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Bradshaw offside
Bradshaw incites Germans with Nazi salute
By TJ MADIGAN - CALGARY SUN


In wrestling circles, they call it cheap heat. Making fun of the ringside fans, slamming the city's sports franchise or calling the local women ugly -- it's all fair game in the wrestling arena where it's not only accepted but expected the bad guy will take some verbal cheap shots to get an easy rise out of the paying public. It's not exactly an art form -- you don't need a marketing degree to figure out the audience will boo if you say their hockey team sucks -- but for a wrestling star in a heel role, insulting the crowd is often a vital part of the act.

Last Saturday night at a non-televised WWE event in Germany, John (Bradshaw) Layfield took it too far.

It was the main event of the Passport to Pain show in Munich and Layfield and perhaps trying to get a reaction out of an audience he had bored to tears with his slow- motion ring style, Bradshaw decided to push the envelope.

With his opponent down, Layfield marched around the ring performing the Nazi goose-step.

He then raised his arm and made the 'Heil, Hitler' salute.

Layfield claims he simply intended to get a quick round of jeers-- the audience nearly booed him out of the building -- but you'd think he'd have done a little homework before making fun of the darkest era in German history on the eve of the D-Day anniversary.

Not only was the Hitler imitation a mindless display of ignorance, it was actually illegal. Making Nazi gestures in public, even as part of an entertainment angle, is a criminal offence in Germany.

No charges have yet been pressed.

On Monday, word of the incident reached CNBC, where Layfield works as an on-air financial analyst.

After being contacted by the Sun and several U.S. publications for comment, CNBC issued a statement announcing Layfield had been fired.

"We find his behaviour to be offensive, inappropriate and not befitting anyone associated with our network," a spokesperson said.

WWE bosses distanced themselves from the situation by making it clear Layfield made the gestures of his own accord. Company officials ordered he not repeat them at the next night's show in Olberhausen.

Layfield defended his actions in an interview with the Washington Post, pointing out he was simply portraying a character on a TV show.

"I'm a bad guy. I'm supposed to incite the crowd," he argued.

"It's the same as Vin Diesel playing a Nazi."

Nice theory if you're in Hollywood but it just doesn't translate when applied to the squared circle.

The Munich incident wasn't Layfield's first offence.

He was at the centre of another controversy last month (albeit on a much smaller scale) when he penned an online rant in which he slammed his detractors with some decidedly anti-gay sentiments.

Those comments slipped under the radar of the mainstream media, although they're still posted for all to see on the WWE website.

Layfield is known to be a backstage bully.

He has been linked to many of the cruel hazing tactics, to which WWE bosses turn a blind eye. His inappropriate behaviour in Germany wasn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing attitude problem that needs to be addressed.

In a vague two line apology for the Nazi gestures, which was briefly published on WWE.com Tuesday morning, the company claimed Layfield has been reprimanded for his actions.

It's clear the reprimand didn't involve a reduction in TV time because JBL still performed on this week's Smackdown in a main event spot, thus making main event money.