Why Was a Wrestler Told to Stop Talking About the Environment?
Feb 19 2020 Read 1239 Times
WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan (real name Bryan Danielson) has cultivated an onstage persona of the ultra-environmentalist. For the last few years, Bryan has championed the causes of Mother Nature, chastising WWE fans for their needless consumerism and even fashioning a sustainable championship belt made from hemp rather than leather.
However, it has emerged that Bryan was recently told by those in charge at the WWE to tone down his activism. Their reasoning was that environmentalism is a political issues and all politics should be left at ringside in the sports entertainment industry. Bryan, however, counters that climate change and global warming are scientific issues and as such should be free from that kind of censorship.
From hero to zero
For much of his career, Bryan has been something of a neutral character, garnering support from fans for his “Yes!” catchphrase and Final Countdown entrance music. However, Danielson’s real-life veganism and support for environmental issues has crept into his WWE persona, ironically resulting in him becoming a “heel” (or villain) in the eyes of fans.
For example, he sparked a feud with fellow wrestler Mustafa Ali due to his decision to drive an SUV, while he constantly used his time on the microphone between bouts to berate fans and wrestlers alike for their consumerist lifestyle, meat-based diet and profligate habits. At the beginning of 2019, Bryan threw the leather title belt away, replacing it with one made from hemp and oak as a natural and sustainable alternative.
His shift towards environmentalism did not go down well with the fans as it was seen as being overly preachy – but it apparently didn’t sit right with WWE owners, either. In an interview with wrestling media company My San Antonio, Bryan revealed that those at the top of the tree had asked him to stop discussing the environment during working hours due to it being “a political issue”.
“When I was doing the environmental thing, they actually told me to stop talking about the environment because they told me it was a political issue and we don’t want to deal with politics,” he explained. “I said, ‘It’s not a political issue. It’s a scientific issue, and the sciences pretty much prove it.’ So rather than looking at it from a right or left point of view, let’s look at it as, ‘Hey, improving the environment is a bulletproof idea to improve all of our children’s lives.’ And I think that’s also something that people can get behind, too. But how you do that in a wrestling format? I have no idea.”
A sign of the American times
The WWE’s decision to censor Bryan’s environmentalism is just another symptom of the USA’s current attitude towards such issues. At a time when traditionally polluting countries like India are focusing more on environmental monitoring, the USA is turning its back on that area of interest. President Trump has already withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2016, and implemented many more measures aimed at toning down American action on the environment.
For example, the US government has aggressively censored all debate on climate change since Trump took over, even replacing the term altogether in departmental emails with the phrase “weather extremes”. Meanwhile, Trump has also shut down all climate research by NASA, saying the organisation should focus on space exploration instead.
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