World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been hit hard by a series of scandals lately.
WWE legend and hall-of-famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who was one of the most popular superstars of the company in the 1980s, has been charged with third-degree murder for the death of his then-girlfriend Nancy Argentino. Argentino was found unresponsive by authorities in a motel room in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She had suffered head trauma and died just hours later.
This happened in 1983. After three decades, Snuka has finally been charged after it was determined he assaulted Argentino and left her without medical help.
“Superfly” was not the only WWE legend caught in a scandal this past summer. Hulk Hogan, arguably the most popular and easily recognizable WWE superstar of all time, was embroiled in a media outrage after tape of him using racial slurs surfaced.
Hogan used racial slurs in an interview from eight years ago. After the release of the previously unheard interview earlier this summer, the WWE took action.
Hogan, the face of World Wrestling Entertainment for decades, was erased from WWE history. He was booted from the Hall of Fame, any mention of him on WWE.com was deleted, and all of his merchandise was pulled.
Snuka received the same treatment after he was charged with murder.
It is difficult to argue that Snuka did not deserve this fate; the man was a murderer and is long overdue on punishment. One could argue that Hogan did not deserve to be erased from the WWE forever, though.
Hogan may be a racist, though he denies it. Regardless, the man helped to build the WWE into what it is today, which is a global sports entertainment empire. The WWE simply would not exist today if it were not for Hogan.
The WWE is no stranger to scandal. Multiple steroid scandals throughout its history tarnish its reputation, and superstar Chris Benoit was charged with murdering his wife and son in 2007. Wrestlers who have worked for the WWE have been known to die at an early age due to drug abuse and injuries from their careers.
The WWE is hypocritical when it comes to scandals, however. Obviously little could be said about Snuka’s case, but when it came to the firing of Hulk Hogan, WWE fans became very upset with the company.
WWE wrestlers rely on gimmicks and larger-than-life characters to entertain the masses. Typically these gimmicks are quite stereotypical, mainly to keep things simple and appeal to as many fans as possible. It was typical to see Hulk Hogan, dubbed “The Real American,” face off against a “foreign” foe such as “The Iron Sheik” in the 1980s. These gimmicks would reflect popular culture in an attempt to stay relevant and current.
Sometimes these gimmicks and situations went too far, however. After Hogan’s firing, footage of WWE CEO Vince McMahon using a racial slur on live television at a WWE event went around the internet. The WWE has been criticized for racist gimmicks and politically incorrect situations almost yearly. The company never really gets in trouble for it, though, as they claim it is all in the name of entertainment and that it does not reflect the ideas of the actual superstars.
This is highly hypocritical. Using racial slurs and pulling off-color stunts on live television may boost ratings for shock value, something WWE strives for, but there is no reason a legend should be fired for using the same slur the WWE allowed its CEO to use on live television.
Entertainment or not, the WWE is a huge influence on children and young adults around the world. The company has recently cleaned up its act, keeping things PG on television, but scandals still occur. The wrestlers are, in many ways, actors and things they say on screen may not reflect their personal beliefs, but once things happen off-camera, the WWE is quick to erase them from history.
The WWE has made a name for itself by using controversy, but once actual controversy arises regarding its superstars or its ethics code, rash decisions are made and things are never handled well. Regardless, the WWE remains the dominant name in wrestling and sports entertainment globally, and it is only a matter of time until another scandal occurs, whether it is on-camera or in real life.