Saturday, 28 November 2015

WWE and Christianity

I am a long-time fan of professional wrestling. Last year I wrote a blog for a wrestling website where I linked WWE and Christianity. The link to that article isn't working anymore. Hence, I am uploading the same article here. Hope you like it....

Ever since Stone Cold Steve Austin laced a pair of boots, he was destined for success.

We are talking about a man who was the highest revenue generator for the company, and the one who was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame by none other than the boss himself.

But there is one paradox in the story of the Texas Rattlesnake that often goes unnoticed.

It was King Of The Ring 1996, right around the time when WCW came up with the NWO storyline and officially started the Monday Night Wars. Bret Hart was to leave the company, and Shawn Michaels was to be injured. They needed a star to become the face of the brand, and they found it in Austin.

But he was unlike Hulk Hogan, Hart, or John Cena. He was not a clean-cut family guy. He drank beer, cursed people, and showed no respect for authority. Most of all, he committed sacrilege.

Yes, Austin committed sacrilege. I might go on as far to say the entire Austin brand is based on a mockery of religion. I fail to understand why people don't call it sacrilege.

First I quote SLAM! Sports to show that it’s not my analysis that the whole Austin 3:16 catchphrase was a catalyst to the success of Steve, and whatever happened in pro-wrestling after that:

…..Austin won the annual pay-per-view tournament. But the biggest step towards superstardom was still to come. As Doc Hendrix conducted a post-match promo with the new King of the Ring, Austin demeaned Roberts' "born again" gimmick stating that unlike the biblical verse John 3:16, "Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your *ss!" A catchphrase was born that soon appeared on T-shirts, hats and anything else the WWE could manufacture.

Wikipedia also says something similar.

Now read what a Christian website had to say on the matter:

Another icon among wrestling fans is known as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who revels in taunting and mocking the Christian faith.
Ted DiBiase… bemoans Austin’s standard performances of beer guzzling, bellowing profanity, and flashing obscene gestures …..He also notes that 6 million Austin 3:16 T-shirts have been sold in this country. Austin’s newest shirt states “‘DO UNTO OTHERS’ ” with a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike- and thus presents Jesus’ words as a perverse reason to initiate acts of aggression.
You get the point.

But there is another wrestler who could manage to pose nude and profane a country’s flag while still being a fan favorite. I am of course talking about Shawn Michaels. The Christian website didn’t mention HBK in their article criticizing the negative impact of WWE.

Why? Because Shawn Michaels is a Christian, and WWE let him portray this character on screen. As I noted in my article on sports:

His controversial career in the WWE almost came to end in 98’ when he suffered an injury that forced him to stay out of action. During this time, he professed faith in Christianity…..He made his comeback 2002, adorning a T-shirt with Philippians 4:13 on it: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’His return as a born-again Christian was also ‘received with delight as evidenced by the deafening screams of the entire stadium’.


This is the paradox I am talking about, where one wrestler mocks religion and the other one adorns it. But not only does the crowd accept both characters unconditionally, both go on to become Hall of Famers.

It is a paradox that when Jake Roberts is a Christian and makes reference to his faith, the crowd cheers Austin who makes fun of it. But when Michaels is a Christian and ‘God’ is on his side, the crowd cheers for him.

The ultimate irony is that a born again Christian launched Austin’s career in the WWE, while another one (kayfabe) ended his career! I am of course referring to Survivor Series 2003.

WWE writers chose to give the ‘responsibility of saving Austin’s job at Raw’ to the kind of person he mocked to become popular in 96’. The audience didn’t question the contradiction, just as they didn’t question Undertaker’s motorbike gimmick.

Why? Because Taker, Austin, and HBK are great wrestlers. Their in-ring abilities, and the willingness to bleed for the crowds overshadow the particular character they are playing at the moment.

For this precise reason, I do not share the views of Dibiase and the Good Fight Ministries and will continue to watch pro-wrestling, despite being a committed Christian. And that is precisely why Christians like Guerrero, Michaels, and Sting manage to reconcile their beliefs with what they did best.

Some Christian 'ministries' and 'scholars' try to look for satanism and conspiracy in popular media, but they just fail to see the big picture. Shawn Michaels gave his testimony on WWE television. That is as good as it gets.