Yesterday, WWE changed the name of the “Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal” planned for WrestleMania to simply the “WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.”
The move came after backlash so loud even WWE executives -- masters of ignoring criticism -- could not ignore it.
In recent years, more attention has been placed on Moolah’s past transgressions, including allegations she “pimped out” female wrestlers she trained and took unfairly high cuts of their pay.
This was highlighted in a passage from David Bixenspan’s post about the situation at Deadspin:
“Moolah did send girls out to this guy in Arizona and pimped them out,” said Jeannine “Lady Maxine/Mad Maxine” Mjoseth in a 2014 interview with Slam! Wrestling. “I actually spoke to him on the phone and asked him what he was looking for. He said, ‘If I’m spending all this money, you know what I want.’ That was part of Moolah’s way of making money. She was just a bad person. Moolah didn’t have a good bone in her body.”
Leilani Kai talked about the pay theft in an RF Video shoot interview:
“One of the agents, Arnold Skaaland, I think, came in and said, ‘I’ve got your trans money, Moo. I’ve got your trans money for the girls,’” Kai recalled in the video. “And she said, ‘Oh, hon, let’s just go in the other room and talk about it.’
“So, Velvet and I said, ‘Okay,’ and we just pressed our ears against the wall as hard as we could just to listen to what was going on and I remember him saying to her, ‘Okay, here’s $150 for each girl, it’s for the week.’”
With three women involved, that should have meant $450 ending up in the hands of the women.
Unsurprisingly, given the multitude of stories about Moolah, that was not the case.
“I told Velvet, ‘We’re going to see what we get. We’re going to see if all these things we hear are true,’” Kai said.
“So, when it came maybe three weeks after, she told us we got $50 a piece. There were three of us … so $300 she got from three girls. From then on, I disrespected her to no end.”
The likely cause of WWE’s caving to public pressure was the decision largely motivated by Redditors to target WrestleMania sponsor Snickers and express their displeasure with the promotion’s decision to lionize a woman whose legacy was so destructive.
Thank you @WWEUniverse for using your voice. What remains most important is that the “@WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal” will be a historic match and is part of @WWE’s unwavering commitment to our Women’s Division. #WomensEvolution #ChangeTheName— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) March 15, 2018
The move was largely unexpected due to WWE’s normal stance of not allowing fans to dictate product.
To some, that means the endless pushes of Roman Reigns -- and for the previous decade, John Cena -- in the face of undeniable fan displeasure.
To others, it means the moments of pettiness such as the company’s decision to force the “One fall!” crowd response out of the pre-match introductions.
But, maybe most relevant, there’s WWE’s insistence on whitewashing the out-of-ring history of “legends.”
With Moolah’s name removed from the battle royal, nowhere will this be more apparent on WrestleMania weekend than when a more than 6 foot tall bronze monstrosity is trotted out at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
From the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, The Ultimate Warrior was a staple of WWE programming. His neon facepaint and trunks and madman sprint to the ring and shake the ropes act is firmly embedded in the memories of wrestling fans.
He was, in many ways, the embodiment of a wrestling superhero.
The man behind the facepaint, however, was more supervillain of the sort you’d expect to see Captain America crushing with a right cross.
Jim Helwig — whose name was legally changed to Warrior — was often criticized as a careless worker in the ring, but it was his careless words later in life that deserve the most attention.
In addition to blaming victims of Hurricane Katrina for their plight, bashing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrating Bobby Heenan’s cancer, Warrior gleefully spouted rancid homophobia.
“Nothing subject to moral relativity is left out between these two extremes,” Warrior said during a public speaking appearance at the University of Connecticut. “That the bum is as legitimate as the businessman. That homosexuals and homosexuality (Crowd Member: Oh Jesus) Don’t have an orgasm on me honey. Let me phrase this correctly, let me come down off my politically correct horse. That queers are as legitimate as homosexuals. (Crowd Member: How are they not?) Because queering doesn’t make the world work.”
He also wrote in his now deleted blog (this article has many excerpts) about a situation that arose when speaking at DePaul University:
The most enlivening emotional outbursts erupted when homosexuals were offended by my use of the word “queer.” One guy without his husband and two physically-repulsive butch-dykes slurping on one another’s tongues (really) on the front row had a real hard time cozying up to my principled heterosexual obstinacy. So, in an act of pure selfish pleasure the guy got himself physically thrown out by the masculine security guard, unmistakably loving every single masochistic, man-handled moment of it. And the dykes, well, they ran out screaming and yelling like speared wild boars that I was a homophobe for making my remarks.
Despite his bigotry and vile treatment of his fellow man, WWE reconciled with Warrior in 2014, inducting him into the Hall of Fame (he died days later) and one year later unveiled a life-size statue and the concept of the “Warrior Award” which was to be awarded annually to someone who “exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior.”
An award named after a bigot designed to be awarded to those who share his “courage and compassion.”
The recipients of the award have had wonderful and inspirational stories. There was Connor “The Crusher” Michalek, who received the award posthumously and is the inspiration for the “Connor’s Cure” charity, Joan Lunden, the former morning news host who has battled breast cancer and is a spokesman for Susan G. Koman, and Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed playing football in college and has become a prolific public speaker.
It’s just a shame these brave individuals are receiving an honor from someone who hated so many and celebrated misery while never apologizing, even if some claim he “repaired relationships later in life.”
In a time when WWE officials have been finally forced to listen to the raised voices of their fans, now is the time to be louder than ever.
It started with Moolah, it should continue with Warrior.