KELLER'S TAKE KELLER: Mark LoMonaco (Bully Ray) crosses a line when he "punks" a fan using multiple anti-gay epithets in Chicago
Mar 19, 2013 - 3:39:51 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Thursday in Chicago, as Bully Ray (real name: Mark LoMonaco) was leaving the ring with his Aces & Eights cohorts, he did what many heels do - he got in the face of fans and insulted them. That technique has been around forever and there's nothing wrong with it. Of course heels are jerks. You can't get heel heat if after cutting a heel promo in the ring, you smile, kiss babies, and hand out sunglasses or replica masks. Heels yell at fans as part of their act. Fans yell back. It's part of the fun of being at a wrestling show in person.
Bully Ray last Thursday night was caught on camera going too far. Way too far. Distastefully too far, well beyond what any fan should expect to be subjected to at a pro wrestling show, either as a direct target of the verbal barrage or just within earshot.
After Bully was jawing with various fans, he walked up to one fan, who just happened to be standing in front of someone who was recording with his camera so it was all caught on video. He walked up to this male fan, who was wearing a sleeveless shirt and had long dark hair and who didn't appear to say anything to him. Bully got within a few inches of his face and unleashed this rant:
[*** Warning: The language here is offensive and unedited ***]
"Sit down, faggot. Yeah… [inaudible for a second]. What are you gonna do? You ain't gonna do a damn thing. You got punked in your own frickin' town. I'm punkin' you out in front of [Bully leans to the side, looks at who's sitting next to the fan, and says], I'm gonna say your daughter. You got punked! You invented fags, you fag. You should've did something already, you should've did something already, but you ain't doing nothing'. I'm punking you in front of your hometown. You frickin' queer. You shave your frickin' chest."
Bully then walked away. Various Aces & Eights cohorts, including Mr. Anderson and Knox, made gestures to the fan as they walked by him. Knox had a few additional words.
There's a chance a word here or there was not audible or I misheard it, but you get the gist of it.
The lowest form of heel heat is resorting to walking up to someone and using a term like "faggot," "fag," and "queer." In 2013, after decades of discrimination and hateful language like that contributing to a culture that has instigated and empowered bigoted people to teasing, beating up, and sometimes killing people who were gay or they suspected were gay or just had effeminate traits, that language flat out shouldn't be part of a heel wrestler's vernacular (or anyone's, for that matter). Just last month a mayoral candidate in Clarksdale, Mississippi was murdered. He was also the first openly gay political candidate in Mississippi history. [NEWS STORY LINK]
I have been told Dixie Carter and Bully Ray will both be issuing public apologies for last Thursday's incident caught on tape, there will be disciplinary action levied against Bully and that Bully says he feels horrible about it. That's nice and it's the right thing to do after the fact. It's telling, no matter how "terrible" Bully feels now, that those specific words rolled off his tongue like that in the first place.
No fan who attends a TNA event, which is marketed to families, should be subject to that. There might be a backstory or a context that explains why Bully picked that fan out, but there was nothing in the video that indicated the fan did anything other than stand there as Bully walked by. He was the tallest fan in the area, so perhaps Bully went after him to prove what a badass he was.
In any case, that fan was in a no-win situation. Stand there and stare down Bully as he pelted him with one demeaning, derogatory epithet after another, including bringing his family into it, or walk away and perhaps look worse in front of his family and "home town," or punch back, which would result in his being arrested.
Yes, Bully's gimmick is that he's a bully. There's a way to be a Bully that fits with the tone of the show. It's an honor at some stand-up comedy shows to be called out and made fun of. There are comedians who bring the crowd into it. But I doubt there are many comedians who would respect the level of vile over-the-top crassness and bigoted language that Bully used in that instance, apparently unprovoked. I talked to one experienced pro wrestler whose opinion I respect immensely and who has played both a babyface and a heel in multiple promotions in his career, and he felt Bully went way, way over the line.
If this were an ECW show, it'd still be the cheapest, lamest form of getting crowd heat. No one as immensely talented as Bully should have to resort to that, but at least at an ECW show you could say the fan knew a little more what he was getting into since ECW was never marketed to families. It'd still be shameful and lame of Bully to use that language, but the fan would have less ground to stand on terms of feeling unjustly attacked and humiliated.
If fans believe that's the kind of language and personal attack that might be coming their way, or that their family members including children might be subject to overhearing that, TNA is going to make some people think twice about attending the show.
I doubt Spike TV, and parent company Viacom, would be thrilled with the resulting publicity from having a leading character on one of their top rated TV shows using those words and going after an audience member so harshly and relentlessly, especially unprovoked.
I'm curious to see how far TNA goes in addressing this. I have been a huge fan of Bully Ray's work the last year or so as both a heel and a babyface. I've been a proponent of his getting a run with the World Title. I've applauded that he's gotten himself into, by far, the best shape of his career. I think he's been one of the most deserving wrestlers in the industry of a main event push.
This week he's just as talented as he was last week. However, after seeing the video from last Thursday, I feel differently about him as a person and have lost respect for him as a professional.
(View the video below. The incident at topic begins at the 6:15 mark near the end of the video.)
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