Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Glenn: A segment of Steve Austin’s podcast has been making the rounds of mainstream and wrestling news outlets this week, thanks to an endorsement of marriage equality delivered in Stone Cold’s signature style. For a statement from a straight person on a non-straight issue, it hits a lot of the right notes: no matter who wants to get married, it’s not your place to tell them they can’t; religious folks who think their gods forbid it should pipe down and let the rest of us move on; there really are higher priorities than harshing on people who want some basic legal rights recognized. Thankfully, he gave his opinions without any of the “no homo” nonsense that straight people often jam into such discussions. (This is all a rather egregious paraphrase — listen to the clip to hear exactly what chaps Stone Cold’s ass about all of this; for the full context, go to the podcast archive and find episode 29. (Yes, the episode was first posted last July. News cycles move in mysterious ways.)) For a wrestling business whose sorry history with these and related issues was previously addressed by the esteemed Mr. Wille, it’s refreshing to see Austin in the same boat as, for instance, CM Punk. It brings to mind an incident in 2012 when John Cena took to Twitter to discuss the Rock (whose “lady parts” promo was, relatedly, a recent low point in LGBT engagement) and a fan tried to stir the pot by suggesting that Rock was gay, to which Cena responded that, as Dwayne would say, it doesn’t matter.
Steve: Austin’s commentary serves as a nice reminder to take an internal review of all stereotypes. It’s unexpected that a man whose on-screen character emulates a violent Texas redneck (and whose personality seems to be a milder version of that character) would be so outspoken on the sadly still-divisive issue of gay marriage. Reviewing my thoughts from the aforementioned article on Darren Young, it’s been refreshing that the WWE product has continued to avoid the clearly unnecessary depiction of homosexuality that it did in the past. Darren Young’s coming out has not positively or negatively affected his push, and, from an outsider’s perspective, he is being judged based on his ability to work and draw a reaction from the crowd. Of course, we have no direct inside knowledge on behind-the-scenes politics, but at least the faces of the business, HHH and Stephanie McMahon, have come out publicly for equal rights.
I’ve had two newer thoughts concerning the relationship of homosexuality to professional wrestling. A higher percentage of wrestlers compared to the general United States population identify as Libertarian, likely due to their status as independent contractors and the tax liabilities connected to that status. As one of my best friends would be quick to point out, true Libertarians should be for gay marriage, as they pine for government to be separated from the private affairs of its citizens. Furthermore, as I’ve become more active with the Place to Be Network, I’ve listened to countless interviews with wrestlers past and present, many of whom noted how their positive interactions with their gay peers have challenged and changed their pre-conceived notions over the years. Wrestlers from WWE and independent promotions alike have been actively campaigning for the No H8 organization (a shout out to Kevin Kelly Show alum Michael Bennett, who has been very vocal about his beliefs in equal rights for all). As many straight LGBT allies would tell you, positive relationships with members of the gay community do wonders for strengthening the worldview of the inherent dignity of all human beings (for a great example of this, check out the fabulous book My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family by Zach Walls). I personally applaud Steve Austin, not so much for his beliefs, but for having the courage to speak them in such a public manner.
- Have a Nice Payday: Mick Foley has apparently decided not to sign a new marketing deal with WWE, citing disappointment with the payoffs for the last two video games he appeared in. Considering Foley’s on-again-off-again relationship with the company, this seems par for the course, and he’ll probably be back sooner than later for talking-head interviews on Network features and Old School Raw. For now, catch some appearances at indy shows and/or photo ops if these things make you happy.
- Forestalled, Yet Still Foreboding: TNA has reached a deal with United Talent Agency, which will reportedly be responsible for negotiating a new TV deal for the promotion; whether that will come in the form of a renewal with Spike or a move to another channel remains to be seen. Word is that both sides are confident that UTA will indeed get a new TV deal, giving Impact a longer lease on life and perhaps delaying or extending the final days.
- A Main Event Anywhere in the Country?: Samoa Joe, Magnus, new world champion Eric Young, Jeff Hardy, Abyss, Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, James Storm, and Gunner are all NOT part of the touring group for Impact Wrestling’s trip to Steve’s home state of Wisconsin next week. Understanding that the promotion remains in a cost-cutting mode, it baffles the mind why you would keep the top half of your already emaciated roster off the road. We sincerely attempt to be positive at the High Spot, but with the following advertised card for Racine, WI (a suburb of Milwaukee), it’s hard to be optimistic:
Magnus vs. MVP
Tag Team Title match: The Wolves Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards vs. The BroMans Robbie E & Jessie
Bobby Roode vs. Mr. Anderson
X-Division Title Match: Sanada vs. Austin Aries
Kenny King vs. Manik
Gail Kim vs. ODB
It’s important to note that plenty of seats in the fourth row are still available, and it will be interesting to compare the attendance to the raucous Ring of Honor shows held in the same area this year.
- Did You Hear? ECW Was Replaced With NXT: WWE announced yesterday that another live two-hour NXT event, NXT Takeover, will be broadcast on May 29th. Given the widely positive reactions to NXT Arrival in the first week of the Network era, this seems like a positive step for the developmental talent.
- RIP: For Daniel Bryan, at the end of a whirlwind couple of weeks that included WrestleMania, his wedding to Brie Bella, and their honeymoon, came news of his father’s death. Certainly all of the fans offer their deepest condolences and support during what must be an emotional rollercoaster.