The House Of “M”: WWE And Diversity

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Hello WNW people! Mitch “Big M” Adams here welcoming you to my fortnightly editorial on Wrestling News World called…THE HOUSE OF “M.” This being my house, I get to talk about what I want and share my opinions on the art form known as pro wrestling. Although, I should point out that I’m only renting this house from WNW so obviously the views I express here are solely mine alone.

If you don’t agree with me, I’m more than willing to hear you out as you are as entitled to your opinion as much as I am entitled to mine. Just remember you're a guest in my house so try to keep things civil!

Well WNW people, Jinder Mahal is set to face Randy Orton for the WWE World Championship and I, like the rest of you, keep scratching my head over it! I understand why they are doing it (WWE is expanding in India), but it doesn’t change the fact that just a few short weeks ago he was a career jobber! That leads me to something that has been a HUGE problem in WWE and the pro wrestling industry for years… lack of diversity.

Now while WWE has made some progress on this front, I can’t help but feel it's a situation where they take one step forward before taking ten steps back. If you will allow me, I’d like to explain why. Before I do though, I should probably include a disclaimer: I am going to talk about subjects that have to do with race, gender, and sexuality. And yes, I am aware that being a straight, white male makes me the least qualified person to talk about any of this. Nonetheless, this is something I think we need to talk about and as no one else is willing to get the ball rolling I figured I’d try to start the conversation.

Xenophobia
Xenophobia has been, and probably always will be rife in the industry. A lot of it has to do with western culture not being overly accepting of new ideas and customs. And a lot of it has to do with patriotism turning into nationalism. Speaking as WNW’s resident Non-American one thing that drives me nuts about American Wrestling is the fact that ALL Non-American (or Non-Canadian) wrestlers debut as a heel! And while playing a heel almost, all their promos consist of running down America. I get that it’s an easy way to get heat, but it’s uncreative and has been done to death. This isn’t the cold war anymore!

As bad as this is going to sound, I honestly think having a wrestler with dark skin automatically debuting as a heel is racist. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be heels! I’m just saying that in today’s social and political climate we really need more characters like Mustafa Ali and less like Jinder Mahal on WWE TV. We need people from a more diverse background than the audience is used to seeing being shown to be no different than anyone else!

As bad as it gets for international wrestlers when playing heels it's even worse when they eventually get a babyface run! Just once I’d like to see a babyface wrestler from outside the U.S. not have to portray ridiculously overblown cultural stereotypes of their homelands! I honestly dread the day Buddy Murphy or TM-61 debut on WWE’s main roster. Chances are Vince McMahon will make them dress like Steve Irwin and write promos for them featuring made up Australian phrases and expressions that Vince has googled.

It honestly doesn’t matter if they have finally started to push people from different backgrounds on WWE TV because their portrayal still isn’t any different than it was in the past.

Negative Gender Stereotypes
You will never find a bigger supporter of the Women’s Evolution in WWE and pro wrestling as a whole than me! The current crop of women’s wrestlers are killing it and have become one of the best aspects of WWE TV but the diva division of old still lingers.

I know I have said this before but Nikki Bella is a plague on women’s wrestling! Compared to the vast majority of the women now on the roster, she is plain awful in the ring but due to her relationship with John Cena, she is pushed as the greatest female champion of all time which is an insult to any women’s wrestler past and present.

Some people defend WWE pushing her so hard because of the success of WWE’s reality shows and the mainstream attention she brings even going as far to say that she is the Kim Kardashian of WWE: a businesswoman who is a great role model. I admit that the comparison is valid. The problem is Kim Kardashian is not actually a businesswoman or a great role model. She is an untalented, undeserving, shallow, self-absorbed, narcissistic attention whore who used her her relationship with a powerful male (her father was one of OJ Simpson's lawyers during his infamous murder trial) and her sex appeal (sex tapes and nude selfies) to achieve fame and fortune.

The fact that WWE’s higher-ups still have women like Nikki Bella who embody so many negative female stereotypes and continue to try and introduce more like her (Eva Marie, Emmalina and possibly Lana judging by her recent video packages) is proof that WWE’s higher-ups would still rather have women on WWE TV who just look hot despite all the progress women’s wrestling has made and the countless classic matches so many of the newest crop of female stars have put on in recent years!

Negative Sexual Stereotypes
Despite there being more openly gay men and women in the industry than you may think WWE programming has been and in many ways still is openly homophobic. From characters like Goldust, Rico and Billy and Chuck, same-sex relationships have either been portrayed as comical or disturbing. When Darren Young first came out in 2013, I was happy for him but I was also worried that WWE would give him a gimmick that would be reminiscent of the ones I mentioned above.

However, I had also hoped that they possibly would portray him as a more positive character on TV as a talented performer and a regular guy who just happens to be gay. They could even flip the script for a little comic relief if someone like Mark Henry said or did something society considers effeminate and then Young could walk up to him and say “Dude that is SO gay” making reference to Young’s recent comments in an interview.

The fact that they didn’t give him a gimmick full of negative stereotypes is a step in the right direction but pairing him Bob Backlund and have him parodying Donald Trump (someone who is most definitely not known for celebrating diversity and inclusion) is, without a doubt, ten steps in the opposite direction.

Conclusion
I realize that a lot of what I have talked about are societal problems that go way beyond WWE but WWE is seen in millions of homes worldwide and can change so many people's attitudes. Properly portraying diversity on their shows isn’t just smart business; it’s a moral responsibility!

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Oh, and feel free to follow me on Twitter @WNWBigM

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