WWE is not officially associated with Linda McMahon’s senatorial campaign in Connecticut, but nonetheless, I want to make it know that this post in no way endorses her or her campaign; it is exactly to stand up for WWE, as well as for the wrestling industry genrally (though perhaps less so for other companies). I must also say that I genuinely believe this has little if anything to do with Linda’s campaign, it may help, but for everything Vince McMahon is, he’s also a huge fan of professional wrestling and very proud of his empire, and I believe his main motive is simply to defend that.
However, Linda McMahon’s senatorial race has drawn a surprising amount of attention to WWE and the wrestling industry, and lots of it is undoubtedly disparaging. So in response, WWE have made this video, among a few others:
Propaganda? Certainly. Biased? Obviously. Nonetheless, despite the contrivance of the video, it did move me, because I related to it. What they say is true. It’s a unique, worldwide entertainment phenomenon. Professional Wrestling is one of the hugest pop-culture sensations of recent decades, and this means for many people, seeing the stars of the industry is a matter of right-of-passage. I could go in to it more, but all that needs to be said is that wrestling fans are arguably the most passionate and emotionally attached fans of anything there is. The admiration for wrestlers and what they do has no bounds.
WWE is a progressive company. It has moved back to a family friendly approach (which isn’t progressive in itself, but in an era of ultra extreme, blood soaked niches in wrestling, it is good that wrestling remains open to the young at a mainstream level), and I can believe how amazing it must be for a young person to witness this unbelievable, larger-than-life action with their family. There has also been a lot of criticism of McMahon for the (sometimes fatal) injuries superstars sustain. This is fair enough in a sense as any death is a tragedy, and the industry does seem to still have that poison of premature death in it. However, that’s certainly not WWE’s fault, and in fact, WWE lead the way in talent health issues with their groundbreaking (if imperfect) wellness programme. WWE does all it can to protect and help both former and current talent, and for that it must be applauded. This is something where other companies, like TNA, lag behind.
Also, WWE is wellknown for it’s community and charity work. I don’t like the war in Afghanistan, but I still think the WWE’s treatment of the troops is exemplary. Write or wrong, the troops themselves are putting their lives on the line, believing sincerely that this is helping protect their people. Not only this, but countless other charities and causes are helped with huge enthusiasm by WWE, most famously the make-a-wish foundation, but also others like the Wrestlemania reading challenge for kids, the ‘Smackdown Your Vote’ campaign, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and close to my heart, their promotion of Jenny McCarthy’s charities for Autism awareness , like at 2008’s Saturday Night’s Main Event (though she has made odd and unfounded claims about the causes of autism, her charities nontheless help families affected by the disorder). WWE doesn’t have to do this, and it gets nothing from it in business terms. It is philanthropy that again should be applauded.
The main thing is that, while the industry is by no means perfect, for fans of wrestling, it is a huge part of their lives. Indeed it is a unique lifestyle which involves large emotional involvement, be that connected to the WWE or otherwise. So to see Linda McMahon’s opponants and media outlets deriding it from a position of ignorance (as it clearly often is), with so little understanding of the WWE product, the industry and it’s conventions is incredibly disheartening to someone like me. I don’t mean to over-sentimentalise; WWE is a corporation and doesn’t necessarily need anyone to stand up for it, but especially given the hypocrisy of the criticism (politicians were more than happy to promote themselves on RAW for the 2008 election), I wanted to post this to defend a company and an industry that is dear to me.