Tiffany Stratton and the Lessons Surrounding Social Media Diligence

History has shown that social media can be a great tool in professional wrestling and a dangerous weapon at the same time.
Tiffany Stratton Mar.jpg
Tiffany Stratton Mar.jpg /


WWE superstar Tiffany Stratton is at the center of a social media controversy thanks to an alledged Instagram post. The post takes a video from a recent match where Stratton hits Jade Cargill and knocks her off the apron. The video includes an edited voice-over saying "Black [Expletive] upon contact, with three laughing emojis above the video. The video was captured by one account via screenshot, and that was the only account to post the video - causing some to call the situation into question.

While questions and speculation continue to swirl, Stratton has not addressed the controversy in any fashion. The silence has caused the accusations to grow into a wild fire which is a typical response on social media today. Ignoring the matter is one PR strategy, but perhaps it's not the right step to take in this situation.

Early late Thursday evening reports came out that Tiffany Stratton did not have any "heat" on her backstage due to the situation and her match was not pulled from SmackDown. However, there's a point to be made that not addressing this situation swiftly opened the door for increased criticism on everything that she does and how she's booked moving forward. Dave Meltzer even went as far as to say if she wasn't a star in the company, that she'd be fired for the situation.

"She's Playing a Heel"

Now, scrolling through social media, Stratton's most ardent defenders of the potential justification that she's just playing a heel character. The ne'er-do-well herbs that need to touch grass more than their phone screen rallied around Stratton to shield her from the barbs and jokes at her expense. If she posted the video and then tried to delete it, justifying racism as "heel work" lets Stratton off too easy.

She's never presented this type of behavior in any of her heel work while in NXT. If she's just being the "bad guy" before a big match, this isn't the way to do it. Why ratchet up the rhetoric on the main roster that appears atypical for her character? Trying to minimize this situation, if she truly posted it, draws attention to her personal values in a way that is much worse. The issue at hand muddies the water and needlessly hovers over a wrestler. History has shown that these situations can quickly derail a performer's career.

Historical Example, Part One

Almost a decade ago, Jessicka Havok's WWE career ended before it began. Havok, a talented monster heel entered NXT. Many believe that she looked ready to sign a contract and begin her career. Unfortunately, her social media past proved her undoing. In 2011 and 2012, she unleashed a flurry of racist, homophobic, generally repugnant tweets. People found those tweets. Havok went viral for the wrong reasons.

Her WWE dream immediately ended. While she apologized, Havok failed to take responsibility for her social media outbursts. In blaming others, any true remorse failed to register. Havok blamed her tweets on her youth. Around the time of the tweets in question, Havok celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday. Plus, she wrestled for six years before that. Now, in her late thirties, Havok competes in TNA, unable to fulfill her career dream. Remember, social media hate follows you, regardless of age.

Historical Example, Number Two

In 2022, Zachary Wentz (then known as Nash Carter) signed with the WWE. Along with Wes Lee, the duo won the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Eventually, the pairing, collectively known as MSK captured the NXT Tag Team titles on two separate occasions. Everything lined up for the duo to eventually make their way to the main roster.

In 2022, Wentz's estranged wife, wrestler Kimber Lee tweeted a photo of Wentz dressed as Adolf Hitler, giving a Nazi salute. Immediately, the WWE fired Wentz. Under no circumstance can anyone ever justify cosplaying as one of the most reviled people to walk the Earth. Wentz's defenders cited his estranged wife's mental health issue/substance abuse as a reason behind the tweets. Kimber Lee explained the single truth regarding this. "But I can't Photoshop what was there; it did happen, it is what it is, and we have to live with it." Whether he feels racism within, Wentz appears as Adolf Hitler in a photo. When dealing with the largest wrestling company in the world, that remains a career-ender.

Locking It Down

In the modern age, social media opens a portal into the thoughts and feelings of millions. Whether people want to accept that fact of life, it exists. Famous or not, your social media, whatever you like, post, or retweet looks like a co-sign. In a high-profile career like a professional wrestler, image and self-representation supersedes a great deal. Going forward, Tiffany Stratton and her colleagues and contemporaries need to learn from the past and take extra care in maintaining a social media presence that is devoid of toxic behavior in any fashion.

The Future

Without a doubt, racism resides deep within that circulated post. Does this paste an accurate picture of who Jessica Woynilko, the woman behind the Tiffany Stratton character? No clue. Nothing else within her social media footprint affirms bigotry. Yet, this alleged situation will sour people on her and that dislike extends beyond the ropes and out of the arena.

In all honesty, in the views of many, the post slightly diminished the perception of the athlete. Regardless of what happens, people will see Tiffany Stratton in a different light. On balance, Stratton needs to learn from the Jessicka Havok/ Zachary Wentz incidents, for a rough glimpse into what could occur. By nature, nothing pure exists in the world of wrestling. Yet, with money serving as the main motivator, watching your words and safeguarding your social media image cannot go understated.