There's something I really need right now as a wrestling fan and a functioning adult with a brain and common sense. Today, I'd like to share that request.
I need WWE Superstars to cease wearing ribbons for breast cancer and lapel pins for Connor's Cure. I also need them to stop wearing pink t-shirts or something of that nature, unless it's naturally a part of their gimmick's color scheme.
Or, at the very least, I need the heels to abide by these rules.
The causes WWE promotes are often worthy and important, and the efforts are useful to spread awareness. Without including the obvious positive nature of the excellent PR it provides for the company, watching Daniel Bryan, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass hand out WWE Women's Championship belts to breast cancer survivors is great television. The ladies are heroes, just as Connor Michalek was before he sadly passed away.
But, there's a way to push the agenda without making the entire roster look unnatural, hokey, and artificial in the process. When I see a backstage promo or, better yet, an altercation between a babyface and a heel, I don't want to see both of those individuals sporting pink ribbons or Connor's Cure pins. It's not because I'm heartless, and it's not because those things don't matter. It's because it looks stupid, and defeats what should be the essence of pro wrestling.
Here's the deal. I know in my soul that Kevin Owens thinks breast cancer sucks, and hates that children are dying due to diseases and other complications. I know that Stephanie McMahon would stab cancer in the face if she could, as would Chris Jericho, Carmella, and even Donald Trump. Wearing the ribbon does nothing but remind me of those facts, while the characters on screen are attempting to sell me on their villainy and heinous qualities.
Two years ago, I recall a charity video segment featuring the Bella Twins working with children and taking part in various activities, helping the girls and boys read and work towards their dreams. I hated it, because Nikki Bella was a top heel at the time, and not ten minutes before the video, she had done something truly nasty to her sister, as they were amidst one of the worst programs in recent memory. What did this accomplish? We know Nikki Bella loves kids and wants to help them, but why not show a babyface doing something, or just show Brie, while avoiding any camera shots of Nikki?
It's the exact same thing with the ribbons and lapel pins, because again, these are arguments that don't need to be made. AJ Styles is coming to the ring to talk smack and degrade the crowd, but adorned on the left shoulder of his sleeveless t-shirt is a pink ribbon. Newsflash: AJ Styles doesn't really care for breast cancer. Even if it's almost completely ineffectual to many, that guy shouldn't be rocking the ribbon right now, because every heel within WWE needs all the help he or she can get.
So many tools have been taken from the saints, but especially the jerks, and it's very difficult for the promotion to actually make a babyface or a heel, something I discussed last week here at Cageside. Any small way to avoid surrounding them with something that might cause a split-second pause in dislike would be a smart play. But, I'd like to take it even further than that. I'd like NO ONE to wear ribbons or lapel pins, and maybe just a few top fan favorites wearing a shirt once, not every week.
WWE's ramp can be pink, the ring apron can feature a ribbon, and the roster can wear whatever they want to support the cause when they're in the ring doing segments about it. Send Titus O'Neil to the ring to talk about Connor's Cure, or whomever you wish, and ham it up during those moments. That's just an example, but there's a way for Vince McMahon to push increased awareness of charities and causes without adding pieces of flare to the talent.
Just put a pink ribbon over the WWE logo in the bottom-right corner of the screen, or next to the various hashtags atop the screen. Last month, it could have been the exact same thing for Connor's Cure. Even put that design in the top-right corner, where nothing currently resides. Would that be a little distracting? Possibly, but it would show that the company supports Connor's Cure and Susan G. Komen, which would then encompass everyone on the WWE roster. We wouldn't notice Kevin Owens wearing a ribbon, but we'd know he worked for a company who believed in what that item or emblem represented.
If you want to make the argument of NFL players wearing pink, I tried to use that to rationalize what WWE is doing, but once again, no one working for Roger Goodell is SUPPOSED to be a villain. It's not a good vs. evil situation. The heroes and villains of the league are determined by a fan's individual preference of team or player, and not by a story-driven construct. Thus, it makes far more sense to have the pink towels and the pink shoes, or the camouflage to support the military. Pro wrestlers all wearing ribbons is much more comparable to everyone in The Departed wearing ribbons. It's nonsensical, and it's backing up a point we already realize is true.
In pro wrestling, this style of awareness feels out of place. Even in WWE's land of sports entertainment, every time I saw a segment with four people on screen ALL wearing Connor's Cure pins, it was hard to focus on anything else for a few seconds, until I acclimated myself to it. Now it's the ribbons, and though these are far less obtrusive, it's still something that doesn't need to be there.
Not when WWE can put whatever they want on the screen itself.
Emboss that Susan G. Komen logo right there in that bottom or top corner, or brand that belt with the star there, or put the American flag there.
But, I don't need 90% of the roster wearing buttons reading, "Don't Rape and Behead Women," because I was already pretty confident no one on that show was a fan of murder or sexual assault. In a business dependent upon characters on the extremes, adding a unifying symbol only undermines the ability to tell those stories in as easy a fashion as possible. That should always be the goal.
It's gotten better this time around, as in previous years seemingly everyone on the roster had a specially designed pink shirt, and even if the proceeds are going to Susan G. Komen, just taking an equivalent percentage from the REGULAR merchandise would make more sense, except maybe for a few people where it actually would benefit their characters.
I hate breast cancer. I hate the fact that children get sick, deal with incurable disease, and die at young ages. I can't stand rape. I hate racism. I loathe child abuse. I'm irate with world hunger. I'm more okay watching John Cena openly agree with my stances than I am Bray Wyatt, because it fits, but I can live with assuming the best of both, while the company sells the cause, rather than those on its fictional chessboard.
I know it's unpopular to suggest that doing everything possible to support and advance worthy causes can be a bad thing, but just like it would be inappropriate in a movie or television program, it's totally unnatural and forced on a pro wrestling show.
I just don't think the nWo, the Four Horsemen, the Freebirds, the Wild Samoans, the Heenan Family, or The Corporation would have been quite as effective if they were all wearing pink ribbons.
Please, by all means keep spreading awareness, pushing these charities, and asking for contributions, but do it effectively, naturally, and properly.
Do this all day long.
But, stop with this.