Professional wrestling in the U.S. typically doesn’t shy away from political commentary or controversy, but World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — the largest and most popular wrestling syndicate in the country — has maintained a curious silence about President Donald Trump.
Forbes.com’s Alfred Konuwa said on Friday that the “N-word” has currently been said during WWE programming more often than the name of Donald Trump, which is curious given Trump’s connections to the wrestling world and to WWE.
According to Konuwa, WWE is embroiled in a scandal over two black performers’ use of the racial slur but no one in the organization has made any mention or issued any form of statement over last week’s use of a doctored WWE clip showing Trump beating up a figure labeled “CNN.”
“The video featured footage of Trump’s memorable appearance at WrestleMania 23, an event dubbed the ‘Battle of the Billionaires’ which led to 1.250 million buys, the second-highest buyrate in WWE history,” said Konuwa.
He continued, “And as Trump’s war with CNN continues to expand, along with openings for WWE to introduce Trump-related content on its television, WWE continues its bizarre radio silence toward the most WWE-approved president in history.”
Wrestling is a culturally omnivorous sport, grabbing names from the headlines and weaving the symbology of popular and political culture into its broad spectrum of “head” characters and “heels,” i.e., good guys and bad guys.
Political scandals and rivalries have provided rich fodder for WWE’s performers in the past, but Konuwa said that so far “(t)he only semblance of a Donald Trump reference came during Darren Young’s short-lived ‘Make Darren Young Great Again‘” promotion.
“Typically it’s goofy, like when WWE booked a match between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama using celebrity impersonators. Sometimes it’s of the ‘too-soon’ variety, like when a Bill Clinton impersonator once called into Raw (WWE Network subscription required) shortly after then-President Clinton admitted to having an extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky,” he explained.
But on Trump, there’s been nothing, he said, even with “Donald Trump now bringing crazy back into American politics, enduring one scandal after another.”
Trump has long-running connections to the wrestling world and to WWE. He bought the wrestling show “Raw!” in 2009 as part of a publicity campaign and has been portrayed by wrestlers enacting his feud with Rosie O’Donnell in the past.
The former reality TV game show host also has deep financial and political ties to the family that owns WWE. Vince and Linda McMahon have donated over $11 million to the Trump Foundation and Trump’s electoral super PAC.
“Linda McMahon, who is now chief of the Small Business Administration in Trump’s cabinet, attended Trump’s celebration shortly after the world was stunned with news of his victory. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made an appearance at his inauguration. The entire McMahon family recently visited President Trump at the Whitehouse,” Konuwa said.
He concluded, “With television ratings consistently flirting with all-time lows, and signs of its product being out of touch through an aging audience, why is WWE so scared of getting into the Donald Trump business as a publicity stunt, when it is literally involved in the Donald Trump business for political gain?”