It would be the deepest fantasy to expect WWE to make major changes after the #SpeakingOut movement a couple of months ago, where numerous male wrestlers and coaches around the industry were outed as rapists, harassers, assaulters, misogynists, and general dickheads.
It was on full display Sunday night as Velveteen Dream, aka Patrick Clark, was featured in WWE NXT’s “Takeover 31” PPV, even though Clark has been accused by multiple people of preying on underage boys online. Ownership claimed to have done a thorough investigation, except they never actually talked to either of the accusers, and then went about business as normal. Matt Riddle has never been off of Smackdown on Fridays, even though accusations still remain against him that he’s handled like an utter circus.
So it barely registers that today, WWE announced it had added Barfstool CEO Erika Nardini to its Board of Directors.
Even before getting into any of the shit Nardini herself has pulled, it’s stupefying and yet utterly perfect that WWE would associate itself in any way with that sinkhole of humanity. There is no bigger name for misogyny, racism, online predatory behavior, and just general assholery. Cataloging their abhorrent actions, from their founder and owner down to their most braindead fan (and that’s a competition) would be too arduous to avoid complete mental collapse, so we’ll stay away from that this time.
Nardini herself has spent many hours defending any and all of that garbage dump’s actions without ever apologizing or taking responsibility for any of it, while being the other face of the company besides He Who Shall Not Be Named (or bathe). When they were caught and blasted for massive theft of other people’s content, she wouldn’t apologize. She was nothing more than an amplifier when the breadth of the company’s workplace sexual harassment was exposed. She dismissed it as simply a “comedy brand” disguised as a sports site, as if spewing this kind of shit in comedy would be OK as well. She has merely been PR cover for the myriad grossness that has oozed out of that place.
Which probably makes her perfect in Vince McMahon’s eyes. A woman to change the scenery, but not one that’s going to actively push for any kind of change within the company, as well as an expert in boosting profits. WWE is still under the impression its fanbase is composed almost entirely of woman-fearing/hating basement dwellers covered in Cheeto dust (that’s just our president), instead of the diverse crowd it trumpets ON ITS VERY OWN SITE.
It’s another slap at the women’s revolution that WWE is so happy to harp on when it’s profitable and convenient, all without doing much to address the problems. What will Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and all the other female performers think now that one of the voices driving the company fronted a site that is written and read not just by men who don’t value them, but actively seek to devalue them? Does anyone trust that the next time monstrous accusations emerge about a WWE employee, the company will respond with more than a dismissive wave?
Then there’s WWE’s Be A Star anti-bullying program, which loses some of its luster when the CEO of a brand accused of bullying and harassing women all up and down the internet joins the company.
When people show you who they are, believe them. To wit, here’s McMahon on Nardini’s hiring:
“Erika is a seasoned executive with a tremendous track record of building businesses, developing experiences, and engaging different audiences across the media ecosystem.”
There is only one audience Nardini has built the past four years, and though it may be profitable it is one that drags everyone into a swamp of shit. Either WWE thinks it needs to expand this audience or hold onto it, not realizing or caring there is so much more growth to be had elsewhere.