Today I was going to release an article around asking if wrestling fans will ever be satisfied by WWE doing more edgy things after the controversy of the Paige comments regarding Reid Flair toward Charlotte in the final segment of Raw this week. I was ready to defend the segment and what was said. But that all changed just mere moments before I was about to finish the final few paragraphs when I saw a news alert that the segment had moved Ric Flair to tears. That's when I decided defending the segment wasn't going to be easy, especially considering I would have thought the segment would have been fully run by Ric and he would have been okay with it. Turns out the story is a little different.
For those who aren't aware of the comment I'm referring to here there was a point toward the end of the segment where Charlotte and Paige were exchanging verbal's. Charlotte had spent time in the promo early on talking about how Paige had been there for her after Reid's death, and I think the real emotion of the moment got to Charlotte and had thrown her off the segment which is to be expected. The segment saw Charlotte tell Paige she was going to fight for her dad and her brother, to which Paige responded "You’re wrong Charlotte, because you’re little brother didn’t have much fight in him did he?!". Fans commented on the segment calling the line disrespectful, thoughtless, tasteless and completely uncalled for.
My original thoughts on the segment before I knew what I know now were there was nothing really wrong with the segment and that Ric and Charlotte would have signed off on it to allow it to go ahead. Fans are regularly calling for WWE to do much edgier things and provide more dramatic content. I understand not everyone is a fan of the companies PG initiative, but it feels like there is a portion of the audience who call for something more edgy like this segment only to complain that the company has gone too far and shouldn't be making things personal. But isn't that the point of making an angle believable? Yes there are limits but I don't personally feel that it was Paige who crossed them. She was just doing her job as the heel to draw heat and isn't the type of person to go out and upset someone intentionally.
When I read originally that Reid and Charlotte's mother was upset with the segment I felt sorry for her but still believed Ric and Charlotte must have signed off on it and maybe should have spoken to her about it. To now learn that Ric didn't know anything about what was going to be said worries me a little, especially given he stated that if he felt he said anything it could not only affect the career of his daughter in WWE, but he feels that he would not have been listened to and his opinion would carry little weight. That brings up some major questions about WWE, creative, the direction of the company and the fact that there is a blatant disconnection between WWE, creative and an ability to remain sensitive to the feelings of others.
To say Ric Flair feels his opinion carries no weight on such a sensitive and personal subject and that he was worried about the effect anything he said could have an effect on his daughter's career is incredibly disturbing and concerning. Does that mean that WWE would go there no matter what? After all, the tragic death of Reid Flair would have affected Ric deeply and I think if someone doesn't feel comfortable with something then they should be able to voice their opinion without the fear of repercussion on them or someone close to them. To seemingly not care on WWE's part about the effects such actions and comments can have on someone as a human being raises questions about other controversial angles they have run such as CM Punk and the Undertaker in 2013 when Punk covered himself and Undertaker in ashes that many fans felt was a disrespectful move toward Paul Bearer, despite claims the segment was cleared by Bearer's children. The question has to be asked was this really the case? Or did WWE go ahead with the segment despite objections? We'll never 100% know but it does raise some interesting food for thought.
What I think this whole situation sets up is really a questioning of WWE's strategy around how far they should go when blurring the realms of fiction and reality. Yes we are all affected by personal tragedies such as the accidental death of a loved one and you can't wrap everyone up in cotton wool to protect them from everything. But there needs to be a clear sign off policy from those most affected by events that are going to be mentioned in any kind of story so that news of a legend like Ric Flair breaking down in a flood of tears and not having a clue what was going to happen simply cannot continue to be a situation we ever have to hear about again. Bravo to WWE for doing something edgy but this really does truly raise the question of how far is too far? I think in instances where there isn't complete sign off on something from all affected or involved we have our answer.
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