In the fictional world of professional wrestling, the bad guys’ backstories are drawn from all areas of geography and logical thought. They may hail from Iran and Russia (the Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff) or emerge as turncoats of personal and patriotic ideology, like “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s betrayal of Hulk Hogan out of purported jealousy, or Sgt. Slaughter becoming an Iraqi sympathizer in the middle of the Gulf War.
Part of World Wrestling Entertainment’s cultural currency has been to create struggles between good and evil. Sometimes a character’s villainous narrative riffs on tried-and-true human emotion; sometimes it plays on the xenophobia of its general viewing audience.
So what does it mean when the “bad guy” is rallying for causes worth believing in?
Since his shocking WWE Championship win in November 2018, Daniel Bryan has proclaimed himself a messenger for a cause much greater than himself — environmentalism. Bryan takes the audience to task for drinking from plastic water bottles and eating factory-farmed meat; quotes Alexander Hamilton and William Gaddis; beefs with wrestling venue Chase Field over i... Read more