Now is not the time to be working your gimmick
As protests against police brutality spread around the world, countless public figures have joined the chorus to voice their support for an end to the systematic oppression of minorities (and especially Black people). In the narrow slice of the world we cover here, we’ve seen teams, athletes and coaches speak out against injustice.
Not every statement has been perfect. Some have been from teams trying to be vague enough that they can hope to capture some goodwill by riding the momentum of the movement without making the sort of specific charges that would upset people on the wrong side of the issue and also show that they actually give a damn. But at least they’ve been smart enough to acknowledge there’s a problem.
And then there’s WWE wrestler Jaxson Ryker.
About an hour after a group of peaceful protesters outside the White House was teargassed to clear way for President Donald Trump to pose for photos with a Bible in front of a church, Ryker (real name Chad Lail, a Marine Corps veteran) tweeted that he was “Thankful for the [president] we have!” He concluded the tweet with the catchphrase for his Forgotten Sons tag team.
The Forgotten Sons’ gimmick has always seemed vaguely right-wing to me. They dress like the kind of guys you’d expect to find carrying AR-15s on the steps of city hall because the pandemic forced the government to close gyms.
But those are just characters on TV. There’s a difference between Jaxson Ryker and Chad Lail. That’s why including the catchphrase in his tweet is an issue. At best, he’s lazily blurring the lines between reality and fiction; at worst, he’s using a growing and increasingly serious social movement to get attention for his TV character.
Several members of the WWE locker room called Ryker out for it.
(Strong language to follow.)
Unless Lail using his Twitter account to repeatedly retweet messages from Trump’s personal account is also part of his character-building, it’s safe to assume what his sympathies are.
That’s what Mustafa Ali (real name Adeel Alam, a former Chicago-area police officer) seems to believe.
Sami Zayn, who has never been afraid to confront people for their stupid ideas, also took issue with Lail’s ignorance.
Steve Cutler, another member of the Forgotten Sons, sent a tweet apparently trying to distance himself from Lail’s comments.
(Wesley Blake, the third member of the group, also tweeted in support of justice for George Floyd.)
Just in case there was any confusion about where Lail stands on the equal treatment of all people, someone also dug up this old Facebook post of his where he makes his beliefs much clearer.
WWE has a terrible track record when it comes to racial equality. When Kofi Kingston won the WWE Championship at last year’s WrestleMania, he became just the fourth Black man in the company’s history to hold one of its signature titles. Title reigns aside, the company has made some progress in on-screen diversity. That’s what makes Lail’s comments particularly troublesome. When he goes to work every week, a significant portion of his coworkers are going to know he doesn’t respect them.
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Gregg Popovich was predictably thoughtful and incisive in his criticism of Donald Trump’s leadership amid the ongoing protests. ... The Knicks, predictably, screwed up their opportunity in this moment by telling employees that they won’t be making any kind of statement denouncing police violence. ... An Australian TV host has apologized after using a photo of Hitler during a segment on cardboard cutouts in rugby stands. ... A judge ruled that it’s legally impossible to libel Lenny Dykstra because his reputation is so bad. ... Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs hurt himself while moving things into a trailer. ... J.R. Smith apologized for beating up a guy who damaged his truck.
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A good song
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