When I was a kid, my English teacher in school told me I could improve my good grades even more by reading books in my spare time. He suggested I read the classics and by doing so, would improve my vocabulary and writing. Just like any normal teenager, I was filled with enthusiasm and gave it a go. Several pages into Robinson Crusoe and I promptly gave up. I couldn’t see how reading oldie-timey stories would help. Besides, what made it so difficult to understand a ‘classic’ anyway? They weren’t interesting at all.
In my later years, I’ve come to realise that I should’ve persevered. Only now do I find myself collecting the ‘classics’ and struggling to find enough time to even take in a chapter. One book I found in a jumble sale was Animal Farm by George Orwell. Man, why did it take me so long to find and read (I read it in one sitting).
But what does this have to do with WWE I hear you ask? You see, for those who haven’t read Animal Farm, it is set on a farm populated by talking animals. In truth, it’s more of a class/political account of how money, status and power changes equals. Socialism, communism and capitalism are all represented, along with some other -isms. However those aren’t the comparisons I find with the WWE product – although you may beg to differ.
Early in the story, when the animals ‘take over’ the farm, seven commandments are written on a tarred wall. The seventh of which reads: ‘All animals are equal’. Much like many communism ideals (or the Borg from Star Trek), the collective is greater than the individual. Everyone is equal. The society cannot function if everyone doesn’t work together. To have divisions, splits or elite status means the system won’t work. The populous can and will turn on one another in the pursuit of personal gratification.
In WWE without everyone (front and back of curtain) working together as a cohesive unit, the product cannot function. Indeed if one of the parts doesn’t do their duty or pull their weight, then the collective are let down. Thus, all are equal and all must be treated as equals. That camaraderie is a driving force in any business or organisation and although there will be ripples and choppy seas at times, balance is nearly almost always restored, reinforcing the principle that all are equal.
That’s why when Roman Reigns was suspended for thirty days under the wellness policy it came as a surprise to many fans, but that surprise was quickly calmed when we all remembered that all superstars are treated equal, no matter their status on the roster. The former WWE Heavyweight Champion was no exception and should expect the same treatment as a young rookie on NXT. He did and his response was that of understanding, acceptance and remorse to his fans. So far, so good, so equal.
However, the ripples surfaced once again with the recent reports from UFC regarding Brock Lesnar. In keeping with WWE policy, surely the same would happen, right? The mandatory thirty day suspension, followed by a return to the roster. The indecent quickly forgotten once he was back in action or until the next headline hit. Except that didn’t happen. Now whether you believe the UFC report (and I’d suspect they’re more thorough than WWE) or not, this isn’t about Brock in the slightest. This is about the company as a whole and how they responded.
The Reigns incident showed no matter who you are, you’re all treated the same. No doubt the initial shock and surprise felt by fans was equally felt in the locker room. The impact on the next few weeks of shows would’ve altered plans and storylines, which in turn would’ve impacted the talent. Something that comes with the territory. Would Reigns be seen differently by his colleagues? Once the suspension was over, I don’t think so. They would understand that’s the WWE way and order must be kept.
The response to Brock however wouldn’t cause ripples, but a deep undercurrent that if left unchecked, could prove dangerous in the long run. Now, we question ‘is everyone equal’, or do some get privilege over others?
I’ve worked in environments where favouritism and popularity are held higher than the rules. It never works out. It’s creates rifts in teams, fractures in the whole, divides opinion and puts strain on relationships.
I don’t know what WWE’s reasons were, but equality should mean just that. To not respond – in any way, it seems – could send a negative message to the locker room. I sincerely hope some form of action has been taken – not to punish Brock, but to send a message to the locker room that there are no favourites, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and the bigger picture is always the focus, not the massaging of egos. WWE is in a good place right now. Excellent shows, fresh new ideas and an audience appreciating what they’re seeing. I just hope backroom politics doesn’t impact the product in a negative way.
“There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It Ran: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
Animal Farm – George Orwell