The WWE's Oft-Skewed Ethical Compass
Of course it was going to be 3MB.
Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal stood centre ring, god knows how long for, showing all the enthusiasm and excitement you would expect from a tag team that hasn't won a match in quite possibly ever. Conspicuous by his absence was 'The Former Chosen One', Drew McIntyre, but I suspect he might still be playing chess with that horse. Mahal and Slater, whose hair is looking ever so slightly less orange these days, bounced around, smiles upon their faces.
Their opponents? Well, for the first time ever, from somewhere that sounded like Plaza de Torros, Fernando and Diego, aka the first two Latin names Vince McMahon could think of, aka Los Matadores! The twosome stride out onto the stage, a faraway crowd chanting 'Ole!' and JBL frothing at the bit, and any surprise about whether they will be joined by anyone is quashed when the name plate graphic reads; 'Los Matadores, with El Torito'. And that was the first thing that was wrong with this.
You don't even need a grasp of basic Spanish to guess what that implies. Something small, obviously. Heck, you only need even the most rudimentary skills in the language to be able to literally translate it. 'Little Bull'. At this point, my mind begins to do some gymnastics. El Torito is a strange name for a manager, but maybe they will be joined by a third matador, of mythical proportions? It isn't literally going to be a little bull is it?
Before I can find out, Fernando and Diego do a nice little spin, and smoke fills the arena. A drum roll and an 'Ole!' later, and what can only be described as Mantaur's long lost child (wearing parts of an early 90s Psychosis mask) storms through. It takes Michael Cole all of nine second to laugh, and another five or six to start patronising the entire thing. From there, all bets are off, because in the WWE in 2013, little people are still there to be laughed at.
Still, the entrance was pretty fantastic, the music in particular, ending with El Torito launching himself onto the shoulders of Los Matadores and his fist square above Fernando's left eye. El Torito has a fantastic strut, and JBL continues to try and talk about bullfighting, remarking that they brought their bull with them. I thought that was strange too, you know, as the bulls are kinda slaughtered after the battles.
Anyway, a small 'Primo' chant starts up in the arena, and the internet goes positively mild with rage. Who was Primo? Regardless of that, Diego (or Fernando, but not Primo) starts off, and one of the worst monkey flips I have ever seen is performed. The commentators are still in a strange mode of attempting to put the team over whilst making fun of the whole thing. Meanwhile, Heath Slater burrows his way further into my heart with a Chuck Taylor special when Irish whipped into the ropes. 3MB gain the advantage through Jinder Mahal however, as Michael Cole reminds us that The Great Khali is a better snake charmer than Jinder. Because in WWE in 2013, Indian people charm snakes.
The fightback doesn't last however, and Slater is eventually put away with some sort of modified double Samoan drop. The announce team continue to chuckle away, just in case I was beginning to take any of this seriously. Los Matadores made their bow, and I'm not sure whether I enjoyed it or whether I was insulted by it all. Primo and Epico are two very talented wrestlers, and it's great to see them getting some momentum, a gimmick and a bit of positive TV time. From what I gather, El Torito is quite the talent as well. If I'd written my Trios article this week, they would walk into it.
My enjoyment is dampened however by continued frustration with any WWE gimmick that isn't white male based. Are they ever going to get to the point where they can introduce wrestlers of Latin descent with gimmicks that aren't necessarily drowning in stereotypes? If Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis and Super Crazy were making their débuts now, would they be coming out on whatever that vehicle was, and would they be called the Mexicools? What is wrong with Alberto Del Rio just being a rich prick, why does his ethnicity need to be brought up on such a frequent basis? Primo and Epico, Puerto Ricans by the way, are now portraying a gimmick that will just deepen any internal stereotypes the audience of WWE has.
WWE in 2013 would look a little worse later on in the show, as Ryback and Paul Heyman came out for Heyman's proposal to Ryback. From the moment Heyman told Curtis Axel that he was going to propose to Ryback, the announce team again reacted with derision and disgust. Much in the same way they reacted the Heyman kissing Ryback on the cheek a couple of weeks back. Because in WWE in 2013, a man can't kiss another man on the cheek without being mocked.
The pairing of Ryback and Paul Heyman is a match made in heaven in my opinion. Ryback, a year after being a soulless feeding machine, has become one of the best rounded characters on the show, and he genuinely looks like he's having the time of his life whilst doing it. Sure, he's never going to be Dean Malenko in the ring, but he's also not El Gigante. Put him in there with the right guy and he can put on a fine match, as seen with Daniel Bryan a few times earlier in the year. And Heyman? Well, he's only the Best in the World, after all.
They have a great chemistry, and Heyman's trolling of the audience was perfectly done. The sad thing is that the audience took the bait, and an air of homophobia spread throughout the WWE Universe. As Heyman was espousing the virtues of his client-to-be, the crowd chanted ';Get a Room'. When Darren Young came out recently, we all commended WWE for not making any deal of it, for not falling true to past form with regards to homosexuality. The reactions of the crowd (and the announce team) to Heyman and Ryback are a big reality check. Because in WWE in 2013, homosexuality, implied or real, is to be derided.
And I don't need to write a paragraph about The Great Khali and Jinder Mahal 'charming' the cobra.
Professional wrestling gets a pretty bad rap sometimes, and every now and then you can see why. A lot of the time I talk about wrestling in my home town is spent speaking in a defensive manner. It's got a reputation for being the domain of the white meat-head, the land of the barren ethical compass. It certainly isn't that bad on the whole, but it is quite sad that every now and then the WWE in particular (which is all of wrestling to the vast majority) falls into old habits, old racist, homophobic habits.
That'll do for now. Life is busy at the moment, and hockey has returned. What do you think? Is the WWE guilty of being stuck in the past ethically now and then? Drop a comment in the lonely comment box, and we'll get into it. Failing that, find me on twitter (@pingvinorkestra) or email (email@example.com). Let's go Pens.