In the latest crossover of wrestling, social media, politics, and political correctness, Dave Meltzer found himself mired in controversy and taken to task by many for his comments about Peyton Royce on his Wrestling Observer Radio show. If you haven’t heard the conversation, here is a transcript of the clip between Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez:
Meltzer: “The IIconics got ‘boring’ed out’. You know they’re another one. You know I thought that they had a cool act in NXT and on the main roster I don’t get a thing out of them. I don’t think their promos are good, their wrestling isn’t particularly good. I think Peyton Royce’s transformation to look more attractive… I don’t know, I don’t want to say, but… I think that —
Alvarez: “She was more attractive in NXT?”
Meltzer: “I thought so, yes. To me, yes I would say so. But that’s neither here nor there but…”
Alvarez: “No one’s saying she’s unattractive by the way, everybody.”
Meltzer: “I know, no sh*t, yeah I didn’t say it at all. But I think she doesn’t stand out to me. When she was in NXT she did…”:
Alvarez: “One thing I’ve noticed about NXT and the main roster is –”
Meltzer: “She was a lot lighter.”
Peyton Royce then responded with this Tweet: “So what would you have me do Dave… starve myself? This is how nightmares for young women start. The females in your life must be proud.”
Soon, many other WWE superstars, men and women alike, came to the defense of Royce and denounced Meltzer and his comments.
Personally, I have a bit of a problem with this entire exchange and what has transpired in the last few days, and I take issue with both Meltzer AND Peyton Royce.
First of all, Royce’s tweet makes it apparent that she believed Meltzer’s comment was about her weight. It was not. Meltzer’s comment was in reference to Royce having breast augmentation (enlargement) surgery before debuting on the main roster. He even tried to avoid coming out and saying it outright. Perhaps looking back he might have been better served to do just that. When he referred to Royce being “lighter,” it was in reference to her chest, not her waist. Even still, the argument could be made that Meltzer’s comments were distasteful at best. I’m not arguing that. And while that may be true, I think it is also worth noting that, judging by her response, Royce either did not actually listen to the podcast in its entirety, only saw or was told of the “she was a lot lighter” quote, or simply misunderstood the comment. That sentiment was only furthered by the piling on that occured, by both superstars of the WWE and social media users in general, whose comments again seemed to be geared towards the idea that Meltzer was commenting on Royce’s weight or body type when he actually was not, at least not in the way they perceived.
Secondly, and perhaps the bigger issue at hand in that grand scheme of things, is that it would appear to me that Royce and her supporters were only too eager to take a bite of the low hanging fruit. Dave Meltzer, a dirt sheet writer (though a very successful one), makes a unpolitically correct statement about a woman performer and has the social media hounds sicced on him, becoming the latest face of the enemy in the “Women’s Revolution.” But I would ask Peyton Royce, with all do respect, and the other WWE superstars who tweeted at Meltzer or voiced their support for Royce, this line of questioning: Why now? Where were your tweets of outrage when the company you work for took millions of dollars to perform in a country that wouldn’t even allow female workers to set foot on their soil? Why dont you @ the numerous women wrestlers who undergo breast enlargement surgeries and tell them they look perfect just the way they are? Why were you silent during the “Piggy James” angle, when Khassius Ohno was released for being too fat, when Daniel Bryan was called “tiny” by Vince McMahon, or during the era of Pudding Matches and Evening Gown Matches? Why do you feel like an advocate against body shaming when you work for a company who uses body shaming repeatedly as a basis for its storylines (eg James Ellsworth’s chin)?
Furthermore, if you are comfortable in your own body and don’t want to call attention to it, why are you getting augmentation surgery at all? Why are you posting countless pictures of yourself in Instagram for the world to see? Why are female performers posing for Playboy and ESPN Magazine’s “Body” issue, and then expecting people not to comment on their bodies?
Don’t get me wrong- I am in no way supportive of belittling people, making fun of their looks, body shaming, or discriminating in any way. And I am not saying that Peyton Royce is wrong to feel the way she felt. But am I wrong to feel that the outrage at Meltzer is a bit misplaced as well?
If you are truly concerned about the issue of body shaming, and how, in Royce’s words, it could cause “nightmares” for young women, but then you don’t ever call out your own employer for body shaming, and not only do you not call them out on it but also conform to their pressures, and then while working for said company you call out someone else for their comments or viewpoints, it comes off as disingenuous and simply trying to take aim at an easy, low risk target. Meltzer cannot affect real change in the way wrestling looks at or treats women. But sending the social media mob after Meltzer is a lot easier than taking a stand against a company like WWE, which would take a real stand and make a real difference if you ask me.
Why punch down instead of up? Oh that’s right, because they person you’d be punching up at is responsible for paying your bills.
So instead, this will blow over in a week and the status quo will remain. What’s easy isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always easy.