Many conservatives were disgusted after the WWE debuted a "Tea Party" character in Jack Swagger to fight against World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio for the top title April 7.
Cage Side Seats describes him as an "American with twisted values on what his country should look like, complete with a xenophobic and slightly racist manager named Zeb Colter." The WWE website simply says he's "hell-bent on fixing everything about them that is 'broken.'"
Swagger, heaving his muscles and struggling to pronounce every word through the sweat, introduced Colter as a "great American" last week.
Colter, complete with a handlebar mustache, continued:
Fellow Americans! I got a question for ya! What is wrong with America? Zeb Colter knows what's wrong! Jack Swagger knows what's wrong! But I think most Americans have forgotten what is wrong with America. Years ago, me and this man's daddy laid in a jungle in Vietnam with bullets whizzin' by our heads. You know why? Because we were real patriots, we were real Americans.
And now I look around and I see a country I don't even recognize. I see people with faces not like mine. I see people that I don't even know what they're saying. They can't even talk to me. And I look around and I think, where did all these people come from? But most importantly I think, how do we get rid of 'em? We the people! Americans, real Americans, know the truth! Zeb Colter knows the truth! Jack Swagger knows the truth! Because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the free and whoever wants to cross our borders! ... It's our country and it's our land, to protect and defend! [Emphasis added]
Here's video of the exchange, filled with shouts of "We the People!" from Swagger (skip to about 1:15):
According to WrestleZone, WWE announcers joked that Swagger has received fan mail from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Alex Jones.
Twitchy aggregated some of the best responses in an article titled: "WWE's racist Tea Party villain as realistic as pro wrestling."
"Only the @wwe can think a 'tea party' wrestler 4 years late is a good idea," @brodigan wrote. @MarkWierzbicki added along the same lines: "WWE parodying the Tea Party. Only four years behind. Not bad! #RAW."
@j_millerdark concluded: "Yeah, the WWE is back to being racist. The Real American against the wealthy Mexican whose fighting for the poor."
Here's a statement on immigration by Swagger and Colter, complete with a Don't Tread on Me flag:
The entire scenario leaves many wondering why the WWE would choose to create such a character. The WWE is typically thought of as having a greater viewership on the right than the left, though that's not backed up by any statistics, and the family that started the network has a longstanding connection to the Republican Party.
Linda McMahon, who developed the WWE with her husband, has run numerous times for office as a Republican in her home state of Connecticut. She most recently ran to replace retiring Senator Joe Lieberman in 2012, but lost to Chris Murphy.
Responding to the criticism, the WWE released a statement: “WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters. This storyline in no way represents WWE’s political point of view. One should not confuse WWE’s storytelling with what WWE stands for, similar to other entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios or Viacom."
So what do you think? Is the sketch all in good fun, or is it an offensive jab at Tea Partiers and conservatives?
Editor's Note: TheBlaze's Mike Opelka joined Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker on Wednesday's BlazeCast to bring his insight into how WWE storylines are created: