WWE Superstar Tensai made a racially insensitive comment while posting his first Tout video. Tensai was traveling with his personal chauffeur, Sakamoto, to Indianapolis—the site of Tuesday’s SmackDown taping. During the video, Tensai says it’s “very, very dangerous” to drive with a Japanese person. He then slaps Sakamoto as he’s driving, and orders him “to open his eyes.” The post has since been deleted, but thanks to those with quick fingers, it’s been saved on YouTube. Check it out:
WWE’s Sr. Director of Publicity Kevin Hennessy issued the following apology, saying:
“While in character, Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom) clearly took his storyline too far and he will be reprimanded for his inappropriate comments.”
Sakamoto was the victim of another racial comment on Raw, as Jerry “The King” Lawler said following the Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd match, “When Tensai beats up Sakamoto, he changes his name to Sum Ting Wong.”
This all comes just one day after A.W. made a Kobe Bryant-rape joke on Raw. As Titus O’Neil and Kofi Kingston battled in the ring during Monday’s Raw, A.W., who was wearing a live mic, yelled from ringside, “Did you see that? Titus O’Neil is like Kobe Bryant at a hotel in Colorado. He’s unstoppable!!”
The remark was in reference to the basketball star being accused of sexual assault in 2003, after having sex with a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after his accuser refused to testify. A civil suit was later filed and settled out of court.
A rep for WWE issued the following statement to TMZ, saying:
“A.W. made an inappropriate comment and WWE immediately apologized. WWE has taken appropriate action in the matter.”
A.W. immediately apologized to company brass, including the McMahon family, as well as several wrestlers following his remark, and has also vowed to refrain from making similar remarks in the future.
As of right now, however, it’s unclear what the “action” or “reprimand” for either talent will be.
But it’s an absolute shame that these men are being punished for doing their job well.
Now, in no way am I condoning racism. What Tensai said was obviously insensitive and politically incorrect, and probably just shouldn’t have said it, plain and simple. And I also don’t condone rape on any level. But the backlash these two have received is unfair and completely out of proportion. Both comments–although offensive and insensitive–were hilarious, and were not intended as derogatory statements designed to defame a race or ethnicity.
Ultimately, both men made edgy comments because they’re heels. That’s their job. Heels get heat for saying things that will anger fans or take down a babyface. Let them do what they need to do to get over. Rape isn’t funny, but a joke at the expense of Kobe’s image is. Watching top athletes twist in the wind over idiotic, avoidable, short-sighted decisions is as much fun for me as I’m sure it is for everyone else.
While both comments were ‘wrong’ in a sense, they were both funny, and they both worked well in the grand scheme of things–if you remove race and rape from the context of their comments, there was absolutely nothing wrong with what was said. Tensai’s character continues to develop as he takes his frustration out on his manager, and A.W. garners heat for a new tag team, The Prime Time Players.
Recently, John Cena and Shawn Michaels made ‘gay’ jokes on Twitter and quickly removed them and issued apologies. With WWE now PG and Linda McMahon running for office, WWE wisely covered their own hides from every conceivable angle, and understandable issued an apology. But it wasn’t always like that. Today’s politically-correct society is afraid to say anything bad about anything for fear of punishment.
Here’s the thing that drives me crazy. WWE issued apologies for Tensai and A.W.’s comments, but they’re incredibly hypocritical with other talent. Never has WWE issued an apology for making fun of Jim Ross’ Bells Palsy. Never have they apologized for making fun of Vickie Guerrero’s weight, or for Mickie James’ pig storyline, or for Eve Torres being called a “hoe.”
WWE prides themselves on their Be-A-Star and Stand Up for WWE campaigns which fight bullying and promote equality at a young age. Yet, Jim Ross has a disability, and Vince McMahon continues to dispense jokes at Ross’ expense. WWE has a detailed history of racially offensive and morally/ethically questionable storylines and character personalities over the years. Take, for example, Kane having sex with a dead body in October 2002 (see: Katie Vick). One of the worst storylines in the history of professional wrestling (I have it up there with the birth of Mae Young’s hand child) goes untouched. It seems apologies and retractions only occur in WWE when it’s convenient for them to save face.
What WWE has done over the last few days, in a nutshell, is why no one is watches or likes their product anymore, and why ratings are one-third of what they were during the Attitude Era boom. There’s a P-C umbrella over everything that’s said, and anything that’s not pre-approved will pay the consequences one way or another.
Many people complain about the lack of personalities in wrestling characters nowadays. At first, I didn’t really see it–there are/were some great heels in the WWE over the past decade. But now, I’m beginning to understand that everybody really is the same–they’re all cut from the same cookie-cutter mold, and everybody seems to blend together. They look the same and talk the same. No more will wrestlers grab a mic, head to the ring and cut a promo from the heart. There’s no more creativity in their character building, and the product has suffered as a result.
And so, to everyone throwing a fit over what was said, I say this–lighten up. There are way worse things to say to people than what Tensai & A.W. said. Get over it. They’re heels. They’re supposed to say things that irk you and make you want to hate them. The more you hate them, the better they’re doing their job. The success of their character is based on crowd reactions: they want you to boo them as hard as possible. If you don’t boo them, they’re doing something wrong.
If you think Tensai should be punished, consider this: WWE viewers have been punished enough in having to put up with this stupid gimmick.
So rather than getting upset over a scripted soap opera, Tensai & A.W.’s comments are a perfect time to celebrate the true, classic heel–one that comes along but once in a decade. The heel that snarled at you during an autograph session. The bad guy that saw your fan sign in the front row, then ripped it in half right in front of your face. The antagonist that took the straw out of your drink and threw it to the ground, or the one that would take a kid’s baseball cap and pull it down over his face.
Here’s to the villain that kicks a Brazilian flag in the middle of the ring to get heat in another continent; to the one that screwed the WWF Champion over at Survivor Series in 1997; to the one that turned on and left each one of his Evolution team members a bloody mess; to the one that abused a straight-edge superstar’s substance-abuse-ridden family.
To the one that sat cross-legged at the top of the ramp and cut one of the best work/shoot promos in the history of professional wrestling, turning the entire industry on its head.
Celebrate the true heels of your generation of professional wrestling. Appreciate what they bring to the table, and how they make you love to hate them. Think about how hard it is to accomplish what they’ve done, and how they’ve managed to get everybody to hope with all their might that they lose to the hero.
Because before you know it, legitimate heels will be a thing of the past.