There is a new Pro Wrestling section coming to The Farsighted in the coming months with confirmed columns on jobbers, classic matches, and current events. While The Farsighted has always has an independent spirit and plans to highlight much of the lesser known parts of the pro wrestling world, we also will be looking at, critiquing, and discussing the big boys. Today, here’s a brief taste of the type of thoughts I plan to share on St. Vince’s empire and his chase after the almighty dollar.
Sunday night marked the annual PPV event that features two fun and unique 8-man (or woman) ladder matches that give the winner a briefcase they can use to “cash in” at any time to get an opportunity at a championship of their choosing. The matches make this PPV among the year’s best each year and the event is almost always a great watch. This year was no different. In fact, the entire card was fantastic, playing off an extremely firey live crowd and some great feuds. However, not everything was on the up and up.
The pre-show featured a tag match that, in a bubble, was a fantastic display of 3 veterans and a younger talent putting their athleticism and skill front and center. The Usos, one of the modern era’s greatest tag teams, won the match and brought more gold to “The Bloodline” – joining their cousin Roman Reigns as champions on the SmackDown brand. On screen, it all makes sense. In a bubble, it’s a great progression of the company’s most important storyline… but we don’t live in a bubble.
Jonathan Solofa Fatu, aka Jimmy Uso, was arrested on July 5th, less than 2 weeks prior to this year’s Money in the Bank PPV. With a series of DUI related arrests and police run ins, it’s celar to the outsider that Fatu has a problem with alcohol and needs some help. The logical step is to remove Fatu from the spotlight, get him into an appropriate level of treatment, and bring him back after he gets his head straight. Not only did the company not do this, but Jimmy Uso was the first and last things the audience saw on the July 9th episode of SmackDown. Not only was he prominent on the episode after the arrest, but he’s been even more prominent since. And, then it culminated Sunday when he was awarded one of the tag team belts, placing storyline and profits ahead of doing the right thing.
Sadly, no one should be surprised that WWE is placing profit ahead of doing right by their wrestlers. Allowing wrestlers to use drugs unchecked for decades has led to record numbers of tragedies – as evidenced by far too many examples, such as the fact that every Hulk Hogan opponent from the first 6 Wrestlemanias have since passed on. Life expectancy among professional wrestlers is far younger than for general public – which is certainly in part because of the way the beat up their bodies, but working for organizations that prioritize the almighty buck sure doesn’t help. In the case of Fatu (Uso), to allow him to remain on telev ision isn’t simply a bad message, but could very well be detrimental to his health and well being.
Unchecked alcoholism is deadly. Moreover, if we throw out the likelihood that Fatu has a legit alcohol problem, he certainly has a decision making problem, whereas he places himself in a position where he gets behind the wheel and/or in skirmishes with law enforcement while drunk. No matter the case, he clearly needs treatment. As a person working in the clinical rehabilitation world, I’d assert that without a proper evaluation, I wouldn’t ever be as foolish as to dictate the level of care he needs. However, keeping him in the high pressure spotlight of national television – and upping the stakes with the tag team belts – is very clearly a decision by the company that prioritizes money over the individual.
There are a ton of great headlines and fun stories coming out of Money in the Bank, but there’s a certain dark side to the decision made for that pre-show match. Discounting the fact that it sets a precedent of casting aside hard workers who helped keep the company together throughout the pandemic era in favor of someone who was literally just arrested for his poor decision making, the decision to go forward with this particular angle shows a lack of actual care for Fatu’s well being from his employers. This is just another example of why wrestling’s reluctance to allow unionization is literally killing professional wrestlers.