As Alexa Bliss and Shayna Baszler have been torn apart this week, it’s time to revisit why The Undertaker and Kane’s supernatural antics are accepted.
Whenever fans are reminded that Vince McMahon hates what he and his employees do being referred to as wrestling, it annoys them. Quite right too since one of the Ws in his company’s name does indeed stand for wrestling. However, the chairman is more concerned with the E for entertainment. In fact, he has been for longer than you probably realize.
It’s often assumed that McMahon’s obsession with calling wrestling sports entertainment is a new phenomenon. It isn’t. When Ted Turner called McMahon decades ago and told him he was in the wrestling business, McMahon responded by saying he is in the sports entertainment business. You can go back even further to the advent of WrestleMania. It might have wrestle right there in the name, but the event has been about the entertainment factor from day one.
Odds are McMahon has wanted to run a sports entertainment business before he took the WWE reigns from his dad. Which begs the question, why are fans always so surprised and upset when the boss tries to sports entertain them? It has been going on for more than 30 years yet whenever a whiff of it hits our screens, there’s outrage. In fairness, it’s when that entertainment is hokey that fans get up in arms, and certain wrestlers seem to get a pass when others don’t.
The argument over how far in the rearview mirror WWE should leave wrestling in the name of entertainment has reared its head again this week. Shayna Baszler and Alexa Bliss were about to square off when the former grabbed the latter’s doll Lily and stomped on her. It was evident that fans were about to be taken on a ride that would split them when that stomp made a noise echo around the arena.
Lily, yes we are still talking about the doll, then proceeded to get its own back. Baszler ran from the ring, pyro firing off either side of her as she scampered up the ramp. The nightmare didn’t end once she made it backstage. Doors were inexplicably locked and the inanimate object she had wronged managed to follow her. The cracking of a mirror was the cherry on the cake, and WWE decided the bizarre angle was the perfect way for Raw to go off the air.
While the segment would have been torn to pieces by fans regardless, putting it on last meant it was fresh in the minds of anyone who managed to make it through all three hours. Bear in mind that seems to be fewer and fewer people each week. Many fans have claimed it was the final straw when it comes to their regular Raw viewing, while others have questioned why it has to be Baszler, a WWE Superstar with a legitimate MMA background.
Maybe Shayna Likes It
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Baszler has been involved in something like this. During her first few months on the main roster, when she started life as the ass-kicker that she truly is, WWE had Baszler bite Becky Lynch’s neck. The Queen of Spades even emerged with blood around her mouth, a shocker for WWE which doesn’t like to show blood on its product anymore. At this point, we’re starting to wonder whether Baszler is the one pitching these ideas.
Bliss’s actions are, of course, an extension of the work WWE has been doing with The Fiend. While the backlash to The Fiend’s wacky antics wasn’t as fierce as the reaction to this week’s closing segment on Raw, it still had fans split. While many love Bray Wyatt’s latest work, an equal amount hate it. Again, an example of fans questioning why the weird and the supernatural has to be a part of their wrestling.
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Here is where the hypocrisy comes in. Those same fans who chastise WWE for its use of an anthropomorphic doll or a clown torturing people in his funhouse likely loved seeing The Undertaker rise from the dead again and again. Or the introduction of Kane, a man who supposedly survived a house fire as a child, disappeared for 20 years, oh, and he can summon fire.
The Undertaker can use his hands to have lightning strike from an arena ceiling and everyone is out of their seat. Bliss pops out of a box covered in paint and everyone loses their minds. These aren’t the only examples either. For some reason, fans have been okay with The Undertaker and Kane effectively using magic to entertain fans but turn their noses up whenever another wrestler hints at doing the same.
The reason why fans are more lenient when it comes to The Brothers of Destruction is actually quite simple. The Undertaker’s legacy. It wasn’t always plain sailing for The Deadman. The first few years of his WWE career were pretty rough. However, he stuck it out and went on to become the greatest character in wrestling history. The legacy he built combined with his intimidating aura and in-ring ability is why fans were willing to let it go and aided The Undertaker to become one of the greatest of all time. Kane being introduced as his brother and sharing many of the same attributes gave The Big Red Machine those same benefits.
If WWE sticks with this iteration of Bliss, Baszler keeps getting involved in odd angles, and The Fiend is allowed to do his own thing, perhaps they will be granted similar leniencies. Years from now, The Fiend will throw someone in a hole and set it alight and all of us will stand and cheer rather than tweet and complain. Wouldn’t that be something?