When Triple H was made to answer questions regarding Vince McMahon’s resignation in the wake of a new lawsuit alleging sex trafficking and other abuses, I knew that I, blogger who writes for this here site, was going to have to pen a post on it. It is news, and it is noteworthy, and this is the job I have, and so it is the job I must do.
But, while I am a member of the media because of this position and the audience we have here, which I take very seriously, I am also simply a person who is a fan of professional wrestling. That’s what SB Nation was founded upon, it’s what this blog has always been about. We are fans before we are anything else and this here is where we talk about that fandom.
So I took note of the first comment under my post about what Triple H did — and, more importantly, didn’t — have to say at the Royal Rumble post-show press conference. It was a rather simple question.
“What did you want him to say… ?”
And I thought about that, not from a media perspective, or public relations, or corporate, or anything like that, but simply as a fan. What did I want him to say?
More than anything, I think I wanted accountability followed by reassurance, and I didn’t want one without the other. I wanted Triple H to say that, yes, they have quite obviously read up on these heinous and shocking allegations, and that’s exactly what they are, and any and everything will be done to correct it. That means first admitting that there was a problem, a very big problem, and steps are being taken to remove those who created and/or fostered an environment where that problem was allowed to thrive.
Maybe he couldn’t say that, maybe his lawyers, WWE lawyers, TKO lawyers, all the damn lawyers, maybe they advised him to dodge and duck and deflect and put the focus everywhere other than the big pink elephant in the room. I’d understand that, in a way. I may have even appreciated it if he just hit us with a refrain saying as much, that he couldn’t comment out of respect to the legal process or something to that effect. But that’s not what happened. We didn’t even get corporate speak.
Instead, it was the Chief Content Officer of WWE claiming he didn’t bother reading a lawsuit alleging sex trafficking and other abuses involving multiple employees within the company he is the public face of at this very moment.
Instead, it was “I don’t want to get bogged down by the negatives.”
Instead, it was telling us how great everything else is going right now.
What’s interesting is earlier in that same press conference, Cody Rhodes was asked about what kind of changes could be made to prevent situations like this from happening again. His response was much more along the lines of what I think I wanted to hear from Triple H:
“That’s a great question. I know as far as the news is concerned, we were finding it out and reading the same things that you guys were reading. You said a dark cloud, certainly. As far as TKO, Nick Khan and the Board clearly took it very seriously and acted immediately. Looking at the future, you know, I don’t know the answer to that. I think somewhere is a really probably a basic tenet of just… this crew more than ever from a roster standpoint is very family. Never seen anything like this. Most of the time, wrestling locker rooms are fighting, talking trash about each other, making fun of each other, sandbagging each other in the ring and all that nonsense; this crew is very team based. And perhaps that’s the ingredient, is everyone looking out for everyone, being accountable. And I know for me as a performer and a competitor, I’ve been through dark periods in our industry before. It might sound cheesy but it’s very reinforcing, if you’re in my position, that it’s a time when, hey, we got 50,000 people out here, I want to give them something else from this weekend that isn’t a terrible situation, terrible news. I think we were able to do that. Obviously, as more news comes out we’ll be seeing it just like you do.”
That’s about as good as you can ask for, considering. He sounded like a real person grappling with a difficult, extremely uncomfortable situation trying to find the right path to move forward. To be fair, he’s in different position than Triple H but still.
It’s not much, but it’s something. It’s some measure of accountability and reassurance. This happened, it’s awful, it needs to be fixed, and it can never happen again. Because this really is supposed to be about putting smiles on faces, as they’ve long loved to say at WWE. It’s just awfully hard to smile when the man who ran the place for decades is alleged to have done so many things that go against that, and many of the people who worked there when he was allegedly doing it are still there. I think all of us would love to focus on the positives and not get “bogged down by the negatives” but that feels impossible without, again, some accountability and reassurance that this won’t be the culture moving forward.
I think that’s what any fan wants, at this point.