Selling Out

Darren Young is the first openly gay wrestler in WWE. What that will mean for him and his career depends on how that story plays.
Share |

Out-of-the-closet. African-American. And a guy who is not a superstar but willing to do the dirty work needed to make a team successful and/or keep a job in a highly competitive field.

This was the story surrounding Jason Collins, no superstar but a member in good and long standing of the NBA’s fraternity, when he revealed to the world he was gay. They happen to be the same non-complete-sentences that can be used to describe Darren Young, the first active WWE Superstar, to use their corporate branding if not quite the most accurate word to describe someone who does what Darren Young does, to reveal publicly that he’s gay.

Darren Young is far from a huge name in wrestling. Currently, he’s one-half of a tag team dubbed The Prime Time Players. They’re goofy heels who boast about having “millions of dollars” that they use to party in nightclubs; there was, naturally, a signature dance done while chanting all this. Because it’s their job, they usually and effectively “put guys over” – parlance for losing matches to opponents the WWE has big plans for. Darren’s known for doing the little things required of the role; he’s willing to throw his body all over the ring to make his assigned enemy look good, and also pulls very good facial expressions to demonstrate his cockiness. And he’s also seemingly willing to play second banana to his partner, Titus O’Neil, a former Florida State football player dripping with charisma but lacking polish and someone whose WWE career will almost certainly climb beyond being one of two Prime Time Players.

All of which is to say that Young serves the same purpose as Jason Collins – a bench guy who can come in for a few minutes, bang for a few put-backs and rebounds, play somewhat effectively post defense and generally not fuck things up. This is a solid gig, if also a somewhat tenuous one. Both Collins and Young have, potentially, a great deal to lose through their decisions to announce who they really are. More to the point, they could very well lose it.

***

These are, both of them, two of the most interchangeable roles in their respective industries. Plenty of big guys can do the requisite dirty work in Europe and the NBDL; they would do anything for Collins’ spot and, most importantly, would cost less than an established player. And there’s also a lot of “solid hands” dotting the independent scene and the WWE’s minor league who would love to take a bump off the ring apron into the steel railing at ringside in order to grab some of Vince McMahon’s money. They dream of doing just that.

But while Collins proved himself as absolutely fit to carry the weight of being the first out active-duty male athlete, he already knew his role. Darren Young, as part of a sprawling scripted drama, doesn’t know how he’ll be used. Although he knows, as all wrestlers do, that he will be used in whatever way the WWE sees as most useful, lucrative and dramatic. That does not mean he’ll be used gently, or well.

The WWE is a corporation that, like all publicly-traded entertainment companies, loves using its employees as a public relations tool – Stephanie McMahon, daughter of CEO Vince and supposedly next-in-line to take over the company when her father decides to hand down the reigns, has already tweeted a hearty congratulations to Darren. The WWE has also embarked on its “Be A Star” anti-bullying campaign; a minority wrestler who has unveiled his sexuality could certainly be an effective spokesperson for that campaign. And since wrestling has always been happy to afford its fans a peek behind the scenes (if not necessarily a peek at actual, true things), it’s likely that Darren’s sexuality will become a part of his character’s persona, and his on-air stock could rise.

It’s likely that Darren’s decision to come out could result in him turning into a good guy, especially in light of the failed attempts of Linda McMahon (wife of Vince and formerly an incredibly awful on-air character) to buy her way into the Senate in both 2010 and 2012. Linda ran as a centrist Republican in both elections. She took a “this is a state issue” stance when asked about her views on gay marriage, the coded message for “I’m not revealing my opinion on this since a public viewpoint either way will hurt my chances of gaining power.”

Not-too-shortly after her last electoral loss, the WWE debuted a new character named Zeb Colter, a seething font of Tea Party-accented anti-immigrant rhetoric. He cuts interviews in front of a shabbily hung “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Colter – a longtime performer best known for playing redneck Dutch Mantel – currently manages a tag team. One member of his stable is Jack Swagger, the prototypical sandy-haired Middle American cocky jock. The other is Antonio Cesaro, a Swiss-born strongman that Colter described as the “right kind of immigrant.” It hasn’t been stated what makes Cesaro “right” but the subtext is clear to the WWE Universe – Zeb debuted attacking Mexican wrestler Alberto Del Rio, whose brown skin, Colter made clear, makes him the wrong kind of everything.

Zeb and his stable – who put their hands over their hearts and chant “We The People” before and during matches – have a very visible role. Swagger was briefly a WWE champion and also had an upper-card match at WrestleMania. And Cesaro, a longtime favorite on the independent scene, has been pushed as a phenom for large parts of his tenure.

They’re also cast as heels, allegedly crafted due to the McMahon family’s belief that the far right cost Linda the election. A tag feud between these two seems a natural fit, with Darren Young cast as the good guy.

***

But if the WWE does push Darren Young as a hero, it will be a marked turn for how wrestling portrays homosexual characters.

Wrestling has always used sexuality as an archetype. The first true villain of the industry was Gorgeous George, a flamboyant pretty boy who dressed feminine and had male servants at his disposal. Adrian Adonis was a glammy T-Rex style cross-dresser who weighed over 350 pounds and feuded with Hulk Hogan in the 1980s. Goldust – played by Dustin Rhodes, the son of the southern populist son-of-a-plumber legend “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes – was a Norma Desmond-inspired creep in gold face paint and unisex jumpsuit with female mannerisms who, in his earliest incarnation, molested his good guy opponents as an in-ring psychological ploy. Billy “Assman” Gunn and Chuck Palumbo teamed up in the ‘90s, partnering with personal stylist Rico, and played a highly affectionate heel tag team; they went so far as to arrange a gay wedding but revealed it as a publicity stunt. The two asserted that they were completely straight, and turned face soon after.

But Pat Patterson is professional wrestling’s most interesting and, until Thursday, most well-known homosexual. Patterson was a star in the 1970s and ‘80s who was open about his sexuality even then. His longtime partner is fellow wrestler Steve Lombardi, best remembered as The Brooklyn Brawler. Patterson’s mind for wrestling was so well-respected that he ascended the ranks of the WWE after his days in the ring were over, outlining the matches and crafting the finishing segments of some of the WWE’s most legendary matches. He is also attributed with creating the concept of the Royal Rumble, the promotion’s major winter pay-per-view event and arguably the greatest format in the industry’s history.

Patterson’s knack for seeing and creating narrative and dramatic stakes, and genius for developing matches eventually made him Vince McMahon’s real-life second-hand-man. A case could be made that Patterson, during his lengthy career working behind-the-scenes, ranked right behind his boss as the second most influential – and powerful – person in the industry.

But even a man with that power saw his sexuality used as a way to elicit jeering reactions from the audience. Patterson played as a corporate yes-man stooge to Vince McMahon’s evil boss during the WWE’s Attitude Era in the’ 90s and frequently found himself the recipient of attacks from such good guys as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Jim Ross, the Oklahoma-twanged lead announcer who served as the audience’s proxy, would frequently sneak in (or just shout) heavy innuendos referencing Patterson’s sexuality. Paterson was never officially outed as a gay man on-screen. However, the Attitude Era coincided with the Internet’s rise, which allowed for wrestling fans to learn about Patterson’s real-life role in the company and his sexuality.

It’s unlikely that the WWE, in the post-DOMA world, would use Young’s public disclosure as a way to showcase him in a “gay equals bad” manner and suffer a public relations hit. But Jason Collins is still looking for work in the much more mainstream NBA, and this is wrestling. Which means that any expectation, however high or low, could well become a reality if it plays. The politics are the politics, but the WWE is the WWE. If Young’s story sells, they'll sell it.

Image via Flickr User Simon Q/WikiMedia Commons


Share |

Comments

Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success izmir ecort bayan

Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences. color contact lens

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info ساختمان هوشمند

For a long time me & my friend were searching for informative blogs, but now I am on the right place guys, you have made a room in my heart!
fashion

Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us. zurich airport to city

Municipal Museum of the Sea, located in Agia Napa is the only museum of its ..
Villas for rent in Cyprus

I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work
Corporate Gifts Singapore

I just got to this amazing site not long ago. I was actually captured with the piece of resources you have got here. Big thumbs up for making such wonderful blog page! sunway lagoon package

It is basic that we read blog entry precisely. I am now done it and find this post is truly astounding. seo liverpool

Much appreciated such a great amount for this data. I need to tell you I agree on a few of the focuses you make here and others might require some further survey, however I can see your perspective. custom stuffed pets

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. solar panel calculator

If you really desire to get such type of information, visit this blog quickly.
research paper writing services

Thanks to have a great blog, everyone will be in love with this blog writing surely because it has quality stuff.
do my essay

I am unable to read articles online very often, but I’m glad I did today. This is very well written and your points are well-expressed. Please, don’t ever stop writing. http://www.meinbezirk.at/feldkirchen/wirtschaft/die-besten-und-unterhaltsamsten-live-casino-spiele-im-test-d1875381.html

I needed to thank you for this incredible read!! I unquestionably adored each and every piece of it. I have you bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you post. 16' round trampoline enclosure package

Awesome review, I am a major devotee to remarking on web journals to educate the web journal scholars realize that they've added something beneficial to the internet!.. Tips Clear

Only a grinning visitant here to share the adoration (:, btw exceptional style. http://www.meinanzeiger.de/erfurt/sport/live-casino-apps-fuer-android-und-ios-im-vergleich-d63646.html

Celebrity Sex Tapes Watch the best Celebrity Sex Tape porn videos in HD Quality. All in one place!

Extraordinary things you've generally imparted to us. Simply continue written work this sort of posts.The time which was squandered in going for educational cost now it can be utilized for studies.Thanks http://www.beiuns.ch/muri/sport/unterschiedliche-live-casino-studios-im-test-d12957.html

This is exceptionally instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! http://www.nachrichten-rss.de/presseartikel/games-konsolen-spiele/paypal-live-casinos-mit-no-deposit-bonus-im-test-45238.html

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post oil paintings for sale

Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. Transportify Logistics

Extremely pleasant article, I appreciated perusing your post, exceptionally decent share, I need to twit this to my adherents. Much appreciated!. http://branresponsive.phplinx.net/eintrag.php?id=115

This one is great. keep doing awesome!.. http://www.spielautomatenforum.de/showthread.php?tid=4520

A debt of gratitude is in order for another great post. Where else might anybody be able to get that sort of information in such a perfect method for composing? http://www.hartz5.info/forum/was-woanders-nicht-reinpasst--f16/spielt-wer-im-casino--t947.html

I conclude I have selected the smart and inconceivable website along with interesting stuff.
Chris Walker - top SEO consultant

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and awesome tips..even I additionally imagine that diligent work is the most imperative part of getting achievement.. jederzeit-und-ueberall

It was thinking about whether I could utilize this review on my other site, I will connect it back to your site though.Great Thanks. spielautomat

I truly awed after read this in light of some quality work and educational contemplations . I just wanna express profound gratitude for the essayist and want you to enjoy all that life has to offer for coming!. 3ai

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. bookmarks

A debt of gratitude is in order For sharing this Superb article.I utilize this Article to demonstrate my task in college.it is valuable For me Great Work. Tom

You have a genuine capacity for composing one of a kind substance. I like how you think and the way you speak to your perspectives in this article. I concur with your mindset. Much obliged to you for sharing. Grandeur Park Residences CEL

Thanks for this usefull article, waiting for this article like this again. Quadrocopter Versicherung

i am for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to present something back and help others such as you helped me. Switzerland Sightseeing

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
buy essays cheap

Wow! This could be one of the most useful blogs we have ever come across on thesubject. Actually excellent info! I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort. web design Singapore

Extremely intriguing online journal. A lot of web journals I see nowadays don't generally give anything that I'm keen on, however I'm most definitely inspired by this one. Recently felt that I would post and let you know.cookies löschen mac

On this page you can read my interests, write something special. harga pakej umrah murah

Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information specially the last part I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck. קייטרינג חלבי

I think this is an enlightening post and it is exceptionally valuable and proficient. along these lines, I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. latex mattress topper

I endlessly am waiting on forthcoming to your posts again because I have impressed through your writing.
Chris Walker - best SEO expert Denver

I am very glad to read such a I was impressed with this article.. view

Hello I am so delighted I located your blog, I really located you by mistake, while I was watching on google for something else, Anyways I am here now and could just like to say thank for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining website. Please do keep up the great work. Christmas carols

escort Dubai I am recommend escort Dubai big directory with very nice girls profiles! You can find girlfriend for travel and enjoy with her! It's amazing!
site I am recommend escort Dubai big directory with very nice girls profiles! You can find girlfriend for travel and enjoy with her! It's amazing!

pornstar The most complete portal in the world at this Special adult time. The most beautiful and sexy porn stars. Millions of free porn from all categories, meetings for sex, the most beautiful escorts around the world and more. Do not waste time looking elsewhere. Enter on our website and with just 3 clicks you can find everything you want in adult and porn categories. Here you will find the richest collection in the world.

I am continually amazed by the amount of information available on this subject. What you presented was well researched and well worded in order to get your stand on this across to all your readers. SUBSCRIPTION IPTV

It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing.
scott

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.
Dubai Travel Packages

such an interesting article here Afatogel.com Bandar Terbesar Situs Togel Online Terpercaya. I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here.
Hotels In Dubai

Waow this is quite pleasant article, my sister love to read such type of post, I am going to tell her and bookmarking this webpage. Thanks
gold IRA companies