Sometimes, you can’t avoid the elephant in the room. That might be the case with the recent events of Titus O’Neil and his 60-day suspension for grabbing WWE owner Vince McMahon in the closing moments of Monday Night Raw’s tribute to a retiring Daniel Bryan.
Word spread like wildfire on Wednesday that O’Neil had been suspend for 90 days following an incident that was termed “misconduct” by WWE officials. It stems from O’Neil grabbing McMahon in a playful manner on Raw. We all know by now about the incident and the action taken following Monday night. What we don’t know is the entire story. We don’t know if there were other circumstances which led to this incident and the subsequent reaction by McMahon and the company. And most of all, we do not know why in the wake of there being so much racial scrutiny of late in sports, entertainment and the public’s perception, why such a harsh sentence was handed down for something that looked more like child’s play.
I get the notion that you do not touch the boss and don’t spit on the hand that feeds you, but there has to be more to this than we all know about. Fans took to social media after word got out over the internet and voiced their reaction, most of it negatively. Was the reduction of the suspension in reaction to fan support for O’Neil, was there a rethinking of the minds and a commuted punishment reached? O’Neil took to Twitter, to express how he understood the gravity of the situation, that he was wrong in this situation. But, was there more to it than that?
McMahon and WWE have come under fire in the past for alleged racial overtones in how the company treats minority performers. There have been questions over the years of African American wrestlers being denied the company’s top strap because of McMahon racist viewpoint. Yes, this is all alleged and speculation, but given the fact it is Black History Month and O’Neil is one of WWE’s top draws when it comes to community service and working with the public.
Something just doesn’t sit right with me, and I am sure it does not sit right with other fans. Chris Perez of the New York Post wrote a story based on fan reaction over the “event,” which clearly paints a picture in their minds, true or not, the move was racially motivated. McMahon and WWE have come out with a statement, denying those allegations.
The fact of the matter, with this being such a hot button topic, is we don’t know everything that is involved, if something happened prior to the show and if there have been other issues within WWE behind the scenes. Fans and the media are going to cry foul over this and I, as a fan and writer, will view it as a bit extreme. Until more facts are laid out, this will continue to become a firestorm of sorts. McMahon does not need the bad media coverage. O’Neil doesn’t need the specter, either. In the end, this all must blow over with some resolution that is amicable for everyone, including the fans.
There are too many issues with booking and injuries for WWE to deal with, Losing fans because of a knee-jerk reaction by management over what appears to be a playful moment turned bad hurts Vince and his company more than it hurts O’Neil and his career.
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