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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - What the WWE Could Do to Embrace Darren Young and Gay/Lesbian Community
By Mr. Tito
Aug 15, 2013 - 8:39:29 PM
Imagine this if you will... On the Monday Night RAW following the big Pay Per View, SummerSlam 2013, in which viewership is expected to be high... SummerSlam is arguably the 2nd or 3rd biggest WWE show of the year and often serves as a show that clears storylines. Many wrestling fans give the WWE a chance on the RAW after SummerSlam to impress them, given that the National Football League is just weeks away from challenging the WWE on Monday nights. Viewership should be up with casual wrestling fans being optimistic as the WWE heads into its "Fall Season". IMAGINE if the WWE takes advantage of a major opportunity that a pro wrestler just gave them.
To start the 9pm hour, I would book some match involving Darren Young. In case you haven't read or heard, Darren Young told TMZ Sports: "Look at me. I’m a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I’ll tell you right now, I’m gay. And I’m happy. I’m very happy." In a matter of fact way, Darren Young "came out" and essentially became the first openly gay pro wrestler in the WWE. Some could say that it took guts to do what he did, but he just told a random reporter who he is and was proud of it without flinching.
Anyway - Have a match involving Darren Young, be it singles or Tag Team. I could lean a Tag Team match with his fellow Prime Time Player tag team partner, Titus O'Neil, but a singles match presents a great opportunity for an individual push. Either way, Darren Young MUST win the match...
And then... No Chance in Hell theme music hits and Vince McMahon comes out to the ring. Vince briefly looks over Darren Young and then approaches him. Vince then shakes his hand and then the handshake turns into a hug. After the hug, Vince raises Darren Young's hand in celebration. Then, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, known executives and family in the WWE, arrive at the arena entrance and applaud. Then, one by one, the locker room empties until the arena entrance is full of wrestlers and other WWE personalities, all applauding.
It would be an incredible opportunity for the WWE not just with Public Relations, but for the Gay and Lesbian community itself. While it could be an over-the-top celebration for "coming out", it could a moment that proves the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is an equal opportunity employer and Darren Young's own personal abilities will make him successful in the WWE and that his sexual preference is just part of who he is but won't get in the way of his success.
WWE's full embrace of Young could be not just a major moment for the WWE, but for the United States as well. There is still significant resistance to homosexuality in the world. Biologically, we exist to mate with the opposite sex to bear children and the majority of the people in the world abide by their natural inclinations. Because of the ability to bear children together, Churches and other establishments have embraced the coupling of male and female for many years now and the rise of openly gay individuals goes against the grain of those traditions. Society is changing and evolving, but many of those traditions have been in place for years. It's often hard to change when you're set in your ways. There has been a strong push for equal rights and privileges within the gay and lebian community with several states pushing for Gay Marriage and that led to the Supreme Court decision that struck down the 1996 "Defense of Marriage" Act which defined marriage as only occurring between a man and a woman. The United States Military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has also fallen.
Professional sports leagues have not seen its athletes "come out of the closet", which suggests that there may be fear of coming out by homosexuals in pro sports. After all, they showering with other males and the sports have physical contact. Some might fear being blackballed by a sports franchise for coming out. Additionally, there is fear of fan retaliation against an openly gay athlete. The National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Hockey League (NHL) have been very quiet on the open homosexual front, while the National Basketball Association (NBA) had journeyman Jason Collins become the first active professional athlete to go public. As you can see, the professional leagues aren't so quick to embrace the evolving society. History could be repeating itself... Jackie Robinson was the first black MLB baseball player but it wasn't until 1947 he debuted. MLB has existed since 1869.
Under Vince McMahon's leadership, it doesn't appear as if he has any discriminating tendencies. Sure, he'll exploit a stereotype to stir up the fans, but he's pushed many wrestlers of different races and backgrounds. He'll hire anybody if they can put buts in seats. For this past year, Vince had the Rock and Alberto Del Rio as his World Champions. Enough said. Vince actually discriminates more along the lines of height and weight, but with time evolving, he pushes small wrestlers. Vince HAS credibility to embrace an openly gay professional wrestler... And he should this Monday night and be ahead of the curve versus the rest of the sports industries.
From there, God only knows where the WWE could go. Listen to the fan reaction... They could either embrace Darren Young or pay their money to boo him. Either way, Darren Young FINALLY has some identity in his career as a pro wrestler. The Prime Time Players are just 2 black wrestlers mashed together because the WWE needed Tag Teams for their rebooted tag division. With the WWE not taking their Tag Team division as serious as they should or used to, the Prime Time Players are kept low on the card and barely seen unless the wrestlers are losing to upper midcarders or main eventers. Both wrestlers have lost singles matches recently against the WWE's top names, for example. They could never make any ground against former tag champions, Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan), and they seem to not be in the plans to challenge the current champions, the Shield. WWE is opting to push Samoan wrestlers instead at the moment...
They were a tag team thrown together without much identity. But now, they have one... Darren Young is now free to be himself and the WWE could embrace that. Titus O'Neil can look good in the process by supporting his tag team partner and friend, no matter what. Like this fact or not, the WWE is a publicly traded corporation... They have an image that they want to portray and a new audience of gay/lesbian viewers to gain. You could suggest that fans could be homophobic towards the WWE or Darren Young, but wrestling fans have been fed many flamboyant wrestlers for years (many named "Nature Boy"). Promoters have used anything in their playbook to rile up fans to buy tickets, so wrestling fans are probably better suited to accept a homosexual athlete. Go to an NFL game and see the utter rage home field fans have for anyone wearing a visitor jersey... Yeah, there's a difference in fans and the WWE has the leg up in maturity on this issue.
Where could the WWE go from there?
Well, you can't have a straight up bigot as a pro wrestler in your company, especially if you're also a publicly traded corporation as the WWE is. It would be horrible public relations to have a wrestler slant another wrestler based on sexual preference... But that doesn't mean a wrestler can't be a dickhead to Darren Young. Dickheads don't discriminate... they are assholes to everyone! All it takes with some personalities, especially in a competitive world, is to be looked at funny or to simply be bumped into... Regardless of the person, they are just wired wrong and they'll hate on everybody. The WWE could exploit Darren Young's public announcement, but they have to be careful of something that could flood the USA Network with complaints or attacks from gay/lesbian groups.
For example, you have Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro, who are led by their manager, Zeb Colter. In my opinion, they are the perfect foes for Darren Young, particularly Jack Swagger. As you'll recall from Wrestlemania 29, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter had beef with illegal immigration and translated that onto World Champion Alberto Del Rio. They towed the line on Hispanic bigotry, but wisely stuck to the illegal immigration issue. They came across as being dickheads to Del Rio rather than outright bigots. In the case of Darren Young, Jack Swagger could be backstage and because he's an asshole, he could accuse Young of checking him out. Swagger could say "I have no problem with homosexuals, but he was checking me out!". Along with Colter, they could play up some heat with upholding traditions to play off some heat of the Gay Marriage debate... In the end, Darren Young would defeat the dickhead Jack Swagger who lost because his focus was on irritating other wrestlers and not in the ring.
Is it just me, or does Jack Swagger look exactly like Biff from the Back to the Future movies? If he started telling other wrestlers "what are you looking at, butthead?" or telling Zeb Colter "let's make like a tree and get out of here". Or, my favorite Biff line from Back to the Future: "that's about as funny as a screen door on a battleship!". If they cut his hair like Biff and gave him corny lines like that, while being a total dickhead to other wrestlers like Biff in Back to the Future, I'd mark out for him...
Anyway - Instead of what was suggested above, Darren Young could just go on with his life as a pro wrestler. One thing I love about his TMZ Sports interview is that he said it as a "matter of fact" and he didn't care that everybody knew. He didn't hold a press conference. Member from the press approached him about the topic of openly gay athletes and he just decided, just then, to officially "come out". And he said it without fear of consequence... However, WWE doesn't have the track record of discrimination so maybe Darren Young wasn't afraid to "come out".
We all bleed red underneath and as long as we're law abiding citizens... No difference. All men and women are created equal.
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
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