I’ll tell you one thing that should be a watchword for all journalists of any stripe, they don’t want to be the story, they’d much rather write about it. However Uproxx writer Elle Collins posed a very good question on their Twitter feed recently. Elle is known for coverage of Impact Wrestling, wondering out loud, could they in good conscious, cover the company anymore since Impact Wrestling hired known misogynist and general spanner in the works Michael Elgin? While Elgin is abhorrent enough to end a lot of people’s interest, it isn’t really fair on the rest of the roster who are just trying to get over and do their jobs? While it has posed a question for editorial staff the world over, including Steel Chair and Vulture Hound where our very own Steph Franchomme has been very vocal about her displeasure with the company for the hiring of Elgin. By the way don’t just take our word for it, because no doubt this post will get called out for gaslighting, persecution from the main stream media and other such delights; here is a fair assessment of the Elgin situation from Chad Loe at Nerdcorp. As the wrestling media it poses us a moral dilemma, but to the wider point it has a detrimental effect on fans who just want to enjoy good wrestling without supporting truly awful people.
I know, a liberal complaining about wrestling being awful is essentially complaining that coal burns. Outside of the NYC stock exchange, and the big money room at the Bellagio, you are not going to find a more capitalism friendly industry. Since its inception, it has been a device to separate punters from their hard earned cash as quickly and efficiently as possible. The thing is these days, the wrestling companies do bow to pressure. Take the aforementioned Elgin. The reason why he is currently working for Impact Wrestling is that literally no one else will hire him. Having just finished his run with NJPW, who received a boat load of complaints when his last contract was renewed and quietly let him go. He is far to toxic a figure for certain wrestling companies to handle. ROH and NJPW rely on a hardcore fan base that know of Elgin’s reputation, and while many have forgiven his actions, far to many can point out his easily-findable-on-YouTube wrongdoings and bring the company into disrepute. Impact has a much wider appeal even if the viewership is much smaller. A stunning brand loyalty for a product that has been so patchy down the years helps, but they are counting on Impact fans a) not finding out about Elgin’s past b) not caring when they do. Which is entirely possible.
How does a news media organisation handle cover him? I found the easiest way is ignore him. My own podcast The Truepenny Show which covers a lot of NJPW has spent the last eighteen months not mentioning him. Even if he was in tag matches. “I see Tanahashi and Taguchi had to wrestle three members of LIJ, lots of handicap tags on this tour . . .” it became a running joke, as such so did Elgin. He lost a platform and we could make our day go better. All of this led me to think that where do you stand if you want to find a product that you at least ethically agree with. Time I think for an audit of where people are at when it comes to political messaging.
WWE – Right of Centre
Owned by a man who is so Republican he would bleed elephants, the WWE is obviously going to have a hard time being anything but right wing. Vince is natural disposition is to the right, but he understands that that is not to everyone’s taste and does his best not to alienate anyone if he can help it, and they do so well in so many areas, and then taketh away in others. The recent Lars Sullivan debacle being a case in point. Good points for allowing Lars time for his mental health recovery. Less points for not realising they’d hired a misogynistic racist. Equally, never ending storylines that invoke body shaming specifically towards women while simultaneously supporting anti-bullying campaigns makes their moral deficit hard to follow. Their altruism does also at times seem forced, as if they are doing it for their own PR rather than actually for the good of the world, but overall they are at least trying. They’ve championed diversity and genuinely have backed that up in recent months, only time will tell if they keep their money where their mouths are.
ROH – Somewhere to the right of the Kaiser
Well where do you start? Owned by the Sinclair Network who have recently been making their local news anchors give pro-Trump, anti-establishment segments at the end of each bulletin. The entire organisation comes off as a right wing propaganda exercise. Having said that, they do have a diverse roster. They were pretty tone deaf in hiring Enzo and Cass, known agitators and shit wrestlers, so it was unsurprising they got cut before they even started thanks to fan pressure. The Allure’s presence has probably set women’s wrestling back a good decade by running an old TNA angle to fans who really don’t care because ROH didn’t put enough time and money into Women of Honor to start with. The Briscoes bristling lack of self awareness in the face of anything liberal is also staggering, Jay has been suspended over homophobic comments in the past and were the subject of numerous protests and complaints at last years Fight Club Pro Tag Team Tournament after disrespecting a Rainbow flag. Silas Young’s entire gimmick is essentially acting like your alpha male uncle who believes boys shouldn’t play chess and that a woman’s place is in the kitchen making sandwiches for a poker night. None of this seems to stop me enjoying them as a wrestling company, so long as I’m not giving them actual money or anything, because they have some great wrestlers. And Flip Gordon. Maybe it’s just Colt Cabana and Ian Riccobani’s soothing tones? In fact, I am pretty sure that is all it is.
Impact Wrestling – The Paradox.
Impact do so many good things! While essentially being morally bankrupt. Hiring Elgin is the latest in a long line of snafus that as one of my friends put it; “Who was the last guy they hired who wasn’t awful about women?”. A good point, well made. The Knockouts Division at the moment is as good as it has been in an age. A strong roster that pushes at least two or three storylines each week. On the other hand, the push of Scarlett Bordeaux feels like it was written into a mid-eighties TV movie. Impact fans apparently live in a bubble where there is no other wrestling and don’t watch Scarlett tear it up on the indies with men ALL THE TIME. Even if they don’t and you are going to embrace intergender wrestling, don’t start of with Glenn “Send me pictures of good looking women at indie wrestling shows, I won’t get any because there aren’t any hur, hur.” Gilbertti. I appreciate it you are trying to move on guys, really, but honestly people actually watch your show for the women, because force feeding the same main event variations for six months at a time sure as hell ain’t doing it for them. While at least the Impact ownership team aren’t offensive, they do have a diverse roster reflective of their world wide status, the trouble is can you countenance that against some of the awful people they employ?
This is a whistle stop tour of issues but I will in future look at more stories that should affect you, the ethical wrestling fan.