Michael Cole with Josh Matthews, the friend he publicly called a f*ggot. (Wikimedia Commons)
Social media stupidity is clearly contagious. Following fast on the heels of Michael Cole calling Josh Matthews the most commonly used gay slur on Twitter just one week after GLAAD forced WWE to knock off the scripted homophobic innuendo, attention junkie Matt Hardy almost made the same mistake as Cole when he very briefly put up on YouTube a video full of gay slurs, as Dave Meltzer reported in the April 4th Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
In the great timing department, on 3/29, a few days after the Michael Cole story (see WWE section), Matt Hardy put up a youtube video where he made gay slurs multiple times. The video was quickly taken down. TNA was aware of it.
Fortunately for Matt and TNA, unlike Cole, no-one had time to copy the video and send it to TMZ, sparing them the blushes that WWE received. Still, this is yet further evidence of the hypocrisy of TNA's Eliminate The Hate campaign, if we needed any more after they failed to edit out Bully Ray's usage of a gay slur on a recent episode of Impact.
Speaking of Cole, it's interesting to note the disparate coverage of the incident between the Observer and Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch. Meltzer, in his newsletter report, made sure to emphasise that Cole only uses Twitter because WWE insists on it and encourages their talent to post in character. He also made the strange claim that Cole "was probably sending Matthews a personal message meant as a joke, but didn't know how to do it, and it went public, and even though he quickly deleted it, it was too late", as surely a PM wouldn't be in character. It's possible though, because Jim Ross made that mistake a year ago, publicly tweeting a PM meant for Tazz where he buried TNA creative and Mike Tenay. Meanwhile, it seemed like Keller's source(s) were out to get Cole leading Keller to post a story about Cole's ego getting out of hand:
"Is Cole getting a big head? HELL YES," he says. "Ever since he was reading the GM e-mails he started begging to become GM (he doesn't know who it's supposed to be) and walks around like his sh-- doesn't stink. He has an opinion on everything."
He also has mouthed off to writers who hand him scripts, saying that he'll say whatever the hell he wants. Sources say Cole's on-air character has gone to his head and what you see on TV is what he has become behind the scenes.
Personally I find it amusing that WWE encourages their talent to live their gimmick, but when they excel and are too good at it, they're buried for being arrogant and difficult to work with. This was followed by another story by Keller that Cole's ego may be fuelled by his belief that he's bulletproof due to his close friendship with John Cena:
However, one WWE source tells PWTorch that he thinks Cole could be overestimating the power of the Cena friendship.
"I don't think his friendship with Cena will get him out of trouble, but he does name drop it a lot and him and Cena are tight. Funny huh, the two guys dropping homophobic slurs are best friends."
So Cole, says our source, might be more cocky behind the scenes because he has friends in high places, but he doesn't believe that if Cole screws up bad enough, even Cena can save him.
As usual when you have such differing accounts, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. However, both sides did seem to agree that Cole would have been given a much harsher punishment than being made to attend a GLAAD training seminar, if he wasn't involved in a major WrestleMania program with Jerry "The King" Lawler.