The WWE is willing to do nearly anything to score a big TV rating but must avoid involving President Donald Trump in any planning as SmackDown Live moves to Fox in October.
The idea that politics and professional sports are bedfellows isn’t a new idea; as both have been linked throughout the history of play. But what about the world of professional wrestling? While there are multiple instances where the two have crossed paths, the WWE Universe may be in line for another opportunity to watch the madness as there’s a brewing idea that the WWE may attempt to welcome back none other than United States President Donald Trump.
This is a move that goes beyond just being political but flies in the face of diversity and inclusion on multiple levels. From a historical standpoint, the first aspect of this conversation needs to be around the connection between Trump and the McMahon dynasty.
In many ways, Trump’s early inclusion in WWE business helped play a role in the company surviving its early days of development. Trump Plaza played host to WrestleMania 4 and 5; plus, we all remember his performance at WrestleMania 23 as Bobby Lashley’s cornerman.
That event was also the most purchased event in WWE history with, 1.25 million buys. The examples don’t stop there, but the most recent iteration includes Linda McMahon being included as a cabinet member during Trump’s administration. The links between the two are clear for everyone to see.
Blake Oestriecher of Forbes laid out a clear idea as to why Trump could be included as the WWE moves its blue brand over to Fox. WWE ratings on SmackDown Live and Monday Night Ray continue to struggle.
So much so that the move to bring in Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman to lead both shows caught much of the wrestling industry off guard. With All Elite Wrestling building momentum and their weekly ratings sliding; leadership within the WWE understand that anything needs to be done to pop a big rating when the move to Fox happens in October.
Big names such as Brock Lesnar and John Cena are being advertised for the show and best believe that the company is looking at bringing back The Rock to the show he created. Imagine the buzz that Trump’s name would bring if he came back for a one-off appearance during the first weekend; everyone would watch just to see the train wreck.
But let’s talk about why Trump’s inclusion may tune off a large swatch of WWE Universe members. President Trump has made it a point to antagonize many individuals within minority groups throughout the United States. He’s frequently attacked black athletes; such as calling NFL players “Sons of [expletives] and questioning LeBron James’s intelligence, to his verbal attacks on Megan Rapinoe and his policies against the LGBTQ community within the military.
These are just a few examples of recent actions that can be used to question Trump’s mindset. When we consider historical actions, such as his stance against the innocence of the Central Park Five, Trump’s record isn’t the greatest in representing equality for all Americans.
So, the question becomes, what message does his inclusion send to those who watch the WWE and those that work in the company? The answer is that the message isn’t positive. Think back to how The New Day and other minorities responded to Hulk Hogan’s return to WWE after his bigoted comments were revealed to the world.
Their outspoken retort made it clear that there was displeasure in Hogan’s inclusion. Whenever Trump is included in anything, there’s an outcry from those that are opposed to his existence and that trend will continue if he’s brought back into the WWE fold.
Another aspect of this conversion is whether WWE leadership will care. We’ve seen that the company has taken strides to appeal to louder voices that are questioning the company’s historical issues with representation.
Both angles involving Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston helped chip away at glass ceiling stereotypes that have long stood the test of time within the WWE. It would be interesting to hear what both Lynch and Kingston would have to say if Trump was involved with the brand, even for a one-off moment.
No one would argue that an appearance by Donald Trump would pull massive ratings for an early edition of SmackDown Live when it moves to Fox this fall. But the question is whether the outcry from those opposed to Trump would be enough to deter the decision. It would be hard to answer that question with a “yes” as this is the same promotion that willfully partners with the Saudi Arabian government.