Lutz’s Blog: Pro wrestling’s best hope for helping us heal is to go away for a while


By Jeff Lutz, Staffer (@JLutz82)

Pro wrestling needs a break.

Advertised by WWE executive Paul Levesque as an escape from reality, professional wrestling has instead become a painful and almost daily reminder of it. It’s drearily comical to consider the hubris of WWE in particular, offering its brand of entertainment as a distraction as if its performers and personnel can sidestep the problems everyone else is enduring.

Wrestling isn’t only blending in with the darkness around all of us, it’s creating some of it. The #SpeakingOut social media movement has named dozens of wrestlers as alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment, exploitation, and/or violence, marking a monumental achievement for the brave women who have told their stories but a criminally embarrassing snapshot of the business in general.

The information in the previous paragraph was slow to reach Ring of Honor, which finally released a corporate statement on Thursday. The National Wrestling Alliance hasn’t bothered to publicly comment on the allegations or support the movement, even though former Vice President Dave Lagana was among the most prominent men accused of misconduct.

ROH booker Marty Scurll offered a pair of half-hearted and hardly believable explanations for his sexual encounter with an inebriated 16-year-old girl in England, where 16 is the legal age of consent, several years ago.

Looking in from a tumultuous world and expecting a brighter perspective inside professional wrestling has become such a futile exercise that looking at all is no longer feasible. It’s time for wrestling — the major American companies, anyway — to take some time off. The business is not contributing to a healing process in the United States that has seemingly been non-existent, so the only answer is to shut it down temporarily and come back as something easier to support.

I realize that I’m writing this on a website whose owner depends on the daily and weekly existence of professional wrestling for income, which definitely pokes a hole in my argument. Covering the industry seems more difficult than ever, but for those who depend on it to make a living, the idea of undergoing even a brief stoppage probably isn’t palatable.

Still, we’re seven paragraphs into a commentary on a low-point in wrestling’s not-so-decorated history, and the debacle that is WWE’s inaction toward COVID-19 hasn’t even surfaced. Because how can you discuss it without losing any semblance of sanity?

Multiple WWE workers reportedly tested positive for COVID this week, a serious situation in most other companies, but not in WWE, which has refused to get ahead of acceptable testing procedures or accept responsibility for the inevitable positives that have now materialized. All four were non-wrestlers, which makes even the least skeptical person wonder how in-ring talent continues to dodge the disease.

WWE’s sanity-testing statement on Wednesday night only mentioned its plan to continue testing, which it didn’t begin in earnest until last week. It should have included a plan to at least drastically scale back its ambitious weekly television taping schedule, if not suspending it altogether.

The bubble within which WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has encased himself for decades still isn’t offering him a glimpse at the real world. If it were, McMahon would see a distressed public that he no longer possesses the ability to appease through frivolous entertainment that, for the record, needs in-person fans to feel fun.

Short of a shutdown, which we know McMahon will resist at all costs, financial and otherwise, WWE would be wise to actually connect with its fans. A little recognition that the audience is suffering through the country’s most chaotic period of their collective lives would go a long way.

Imagine, for example, WWE humanizing Roman Reigns and allowing him to address the Smackdown audience from his home each week. Or permitting Black stars such as Kofi Kingston, Big E, Apollo Crews or Sasha Banks to discuss, on television, their experiences with racial injustice.

Pro wrestling is its best when it shows us a microcosm of the world, not when it tries to depart from it completely. Fans don’t want an escape, they want to feel like they’re part of something important. Young fans especially want to feel connected, and to support entities that offer those connections. WWE doesn’t, so its audience skews older by the minute.

I’m singling out WWE because it is the industry leader and the company making many of the gravest mistakes in the brightest spotlight. The company does deserve credit for quickly firing 205 Live wrestler Jack Gallagher last week after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

I’ve held off on writing for a while because wrestling has been in a depressing state and I didn’t want to contribute negativity toward something that many readers might actually be viewing as a welcome diversion. Now, though, it feels like everything happening in wrestling is negative. Enough, anyway, that a logical, rational next step is to shut it down. Not forever, but for now.


Readers Comments (16)

  1. chicago_animal June 26, 2020 @ 1:32 pm

    No way WWE just released Gallagher based on a woman’s accusation. That’s disgusting on their part if they did. Would you want to work for a company that would fire you for an accusation made online? He had to tell them his side and maybe it wasn’t good either so they let him go.
    Justin Bieber has accusations against him right now and it looks like they are lies. Imagine him getting dumped from his label right away when this came out.
    More info must have been given to justify this or that’s a shitty company to work for m
    Also, listening to black wrestlers talk about racism and such is something I would skip through. I watch wrestling to forget about the shit in the world.

  2. Write This Way June 26, 2020 @ 5:43 pm

    It’s like the terrible take olympics around here these days.

    Wrestling needs to create compelling characters, interesting storylines, and believable matches with people that look like they can kick the average schmuck’s ass. That’s it.

    No 5’7″ skinny fat guys, no immobile dinosaurs, and no aliens.

    No more cinematic matches, no more flippy floppy spotfests, no more every match on the card goes 20+ minutes, and no more garbage/gimmick matches unless they’ve actually been built up to properly.

    No alt-right or woke messaging, no pandering to whatever the outrage topic of the day is, and no political point scoring.

    Just A + B = C.

  3. Boy the liberal BS on this site is getting intolerable

    • Since there are plenty of racists in every race, why would only black wrestlers be talking about racism? smh

  4. Devil’s Advocate June 27, 2020 @ 2:13 am

    Why is it so wonderful that someone lost his job based on an accusation?

  5. “ROH booker Marty Scurll offered a pair of half-hearted and hardly believable explanations for his sexual encounter with an inebriated 16-year-old girl in England, where 16 is the legal age of consent, several years ago.”

    He didn’t even have to offer an explanation because while you may think what he did was creepy and wrong, it was still LEGAL in the country where it took place. I just don’t understand why everyone thinks this is any of their business. If the girl has a problem, she can contact the authorities and the police can talk to Scrull. It is none of anyone else’s business at all.

  6. Did this guy use to write for the huffington post or the daily beast? Why are all of his articles about social justice? Can we try to focus on wrestling

    • Well, to do that, we’d have to take all the focus off the negative, which of course, we can’t do.

      Those on the left want to take everything away from us that’s positive, so we’re all miserable, so…
      – Wrestling must go.
      – Pizzas are good. They must go.
      – Classic wrestling is great. It’s freaking GOTTA go. No more WWE Network. And we’re coming to take away your VHS tapes, all your DVDs, the ones you bought, and we’re canceling any YouTube channels that broadcast any KIND of wrestling.
      – Soup is good. No soup for you.
      – Japanese steakhouses. Board them up. Gosh, they’re good. They’ve got to go.
      – You can’t have sex with your significant other. It feels good. Can’t do it.
      – Paychecks? They’re good. Can’t have that. No more paychecks.

      Now, for some sanity.
      Wrestling in its pro form has been around for 100-plus years. Check out Write This Way’s post up top for how to do it. It’s not that hard. Fans not there makes it more of a challenge. But stick to the formula. Bob Armstrong, who’s in bad health, once famously said wrestling is a morality play — in its best form, it’s good vs. evil, or bad. Give the people good vs. bad and a storyline that’s interesting. COVID limitations will be there. Figure out the best way. That’s why you make a million a month.

      But all the taking away things people enjoy? Put a sock in it.

  7. i would like to see wwe close both NXT and NXT UK and launch a seperate womens division to replace them. Indy wrestling is so toxic now expecially English, Scottish and Irish wrestling why would wwe want to be associated with it by having there own indy brands? A wwe womens brand doing its own seperate shows would be amazing to watch and i think would help restore wrestling reputation.

    • NXT is the best brand WWE has. Why close that?

      Also, while I like your idea for an all women show, I don’t think it’s fair to just say shutdown European wrestling. There are a lot of accusations on the scene, but there are also a lot of wrestlers who haven’t been accused. Why punish them?

  8. Totally fine with having this as an opinion piece and others like it. But this isn’t news, it’s nearly 100% opinion. Even the facts listed are from a biased lens. That being said, why is this listed as a Must-Read? It’s anything but a must-read. Also can’t help but notice that someone like Jason isn’t posting this because if wrestling shuts down, why would we come back to this website?

  9. Blimey. Even by internet standards that’s a bunch of contents so toxic I expect superpowers by the morning.

    • Obviously I meant comments not contents, but that’s autocorrect for you.

      • I wouldn’t label the comments toxic, either. Imagine if someone made an accusation against you, and before getting any details, your employer said, “Bob, you know, we’re going to have to let you go.” That fair? You very well might be an innocent man.

        I’m not saying any of the accusers are lying, or all of the accused are innocent. I can’t side with anyone because I don’t know facts.

        We need investigation. The guilty should be blacklisted from the industry. Before we get there though, it’s important not to start just handing down punishment.

    • Write This Way June 29, 2020 @ 8:00 am

      People asking for due process, a basic constitutional right, is toxic? You manlets won’t be happy until there’s a full Soyviet Union takeover of real manhood, will you?

      Oh, and leaving your last name off just makes it more obvious that you’re Jeff’s dad doing a run in to try and save his son from getting hammered for his BS article. Stick to the small market radio show and leave the real discussion to adults.

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