WWE's past could come back to haunt them.
Several articles and headlines from WWE's checkered past have re-emerged from when former WWE CEO Linda McMahon was being vetted for her job as administrator of the Small Business Association. Jeremy Botter of Whizzered, among other outlets, tweeted an Axios article highlighting those, as well as those of UFC owners Endeavor, in similar -- albeit less controversial fashion.
Axios just revealed that Endeavor (UFC owners) co-CEO was vetted for a job in the Trump administration. They also published the document the transition team compiled on him. https://t.co/S1iak5GI0W— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) June 24, 2019
And here’s the vetting document on former administrator of the Small Business Administration (and wife of Vince McMahon) Linda McMahon: https://t.co/v5smpBtpwO— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) June 24, 2019
The document raises literal red flags, as labeled at the top of the document. It highlights the fact that Linda McMahon had donated to democrats, criticized Donald Trump's comments, took millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies after condemning government bailouts, and even that she'd paid property taxes late.
In addition, it brings up WWE's history of homophobia, xenophobia, steroids, young deaths, concussions and more.
WWE's stance as "anti-worker" was broached, as WWE has had a long history of working against unions, particularly as pointed out by Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Charlie Haas in the document itself.
Criticism of WWE as Anti-Worker Background: McMahon is the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). WWE’s business model is to classify their primary employees (wrestlers) as “independent contractors.” Critics have suggested this is so WWE employees cannot form unions. Former WWE employees have claimed to have been fired for attempting to form a union. • Should you take a public position in the administration, do you believe your portrayal to American workers would be negative given the criticism the WWE has received? • How could your experience managing thousands of employees translate to balanced policies that benefit both business and the American worker?
There have been numerous accusations of sexual assault against WWE over the several decades that Linda McMahon was involved with the company, which was also brought to attention during the vetting process. In addition, it was asked if more could come to light after her eventual hiring. Sable, Tom Cole, Murray Hodgson, Barry Orton and Nicole Bass were all named as accusers, and a brief history of said accusations were covered. There was a recounting of Linda's behavior during Bass' 2002 trial, as originally published by John Marxulli in the New York Daily News (9/18/02)
During The 2002 Sexual Harassment Trial Of Former Wrestler Nicole Bass, Linda McMahon “Sat At The Defense Table Twirling Her Thumbs.” “Bodybuilder Nicole Bass pumped up a sexual harassment lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment because she couldn’t cut it in the ring, a WWE lawyer charged yesterday. Dressed demurely in a black jacket and below-the-knee skirt, Bass listened impassively as WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt trashed her as a no-talent. After taking a pounding from defense lawyers in Brooklyn Federal Court, Bass bolted from the courtroom with a terse, “No comment.” The 6-foot-2 and 230-pound Bass was hired by WWE to play the role of a bodyguard to Sable, a WWE superstar female wrestler, McDevitt told jurors in his opening statement. … According to her complaint, Bass alleges she was assaulted, sexually harassed, humiliated and demeaned during her five-month stint with the WWE. … During the opening statements, Linda McMahon, CEO of the WWE, formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation, sat at the defense table twirling her thumbs.”
WWE's actual programming was also targeted. Namely the portrayal of Muhammad Hassan, Shawn Daivari, Eugene Dinsmore and others that were subject to discrimination, as well as the likes of The Godfather for racial stereotypes. The fact that WWE has oft been criticized for the "crude" or "inappropriate" portrayals was mentioned.
Linda McMahon's personal comments, tendencies, donations and criticisms were also put into question, with some being as trivial as her contesting Donald Trump's statements that women were "deplorable" and "objectionable." Simultaneously, some of her ringing endorsements of Trump, and subsequent donations, were also tackled. It was noted that in 2012 The Hartford Courant discovered that Linda paid her property taxes late four times over the last three decades.
Some of the more controversial stories include a little-known incident involving Tyson Tomko and Stevie Richards, in raising questions about homophobia in WWE. As covered by James Guttman in 2006 for World Wrestling Insanity:
A Wrestler Savagely Beat Another Wrestler Who Was Dressed In Drag In 2004; Shouting “He’s A Faggot” Then there was Tyson Tomko’s match against Steven Richards at Unforgiven 2004. Richards, dressed in drag, was savagely beaten on pay-per-view while Tomko screamed out ‘He’s a faggot’ as loud as can be. Tyson wanted to make that point clear just in case anyone doubted that they were actually witnessing a hate crime.”
The other examples of homophobia primarily focused on Goldust's original run and some of the violence that surrounded it.
Muhammad Hassan and Daviari were heavily covered. From Steve Austin calling them "sand people," to the characterization of the two as terrorists, to displaying angry signs in the crowd, the rundown of the team was followed by a heavily redacted segment. The controversial angle that aired the day of the 2005 London Terrorist Bombings was also recapped.
Chris Benoit's double murder-suicide, and the role that concussions may have played were recounted, with nearly a half dozen publications cited, some of which featured the words of WWE veteran Chris Nowinski.
In connection with the Benoit tragedy, the role that steroids may have played, and WWE's inconsistent history as it pertains to steroids were highlighted. Linda stated in 1993 that steroid users would not work in WWE. Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Nailz, Rick Rude, and Vince McMahon admitting steroid use and Chyna normalizing drug use were presented in perhaps the most loaded section of the vetting process.
Even Vince McMahon Admitted To Using Steroids. “World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon admitted to having used steroids that he received from Dr. George T. Zahorian III, who was convicted last month of illegally selling the body-building drugs. “I used a steroid that I got from Dr. Zahorian very briefly about 3 or 4 years ago,” said McMahon, who is not a wrestler himself but does do some body building. He used the steroid only once, he said. McMahon made the admission at a news conference held yesterday to answer allegations that the WWF is rife with steroid use. At a federal trial in Harrisburg, Pa., Zahorian said he sold steroids to various wrestlers, including WWF champion Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper.” (“WWF Owner Admits Using Steroids,” The Globe And Mail, 7/17/91)
It was also mentioned that WWE had mandated drug tested at random after the untimely passing of Eddie Guerrero.
Lawsuits and indictments were a hot topic. Owen Hart's death leading to a reported $18 million settlement, Vince McMahon being indicted on conspiracy to distribute steroids (and his dismissal/acquittal), and several lawsuits as it pertains to the company's independent contractor status for Superstars were brought up.
It was also noted that the McMahon family had filed for bankruptcy in 1976, though much of that portion of the document was redacted.
The document closed with Linda McMahon's subjective stances on abortion, feelings on tax cuts and the like. Linda McMahon left Trump's cabinet in April to chair the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.