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September 2015: The Ghost of Wrestling Past

It seems more and more these days wrestlers are losing their jobs and getting in trouble for their past demons. It’s almost like in politics when during a presidential campaign you always see lots of mudslinging as the candidates attempt to unearth every skeleton in their opponent’s closet. But should a wrestler’s past effect their present work situation?

Most notably of course, one of wrestling’s most iconic figures, Hulk Hogan, was released from his contract with WWE and his profile actually removed from the WWE Hall of Fame on due to his use of the “n-word” in a secretly recorded conversation nearly 10 years ago.

In another racially motivated case, Zahra Schreiber, a female wrestler in WWE’s developmental system NXT and current girlfriend of WWE Champion Seth Rollins, has also been released after old Instagram posts were dug up including pictures of a My Little Pony figure with a swastika and a Hitler moustache resurfaced from 2012.

However, the third and most disturbing incident involves another (ex?) WWE Hall of Famer, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who has been dealing with stomach cancer and the onset of dementia. The 72 year old Snuka, has been charged with murder and was released on bail in conjunction with the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino. It has been speculated that Snuka, after returning to a hotel room after an event, beat his girlfriend to death. The case has been reopened and Snuka could now face trial.

Obviously things have changed not only in the WWE, but in society in general. Modern technology and social media allows for the instant world-wide viewing of information, both good and bad, to the masses. If you are a celebrity, even a pseudo-wrestling celebrity, this means that from now on, you had better mind your p’s and q’s from day one if you ever intend on making it to the big time. Things that you have done, whether it be three, nine or even thirty-two years ago, may catch up with you and cost you your job.

I find it disturbing that in this day and age people seem to be so overly-sensitive to anything. The moment anyone feels the slightest bit of offense, they whole world stops.  It also blows my mind how much power the internet has these days. It seems that anyone with a Twitter account can cost you your job if they find anything from your past that could possibly offend someone. Am I a racist - certainly not. Do I condone what Hogan or Schreiber have done - not in the least, but I do think it’s a bit ridiculous that you can be punished for remarks that were made or images that were posted years ago.

In all the aforementioned cases WWE is obviously trying to protect the image of their company and that’s why they have parted ways. The good of the corporation must always come before the good of the individual. I get that. If WWE is associated with past or current employees who are racists or murders, that’s not good for the image of the company. And let’s face it, it’s also bad for the wrestling business as a whole because, as I mentioned in past blogs, if WWE goes down, the whole business might just go with it. So, any of you who are still clamoring for a Chris Benoit HoF induction, you can forget about it. It’s not going to happen, nor should it.

And as long as we’re at it, why not just dig up a bunch of dirt on everyone? Why stop at the cases that are in the current news? Maybe Sean Waltman (X-Pac) should also be blackballed (no pun intended) from WWE since he made a porn with Chyna and maybe Greg “The Hammer” Valentine should also be removed from the Hall of Fame due to the chauvinistic remarks he recently made about female wrestlers, not to mention the racist promo he cut here: And who can forget the time Booker T called Hulk Hogan the “n-word”?? Perhaps Jerry “The King” Lawler should also be fired and stripped of his HoF status. Let’s face it, he’s a homophobe - All footage of The Fabulous Freebirds, Dick Slater, Tracy Smothers, Dick Murdoch and any other wrestlers that came to the ring with the confederate flag should also be erased from the annuls of history, so as not to upset anyone.

Who knows, maybe one day it will finally come to the point where our entire lives, from the moment we’re born until the moment we die will be recorded and be available for the world to see. The word “privacy” will soon disappear from our vocabulary. Everything you do, say or possibly even think, will be available at the click of a mouse for instant viewing and criticism. We may be headed down the road to an Orwellian society, the likes of which 1984 could not have even predicted.

But for now, my advice to anyone perusing a career in sports-entertainment has just got a little longer. Not only should you seek proper training, get yourself in great shape, have an easily-identifiable and entertaining character, have good professional-looking wrestling gear, have a positive, hardworking, coachable attitude and be motivated enough not to take “no” for an answer, but on top of all of that, you now also have to remember that your actions today could have consequences down the road. Be careful what you say or do (or post online). Think before you Tweet. Even the delete button might not be enough to save you.

- Daniel Austin (Don Roid) (blog) (podcast)

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