On the September 21 episode of NXT, Joe Gacy was introduced to NXT 2.0.
Gacy's character creates a safe space and hates toxic masculinity. His character drew the attention of the New York Post and WWE took videos off social media. However, he returned on Tuesday's episode of NXT to declare that he was not canceled.
Speaking on WWE After The Bell, Corey Graves weighed in on Joe Gacy and why he feels the character works.
"A guy that I was buzzing about this morning after I woke up; Joe Gacy. He caught the world's attention; right, wrong or indifferent, he had the internet ablaze beyond the sports entertainment bubble. I'm talking actual news sites were covering Joe Gacy. It's controversial. You can feel about it however you want, whether you like it or hate it, but watching him do what he did, and listening, I love the dichotomy because what he is saying is peaceful. He is giving a peaceful message, a message of tolerance, but his delivery is such that you just want to smack him in the mouth and go, 'Don't tell me how to live my life.' I think it's really unique, it's current, it's modern. It's going to get under a lot of people's skin and piss a lot of people off, but guess what, that's the point," he said.
Graves continued by discussing other characters from wrestling history who played off real world conflicts such as The Iron Sheik, before continuing to praise the direction of Gacy.
"Some of the greatest characters in the history of the world, the Attitude Era in particular was a reflection of what was going on in society at the time. Are they parody? Yes. Are you giving them the full spectrum of what that issue or situation is? Not always. You cherry-pick. For how many decades did you have a foreign bad guy in sports entertainment? Not just WWE, any company. There was always some sort of conflict, whatever the conflict was with the United States at that time, generally, you would see a bad guy representing the opposition at some point. That mentality has changed, that xenophobic issue. Thankfully, as a society, we have gotten away from that for the most part, so you can't do that anymore. So, you become creative and evolve with the times and you realize, whichever side of the split you fall on, there is an undeniable split in the country, in the world, politics are all over the place. Everybody is on edge about something. There is tribalism amongst society," stated Graves. "You take that reflection and say, 'Hey, here is a character representing a fraction or idea of society. Now, let the fans do what they want with it.' Who knows, people may decide that Joe Gacy is the most entertaining and wonderful...he may be a huge good guy superstar. Just as likely, a lot of people are going to go, 'Oh, he reminds me of my neighbor, I want to smack him in the mouth.' It's a bit of a throwback, as modern as the character is, it's sort of a throwback. It's a little, tiny, minute aspect of society that you crank up to 11 and see what happens. I hope we see more of this. I'm intrigued if nothing else."
In his promo on Tuesday, Gacy talked about triggering people and how he will be there for them. You can view the promo, which has 42,000 views on YouTube, in the video above.
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