When the Michael Sam invite popped up during RAW, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching the Monday Night War again. By the way, that isn’t a compliment. This is nothing more than a stunt for ratings and eyeballs that both the WWE and WCW pulled in those eras. Vince saw a hot topic and pounced on it. Nothing more, nothing less.
There is no way in hell Sam shows up and takes the promised live mic. As TH from The Wrestling Blog points out, this episode alone was riddled with homophobic barbs right from the start. The WWE has a terrible habit of trying to look publicly good on issues like this, but then expose their own dirty, racist, and/or homophobic underbelly far too often. The company put a good face on when Darren Young and Pat Patterson came out of the closet, but, as TH points out in that same post, there are far too many instances in the past and present that give a very, very different message.
I’m of the stance that it’s one thing if the heels sink to that level (as long as it isn’t being used as a cheap crutch), but when you allow your celebrated babyfaces to do so as well, you’re doing something wrong. For instance, HHH making a comment about Jericho’s scarf probably passes if Jericho didn’t then follow it up with his pink tie comment right after. At that point, the situation devolves into small children ignorantly screaming “no I’m not gay, you are!” at each other. There’s no one taking a stand and serving as a babyface example that such language and innuendos are dead wrong.
No, this isn’t a call to censor the WWE. They should continue to push the envelop to create entertaining TV, but that isn’t a license to do and say whatever they want simply in the name on entertainment. Going that route makes every “Be a Star” campaign or support of a gay performer look like an exercise of convenience rather than a true core belief of the company.
Vince McMahon had a rather famous quote of avoiding being “half-pregnant” in all matters. He used that term because you simply can’t straddle a pregnancy fence–you’re either pregnant or you aren’t. There is no middle ground. He felt that, in order to be successful, the WWE had to fully commit to its vision, whatever it may be. Yet the WWE appears determined to remain half-pregnant in this matter.
After Darren Young came out of the closest, the WWE did something unexpected. They supported him and then they didn’t even mention his sexuality in future performances. They could have easily gone that route for a cheap ratings boost, but they just treated him like any other member on the roster. Unfortunately for him, the Prime Time Players as well as Titus O’Neil’s eventual turn on Young just never caught any heat, and Young unfortunately has been sidelined with an injury since April.
Those things happen in pro wrestling, but I can only imagine how Young felt last night when he saw a gay athlete being paraded around as a ratings stunt. If the retweets on his Twitter feed were any indication, he was less than pleased the WWE would hand the mic to Sam and not to one of their own. Reading between the lines, it seems that Young too believes that the company he works for is half-pregnant in this manner and are only appearing to be concerned about gay rights to boost ratings while the rest of the product certainly delivers a different message.
The Michael Sam invite, however, wasn’t the only example of the WWE falling into the half-pregnant mindset. This episode was littered with terrible half-commitments that made this one of the worst RAWs that I’ve covered in some time. So head on over to the next page so we can get started on this mess.