In recent weeks a few things have happened or been reported about involving the not so savory aspects of the business. There have been rumors about Hulk Hogan trying to work his way back into the good graces of the WWE, a WWE 24 special on the Hardys and the substance abuse problems that led them to essentially get fired from the company and kept them away until last year, the first comments from Enzo Amore since his firing a few months ago, the firing of Enzo’s former partner Big Cass, and lastly the morbid recognition by some on social media of Chris Benoit murdering his wife and son before he committed suicide. With each case outside the Hardys there was some support for the men in question along with a lot of continued disdain and dissent. Some people do want to see The Hulkster back, some people think both Enzo and Cass got bad raps in their respective cases, and some people think that Benoit should get recognition for his wrestling career despite the horrendous acts that he committed. Now as wrestling fans we put up with and excuse a good bit of not cool behavior at all levels of the business – no more than another section of the entertainment business, but enough that we can’t really throw stones from our respective glass house. So when something particularly bad goes down. what’s forgivable and what isn’t? Here’s what I think:
As you know the Hardys are back after years away and presumably overcoming their demons, Jeff’s recent DUI notwithstanding. Should they have gotten another shot given what’s happened in the business before with some guys recovering from substance abuse? Sure, as long as they can stay clean going forward. Matt and Jeff hurt themselves, hurt their families, and to a degree hurt their employer by forcing them to change plans to account for their problems. They didn’t, however, hurt the company’s bottom line, didn’t disrespect the customers, and didn’t cause any harm to anyone else. If Vince trusts them then it’s all good, and if they fall back into their old habits he can fire them again.
This one’s easy – don’t come back Enzo. From all reports out there he wasn’t honest with the company about being under investigation for sexual assault, and there have been numerous rumors and such about him not getting along with his coworkers. Not to mention he wasn’t much good in the ring as it was. Outside of selling some wigs and T-shirts, he was at the point of having no redeeming qualities. I don’t miss him and I think most of you guys don’t either. As far as him being vindicated by way of not being charged with a crime……sure dude, that totally makes you innocent.
Cass allegedly didn’t get along with anyone, was drinking too much, and went into business for himself a few weeks back for a segment on Smackdown. And like his former partner he wasn’t great in the ring so they’re really not losing much here. No brainer, really. Given how things ended for both he and Enzo it’s finally starting to make sense that they never got a run with the tag titles either in NXT or on the main roster. It really looks like HHH and some other folks in the back knew that they had a ticking time bomb with with both of them so the only move was to gets as much as you could out of them before the bottom fell out. I wouldn’t rule either of them out for returning one day but it’s clear that they were more trouble than they were worth in 2018.
This is simple. F@#! Chris Benoit. Chris was once one of my favorite wrestlers. When he won the World Title at WrestleMania XX I thought it was earned and when he and Eddie Guerrero embraced to end the show that was a truly touching moment. Who gives a crap now? Well some people apparently do based on a few tweets I saw. Saying that we ‘lost’ Chris around this time in 2007, like he died of cancer or something, is some super tone deaf stuff, ok? They’re not going to put his name back in the captions on the network and they’re not going to feature him on anyone else’s stuff be it match collections, DVDs, or whatever. Not sorry about it at all. If you want to see him so bad there his matches are still on the network. I’m ok with that because the other person or people he was working with deserve to have their work be fully visible so we can see how good they were. But he doesn’t deserve a damn thing and people pushing for his name to brought back because he was so good in the ring can have a supersize stadium full of seats.
Last but not least we have the Hulkster. Hogan got banished from WWE programming because of his racist rant that got exposed without his permission (he in fact won a big lawsuit over it and all). He’s been trying to get his way back in now that some time has passed and, he hopes, that people aren’t thinking about it anymore. Of course when you try to get back in yourself and not just wait for Vince to call you, and it gets out that you’re making these overtures, then all the stuff you said is going to get run up the flagpole again and squash your chances. But never mind the stupidity of his methods, does he deserve another chance? After all he did ‘just’ say some stuff, right? And words, no matter how bad they are, aren’t the same as doing drugs, being awful to people at work, lying about being investigated for a criime, or actually killing some people. And to top it off, without your work 30 years ago the foundation for what we have today would not have been laid. So you should get that last lifetime achievement award style position to spread the gospel of wrestling and all things WWE, right?
In my opinion, NO. At a time when the diversity of the audience/customer base and on air talent is greater and/or more recognized than ever before, bringing back someone who was fired for demeaning some of the people who contribute to said diversity is tone deaf and insulting. It doesn’t fly on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, you name it. And forcing guys and gals like New Day, Naomi, Titus, Apollo, etc to pretend it’s no big deal and maybe even say nice stuff about him on camera is as insulting as it is trying to get us in the audience to enjoy hearing that dude talk again. I can watch and appreciate his work and what he brought to the game without him getting a cushy ambassador position and being put in front of my face again. And it’s not like he has much to say anyway; we’ve seen his pretend to put guys over as a way of getting himself over routine plenty of times already. The guy doesn’t add much with his perspective the way that a lot of other legends do. He’s still out there trying to big up himself 30 years later.
At the end of the day, if you play the risk/reward game with Hogan you’d find that you really aren’t gaining anything in return for what you’re jeopardizing. The people who are pushing the hardest for him are, from my estimation, people who already have network subscriptions and spend money on the product. You’re not getting any new viewers and you’ll piss off a bunch of current ones. You have a few that think he should be welcomed back versus a lot of people who will range from indifferent to frustrated to angry. Seriously what good does he do you right now? He can’t work a match and he isn’t going to sell anything by showing up (insert any joke you want about Hogan and selling in the ring here). He’s a founding father of the WWE; unfortunately that’s not just in the good ways but in the bad ways as well. Keeping him away, in my opinion, is what’s best for business.
So there you have it, who I think should be forgiven and who shouldn’t be. What do you think?