Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WWE Must Fire John Layfield

I'd love to see someone stretch JBL in real life, but firing him will be okay in the interim
Photo Credit: WWE.com
On July 30, 2012, Abraham Washington made a reference to a sensitive topic, saying "Titus O'Neil was like Kobe Bryant in a Colorado hotel room, UNSTOPPABLE." Eleven days later, he was terminated from the company. While he claims his dismissal from WWE was in fact for throwing support behind Linda McMahon's ill-fated and ill-advised United States Senatorial campaign, one could see through the smokescreen and blame the firing directly on inviting controversy and bad press. If one high-profile incident was enough to can Washington, what is WWE waiting for in regards to John Layfield's immediate termination?

Layfield, better known on-air as JBL, adds absolutely nothing to commentary except a cudgel with which he beats the audience over its head with the out-of-touch point of view of Vince McMahon. He's loud and cruel, interjects when the situation is not right, and talks over moments as if he's the one supposed to get over and not the wrestlers. Firing someone for being bad at his or her job is never something I would wish for, and in this case, Layfield's termination for quality would be a side-effect to the workplace toxicity he pumps into WWE, both backstage and on-air. Layfield should have been fired when he threatened Billy Silverman and/or Brian Christopher with rape, when he shoot-beat the shit out of Blue Meanie on camera, when he goose-stepped on the apron doing the Nazi salute in Germany, when he participated in the locker room "hazing" of The Miz and other superstars, when his antagonism of Joey Styles bubbled over and caused Styles to hit him in the mouth, or when his off-air bullying and on-air vitriol towards Mauro Ranallo caused the now-former Smackdown play-by-play announcer to take leave of the company.

The fact that he's lasted this long is a testament to how rotten the souls of his employers are or how much blackmail material he has on them. But he sunk to a new low last night on WWE's attempt at aping ESPN's "embrace debate" format of shouting bad opinions as content, Bring It to the Table. The show, which features Cheap Heat podcast host and WWE toady Peter Rosenberg moderating a table featuring Layfield and Corey Graves, who has been known to be abrasive himself when not working, featured a soundbite from Layfield about Sami Zayn, captured thanks to @IamKelsey91:
Forget the fact that Layfield's drunken-mad intonation and the fact that the joke had as much humor as Rosenberg has journalistic integrity, it was yet another example of his loud, idiotic mouth giving his company a black eye. ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, currently is a major player in the destruction and turmoil ongoing in that latter country, and guess what, that country also happens to be Zayn's nation of heritage. Basically, Layfield went on company tape spouting racist drivel about a co-worker for a cheap pop. I repeat, he put violent ideologues who'd murder Zayn if he still lived in the home of his ancestors over Zayn to be a "heel." I don't care if he was "in character" either, because if you have to be a bigoted fuckbag to get heat, YOU'RE FUCKING DOING IT WRONG.

This incident is the second time Layfield has used Bring It to the Table to spout bullshit against a fellow co-worker, as his outburst against Ranallo winning the Wrestling Observer Announcer of the Year was the impetus for Ranallo to take leave in the first place. How many employees of value need to quit, be harassed, made to feel uncomfortable at work, or suffer acts of violence that would get the perpetrators fired at a less barbaric company.

So, with how much of Layfield's antics have been public, why does he still have a job when one transgression got Washington fired? Of course, the answer to this question has several convenient answers: Layfield is one of McMahon's boys, he's white and Washington's black, tenure, etc. But how much more bad press is WWE willing to take on by having this worthless bully on programming? WWE so desperately wants to be accepted by the mainstream, and yet it keeps bad attention magnets like Layfield around. If Vince McMahon doesn't realize he's a drain, then why don't Stephanie McMahon, who's even thirstier for attention than her father, or Paul "Triple H" Levesque, who has staked a reputation on being the "cool dad" to wrestling fans with NXT intervene? Because let me tell you, no matter how many magazine covers or photo shoots or charitable donations the company makes, people en masse will still be emboldened to take potshots at wrestling on the whole because of the action of its self-professed worldwide leader.

One would expect a worldwide leader to try and be at the forefront of all measures, but WWE only really cares about distribution and revenue. I'm not surprised that staunch Republicans are focused only on monetary successes while smaller in scale companies lap it in creative ventures and artistic merit. Hell, even expecting it lead the industry in avoiding human resources malfeasance might be a bit unrealistic given how ruthlessly these companies and their board members act, but maybe paying some fucking lip service might be in order. Fox News took forever, but right now it's at least attempting to get rid of serial sexual harassers. WWE maybe should take a page out of that book and make now the time to dump Layfield.

I don't believe WWE's bullying culture will change when Layfield's gone. But if the biggest offender gets axed, maybe the utter thirst for the McMahon family for great optics will fall in line and the egregious shit will cut it out. Or maybe not. I have no faith in old money to change anything it does wrong with any impetus to come from within. However, it might be nice to see heinous fuckers burn. John Layfield is the most heinous motherfucker of them all right now, and if anyone deserves to burn, it's him. Fire him, blacklist him, and let him try to bully some dude he thinks he can overpower in a bar somewhere. The time is past due, especially since WWE has been so quick to pull the trigger on others like Abraham Washington.