WWE apologizes for Russian flag incident

rusev lanaInteresting move today from WWE, which issued an apology for an angle on this week’s Monday Night Raw in which Big Show ripped down a Russian flag flying over the ring to further his beef with Rusev.

The statement: “We at WWE would like to apologize to the Russian people for the incident on Monday Night Raw that could have been construed as disrespect for their nation’s flag.”

That a statement was issued implies that there was some heat from somewhere over the angle, and that the heat was enough to push a company that does just about everything over the top to come to its knees.

Considering the heat the company has been getting for the other side of the Rusev angle, which has the Bulgarian-turned-Russian and his mouthpiece, Lana, an American who was raised in Russia, praising Russian President, and avowed America hater, vladimir putin on a weekly basis, it’s curious, to say the least, that if there was any apology to be offered, it would be to Russians for this particular flag incident.

Wrestling promoters are at their best when they don’t apologize for anything; it’s their job to entertain us, and to do so by at times pushing buttons that we don’t want pushed. Ethnic national characters are part and parcel to the way the business has worked dating back a century now. Russians, Germans, Asians, Italians, Soutb Americans, Native Americans, name the nationality, they’ve served a purpose, as bad guys and good guys.

And in the case of the Rusev-Lana duo, they’ve become a top heel pairing for WWE with their constant anti-American drumbeat providing entertainment for fans who have seen all-American favorites Jack Swagger and Mark Henry go down in defeat. Big Show is the next tackling dummy for the big man to take down, and the flag incident Monday night was written to add fuel to the fire before the inevitable beatdown to be delivered by Rusev, who is clearly being set up for a big payoff match with WWE hero John Cena probably early next year.

For the storyline to play out the way it needs to, Lana needs to continue to shove Putin love down our throats, and the all-Americans that WWE puts in front of them need to be able to respond in kind to build the interest in the matches along the way.

In that context, if WWE is going to start apologizing for what it does to build interest in matches involving Rusev, or for that matter anybody else on its roster, it might as well adopt Greco-Roman rules, drop the ring music, any other pretense of glitz and glamor, and start putting on, ahem, real wrestling, which is to say, you know, the boring stuff that not enough the Olympics wants anymore.

– Column by Chris Graham

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