While specifics vary from source to source, it’s something of a wrestling open secret that The Fabulous Moolah was financially and sexually exploitative of her trainees throughout the latter half of the 20th century. The lack of widespread revolt is probably just because her name doesn’t come up too often.
So what happened when WWE tried to create a female equivalent to the Andre Battle Royal? Fabulous Moolah was their choice of headliner, in a show of excellent decision-making.
Fans, understandably, are in an uproar over this. It’s especially bad in an era when WWE pats themselves on the back for how feminist they are, deserved or not. Twitter is flooded. The comments on the YouTube video announcing the name are disabled. (Classic damage control.) Several women on the roster even deleted their tweets celebrating Moolah’s accomplishments. WWE hasn’t commented yet, but it probably won’t be good, if addressed at all.
With Wade Keller reporting on Sam Roberts’ podcast that an active WWE roster member told him she had never heard about Moolah’s sins before, it’s no wonder there isn’t more revolt from within. Wrestlers who don’t explicitly go studying their history are isolated from this. WWE, obviously, has no interest in owning up to their longtime worship of a monster.
Moolah has no place in a modern WWE, and shouldn’t have had a place in an older one.
WWE can’t uphold Moolah during a self-proclaimed Women’s Revolution. The only way to make all the self-aggrandizement genuine – no matter how many women’s main events they run – is to dismantle the systems of oppression that put wrestling’s women under a thumb in the first place. That certainly implicates everyone in the business who can’t leave their carnival baggage behind, including and perhaps especially Vince McMahon, but it’s hard to find someone more directly involved of direct oppression and abuse than Moolah. (Other than the predators who patronized her, of course. I just don’t happen to have those names to shame.)
It’s a shame that most media won’t cover shady practices in wrestling. It makes sense; the community was, and partly still is, so insular that nobody would “rat” anyway, so to speak. But it also creates filter bubbles, where abuse of New Japan trainees, Chris Benoit’s domestic violence even before his murders, and the crimes of The Fabulous Moolah disappear under the glitz and glamor of Wrestlemania.
Asking a “legitimate” source to cover this seriously is a pipe dream at best. Instead, what we have is angry Tweets possibly spurring performers to do some Googling.
For now, that’ll just have to be enough.
Besides, the Mae Young Memorial Battle Royale has a much better ring to it anyway.
Image courtesy WWE.com
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