Despite the controversial comments from Donald Trump, don’t expect Vince McMahon to take any action on a petition that asked WWE to remove him from the Hall of Fame.
The WWE is full of larger than life characters who captivate and entertain audiences with their unique skills. They inspire catchphrases and gestures that are imitated and reenacted all across the world. It’s not surprising that Donald Trump would inevitably find himself immersed in this culture as it pairs well with his brand of carnival barker showmanship and faux-macho bravado. But whereas the WWE seeks to inspire a message of triumph and perseverance in its viewers, Trump has chosen to stoke feelings of anger and resentment in his supporters.
Among the many grievances listed in the change.org petition, it claims that Trump is “promoting a violent and discriminatory war on people of different religions and nationalities right here in our country.” Your personal opinion of Trump notwithstanding, it cannot be denied that he has made some questionable remarks about people of different races and religions, including his claim about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” as well as his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Surely the WWE wouldn’t stand for such exclusionary remarks from a member of their prestigious Hall of Fame.
In Jul. 2015, word spread that Hulk Hogan had made racist comments during a portion of his now-infamous 2007 sex tape. Once the tape was released, it didn’t take long for the WWE to quickly terminate their contract with Hogan and remove all references to him from their website, to include their Hall of Fame section. Despite Hogan’s public apology and recent success in court, he remains a pariah the WWE would rather continue to isolate.
In Sep. 2015, WWE gave the same treatment to Superfly Jimmy Snuka after he was charged with third-degree murder. WWE soon confirmed the suspension of Snuka’s “Legends” contract in which he was serving as an ambassador for the company. They also added that they were “currently removing his images from our media platforms pending the outcome of this case.” Just like Hogan, Snuka was also from the Hall of Fame page.
So why the double standard?
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Trump has a history with the WWE that began long before he stepped foot in the ring. The Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J. hosted WrestleMania IV and V making it the only venue to host the “Granddaddy of Them All” two years in a row. In 2007, Trump interrupted Mr. McMahon’s “Fan Appreciation Night” and proceeded to rain tens of thousands of dollars from the rafters onto the crowd. This led to a “Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania 23 with the preposterous stipulation that the loser would have their head shaved. Bobby Lashley represented Trump and Umaga represented McMahon and to the surprise of no one, Trump emerged victorious and gave McMahon the Mr. Clean treatment in the middle of the ring. Unable to stay away from the instant gratification a live audience provides, Trump would again appear on WWE television in 2009 when he claimed to have “purchased” RAW. In an ironic twist to this storyline, WWE stock dropped nearly 7% and forced the USA Network to release a statement assuring investors that Trump had not actually purchased the show.
To say it is hypocritical of the WWE to keep Trump and wash their hands of Hogan and Snuka is an understatement but one has to look no further than who has the power amongst these three. If the WWE parts ways forever with Hogan and Snuka, so what? Do they command anything more than a few thousand Twitter followers? Are they worth billions of dollars? Are they currently the leading presidential candidate for the Republican party? The bottom line is that Vince will never insult a fellow rich person because Trump has power and influence. For better or worse, McMahon knows that to make an enemy of Trump now would open both himself and the WWE up to one of Trump’s late night Twitter rants.
During his 2013 Hall of Fame induction speech, McMahon said about Trump, “Second only to me, Donald Trump might be a great President of the United States.”
The crowd responded with a loud chorus of boos.