On Bill DeMott as Stupid American and Emblem of Carny-Corporate Toxicity

I grew up in a carny-friendly household and I married a corporate executive. My dad was on a first name basis with a local midget wrestler named Dirty Dan and my aunt and uncle were itinerant sellers of cowboy hats at fairs, festivals, and rodeos across the country. I have met some interesting folks — there’s a certain ethos that is distinctly different from the vibe coming off the corporate set. I grew up around swap meets and junkyards and I now occasionally attend corporate dress functions and have met a bunch of people with “VP” or “C” in their job titles. My point here is, I can speak with some wisdom about the notions of both carny and corporate, and what can go awry when the two elements collide.

The Bill DeMott scandal represents a grotesque failure of corporate WWE to rid itself of its cruel and violent carny toxicity. As far as I can see, this doesn’t have a thing to do with “stretching”. The company should be doing everything it can to nurture and support this new generation of first class athletes who have chosen professional wrestling as a career path. Instead, they are feeding these incredible human beings to an old school brawler with an enormous chip on his shoulder who appears to be determined to sabotage them all.

Apparently Bill DeMott had a particular loathing of Enzo Amore, for whatever reason. Bullied him like a schoolyard goon. That’s just one of the many things that broke my heart reading Austin Matelson’s memo on the abuses of Bill DeMott. He was probably just jealous that people really like that little punk Enzo. Also, being a great admirer of Rusev it hurt my heart to imagine him getting the shirt literally ripped off his back for no reason and wincing in pain because he was recovering from neck surgery. I fully expect Rusev powered through the pain like the tough guy he is; I question why the hell he should have had to. It makes his talk about “stupid Americans” all the more legit.

This shit is really, really stupid. This is the year 2015, WWE is a kajillion-dollar publicly traded company, and this whole thing is ripe for lawsuits, especially considered Bill DeMott had been fired once already for questionable coaching practices. What suffers terribly is the product we all hope will someday achieve enlightenment and all the talented people who have dedicated their lives to making it happen. All because somebody who knows somebody is a carny crony with a raging psychopath who is bitter that youth is not wasted on this awesome batch of young. These wrestlers literally have their lives in the hands of a man who brazenly declares that handling employee disputes through the human resources department is “the faggot’s way of dealing with problems.” (The insinuation here, in case you didn’t notice, is that the corporate way is “the faggot’s way.” Bill DeMott doesn’t much veil his disdain for the way things are being done in corporate WWE.)

And with great irony, several of the NXT wrestlers’ Twitter accounts are plastering my timeline with their latest anti-bullying campaign:

The offending r-word being retard. I’m of the opinion that eliminating words from the language doesn’t do anything to change human behavior so I’m spelling it out here. Transparency trumps political correctness on this blog. It’s also rather tone deaf that this campaign blunders onto the internet just a couple days after we learned that faggot, half a sissy, fat tub of goo, general death wishes and ethnic insults are tolerated language in the NXT working environment. Oh, and kicking guys in the junk is apparently just fine. How about a “Don’t Kick Guys In the Junk” campaign, NXT wrestlers? I do understand that the wrestlers do what they’re told in these philanthropic campaigns, but the sick reality of their company and the stories they sell us is constantly undermining their attempts to proselytize to us about the difference between right and wrong.

It’s relevant to remember here that Alberto El Patron got the ax for punching some douchebag once who made a racist comment. And yet Bill DeMott makes both sickening comments and smacks people around, when they’re injured even, on a regular basis.

I swear I saw a tweet from none other than Chris Jericho that said something to the effect of: “I know Bill DeMott and he’s a good guy, I had it 10,000x worse in the Hart Dungeon! If you don’t like it, leave.” I thought it was rather illuminating that a guy who I’ve found to be a caring and considerate voice in wrestling on his podcast was advocating a “love it or leave it” approach to dealing with a sadistic, abusive, and downright dangerous man who was unnecessarily injuring and bullying people in a company that lectures its audience about the evils of just this sort of bullying and injuring. (“Don’t try this at home,” they tell us. “We’re trained professionals.”) Jericho was very diplomatic about the CM Punk podcast, but here he was brushing off legitimate, well-written complaints about a truly dangerous working environment because the sadist in question seemed alright by him.

When I went back to look for that tweet to include it here, it was gone. Maybe I misremembered who said it, but I think it’s more likely that Jericho deleted it. His defense of Bill DeMott was a knee-jerk reaction from someone who spent years enduring the carny working environment. Jericho was a guy who learned how to thrive and even rise to the top there, knowing very well that only a few people had the skills, endurance, stamina, and even luck to do so. I suspect he spoke without thinking in the pattern of the old ways, when WWE was stocked mostly with a rougher crop of diehards who were prepared to expire young for their violent art, not educated gymnastics and parkour standouts who could very well go work for Cirque du Soliel (or Lucha Underground, for that matter) instead of the WWE. Adrian Neville, for example, could take his breathtaking talent to Broadway or the Vegas strip and probably be better appreciated. WWE thinks it chooses its talent, but I say these people have chosen WWE because it’s the largest showcase for their art form, and they are true artists. WWE should be nurturing these great talents rather than letting an asshole carny throwback destroy their futures.

WWE can pad their programming with feel-good charitable write-off material until the cows come home, but in the internet age we are well aware that their messages are hollow and hypocritical. The ironies abound, and we can always see the truth behind their corporate kayfabe. I’m not saying there isn’t value in charity, and I think wrestlers have made many people happy with their presence. But my own precocious and athletic homeschoolers don’t have much use for dopey school visits to promote book reading, Make a Wish photo ops, or campaigns to rid the world of words they’ve never heard of anyway. My kids idolize wrestlers for their athletics and their performance of the spectacle. They admire the flips, the kicks, and the showmanship, not the corporate branding that lectures them on how to handle themselves. My kids are hip enough to mourn what happened with CM Punk, and the novelty of John Cena is long expired for them. When throwback carny toxicity undermines this superior generation of wrestlers in the corporate era, my children’s admiration suffers the consequences.

(h/t the WWE Comment Section)

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2 Comments

  1. March 7, 2015

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who notices or cares about the discrepancies in what WWE says and who it employs but I’m happy to read that you do.
    The whole Chyna-can’t-go-into-the-Hall-of-Fame-because-she-did-porn/#GiveDivasaChance thing is a farce: how can we really expect WWE to respect the women whose bodies they’ve been making money from for decades when they employ/heavily associate with guys like Stone Cold, Scott Hall, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, who’ve all been charged with/imprisoned for assaulting women?
    At the risk of self-promotion, I’ll actually have a piece up on this very phenomenon on my blog in the next couple of days.

    • March 7, 2015

      Thanks for your comment Scarlett! I had that very same thought about Chyna. It’s not as though wrestling was respectable back then — Chyna was a part of Degeneration X and all — and yet she’s selectively slut-shamed by a company with its own incredibly checkered history. I didn’t listen to that podcast, just caught the talking points, but it didn’t sound like there was any allowance for Chyna to somehow rectify the situation like there was with Jake the Snake. It also smacks of the WWE’s hypocrisy considering the women wrestling in that era were essentially required to get their breasts enlarged and perform all sorts of humiliating Attitude Era antics. The Old School Jabronies blog did a top ten of all the women who had to make out with and/or do other totally sleazy scenes with Vince McMahon — it’s a good read but I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video clips, which I’m guessing were not that far from softcore porn.

      I’ll look forward to reading your post!

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