From Insulting Christians to Becoming Their Business Partners
Millions of individuals and dozens of countries tune in every week to watch shows provided by the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. For decades people have watched the adrenaline-fueled version of the soap opera. Scripted stories that can go on for years, characters that are larger than life, and scenarios of violence that often times can seem surreal, the WWE has become a billion dollar industry.
Why is the Relationship Between WWE and Christianity So Strange?[/tweetthis]
One of the common recurring themes is the depressing end for many wrestlers. Because of the physical toll of wrestling, many former wrestlings become addicted to pain killers. Drug addiction, depression, and financial hardships become a too frequent problem. However, there is a parallel story, that of redemption of through religion.
Many former wrestlers become born-again Christians, with several being able to revitalize their careers or find other careers heavily based on their faith. For example, Shawn Michaels has retooled himself based upon his faith. The 90s wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts, returned as a devout Christian wrestler that had a snake called “Revelations.”
This is not so removed from the WWE. Many of the top wresterls are devout Christians. Iconic Wrestlers like Hulk Hogan or John Cena credit their success both in wrestling and mainstream media with their faith.
But this was not always the case. WWE has not been respectful of Christianity. In one instance, the owner and frequent participatnt in the matches, Vinch McMahon, decided to wrestler with God as his wrestling partner and then claimed to have defeated God in a dance battle. During the Atttitude Era you had Stone Cold Steven Austin tell another wrestler “You sit there and you thump your Bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your songs, talk about your John 3:16. Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ***.” It had crucifixions, satanic themes, and inapprioprate depicttions of women.
So what changed? Well first, the lucrative market of Christians became a powerful motivating factor. The return of wrestling using their faith became a way to have new distinct customers. In 2015 the WWE purchased the Christian movie The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. It featured Shawn Michael and is a feel-good movie that is more related to faith-based films than Hollywood movies.
The WWE constantly changes to expand its base. Expanding to China is a recent example of this. But from an organization that notoriously has skimpy outifits and outrageous violence, the recent overt adoption of conservativce Christian values seems a bit odd. But when there is the ability to make money, there is usual a big enough incentive to change one’s views.