World Wrestling Entertainment tapped into the mainstream once again.
This time the Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger characters are creating a buzz, especially within the pop culture and political landscape of radio, television and social media.
Colter, the television persona, is an outspoken conservative. He manages the All-American American Swagger, and they discuss the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and illegal immigration during their promos.
Swagger, the bad guy (heel), challenges Mexican-American wrestler Alberto Del Rio, the fan favorite, for the World title at WWE’s WrestleMania 29. So to sway the crowd against Swagger even more, WWE introduced Colter, who is former wrestler Dirty Dutch Mantell.
Mantell, a Southerner, served as a manager, too, in the mid 1990s in WWF (now WWE) for the Blu Brothers, two giant twins who later became Don and Ron Harris in TNA Wrestling. Then known as Uncle Zebekiah, he also managed Justin Hawk Bradshaw, who later became JBL, an arrogant capitalist American who also played the illegal immigration card in a feud with then WWE champ Eddie Guerrero, another Mexican-American.
So it’s not the first time WWE or pro wrestling brought pop culture, political views and stereotypes into a storyline.
WWE Monday Night Raw commentators Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler joked that Colter and Swagger receive “fan mail” from conservative radio talk show hosts Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh.
Though it is a scripted angle on a television show — something WWE’s been doing for decades — Beck criticized WWE and its fan base for this latest storyline.
WWE extended an invitation to the talk show host and political commentator to appear live this Monday on Raw (8 p.m. EST, USA Network) in response to the Beck segment that aired on TheBlaze TV on Thursday. According to WWE, in the segment, Beck references WWE as “stupid wrestling people,” when criticizing that recent WWE storyline involving Del Rio, Colter and Swagger.
Those fans include authors, actors, artists, athletes from all sports, broadcasters, celebrities, coaches, comedians, doctors, firemen and women, lawyers, media, military, movie and music and television execs, paramedics, police and singers.
WWE fans hail from all walks of life around the world.
WWE is giving Beck the opportunity to address its 14-million weekly viewers and its global fan base, as he believes WWE is offending its “conservative” fans.
WWE Raw is a scripted TV show.
Following Beck’s critique, WWE issued a statement on Friday.
“Similar to other television shows and feature films, WWE is in the entertainment business, creating fictional characters that serve as protagonists or antagonists. To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines. WWE is creating a rivalry centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view. This storyline was developed to build the Mexican-American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE’s large Latino base, which represents 20 percent of our audience.”
For decades, pro wrestling groups utilized pop culture, politics, society and stereotypes in their storylines to generate positive and negative crowd reaction toward their wrestlers.
Basically, there is a good guy and bad one. Although the traditional mantra of wrestling good guy and bad guy changed — especially with the advent of the Attitude Era and the nWo along with earlier turns of rugged wrestlers like Bruiser, Crusher, the Road Warriors and the American Dream Dusty Rhodes — having a bad guy wrestler (heel) badger a good guy wrestler (babyface) by criticizing or mocking his beliefs, culture, family, family heritage and/or manhood is the norm.