In the over 20 years I've been a fan of professional wrestling, I've never really felt ashamed of my favorite pastime. Sure, I don't wear my spandex heart on my sleeve but I never denied my carny roots. I would argue with my friends who felt rasslin' was lowbrow entertainment. I would argue its place in the tradition of story, its place in the lore of good versus evil, of the triumph of a hero in the face of overwhelming odds.
Wrestling can be amazing sometimes. It can be theater of the highest order if all the chips fall in just the right spot. Anger, joy, sadness... the entire emotional spectrum becomes available inside the squared circle. It's why a bingo hall full of 20- and 30-somethings would want to kill two men named Dudley on an almost weekly basis, it's why grown men cried when Shawn Michaels superkicked Ric Flair at WrestleMania. Wrestling can transcend itself and be an utter joy.
It can also wallow in its own perverse filth and be exactly what detractors say it is. Last night was exactly one of those moments.
The opening segment between Eve and John Cena made me feel embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. It made me feel ashamed for having defended the art so many times.
It was cruel, misogynistic, cheap and bad storytelling.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Eve Torres revealed herself to be treacherous, using Zack Ryder for his fame to advance her own career. No qualms there, the character only out for themself is tried and true in wrestling. But Torres' moral compass went from north to south in such a dizzying and unexpected hurry, there wasn't much meat in the character development to sink one's teeth into.
It just sort of happened for no reason.
Any argument that the storyline involving Torres, Ryder, John Cena and Kane needed to be squashed to make way for Cena's WrestleMania 28 program with The Rock are laughable at best. It could have easily be done by Torres stating she was more interested in Cena than Ryder only to have the WWE posterboy turn her down out of loyalty to his friend. Then a rulebreaker turn from Torres would make sense. Who enjoys rejection?
The Diva is still seen as villainous for toying with Ryder's heart and we're spared the 10 minute long awkward shaming.
Which brings me to the reason for this article. Maybe I've grown sensitive because I'm the proud father of a baby girl but I can't imagine taking her to a WWE event when she gets older if this is something that might happen.
There are a thousand different ways to paint Torres as the manipulative wench the WWE wanted her to be without having to resort to slut and skank. She could have easily been seen as the heartbreaking trollop she ended up being without having to make STD jokes.
Instead, what Cena -- wearing a "Rise Above Hate" t-shirt adorned with the anti-bullying Be A Star campaign logo on the sleeve -- did was completely subjugate a woman in front of millions of people. It's one thing to call a hussy a hussy and be done with. It's something else entirely to get an arena full of people to chant "hoeski" at her.
Here's the thing: Ryder is almost universally loved. The WWE Universe digs the guy. So when Torres revealed her true intentions, that would have been enough to get those watching to hate her. It wasn't after Cena's cruel tirade that fans thought, "You know what, I'm not too keen on this Eve lady anymore." It was immediately after she told The Bella Twins she was only using "The Long Island Iced Z."
The entire segment was misguided, nonsensical, mean-spirited and just flat out awful but it's part of a much deeper and more troublesome problem in the WWE. The company simply doesn't care about women and sees little if any value in them.
And if their biggest fanbase, the kids the PG era is catered to, is having to watch dreck like last night's opening segment, chances are better they won't either.