Source: The World According To Wrestling
Stereotypes in wrestling are nothing new. It was just a few weeks ago that Shinsuke Nakamura was called "Mr. Miyagi" and other references that are offensive to his Japanese heritage. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal's entire heel persona revolves around the fact that he is a foreign champion from India. On the latest episode of The World According To Wrestling podcast, Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Court Bauer commented on dealing with stereotypes in the WWE.
Guerrero had adopted one of the most controversial gimmicks of the modern era when he became "Kerwin White" in 2005. In the storyline, Guerrero had denounced his Mexican heritage and portrayed a stereotypical middle-class, conservative Anglo-American man. He died his hair blonde and began driving a golf cart to the ring. Guerrero said it's really not up to him what kind of character he plays. He says he either works the gimmick given to him, or he loses his job.
"Everything you see in wrestling, it's not really coming from the wrestlers. It's coming from the writers," Guerrero explained. "So the story with the Kerwin White character is me coming off a plane from Japan and Vince McMahon coming up to me and saying, 'Hello Kerwin,' and I said, 'Oh what does that mean?' 'Well today you're going to denounce your Mexican heritage and you're going to become a white guy.' So you've got two things: you can either say no and get fired, or you can say, 'Good, let's embrace this character and let's really do it.'"
Guerrero said it's not as easy for lower-tier wrestlers to succeed in the business, so they've got to accept what's given to them and make the most out of their characters.
"If it was up to anyone of us, we'd all be John Cena or Batista and destroying everybody and being the champ. But it's not. It's up to Vince McMahon and there can only be one champ," Guerrero said. "With everyone else you have to make lemonade out of lemons. And TV is the same thing you have Alison [Brie], Marc [Maron] and stars of GLOW. Everyone wants to be the star and not the co-star but there's only room for a couple of stars. And every federation you go to is the same thing. You just do what you got to do with your character."
Bauer, a former WWE creative writer, was asked if he ever thought a character crossed the line. He pointed to the Mexicools faction, which consisted of Juventud, Super Crazy and Psicosis. The group frequently parodied the stereotypical portrayal of Mexicans as labor workers. Bauer said the whole thing initially started out as a joke, but the whole thing rubbed him the wrong way.
"I was there for the Mexicools and that was a racist joke made someone and all of sudden, within 12 hours, you have three guys that were earmarked to be part of reviving the cruiserweight division now part of a trio act with lawnmowers that to this day still offends people," Bauer said. "I have friends in Mexico who still talk about how offensive that was and ask me if I had anything to do with it. I did not. I was hoping we would have a revived cruiserweight division. I'm sure there have been other examples in the last few years but that one really stuck out to me"