Wrestling “Backstage News” Requires More Skepticism

The recent speculation over why Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were sent home from WWE’s European tour is nothing new. Whenever drama happens behind the scenes, the internet is sure to explode with several versions of the event from dirtsheets, twice as many versions of the event from random people, and a few versions where it’s all an elaborate work. Add in well-loved talent like Zayn and Owens and you have an internet message board trainwreck.

The current theories (some obviously more reasonable than others) about why they were sent home are:

  • They refused to play along with a post-match beatdown of them by The New Day
  • They were acting up during transportation
  • It was something they did on camera on Smackdown
  • They said something inappropriate in a house show promo
  • They said something inappropriate in a Smackdown promo that got cut
  • Owens had a family emergency and Sami was sent with him
  • It’s all a work to further the Sami/Owens vs. Smackdown storyline

Wrestling and journalism are, conceptually, pure opposites. Journalism is about telling the truth. Wrestling is fundamentally about concealing it. The kayfabe we now exist in, where the veneer of “wrestling is fake” can be exploited for double-triple-quadruple-reverse-psychology worked shoots, is a strange place for reporting on real facts, especially when the facts happen to tie somehow into a storyline just by pure coincidence.

I doubt we’ll know the truth of this matter until Tuesday, or maybe shortly before. But I don’t know if there’s any industry whose journalists trip over each other to report incorrect information more quickly than professional wrestling, just because something has to get posted on the dirtsheets and make its way to Reddit. Being incorrect is understandable when it’s about booking, where plans change at the drop of a hat. But when reporting on something that actually happened, wrestling journalists need to be held to a much higher standard.

More importantly, the consumers of this content need to be much, much more discerning. I know that now I’m in the weeds of expecting internet commenters to be rational, which is the ultimate losing battle, but wrestling boards are a powder keg set off by the slightest rumor. There’s something human and understandable about making your mind up with limited information. That doesn’t make the conclusion you reach correct.

There’s nothing wrong with just admitting you don’t know what happened yet. And, in all forms of journalism consumption, there’s plenty wrong with the opposite.

Written by Bobby Murphy (@RobertJMurph)

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