After WWE cut ties with Hulk Hogan on Friday due to the emergence of tapes of the legendary figure allegedly using racial slurs, many news outlets are examining the sports-entertainment organization’s lengthy track record of racial insensitivity.
One of the most re-visited items from WWE’s past is Vince McMahon playing the role of an out-of-touch boss using a form of the N-word during a backstage sketch at a pay-per-view event ten years ago.
“What’s good in the ‘hood?” the Mr. McMahon character was heard asking John Cena at the 2005 Survivor Series. Then as he is walking away, McMahon says, “Keep it up, my nigga!”
Booker T, who heard the remark, then turns to Sharmell in shock, saying, “Tell me he didn’t just say that?”
A WWE spokesperson said, “Surely everyone would recognize the 2005 segment was an outlandish and satirical skit involving fictional characters, similar to that of many scripted television shows and movies.”
The issue is that McMahon’s television character is closely tied to his CEO role and he has final say on what airs on WWE television as the top creative decision-maker. As a result, TMZ loosely reported that Hogan feels unfairly shunned by McMahon and WWE. TMZ did not quote Hogan directly on how he feels about WWE cutting ties with him, but reports that Hogan feels that “Vince is acting self-righteous, condemning him for spontaneously using the epithet in private when the wrestling boss used it in a premeditated way.”
While WWE has promoted racism and offensive caricatures for decades, it has been alleged on multiple occasions that there is a racist culture behind the scenes that includes McMahon and other top officials.
Shortly after WWE announced last August that Alberto Del Rio was fired from the company due to “unprofessional conduct” following an altercation with an employee who allegedly made a racist joke, a longtime employee revealed to Pro Wrestling Torch editor Wade Keller that racist slurs are part of the behind the scenes culture in WWE.
“You would hear racist things all the time but most people don’t say anything,” the WWE employee told Keller. He said it goes as high as McMahon, who has a nickname for his private jet that some find racially offensive. The WWE employee also said there have multiple instances where McMahon tried to teach black wrestlers “how to be more black.”
Although WWE’s writing staff is nearly entirely “white male” in make-up, Dave Kapoor, who is of Indian descent and acted as The Great Khali’s on-screen spokesperson Ranjin Singh, is an exception. He has been nicknamed “Taliban” by some agents in the company.
There are also documented situations with Michael Hayes, one of WWE’s longest tenured top writers, using racial epithets. To go through it all would require multiple articles.