Jim Cornette absolutely stepped in it this week when he said during the most recent episode of NWA Power that Trevor Murdoch was so tough he could ride through Ethiopia with a bucket of fried chicken……….yeahhhhh, that’s no good. It went over about as well as you may think it did, so it’s no shocker that he has resigned from the company. Cornette was a ticking time bomb from the moment he was hired with his history of racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic remarks and his complete inability to see the error of his ways. The latter was on full display when he ranted on his podcast that it wasn’t a joke about race but about starving people (because that’s so much better) and did everything except take the blame for his own actions. Honestly Jim, it’s good riddance. For all your knowledge of the business and the degree to which you could be an asset to any company if you weren’t the way you were……you are the way you are so it’s time for you to stay on your podcasts and away from an announcer’s microphone. You’re smart enough to get this and adapt to the times Jim, but you choose not to so that’s on you.
Cornette isn’t the only one that falls into this category, though. The two biggest companies in the business – WWE and AEW- both employ guys with a history of saying things that are way out of pocket, who are protected because of who they are. Those guys are Jerry Lawler (WWE) and Jim Ross (AEW). Lawler has a whole highlight (or shall we say lowlight) reel going back decades making racist and sexist remarks and Ross has always gotten away with a lot of sexist and homophobic stuff hidden beneath his folksy manner. (And irony of ironies Ross used to insinuate that Cornette was gay to take shots at him when Cornette was managing the Midnight Express) Both are sounding long in the tooth in their respective jobs, to the point where they have been noticeably bad in recent years, so you can’t even make the argument that they’re so good that you need to keep them out there. It’s high time for both of them to move on, too, before either or both of them slip up and say something that can’t be ignored. (Not to mention they both get real close to doing that as it is even now).
So why is this a thing NOW?
Well, it didn’t just become a thing now. Cornette used that line about Ethiopians and fried chicken in 1995 on a WWF show and in 1987 in an NWA promo with the Midnight Express. Lawler’s routine goes back to the Attitude Era at least and Ross was been saying sexist and homophobic things on NWA broadcasts at least as far back as 1989. The difference now is that there wasn’t any means to isolate, capture, and share anything like there is now. Consequently the offended parties didn’t really have much of a voice at the time. There wasn’t any space to truly take umbrage because there was not any convenient way to voice your displeasure, so anyone hurt by it just took it and moved forward or quit watching. Now you can capture the snippet of audio or video you need and put it out on social media for the whole world to see, and much more easily shed some light on what these guys are saying.
So no, it did not magically get offensive in 2019. It’s always been offensive, but no one had any realistic form of recourse and if they did no one would have listened anyway. And hey, a lot of us just flat out have shifted our own views so that we understand that a lot of stuff just isn’t cool and never was. Yes I laughed at a lot of the sexist and homophobic quips that all three of them said during the 80s and 90s. I don’t find those things funny in 2019 and neither do a lot of other people who thought they were fine then. Listening to some of those old promos and match calls is downright cringeworthy now as opposed to when I first heard them in 1986 or 1999. Sorry dude, times change and are you really trying to argue that in order to fully enjoy your professional wrestling you need these guys on commentary? Are those quips adding anything to your experience in any kind of way in 2019? Or do you just not consider them to be deal breakers? Well…..
Seriously, too bad. Being a wrestling fan isn’t a private club, it’s a public space. Anyone who watches it is a fan, not just people who watch x number of hours a week or spend so much money on it or watches the ‘right companies’ or whatever. And when watching or attending a show they have every right to do so without having to hear that kind of stuff from the participants or from you for that matter. Having the likes of these men announcing a show makes that a lot less likely to happen. Now I’m not expecting them to all be retired next week but it’s time to lay down the markers as to what the future should look so that a large chunk of the fanbase doesn’t feel like they have to eat sh@! three times for every one step forward. If you don’t care about that, well you should. People aren’t asking for much here, just not to feel attacked while they’re trying to enjoy something they turn to as an escape from all the serious crap in their lives. If we truly are a community and wrestling is truly for everyone then it’s time to start acting more like it.