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WWE needs to quit their obsession with USA vs. Evil Foreigner angles

Wednesday’s Rude Awakening looks at a problem of WWE’s own making, a Chad Gable singles push, and a Samoa Joe interview.

WWE has a problem with evil foreigners. I don’t mean that in the sense that they want you to, in that the Evil Foreigner character is a force who must be defeated by Good, typically represented by a (literal) flag-waving American. What I mean is that, on a two-hour SmackDown show, we’re currently living through three different stories that can be broken down into “USA vs. evil foreigners.” Three!

Jinder Mahal is the WWE Champion, and no matter how many times Randy Orton says he needs to be booed because he’s a “jackass,” the crowd has been conditioned to boo him because he’s Indian, i.e., not an American. Rusev returned at the same time John Cena returned, and instead of utilizing both for their incredible strengths, they were reduced to the most basic 1980s angle imaginable with the entire feud built on the idea that Rusev didn’t respect America enough on July 4th.

And we’ve got Kevin Owens going after the United States Championship claiming he’s the face of America — he’s making it work because he’s Kevin Owens, but imagine how enjoyable he’d be if he wasn’t saddled with such a tired trope? You don’t have to live outside of the United States to recognize that.

Here’s the thing: WWE isn’t some local promotion in the 80s trying to build up a clear and identifiable story for a cliche audience in “real America” or whatever. They’re an international corporation with international fans, and those fans are bored as hell at best when so much of the show is about the Good ol’ USA vs. Someone who is not from the USA. Cena vs. Rusev, especially, would be so much better if it weren’t once again about ‘merica.

That’s not to say WWE can never, ever go to this well again: the occasional jerky Canadian works, even Rusev’s initial run as a representative of Russia did well, in large part due to his own talent and abilities. There’s just so much of it happening at once on one two-hour program, though, and it’s impacting the quality of what was, earlier this year, the top show WWE was producing.

WWE has to remember that they aren’t just working with the crowd in front of them, or broadcasting in American households. If you’re going to be a global wrestling promotion, it’s time to start writing stories and characters that fit that.

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