A couple of days ago, we pondered whether Austin Aries would be disciplined over the incident with Christy Hemme on last week's episode of TNA Impact where he forced her into a corner and posed on the turnbuckles with his crotch in her face after she had botched his ring announcement up.
At the time, it looked likely as David Schwarz, Spike TV's senior vice president of communications, indicated that he would be disciplined and that they have a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. Shortly thereafter, Dixie Carter rather belatedly followed up with a similar statement on Twitter, indicating that they took the issue very seriously and handled it immediately.
Since then, TMZ.com has reported that the company hit Austin Aries with a "severe fine" for his unscripted outburst and that he had even reached out to Hemme himself and privately apologised to her, realising that he had crossed a line. Their sources also told them that Hemme had spoken with TNA management and informed them that she was "satisfied" with his apology.
However, it's hard to believe that Aries really was fined by TNA when the amount hasn't been publicly disclosed by the company. They may be saying the right things now, but their previous inaction on the matter raises suspicions about whether their word can be trusted.
Similarly, one has to question the sincerity of Aries's private apology when he hasn't done the same in a public forum. Instead, Aries made several self pitying tweets moaning about the online complaints his behaviour had caused.
Meanwhile, Christy Hemme had to accept the apology with good grace whether she was truly satisfied or not. Rocking the boat any further would be career suicide for her, as ring announcers are seen as easy to replace cogs in the wrestling wheel.
Perhaps the real feeling amongst most TNA wrestlers and officials about Aries's aggressive rib was voiced by Chavo Guerrero on Twitter a couple of days ago:
"Great Job @MarkMaddenX for watering down wrestling even more. God forbid that a wrestler breaks out of the typical mold of being so scared to show his personality on TV. U must've been going crazy during the "attitude era" with every cutting edge thing that Vince did! & for the record, I saw Hemme after that segment, & she didn't look bothered at all. Just saying...I was there"
Maybe it's not always a good thing, Cagesiders, to reveal that in real life he may very well be "a small-time punk with a bad attitude" and "an arrogant ass", even though he's playing a heel onscreen?
Certainly if Aries was doing his job better, then his response to Hemme's verbal slip up wouldn't have been so clumsy and caused so much offence. Getting people outraged to the point that they complain to Spike TV is the worst response possible that a TNA performer can evoke, as the company's future is wholly reliant on their television deal. Without it, TNA would have been out of business years ago, so it's imperative to keep them sweet, as they would be very hard pressed to find another station if Spike TV ever had enough of the headaches their performers bring to the table and decided to cancel Impact. Admittedly, that's an unlikely scenario, but one that can't be completely discounted when Impact's ratings are currently at their lowest levels in years.