene outside of WWE currently, and hope to God that the term “tag-team” isn’t banned by WWE next, I’m not sure I could deal with a Couples Co-operation Division...