In 2007, WWE star Chris Benoit killed his son, his wife, and himself. As a result, his name, photos, and footage have been largely erased from WWE archives ever since.
Going back further to 2004, ROH founder Rob Feinstein was accused of inappropriate behaviour with a 14 year old boy. Fellow pro wrestling promotion TNA ended their talent-sharing agreement with ROH, from which Feinstein resigned.
Back even further to 1991, and Hulk Hogan made an infamous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show that did more harm than good in the steroid scandal storm that was sweeping through Titan Towers at the time. Following this, he was not involved in WWE (then WWF) storylines for almost a year.
More recently, Hogan was exposed making racist remarks and was subsequently pulled from WWE’s website and online store, TV shows, and Hall of Fame.
What were once referred to as “consequences” for terrible behaviour have in recent years been renamed “cancel culture” – largely part of a fascist pushback around the world, as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other marginalised people oppose discrimination. This follows years of treating people with respect or embarking on political education being referred to as “political correctness” which, one could argue, conveyed an imaginary set of rules that led to the “cancel culture” narrative – if you weren’t “politically correct,” you were “cancelled.”
This has been amplified by right-wing commentators with significantly large platforms, speaking to their millions of followers to complain that “you can’t say this” or “you can’t say that” when, in fact, they speak freely constantly, and their complaints attract attention and ratings from hateful people with outdated views. But these people know very well that they can say such things – it’s the consequences they cannot bear. The reality is, it’s not about whether you “can” or “cannot” say something…just expect consequences for hateful language or actions.
But no. Calling consequences “cancel culture” is part of this right-wing strategy.
With consequences seemingly no longer factoring into the equation, opportunities have opened up for people with such views to go on the attack more than ever – it’s why even an openly homophobic, racist, Islamophobic anti-Semite can become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (with more than a little help from the media networks platforming such right-wing political commentators).
This is why All Elite Wrestling star Brian Pillman Jr’s recent social media post is so damaging.
First, it’s deliberately provocative, of course, but in more ways than just provoking a reaction: the reaction wanted is to try and prove a point – the point being that if he faces any consequences for this post, then it’s evidence of “cancel culture” existing, and justifies the statement on his hoodie.
His post came at a time when fellow roster members Anthony Bowens and Nyla Rose faced hate speech from members of the audience at recent AEW shows. This is not the time to be tolerating prejudice, much less emboldening it. It’s the time to oppose it, call it out, and contribute to creating consequences for such hate.
Or did Brian feel that the fan being removed from the crowd was being “cancelled” and that is what needs to stop? According to his hoodie – and his social media post showing it – that is exactly how he feels.
-Jay Baker 🤜