Dear McMahon Family,
It’s fine that you’re Republicans. Well, not “fine,” but it’s far from the biggest issue with this picture. The left-leaning faction of your audience made peace with your politics and their kooky consequences—like failed senate campaigns and the implicitly pro-war sentimentality of all those Tribute To The Troops video montages—forever ago.
The problem with this picture is it tells us you think Donald Trump is your friend. Maybe we shouldn’t judge you too quickly for that. Obviously, he’s nice to you. He’s made himself available to pose in Christmas card photos and nominate you for fancy cabinet positions. As a second-generation businessman who expanded his brand globally via pure, uncut showmanship, on paper, he’s a guy with whom your patriarch can easily relate. And, holy crackers, what if you can parlay this relationship into Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania with special guest referee—The President of the United States?
But setting aside Trump’s evident loathing for the free press, checks and balances, science, sexual consent, the disabled, races other than the white one, countries other than Russia, decency, accountability, shame, self-awareness, and reality, what we must address right this very second is Donald Trump is not your friend.
Trump isn’t a guy like Vince McMahon. He’s a guy who played a guy like Vince McMahon on TV. As a businessman, Trump cuts a convincing promo, but the tangible results say he routinely sucks at the thing he’s ostensibly famous for being terrific at. Trump is very orange, pals with Peter Thiel, and if you believe Tom Arnold, can be found on tape deploying the N-word with vicious glee. Take all that into consideration, and Trump ceases to resemble anyone in your family, while reminding us of a familiar fraud and former World Champion who, coincidently, also used to absorb a disproportionately hefty chunk of WWE’s talent budget.
So, Mr. McMahon, Mrs. McMahon, Shane, Stephanie, Paul, I have to ask: didn’t you used to think Hulk Hogan was your friend? And how many times did he screw you over? Haven’t you ever wished to go back in time, match the $100,000 Verne Gagne offered The Iron Sheik to snap Hogan’s leg like a celery stick, and build your product around Roddy Piper or Randy Savage or Tito Santana instead? Incidentally, doesn’t it trouble you that the current regime would have detained The Iron Sheik at the airport and sent him back to Iran if they had their druthers in the 1970s?
What if history is repeating itself, except in this looming, planetary-scale sequel to the Monday Night War, when Trump switches sides, the whole country gets trapped in a head-to-head, life-or-death ratings battle against Vladimir Putin’s Russia instead of Ted Turner’s WCW?
Maybe—dare we say, probably—you already know Trump is an evil dick and don’t care. Nobody manages a billion dollar entertainment conglomerate without dabbling in their fair share of gray areas, which means out of necessity, most of you have probably done dickish things, too. But there’s a chasm of difference between being kind of a dick and being the sort of person who looks at Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller or Sebastian Gorka and thinks to themselves, “There’s an individual who belongs in the White House.”
Look, we watch your product. We know you’ve enjoyed not giving your most vocal fans what they want for years now. Still, do you really want to be this closely associated with a president that’s so unpopular? With an administration that seems to go out of its way to antagonize people who disagree with it? That is so widely regarded as a significant threat by some of the same demographics that make up a large part of your audience? You’ve been infamously trying to build a Latino superstar for years in order to fully tap into the Mexican market: how can you do that while also palling around with a president that consistently vilifies Mexico and immigrants? People might pay to see the heel lose in wrestling, but it seems like a bad financial decision for a company to align itself too closely with one of the biggest real-life heels.
We’re not unrealistic enough to suggest Linda McMahon immediately relinquish her new gig with the Small Business Administration. Wrestling hardly shares Uber’s demographic, so a protest exodus from WWE Network might not accomplish much. But it warrants repeating, and emphasizing, that the Trump-McMahon association is pretty goddamn upsetting. At least if we need evidence that not all pretend fighters support the least qualified and most chaotic presidency in several generations, we need only look to Sami Zayn’s righteous Twitter feed.
Sami Zayn rules.
Barry Thompson tweets @barelytomson.