There’s a lot of things that I like about professional wrestling. One thing I don’t like, however, is when a professional wrestler or a commentator or someone involved in the field of sports entertainment uses an offensive slur in their commentary.
And last night, WWE on-air personality Corey Graves dropped such a comment.
He called his fellow broadcast paartner, Byron Saxton, a “sissy.”
Let me set this up.
Currently one of the wrestlers, R-Truth, holds a championship called the “24-7” belt, which can be challenged for anywhere, at any time. This usually means that the strapholder is a marked man, as anybody who brings a licensed referee with him or her can attempt to pin the champion and take his title.
Truth’s ring partner, a second-generation wrestler named Carmella, tried to have a match on last night’s SmackDown Live program against up-and-coming wrestler Mandy Rose. During the match between Rose and Carmella, several wrestlers stormed the ring, with the hope of pinning R-Truth and taking the 24-7 belt. Truth, figuring that discretion is the better part of valor, put Carmella on his shoulders and high-tailed it out of the building,
The commentators kept talking, with Byron Saxton suggesting that Truth might run faster if he left Carmella behind. Corey Graves, who plays the role of heel commentator, dropped this bit of dialogue.
“Shut up Saxton, of course you would leave a woman at ringside while you run away. You suck. You sissy!”
You really called your broadcast partner a sissy?
Here’s the clip of what happened. I don’t know how long this will stay up on YouTube, but you can hear it at about 5:40 of the video.
Hell, even the WWE realized that Graves’ language was out of bounds, as they edited off the “sissy” comment in their official video recap.
But the big thing is … Corey Graves should have never used the word “sissy” as an insult, as a pejorative. Calling someone a “sissy” suggests that they are an effeminate man, not a true man, perhaps a man who would rather be a woman, or something along those lines.
I get it – Graves is supposed to be a “heel” announcer, cheering for the bad guys and denigrating the good guys. And in the vein of classic heel announcers like Jerry “The King” Lawlor, Graves will act like the wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon whenever a sultry female wrestler approaches the ring. Which explains his undying infatuation for Mandy Rose, whom he keeps calling “God’s Greatest Creation,” even though she really hasn’t won that many matches without the help of her partner, MMA fighter Sonya DeVille.
But I’m getting off the track here.
I get it. In the heat of action, sometimes you say words you shouldn’t say. Years ago, professional wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer Booker T, during an interview for an upcoming fight against Hulk Hogan, got a bit too earthy for the interview.
And even after he said it, he knew he made a mistake. He thought he would be fired that day. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and Booker T went on to a Hall of Fame career.
But this goes back to what I’ve said before. There are words that no longer belong in our vocabulary. And calling someone a “sissy” is equivalent to using slurs like “faggot” or “queer” or “homo” or “pansy.” It wasn’t funny during third grade recess, and it sure as hell ain’t funny now.
And I don’t care if Corey Graves thought that calling Byron Saxton a “sissy” meant that Saxton would have tossed away his chivalry card. The insult wasn’t necessary.
You’re a better man than this, Graves.
Apologize and move on.