Politics in wrestling and the politics of wrestling.

It’s often said that in polite conversation two topics should always be avoided: religion and politics. And while the wrestling industry doesn’t shy away from either, it certainly steers hard into political topics. For decades some of the top heels in the industry were just caricatures of whomever was seen as the biggest enemy of America at the time. Post World War II audiences watched evil villains such as Fritz & Waldo Von Erich and Baron Von Raschke goose step around the ring to play up on post war tensions. The Cold War saw a cavalcade of evil Russian wrestlers do battle with all types of star-spangled American babyfaces. However once the Iron Curtain fell, most of those “Russians” still actively working suddenly became friendly Russian characters, or in some cases moved on to new gimmicks all together and their communist past was never mentioned again. During the height of the Iran hostage crisis Iranian strongman The Iron Sheik would proudly wave a flag with a picture of the ayatollah on it, all while spitting on evil America. Only for G.I. Joe himself in the form of Sgt. Slaughter to come to America’s defense and put down this evil foreign menace. Perhaps the most well known example of playing up American might is Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster would tell his young fans to say their prayers and eat their vitamins all while doing battle with the likes of the aforementioned Iron Sheik and several other politically charged villains. In recent years the title of the all American superhero has been taken up by John Cena who did battle with the once again evil Russian villain. The political involvement in wrestling doesn’t end in the ring. Several wrestlers and wrestling personalities have transitioned from the ring to political offices. Jesse Ventura was able to parlay his wrestling fame into a successful campaign for the Governorship of Minnesota. Gov. Ventura even returned as a special referee for a WWE Championship match while in the Governor’s office. Long before he would occupy the Oval Office, Donald Trump hosted WWE’s flagship event Wrestlemania twice and participated in the main event of another. The former CEO of WWE Linda McMahon went on to serve in President Trump’s cabinet after two failed Senate runs. The history of political storylines is a rich and varied one so join us this Sunday at 6pm CDT on “Issues with Wrestling” as we discuss the past, present and future of politics in wrestling. 
Photo Credit: WWE

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