There are enough politics in pro wrestling.
During last night’s broadcast of Evolve 72 on the FloSlam app, an expanded distribution platform for the group, Joey Styles was doing commentary for the show. Styles, who was fired from his job at WWE.com a few months ago after he criticized the WWE product during a Facebook interview, made a reference to a Donald Trump quote toward a female performer on the show.
“Joanna, you look great tonight and if our next President were here tonight, he’d want to grab you by the —” Styles said.
Anyone that is reading this knows the original quote from Trump surfaced from footage caught after a mic that was left in between interviews with Access Hollywood 11 years ago. Whoever you voted for is your business and political affiliation has nothing to do with Styles’ comments. After one of the most divisive elections in the history of the country and those from both sides lashing out at each other, is there really any place for any type of political references at wrestling shows? Isn’t professional wrestling an escape from some of the harsh reality of the world?
Take nothing away from Joey Styles, he was the voice of one of the most influential promotions at one of the most influential times in wrestling history. His trademark, “oh my God!” sound byte is plastered over some of the wildest moments in the sport, and his legacy as an announcer is immortalized through the WWE network. Along with that, the sum of his work puts him among the best commentators in business, Ross, Solie, Russel etc. Granted, he had a different deliver in a different era, but when you list the greatest announcers in the history of the industry, he makes the list.
The problem for Joey Styles appears to be that he often tries to make insider or edgy comments simply to seem “cool” and it cost him opportunities. Keep in mind, during the Facebook interview that got him fired from WWE, he often said “and this will make the office mad” before he was critical of the direction of the product and then it actually became the result. Maybe Joey thinks he’s still in ECW where he can get away with saying anything, but for as long as he worked in the industry, he knows what not to say about a corporate company. Styles is smart enough to know what he shouldn’t say and if he says it anyway in an attempt to be “edgy” then there can be consequences.
Again, it has nothing to do with political affiliation, you can vote for Trump, Hilary, or Jesse Ventura. But, when something is completely polarizing, why mention it during a wrestling event, especially when it’s guaranteed to sour at least half the audience? Either people from both sides will take it as mocking a candidate that they support or making light of something that they find offensive. Plus, regardless of someone’s view on if such a remark should or shouldn’t be a factor to vote, it undoubtedly had a vulgarer context. What exactly did Styles’ comment add to the show? It didn’t push a wrestler or an angle and it certainly didn’t sell any tickets.
I deeply apologize for Joey Styles' comments and am furious
— Gabe Sapolsky (@BookItGabe) November 13, 2016
Since the backlash on Twitter, Gabe Sapolsky, the booker of Evolve, and the booker for ROH during arguably the peak of the promotion, issued an apology on social media for Styles’ comments. About 30 minutes later, Gabe tweeted that Evolve had parted ways with Joey Styles. Aside from Evolve, Styles has done work with Chikara, a VERY PG product so it remains to be seen if he will continue there. After his WWE release, Styles mentioned that he returned to working in marketing and wrestling projects were just a hobby on the weekends. It might be time for Joey to get a new hobby.
We've parted ways with Joey Styles and that's my final comment on this. Thank you for your support.
— Gabe Sapolsky (@BookItGabe) November 13, 2016
Ironically, (but not surprisingly) as of this writing, Joey Styles has not issued an apology or any type of statement about his dismissal from Evolve. Credit to Gabe for making the right decision in a timely manner so that the incident didn’t distract from their next show. However, I want to make it clear, I didn’t pen this column to reprimand Styles, but rather to let fans know that they shouldn’t sour on Evolve simply because of this negative incident that had more to deal with Joey than it did the actual content of the shows. Through a working agreement with WWE, Evolve features some of the stars of the WWE cruiser weight division, and more specifically, they always produce quality shows. Drew Gulak, Ethan Page, Zack Sabre Jr., and others provide performances that give the fans their money’s worth. It’s a very unique deal between WWE and Evolve because obviously, the Evolve product is tailored toward a specific demographic so it’s not as though they are going to compete with WWE, but the global exposure that Raw provides for some stars on Evolve shows helps boost the organization. If Evolve can get more viewers and became a more solidified group then it allows a platform for more competitors to make a name for themselves. Basically, the Evolve organization is good for pro wrestling, it gives fans a solid product and it gives wrestlers a stage to make a name for themselves.
As for Joey Styles, if someone’s comments gets them fired twice within the span of a few months then maybe they should be more careful about what they say to an audience.
The next Evolve event is today and you can get more information about the different ways you can watch the show at DGUSA.TV and WWNLive.com
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta