WWF should clean-up its act
Informative views and insights on the wrestling world from SLAM! Sports.
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun Sports
The World Wrestling Federation has gone too far.
The messages it is sending to its audience, particularly the younger
ones who idolize the performers, is that it is okay to use coarse
language and point to the male sexual organ to make a point.
And, that's terribly wrong.
I took my son Ben, who is nearly six, to a recent show
at the SkyDome in
Toronto and I spent part of the evening telling him not to listen to the
bad words he was hearing, both from the crowd and, more distubring, the
On more than one occasion one opponent said to another over the public
address system, "Get your ass out here" or words to that effect.
One wrestler, The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, even threatened to
kick the behind -- he used the word "ass" -- of a member of the crowd who
was taunting him. Goldust, by the way, wore black makeup with the
letters F and U displayed on opposite sides of his cheekbones. He also
wore a garish, green body suit and a black studded jock and was taunted
by the crowd, who relished calling him "faggot." Even his opponents called
Then there's another wrestler, who is nicknamed "Badd Ass."
And how about Stone Cold Steve Austin? He has the word "ass" emblazoned on
the shirts that are sold by the WWF. Stone Cold is portrayed as the
meanest, fiercest, toughest dude in the WWF. He has a shaved head and a
goatee, which collectively aren't bad, but part of his act is gestering
with his index fingers. His message is much like the letters on Goldust's face.
Then there's the combination of Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst- Helmsley,
who are a tag-team combination known as Degeneration X and are found of
using both coarse language and talking about and pointing to their
At a recent press conference in New York to launch the forthcoming
Wrestlemania, Degeneration X joked how they would restrict using coarse
language and talking about their private parts during prime time hours.
In fact, every time Michaels uttered a swear word during this long
proclomation, it was bleeped out.
The message was obvious: the WWF is aware of of the fine line of good
taste that it is crossing, but instead of eliminating it all together it
chooses to make light of it. It's almost like saying, "yeah, we know,
this isn't in the greatest taste, but...so what? Hee, hee, hee."
Granted, this is all a show and will never be confused with reality and,
if the truth be told, I find it amusing. But, my son can't see or view
the act in the same way I do. He's young enough to easily be
impressioned by these people.
He actually likes Shawn Michaels, whom he considers his favourite
wrestler. I like Shawn Michaels' athletic ability, but I'm not so sure I
want my son pointing to his genitals every time he wants to make a
point. As for Hunter Hearst-Helmsley, he's just a cheap immitation of
Michaels with his long, blonde hair.
Michaels is one of the WWF"s top performers and has been for years. But,
is he a role model? Hardly.
Michaels' presence, coupled with a growing dislike for the politics and
plot lines of the WWF, prompted five-time champion Bret Hart to go to
the rival WCW in, arguably, the biggest-ever exit of a wrestler from one
organization to another. WWF boss Vince McMahon has said Hart's exit had more
to do with ego and money -- which, in fact, may be true -- but there's
no denying that Hart is not the only one wondering what's going on these
days in the WWF.
The WWF has been accused on more than one occasion of poor taste in some
of its plot lines, yet it has withstood the criticism. It has also
withstood scandals about steroids and sex. This time, though, the WWF
may be damaging itself more than it realizes. This whole Degeneration X
stuff becomes a problem when a father has to tell his son "don't listen
to the bad words" he's hearing from inside and outside the ring.
Do you really think the crowd would be using such foul language if it
wasn't being thrust in its face by the performers in the ring and the
paraphernalia being sold at the shows?
The WWF should examine all of this or its going to lose a future
Including all of the Degeneration Xers!
Perry Lefko is a sports reporter for the Toronto Sun. He has written two books -- Flutie, a biography of Doug Flutie, and The Greatest Show on Turf, a history of The Breeder's Cup. He can be reached at email@example.com.