Over the past couple of years, as I became more enamored with pro-wrestling, I have come to Cageside Seats to read the comments after every major WWE event. More often than not, I’ve been more lurker than commenter, thought I’ve had my fair share of comments on this site. And something I’ve seen a lot of is people threatening to cancel their WWE Network subscription due to their disappointment with the inept booking and storyline decisions made by WWE, their writers room and Vince McMahon. In that time, I’ve almost always either commented or rec’d comments that usually read "Bye" or something similar.
So, it is kind of ironic that I’ve decided to go ahead and cancel my WWE subscription today. Now, before we lead off with a number of similar comments, I feel it’s necessary to explain myself.
I do not regret those comments that I’ve written before. For the most part, I feel like despite the terrible decision making by WWE’s creative team (which, for the sake of this article also includes Vince McMahon, Paul Levesque and the various other creative members whose names get brought up on this site and others like it on a semi-regular basis) the product’s mediocre output is always just a few great matches and solid promo’s away from turning it around. Therefore, it always seemed foolish to quit something when it was always on the cusp of being great (and, even today, I’d argue it’s a few segments away from being something that rival’s any of the glory days the promotion has had previously).
However, in light of the situation regarding WWE’s partnership with Saudi Arabia and it’s government despite issues pertaining to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, I have to quit the WWE.
Normally, I would just do this and leave it be. But this is a very important moment for our world, and more specifically, our country. This decision has a lot to do with that and I feel it’s necessary to explain. Now, this could seem like a political statement and it could even seem like it’s a gross over-exaggeration. It is neither of those things. This has nothing to do with my political affiliation or my opinions on the Trump Administration or anything like that, so if there is anyone tempted to comment with the standard "you snowflake…" comments, I ask that you read me out.
This is about journalism and the right to free speech.
I went to school for journalism. I graduated in 2011 from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State in 2011 (please, hold your anti-Penn State sentiments, this has nothing to do with football or any scandals attached to said program or any rivalries tied to the gridiron). During that time, I fell in love with journalism. I went to school in the hopes of being the next Dan LeBatard, but I left with a love and admiration for those who write, speak and produce journalism. And while I never went to school with the intent of being the person who writes articles in newspapers or breaks stories on the news like Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, or Edward R. Murrow did, that does not mean I don’t see their contributions to this world (and country). In fact, I not only see it, but I see them (and their ilk) as courageous.
I sure as hell would not have been able to sneak around in dark parking lots with shadowy figures in order to get the truth. I’d have wet my pants and ran home to my mom in that position. I don’t think I’d have been able to challenge crazy and corrupt political figures without any real safety net. I probably would have coward.
These men (and the men and women who do the same things they did now) are important. They are, in a sense, heroes. Maybe not the way those who fight and die on the battlefield for us are or the way firefighters are. But they are heroes and heroines.
Last week, one of those heroes was murdered. It doesn’t matter if he was someone who we read on a consistent basis, he was reporting. And dangerously, may I add. Moreover, he was representing a people, point of view, and voice that almost never gets recognized. He was important. And he was murdered for doing something that this country prides itself on…
Speaking up and telling truths.
And, he was an American. He was a United States resident based out of Virginia, writing on one of the world's top news publications. To top things off, he was representing a large portion of this country’s population. A population that does not really get as much of a voice as it should.
So, it was to my dismay that the WWE has decided to stay in business with the government who more-than-likely ordered the murder. A company that I used to love, that puts out a product I’ve enjoyed (on-and-off) for going on twenty-two years, that prides itself on being uber-patriotic is going ahead and dealing with this government. Not only that, but it’s going to keep churning out these five-hour long productions that really only work as a commercial for the country that’s government did this.
That isn’t to say that Saudi Arabia, the country, is evil. It isn’t. I’m sure plenty of it’s people are good. But Saudi Arabia, the government, is evil for this.
And, yes, I recognize this is not the first travesty that this government has on it’s record. I also know that there are going to be people who criticize me for not taking this stand when the female wrestlers were excluded from the last Saudi-based event took place this year.
But, what shook me was the idea of someone I went to school with (who bravely opted to cover real news instead of sports like I did) getting tied up and butchered like Khashoggi did. I think about the talented writers who contribute and run this site (and the others we go to that fall under the SB Nation umbrella), the ones we read and probably take for granted on a daily basis. What if they had opted to write opinion pieces pertaining to politics or some other newsy subject and people who didn’t like it ordered them dead.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything written on this site, but I look at each and every one of the people who contribute and write on is as family. We have a one-sided conversation everyday. From Sean to Geno, Rev. Claire to Randall, these people are important.
So, while I’ll miss watching my favorites perform, I’ll miss the feeling of those events I’ve been waiting months for delivering, I’ll miss seeing those I’ve been waiting to come up show up, and I’ll be upset to miss those dream matches that are sure to come over the coming years and decades, I have to leave. It’s the principle of the matter.
This does not mean I’ll quit pro-wrestling. I love pro-wrestling too much. I also won’t quit coming to this site, it’s part of my morning routine to read the rumors and checking in throughout the day.
But, I have to leave the WWE.
I won’t ask you to do the same, because that’s an unfair ask. But I ask you to consider it. It has clearly been all about the money for the WWE. The decision to proceed (despite other similar companies cutting ties) is tied to money, the choice to exclude females from this (and other) events is tied to money, and (in a smaller sense) the choice to keep on with things we do not like in the product is tied to money. The only way the WWE will change is if you vote with your wallet. I have voted. I hope you guys consider it as well. Not because of personal politics, but because this is bigger than all of that.