WWE disrespected LGBT+ people again with Liv Morgan reveal

WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images)
WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images) /

This past Monday, on the final episode of WWE’s Monday Night Raw of the 2010s, Lana and Bobby Lashley were set to be married in what was, astonishingly, the main event of the broadcast.

As we all know, WWE weddings always go swimmingly and every couple to ever have one has gone on to live happily ever after. Or, if you live in the same dimension as the rest of us and not in Bizarro World (thanks Cole), you’ll be more than vaguely aware that WWE weddings do, without fail, end in some form of hijinks that always derail the ceremony, and usually end with at least one of the to-be-weds being firmly beat up by their feud rival at the time.

It’s all very predictable, but every once in a while, it can provide a sufficiently Sports Entertain-y soap opera feel that is often lacking elsewhere in WWE, and in the wrestling industry in general.

This week on Raw seemed to follow the usual script; Lana was amusingly obnoxious as she screamed repeatedly that the wedding was all about her, Bobby Lashley just seemed to kind of stand there and nod, and the poor vicar got progressively more wound up until he looked just about ready to end it all.

Then, an unknown man interrupted, right on the “if anyone knows of any reason why these two should not be wed…” cue. He claimed he was Lana’s first husband. He quickly got obliterated by Lashley. Take two; the same cue… another interruption. This time it was a woman claiming to be Lashley’s first wife. She also got knocked down for the count, as Lana lost her patience altogether. Finally, we got to the cue for the third time… And yet again, an interruption.

The third interruption was Liv Morgan, who hadn’t been seen on WWE programming for months, outside of a series of vignettes showing a drastic change in appearance, and promising an entirely new gimmick for the former Battle Royal numbers-maker and Riott Squad member. Morgan was in full theatrical mode as she cried her heart out, shouting fairly generic wedding-interruption-things like “how could you do this to me?” and “we were in love”.

Truly groundbreaking stuff. There was, however, a noticeable lack of direction as to who this tirade was aimed at, which, for myself and likely most other LGBT+ WWE fans watching, brought along with it a quickly oncoming sense of dread. That sense of dread was quickly proven correct, as Liv Morgan spat “I wasn’t talking about you, Bobby… I was taLKING ABOUT! LANA!!!!”, to a crescendo of “ooohhhhhhh” noises from the crowd, who somehow failed to see this coming.

There are a number of obvious, glaring problems with this “revelation”. The way that this entire part of the unbelievably, desperately overlong segment was presented – from setup to build to payoff – was deeply rooted in lesbophobia, biphobia and a painful side of slut-shaming. The entire “Liv and Lana used to be lovers” bombshell was delivered as just that: a bombshell, designed to shock and titillate.

More from Daily DDT

It was all based around the most basic shock value; “She even sleeps with women! Is there anyone she wouldn’t?!”, as if Lana daring to sleep with more than one person, or daring to sleep with someone of the same gender as hers, somehow makes her more of a heel.

The unfortunate fact is that the Liv Morgan reveal was done as the crescendo bombshell, and was portrayed as a shock, a deviation from the norm, with the crowd’s surreal reaction helping this land.

It shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to grasp as to why presenting a same-sex couple as “the deviation from the norm”, like this segment did, is a deeply problematic and morally abhorrent piece of scripting. WWE exposed its longstanding homophobia, despite the promotion’s protests that they’re inclusive and modernising themselves.

You could almost hear Vince McMahon half-laughing, half-drooling over the entire thing, although he isn’t the only one to blame here. Paul Heyman has a notable history of being utterly incapable of booking a women’s division in any manner that isn’t completely reductive outside of a major title feud, and it’s surely no coincidence that this barren hellscape of a segment aired during the Heyman Era of Monday Night Raw.

It shouldn’t be understated, again, that the segment on was also extremely biphobic. Pay attention; Lana’s unnamed first husband made it clear that she left him and immediately started dating Rusev, who she then left and immediately started dating Bobby Lashley.

The clear implication is that somewhere, in any one of these relationships, Lana cheated on her partner with Liv Morgan. It lends itself into an old and harmful stereotype that bisexual women are always promiscuous and will, rather than actually date women, simply fulfil their lust for women by cheating on men.

There has been a lot of commentary on social media saying that Lana and Morgan shouldn’t have been chosen to engage in a WLW (woman loving woman) angle at all; that it should be “actual members of the LGBT+ community”.

This is something that needs putting to bed right away, as quite frankly, nobody knows the truth about the sexuality of either performer, aside from the two women in question.  The only problem even remotely relating to the idea of “who was chosen to do the angle” is that it’s common knowledge that Sonya Deville, an openly gay woman, has pushed WWE to run an actually well-handled lesbian storyline on more than one occasion.

Each time she was ignored, although not before WWE had her and Mandy Rose tease an on-screen kiss multiple times a few months back.

Instead, the company did the most typically WWE thing they could possibly do; turned Liv Morgan into Another Attractive Blonde (only conventionally attractive blonde women are allowed to do a Vince McMahon approved lesbian storyline, shock of the century) and played the entire thing for nothing but shock, awe and arousal. Sonya’s reaction to the segment contained barely any words, but potentially said more than a full 280 character tweet would have.

The last time WWE ran a same-sex relationship storyline was way back in 2002, with Billy and Chuck spending weeks building up a gay relationship, culminating in a commitment ceremony that aired on SmackDown where… Billy and Chuck said that it was all a publicity stunt, and that they were secretly heterosexual the entire time.

WWE were rightly panned for their lack of sensitivity over it, with LGBT+ media monitoring agency GLAAD publicly denouncing the promotion. That was over seventeen years ago, and judging by the promotion’s readiness to use the idea of a lesbian relationship as a sickeningly transparent and grossly fetishistic ratings grab, WWE’s stance and attitude towards non-heterosexual relationships hasn’t improved much, if at all.

Those teases that Deville and Rose engaged in last year led me to say two months ago that WWE shouldn’t be trusted with a lesbian romance storyline, through fears of the company taking what was intended as subtle and tasteful, and presenting it instead for cheap titillation and shock value.

Ranking the top 5 NXT wrestlers of 2019. dark. Next

Here we are, less than three months later, with proof that doubting them was, and continues to be, a more than reasonable stance. The Lana/Liv Morgan “reveal” shows, behind all the Pride-at-WrestleMania entrances and cheap talk of inclusivity, what WWE really think of the LGBT+ community. To them, we’re simply a device they can use to get cheap heat, or to shamelessly arouse their core audience into continuing to watch the product.

I’m proud to be a queer woman, and I’m usually proud to tell people that I enjoy watching WWE. Segments like this make me sorely question why I still take that stance, and why I should continue to invest time and money into a company that routinely so deliberately and flagrantly disrespects the LGBT+ community. Once again… Do better, WWE.