Last week on the TNA wrestling program, Impact, ring announcer Christy Hemme made a mistake. While introducing the participants in a tag team match, she erroneously referred to Bobby Roode and Austin Aries as Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, who were their opponents. Looking extremely pissed off, Aries and Roode made their way down the ramp. Upon entering the ring, Aries confronted Hemme and actually cornered her demanding that she re-do their introduction. She got it right the second time but Aries still wasn’t satisfied.
He then climbed the second turnbuckle from the inside so his crotch would be directly in Hemme’s face. While he was posing she couldn’t escape. The startled ring announcer laughed purely out of nervousness before urging Aries to climb down which he eventually did. According to reports online, this wasn’t a work. Aries was genuinely upset at Hemme’s honest mistake.
But he clearly overreacted. Honestly, ring announcers, like anybody else, are human. I was watching a WWE DVD not that long ago that showed a late 80s Madison Square Garden match. As Howard Finkel, who is considered the greatest of all time, introduces Ravishing Rick Rude he mentions that he’s being accompanied by his manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Unfortunately, there was no Heenan. Just Rude. If I’m remembering correctly, Finkel wasn’t publicly reprimanded by the former InterContinental Champion for his flub. And furthermore, it’s not the only mistake he’s made (he’s also said the wrong name of a wrestler at times) but it’s the only one I can think of offhand.
At any event, Hemme simply got the order of the teams wrong. Not a big deal. But Aries has turned it into a workplace safety issue thanks to his atrocious behaviour. Cornering a woman and then putting your crotch in her face is harassment, pure and simple. Whether it happens in public or in private it’s also shamefully sexist conduct. It’s like he was trying to send a sinister message to her like a neanderthal. Don’t fuck up again or else.
Look, I get it. Aries is on a tag team heel run with Roode and he probably figured he could get some heat out of his actions. But in the world of professional wrestling, everything has to be approved beforehand. Everybody has to be on board with the angles. There’s no way that any woman, let alone Christy Hemme, would’ve ever consented to that kind of harassment.
That being said, Hemme isn’t the only female ring announcer who’s been given a hard time for making mistakes. The WWE’s Lilian Garcia has also committed an occasional flub from time to time. In one deeply embarrassing incident from earlier this year, supposed good guy John Cena scolded her in front of a paying crowd during a Smackdown taping saying she wasn’t as professional as Tony Chimel after screwing up Zack Ryder’s introduction. (She called him “Jack Swagger” by accident.) I know Cena is Mr. Charity and all but his behaviour was just as appalling in its sexism. Can you imagine a male ring announcer being subjected to that kind of public humiliation?
But back to Aries. According to this, he will be punished for his sexist, unprofessional behaviour. What that punishment will be is not yet certain. But I suspect it will be a short suspension with or without pay along with a phony, forced apology and possibly a de-push. (Why do I think it won’t be sincere? Because of this.)
It’s pretty clear that if this happened in an office or any other workplace, Aries would be unemployed right now, which is why TNA President Dixie Carter should send a direct message to everybody in the company by making his dismissal a reality. (So far, this is her only public comment on the matter. It’s not very reassuring.) If they have a “zero tolerance policy” on workplace harassment, then fully enforce it. Don’t let this man think he can get away with being an asshole.
If he’s not fired, it means TNA doesn’t care about protecting its Knockouts and it doesn’t take the scourge of sexual harassment very seriously.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
UPDATE: According to this TMZ report, Aries has privately apologized to Hemme and has been fined an undisclosed amount by TNA. Not good enough. He should’ve been fired. The toleration of inappropriate behaviour in the wrestling world continues.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, May 16, 2013