Two weeks ago, Britt Baker clapped back at Glenn Jacobs for his antiquated views on women’s rights. Specifically, his Republic of Gilead inspired take on a women’s right to govern their own bodies. While the pro-choice Baker set the former Kane ablaze, the sentiment of internet fans differed.
Beyond the Pro-Life/Anti-Women crowd versus the Pro-Choice/Pro-Women crowd, in the middle sat the “Why does politics have to be in wrestling!?” crowd.
I’m sorry to deliver this news, but politics is in literally everything you do; one way or another. Society is often a reflection of citizen participation in said politics, as the more people can use their voices, the better chance they have to shape (and hopefully improve) their society. As it turns out, politics and wrestling have always been together in some form.
Art imitates life more often than not, and wrestling is no exception. But first, let’s break down a quick list of examples of the many times wrestling and politics fused together.
Politics in Wrestling
I won’t go into detail on all of these, because it would take way too long. However, here is a brief list of just some examples of politics in wrestling…
-Linda McMahon literally held seats in office. Easy one to start with.
-Vince McMahon is close friends with Donald Trump and has donated to his past campaigns.
-Sgt. Slaughter “turned” on America in 1991 to side with a pro-Iraqi/pro-Saddam Hussein gimmick
-Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton was a “match” that actually happened on a 2008 episode of Monday Night RAW.
-Bob Backlund’s “Make Darren Young Great Again” angle.
-Rusev’s (Miro) early pro-Russian gimmick was laden with political tropes.
-The “Real Americans” (Cesaro/Hager) was inspired by the Tea Party.
-JBL’s cringy anti-immigrant “Border Patrol” segments in his feud with Eddie Guerrero.
-Hulk Hogan runs for President (WCW).
-Scott Steiner debates Chris Nowinski on the Iraq War on Raw.
-The “Stand Up For WWE” campaign was meant for Linda McMahon’s 2010 Senate run.
–Most infamous, the Mohammed Hassan gimmick, and “that” incident with the Undertaker on an episode of Smackdown that resembled a real-life terrorist beheading video.
Lest we forget the dozens of politically driven/evil foreigner gimmicks over wrestling’s history as well. The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Ludvig Borga, and the list truly goes on and on here. Hell, you can trace politics in wresting all the way back to the 1950s with Hans Schmidt’s pseudo-Nazi gimmick which incited many riots for the time.
(If only Americans would get upset about modern day Nazi/White Supremacists…)
Case closed? Yes, but it gets worse, as now we must examine wrestling in politics…
Wrestling in Politics
We know Jesse Ventura was the Governor of Minnesota, and many other former wrestlers have held, or ran for, office. This includes Glenn Jacobs, Rhyno, Rick Steiner, Brian Blair, and Antonio Inoki to name a few.
We also know that wrestlers have made their political views known on many occasions. Jaxson Ryker is a perfect example of this; and his eventual pink slip. Lars Sullivan also made some not so good comments and views in his past that would ultimately damage his wrestling career. Having bigoted views in 2022 doesn’t bode well for family-friendly corporations…
Mick Foley, Sami Zayn, Britt Baker, Seth Rollins, Batista, “Hangman” Adam Page, C.M. Punk, and a host of others have publicly stated clear left-wing views — or donated to the Democratic Party. On the other end, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Kane, Jerry Lawler, Ted DiBiase, Chris Jericho, and of course, Vince McMahon, have all expressed right-wing views (or donated to the Republican party).
Furthermore, politics has been imitating wrestling for years now.
As the purchasing power of the dollar continues to sink (since 1913), educational and infrastructure metrics dip, an unstable job market, a stagnant minimum wage, too many housing pendulum swings, and the fact that poverty still exists for over 40 million people; America has been on a downward trend for many decades now. This isn’t left versus right — this is powerful lobbyists and corporations versus the people. Stop acting like your political party “has it right” — we’re all on the Titanic right now.
But cutting promos, entrance music, calling out opponents — these are all contained in any modern day political campaign speeches. Over the last 6 years, it has gotten much worse. See: Donald Trump’s entire 2016 and 2020 campaign.
The more Americans disassociate from a shared reality that we can all agree on, the easier it is for many to buy into the empty promises coming from your generic or extreme politician. There aren’t many out there that are just honest and direct anymore — but there are ones that don’t mind breaking “kayfabe”.
Politicians who break kayfabe (Bernie, AOC, Katie Porter to name a select few) are worth your time and fandom (writer’s personal opinion).
You Can’t Escape Reality
Professional wrestling is an escape, right? Hell, I go out of my way to never miss a Dynamite if I can help it. It’s my two hours out of the week I can look forward where I can block everything else out.
Why can’t we escape into wrestling?
Because pro wrestling is embedded in reality. It always has been. It’s not a scripted, pre-taped program that exists in a fictional universe. Pro wrestlers are real human beings that live out their gimmicks on live television every week. They put their real bodies on the line almost every week for our entertainment. These athletes suffer legitimate injuries, and in rare, tragic cases — death.
Their personalities and gimmicks reflect real life influences and events. As an example, Thunder Rosa’s tribute to the Uvalde school shooting at this year’s Double or Nothing.
Sure, you can ignore the world around you; but don’t expect it to leave professional wrestling anytime soon. There will always be a fusion of reality and politics with the storytelling in professional wrestling. It’s always been there, and it always will be.