In his first piece for PWP Nation, Marc Madison tackles the controversial issue of how a possible travel ban could negatively impact WWE.
As a Canadian, this really shouldn’t matter. The issue shouldn’t bother me in the least, but as a wrestling fan it actually could have potentially disturbing ramifications. While I may be considered misinformed or swayed by the media, I have to ponder whether or not a decision by the President of the United States could affect me as a paying consumer. The recent decision to institute a travel ban on individuals coming into the United States that are of a particular cultural descent may indeed effect who we see on a weekly basis.
Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles will dominate most non-televised events (also known as house shows), but as a fan of wrestling in all its facets mean watching the main event and the mid card isn’t all that I find entertaining. I’m one that appreciates what happens in the cruiserweight division as well.
Wrestlers portray a character, and it is these characters that fans will invest their time, their money and their hearts following. We don’t gravitate to a character that doesn’t do all that much for us. However, there are characters that attempt to generate heat by suggesting they are representative of people from the Middle East.
While I can’t pretend to be American, one would think that a country that is just a built-on immigration from other countries would embrace difference, but these particular characters are specifically created with the sole purpose is to highlight how they are different.
Ariya Davari and Mustafa Ali are two characters on the 205 Live roster that are focused on as much because of their differences as they are for their similarities. While Ali is embraced as a face, Davari comes to the ring with what is considered traditional Arab attire, much like his older brother Shawn wore years earlier when he was in WWE. In the case of Ali, he embraces being an American, and should be even if he is not announced as being born in the country (though he was). It should also be noted that Ali is the first wrestler to be employed by the WWE of Pakistani descent (this is not to be confused with the Great Khali, who is of, Punjabi descent).
So while in reality both men have American citizenship that doesn’t stop WWE from highlighting their cultural origins, and making that a primary focus of their character. This, despite the fact that WWE has two other performers of Middle Eastern descent, Aliyah and Sami Zayn, whose ethnic origins are completely ignored. In fact, more is made of the fact they were both born in Canada.
How exactly does the travel ban lead fans to wonder whether or not either of these wrestlers could be affected? It may not, but though they are not from the seven countries named in the ban, there is still the potential they could be stopped for investigation by authorities because of their names.
If there is one thing that WWE know for it has been their ability to travel around the world and compete in different countries, entertaining fans. If anyone could be detained for any reason, one has to wonder how at this particular time, in this particular age, if two men who are not a legitimate threat could be affected by decisions made outside their place of work. The lines between fantasy and reality are often blurred, and it could sadly be the case with these two men. The potential exist that factors outside their control could mean they are forced to complete locally, despite an intrinsic part of their job being the ability to perform globally.
This could just be speculation and all, however, the fact that these men were born and raised in the U.S, but portray ‘outsiders’ is unfortunate.
Fans who came to WWE more recently may not know of a young man by the name of Marc Copani. While the name doesn’t suggest meaning all that much, the character he portrayed was one that was so steeped in controversy that he walked away from the ring. The character was created as a means to unite a country after the tragic events of 911; Copani competed for WWE under the name Muhammed Hassan. This was even more absurd because Copani is actually of Italian descent, though he was being advertised as an Arab-American who simply was tired of prejudice and stereotypes. The results for WWE were awful. On one occasion, a lynching of the Undertaker by five masked men was said to be initiated by Hassan.
We may believe that a travel ban, and discussion of it are much ado about nothing. However, the fear is that there are implications that could lead to concerns tied to the world of wrestling. One can only hope that WWE is able to protect its talent by simply ensuring that their names don’t imply a threat to national security, and their performers are no cause for concern.
For more from Marc, you can follow him on his personal Twitter (@TheMarcMadison) and for more from PWP Nation, you can follow us on @PWPNation.