No matter how mainstream professional wrestling becomes, there will always be detractors mocking fans and asking, “you know that stuff’s fake, right?” Obviously, these people just don’t get it, as predetermined or not, there’s nothing fake about the men and women of sports entertainment putting their bodies on the line to put on the best show possible for their millions of fans. By and large, wrestling fans should ignore the haters, as their complaints are baseless and generally come down to matters of taste.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a wrestling fan in general, it can’t be ignored that the biggest wrestling company on earth, World Wrestling Entertainment, has made quite a few moves in their day that almost make it almost shameful to keep giving them money. It’s not just the fact they jerk around their audience something fierce, but the WWE creative machine also has a tendency to shoot for the lowest common denominator in an absolutely tasteless manner, overshadowing the incredible athletic displays their performers pull off in spite of the stupidity.
Hopefully, there will eventually be a day when fans of sports entertainment have no reason to hide their love of the industry. Hell, maybe you have the self-confidence to proudly tell your coworkers you’re a wrestling fan and ignore the snickering it could cause. If not, you can at least find out why they might be laughing by reading about 15 ways WWE has made it embarrassing to be a wrestling fan.
15 They Market Almost Exclusively To Children
Based on 2012 demographics, 78% of the WWE Universe is over the age of 18. In fact, the most active fan base in the audience is the over 50 crowd at a whopping 30%. Despite these numbers having been reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, one of the most trusted journalistic bodies in sports entertainment, the WWE marketing department never seemed to get the memo. Look, we totally understand that kids like wrestling, and for the most part, this is a good thing. The problem is that WWE tends to focus on the kids almost exclusively, forgetting that the vast majority of its audience is adults who don’t find potty humor funny, and can’t be easily swindled by Michael Cole openly lying to them. We’re not simply hearkening for the days of the Attitude Era with more blood and harsh language, either, as the issue is much deeper than that and relates to how they approach storytelling in general.
14 They Lie About Absolutely Everything
So, we already covered in the intro that the whole “wrestling is fake” argument entirely misses the point, and isn’t enough reason to be embarrassed in and of itself. Almost everything on TV is fake, and no one ever points that out to fans of Modern Family or This Is Us. Of course, there may be a reason for this, as while sitcoms, television dramas, and whatever else competes with WWE in the ratings are equally scripted, the producers, actors, and writers are generally honest people when talking about the show behind the scenes. The lies never stop with wrestling, blurring the lines between fact and fiction in the fans minds, and leading to a mentality where no one separates the performers from the roles they’re playing. WWE also lies about things like ratings, attendance figures, and the opinions of the audience, making it hard to justify why we support such an outrageously dishonest company.
13 Vince McMahon’s Public Persona
If you’re lucky enough that watching WWE isn’t in any way embarrassing to you, perhaps you can still understand the awkwardness associated with the knowledge you’ve probably given some portion of your money to Vince McMahon. For whatever reason, it somehow raises the stakes a little to remember that by watching wrestling, we’re lining the pockets of a certified billionaire/madman who loves flaunting his wealth in public at every opportunity. Giving Vince money also enables his desire to make out with half of his female talent, boast about being a genetic jackhammer, and continue taking off his shirt for extended glamour shots into his early 70s. In the right context, some of McMahon’s wackiness is still entertaining no matter how insane it gets, but to someone who already has a low opinion of wrestling, it’s worth pointing out the highest profile man in the business is only going to make things worse.
12 The Lowest Low-Brow Humor On TV
Anyone who questions the purpose of this list should imagine a person who has never seen pro wrestling before turning their televisions to Monday Night Raw the exact moment Triple H climbed into a casket to dry-hump a mannequin. We could give that one a little bit more context, but to tell the truth, knowing he did this to somehow prove Kane had sex with a dead woman only serves to make it more embarrassing. This was merely one of the many examples of WWE taking absurd gross-out humor to it’s most pathetic extremes. For another, look no further than the human hand Mae Young gave birth to during her relationship with Mark Henry, Vince McMahon’s infamous Kiss My Ass Club, or that same egomaniacal boss’s equally misguided romp as “Dr. Hiney” performing colon surgery on Jim Ross. Oh, or absolutely anything D-Generation X did during their two-man revival. Let’s face it, WWE is responsible for some of the absolute worst attempts at “humor” in history, and even if you’re not embarrassed to watch wrestling, watching those segments can’t possibly feel good.
11 Flagrant Hypocrisy At Being A Star
For all the faults we’ve been highlighting on this list, it’s only fair to point out WWE has done a fair amount for charity, giving back to countless sick children through the Make A Wish program and their own Connor’s Cure charity. This definitely makes up for some of the company’s more shameful tactics, but it doesn’t quite erase their problems entire, especially since some of their “charitable” efforts cancel themselves out. Like, for example, the “Be A Star” campaign that attempts to stop bullying. Despite harping the philosophy that bullying is wrong whenever possible, WWE nonetheless allowed its own employee, John Bradshaw Layfield, to get away with systematically bully over a dozen of his coworkers, including Edge, Mark Henry, Joey Styles, René Duprée, The Miz, Matt Hardy, and others. Knowing how little the company sticks to its alleged moral structure is yet another reason it can feel bad to give them money.
10 Constantly Self-Congratulating Themselves For No Reason
Since the idea of giving all children playing team sports a “Participant” ribbon simply for playing has been introduced, some parents felt it failed to teach their kids the whole point of competition. Quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with giving a kid an A for effort, but when a 72-year-old man does the same thing for himself, it starts to feel a little bit unnecessary. Despite this, Vince McMahon has loudly and proudly been giving himself “Participation Trophies” for decades now, taking every opportunity ever to celebrate himself and his company for accolades that really don’t need to get mentioned. Charity is supposed to be its own reward, so to constantly bring it up every time a wrestler grants a single wish kinda cheapens the effort. Also, we can’t forget the time Stephanie McMahon tweeted that “philanthropy” was just “marketing,” forever tainting their every charity effort as an empty gesture to make themselves look good. Unfortunately, the truth being known, the exact opposite effect is had on both the company and its fans.
9 Treating D-List Celebrities Like Major Stars
On November 17, 2014, the concept of Monday Night Raw having guest hosts jumped over about 10,000 sharks when WWE announced the next special guest was going to be Tardar Sauce, the titular Grumpy Cat of Internet meme fame. Well, that’s not entirely fair, as the idea of jumping the shark implies the guest host idea was at one point a good idea, and that certainly isn’t the case. Of course, the decision to have minor celebrities take control of Raw for one night only was hardly the first time WWE introduced someone who was just barely famous and treated them like a huge, huge star.
The trend started at least way back at WrestleMania II, where the “Where’s the Beef?” lady infamously flubbed the only sentence she’s ever said on television, if not earlier than that. It continues today with teenage basketball prospects like LaMelo Ball taking over the show to offensively spout racial slurs for no reason. In every instance of a non-celebrity getting treated like a huge deal, what WWE is also saying is that they’re own superstars are even lower on the entertainment totem pole than these goofs, or else they’d be the ones getting the air time. In turn, it makes the fans look pretty bad for ostensibly wanting to see that crap.
8 Pathetic Attempts At Horror Make Everyone Look Bad
At the risk of making this sound like an editorial, the person writing this article has been watching wrestling for over 20 years and has never been more embarrassed by what he was seeing than during the House of Horrors match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. It’s been six months since that atrocity of a contest took place, and neither man’s career has come anywhere near recovering. Likewise, the WWE Championship has been in pretty dire shape ever since, simply because Orton wore it around his waist during that failure of a “fright fest.” We’re not sure if it was the shoddy production, the babies hanging from the ceiling, or the fact Bray threw a refrigerator at Orton and it didn’t seem to effect him all that much, but the match was truly the company’s lowest moment of a bizarre and misguided 2017. WWE has swung and missed with horror before, but this was truly the worst attempt of all, to the extent this one example should be enough to prove the company just doesn’t understand how to do “horror,” and it’s really, really embarrassing when they try.
7 Total Vapid Reality Divas
It’s hard to imagine why, but apparently, fans of reality television are watching Total Divas in high numbers even if they don’t much care for wrestling. Then again, it’s generally hard to understand why fans of reality television do anything they do, so maybe it’s not that surprising. In any event, the point is that a significant chunk of the audience watching Total Divas has next to no other exposure to wrestling, and the reality series about the life and times of female WWE superstars isn’t giving the industry the best image. Sure, about half of the ladies on the show are respectable businesswomen and athletes navigating through life with pride, but there’s also the Bella Twins and their closer friends getting the bulk of the spotlight. The more focus the Bellas get, the clearer it is they’re empty corporate vessels with almost no personality of their own, and to think people like watching them live their lives is baffling. If the reality show is the only exposure to wrestling a person has, they’re bound to form similar feelings about the whole industry.
6 Making Movies For People Who Hate Movies
If wrestlers were just wrestlers and WWE was just a wrestling company, perhaps the rest of the entertainment world wouldn’t even be aware of the little bubble that is sports entertainment. Unfortunately, thanks to The Rock and John Cena, most wrestlers these days believe they are also actors, when in fact most of them aren’t all that great at it. Even worse is the fact WWE seems unaware of this, producing a full film for any wrestler that feels like giving acting a shot. The movies produced by WWE Studios aren’t just bad, they’re irredeemable messes no fan of cinema would willingly view. Even so, if someone who doesn’t think wrestling is worth their time stumbles upon the latest Dolph Ziggler movie on cable, they might watch a few seconds of it to make fun of it and laugh at the dreck it looks like wrestling fans want to watch. Quite frankly, WWE Studios has been a seriously questionable venture from the very start.
5 Decades Of Ignoring Or Misusing Female Wrestlers
Forget about the damage the cast of Total Divas to do themselves simply by appearing on that show. Even if they didn’t open up their lives to cameras, they would have had to contend with Vince McMahon controlling their careers, which inevitably would lead to something far worse than a mishap or two. Granted, WWE’s treatment of women has been getting better in recent years, largely thanks to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon forcing Vince to dial back on his more sexist tendencies. They can’t turn back time, though, and decades of Vince debasing his female employees and demanding they make out with him are still available for all to see on the WWE Network. Fans who witnessed McMahon strip Trish Stratus to her underwear and make her bark like a dog will never forget it, and the same goes for people who hate wrestling and use that segment as ammunition against it. While that’s the worst example, there are dozens of similar moments where women were treated so badly every fan of wrestling should have felt bad for supporting it, at least as it happened.
4 The Way They Handle Patriotism
Regardless of how one feels about the goings on in Washington, most people living in America feel proud of their homeland in one way or another. However, this pride cannot be unchecked, and the reality is that America is not without its flaws. Some of these downsides can include racism and ethnocentrism, and rather than writer characters that acknowledge this and try to make the world a better place, they dig into these negative qualities and celebrate them even when it doesn’t make sense. In fairness, this isn’t entirely WWE’s fault, as they can’t exactly force a crowd to start chanting “USA” during a match between, say, Bret Hart and Yokozuna, meaning a Canadian and a fake Japanese person. And yet, this sort of thing happens all the time, because WWE so heavily buys in to an America vs. the world mentality that the fans cheer for the country whenever a foreigner rears their “ugly” head. This has got to be embarrassing for anyone who realizes how racist and xenophobic the trend truly is.
3 Commentary Is Spiteful And Formulaic
Paradoxically, one of the most annoying things the current WWE announce team can do is announce that the audience is “having fun” with their opinions on whether wrestlers deserve praise or criticism. In other words, they’re booing the faces and cheering the heels as a joke, when in fact they love Roman Reigns and John Cena, and hate those who stand against them like they’re supposed to. We already covered the fact WWE lies about absolutely everything, but lying to the audience about what the audience itself is feeling deserves special attention as an absurd and disgusting attempt at borderline mind control. WWE is boldly telling its viewers they’re wrong about how they feel, swaying their reactions to play the role Vince McMahon wants them to against all logic. Knowing this will happen whenever one goes to a live event and cheers is enough to dissuade some people from doing so.
2 They Intentionally Destroy Things Fans Love
If fans of WWE shouldn’t occasionally feel embarrassed about watching the product, they should at least be able to acknowledge there’s something a little bit masochistic about supporting the company in 2017. At this point, Vince McMahon’s booking is openly antagonistic, attempting to get the loudest boos out of the audience possible and having Michael Cole pretend they’re really cheers just to rub it in. When a true potential star comes along, like Daniel Bryan or Braun Strowman, they build them up just to bring them down, seemingly just to play with the crowds emotions. If any other TV show on the planet played games with viewers hearts like this, the solution would be simple—they’d stop watching, immediately, and en masse. Wrestling fans don’t, though, and although this is mostly because there’s no alternative, the result is people questioning why anyone with self-respect would keep watching.
1 Vince Openly Hates His Audience
Hopefully, this list didn’t offend anyone, as we’re not in any way saying that a person should actually be embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. All we’re really saying is that wrestling fans should probably think twice before actually putting money into the pocket of Vince McMahon, especially since the guy whose pockets they’re lining openly thinks they’re a bunch of inbred hicks. It’s not just a character when Vince talks about being better than his audience, as he genuinely feels his wealth and upbringing make him a greater class of human being than the average person. To really elevate himself, he also believes the people watching his programming are the lowest of the low, which would explain how he thinks he can get away with everything else we’ve mentioned on this list. Vince hating the audience also explains why he no longer has interest in entertaining him, preferring to simply laugh at their anger all the way to the bank.