The WWE caused quite a stir at the “Extreme Rules” pay-per-view, and it had little to do with the actual matches. When “The Ravishing Russian” Lana came out to introduce her man, Alexander Rusev, she dedicated the match to her hero, Russia President Vladimir Putin with his face on the Titan Tron. The Washington Post looked at the Vladimir Putin WWE promo on Monday and how it caused a controversial stir on Twitter during the show.
Examples of Twitter comments from fans included calling it “not politically correct,” claiming it goes against the WWE’s participation in the NOH8 campaign, and one person even claiming that the WWE was “praising” Putin in the promo. It seems most of these people have a clue that the WWE is a scripted television show. The person “praising” Putin was a bad guy and a villain, and this is something the WWE has done for years.
During the Gulf War, American hero Sgt. Slaughter turned evil, became an Iraqi sympathizer and brought in a manager named General Adnan. He even won the WWF Championship as an Iraqi sympathizer and was the biggest villain in the company at the time. The Iron Sheik has even used a regular promo where he says Iran rules and the U.S. sucks while spitting. The WWE uses current events, and what better way to get fans hating Alexander Rusev even more than to align him politically with Vladimir Putin.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the WWE has angered fans with their use of current political events. When Muhammad Hassan showed up using the gimmick of a Detroit born Muslim who was tired of being discriminated against, it was one of the WWE’s best gimmicks in years. When they had him bring in masked men to attack Undertaker in their feud, the gimmick was labeled a “terrorist gimmick” by the press and UPN pressured to keep the character off their network, which was where “Smackdown” aired.
As the Washington Post article stated, when Lana dedicated the WWE match to Vladimir Putin, it was a way to get the fans booing the wrestler at “Extreme Rules.” However, many fans can’t see that the WWE is a TV show much like “24” and “The Following,” so storylines like these are frowned upon. In this case, just because an actor on WWE television uses current political events to create heat does not mean the WWE endorses those beliefs.