Toxic Masculinity, Tribalism, and Trolling: The Troubling Trifecta in Professional Wrestling

Professional wrestling has long been a cornerstone of popular culture, captivating audiences with its high-octane action, colorful characters, and gripping storylines. However, beneath the glitz and glamour of the squared circle, the industry has been grappling with multiple insidious problems: the prevalence of toxic masculinity, the growing tribalism between WWE and AEW fans, pervasive trolling on internet forums and social media platforms, and the presence of controversial figures within the wrestling world. This article delves into the detrimental effects of these intertwined issues on wrestlers, fans, and the wrestling community as a whole.

Toxic Masculinity and Tribalism

Toxic masculinity has been woven into the fabric of professional wrestling since its inception. In a world where physical prowess, aggression, and dominance are celebrated, it’s no wonder that these hyper masculine ideals have become pervasive. But the negative consequences of this mindset are far-reaching, affecting both the performers and the fans.

Wrestlers often face immense pressure to adhere to these rigid standards of masculinity, which can lead to physical and emotional tolls. The constant need to maintain an aura of invincibility can result in overtraining, reliance on performance-enhancing drugs, and reluctance to seek help for mental health issues. Moreover, the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity has fostered a breeding ground for bullying, harassment, and abuse within the industry.

Fans, too, suffer the consequences of toxic masculinity in wrestling. This atmosphere can perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes, reinforcing the belief that men must be aggressive and dominant, while women are relegated to submissive or sexualized roles. Young fans, in particular, are susceptible to internalizing these toxic ideals, which can have lasting effects on their self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.

Compounding the issue of toxic masculinity is the intense tribalism that has emerged between WWE and AEW fans. While competition between wrestling promotions can be healthy and drive innovation, the extreme devotion to one organization at the expense of others has led to an increasingly toxic environment.

Fan tribalism often breeds animosity and hostility, as supporters of WWE and AEW engage in heated debates and personal attacks on social media and internet forums. This tribalism perpetuates the very same toxic masculinity that plagues the industry, with fans trying to assert dominance and prove their loyalty to their preferred promotion.

The Dark Side of Wrestling Personalities

While the wrestling industry is filled with talented performers and dedicated professionals, there are some individuals whose beliefs and actions stand out as particularly problematic. These controversial figures often exacerbate the issues of toxic masculinity, tribalism, and trolling, further contributing to a toxic environment.

Chris Jericho, a decorated wrestler and prominent figure in AEW, has been widely criticized for his right-wing political views and connections. His wife’s alleged presence at the January 6 insurrection only served to heighten the controversy surrounding him. Jericho’s political leanings have led to heated debates among fans, adding fuel to the fire of tribalism between WWE and AEW supporters.

Rick Steiner, another notable wrestler, has faced backlash for his anti-trans views. By openly expressing such prejudiced opinions, Steiner perpetuates the toxic masculinity that continues to plague the wrestling industry, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and fostering an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ wrestlers and fans.

Furthermore, the presence of so-called “good ol’ boys” in wrestling locker rooms, who harbor racist views and engage in discriminatory behavior, perpetuates a culture of exclusion and marginalization. This, in turn, sends a dangerous message to fans, normalizing discrimination and reinforcing the toxic masculinity that has long been associated with professional wrestling.

Tackling Toxicity and Promoting Inclusivity

In addition to tackling toxic masculinity and tribalism, it is essential to address the pervasive trolling on social media platforms and forums. Trolling, or intentionally inciting conflict and spreading negativity online, can have serious consequences for both wrestlers and fans. Wrestlers may be subjected to hateful comments, body shaming, and threats, while fans can experience cyberbullying and harassment for expressing their opinions or supporting their favorite performers.

To create a more inclusive and progressive wrestling community, it is crucial to dismantle the toxic masculinity that has long plagued the industry, combat the tribalism that divides fans, and address the harmful trolling behaviors on online platforms. This can be achieved by promoting positive male role models, redefining traditional gender norms in storylines, and encouraging open discussions about mental health and self-care. Furthermore, wrestling fans must recognize and challenge the tribalism and trolling that contribute to a toxic environment, embracing a spirit of camaraderie and mutual respect for the diverse array of promotions and performers that make the industry so captivating.

In addition to addressing toxic masculinity, tribalism, and trolling, wrestling promotions must also confront the impact of controversial figures within the wrestling world. Organizations need to hold these individuals accountable for their actions and take a firm stance against discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion. By fostering an environment that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and respect, the wrestling community can work together to create a more welcoming space for everyone involved.

Ultimately, by confronting these challenges head-on, the wrestling world can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for performers and fans alike – a world where the focus is on celebrating the athleticism, creativity, and passion that make professional wrestling an enduring global phenomenon. By standing united against toxic masculinity, tribalism, trolling, and controversial personalities, the wrestling community can break free from the chains of negativity and divisiveness that have held it back for far too long. Through collective action and a commitment to change, we can help create a brighter, more inclusive future for professional wrestling – one that welcomes fans of all backgrounds, values the well-being of its performers, and celebrates the rich tapestry of talent and creativity that has made this industry a beloved institution for generations.

Robbie Vice