Crazy Gimmick: When 'Lunatic' Is A Step Too Far for Dean Ambrose and WWE | Smark Out Moment

Crazy Gimmick: When 'Lunatic' Is A Step Too Far for Dean Ambrose and WWE

Posted by Steph Maxwell-Kavanagh Thursday, May 12, 2016
What an interesting time we're having lately on WWE programming. We've got a man who never wears a shirt feuding with another man who wears a shirt until it falls apart like paper and a potted plant that just happened to get in the way of their rivalry. All things told, Mitch the plant was more over than Roman Reigns and had twice the charisma, so there was a certain amount of energy that could have kept things going with that, stringing the feud out between two guys who excel on the mic and are great technical wrestlers the rest of the time. It could have been a long-running feud of property destruction—something we've seen Dean Ambrose do plenty of times before against Seth Rollins. Why should that change simply because he's feuding with Chris Jericho now?

Dean Ambrose Potted Plant Destroyed

The other thing is that Jericho has a history of property destruction on his hands, too, such as slaughtering Francesca the trombone, Xavier Woods' pride and joy. There's a history of wrestlers destroying property as a means to fuel a feud, and it works beautifully. No one likes having their stuff taken or damaged, and that's something everyone in the crowd can understand, from the child who hates it when their sibling takes their toys, to the adult pissed off about who took their lunch out of the break room fridge. We all know what it feels like to have something taken from us that we love and cherish, or even just something we put time, effort or money into, and how we then feel about the person who does that.

Dean Ambrose Ruins Piece Of Wrestling History

But you know something that only a select number of the audience will know about, and be able to understand just as easily? What it feels like to be restrained against your will due to mental health issues. There are children in that SmackDown audience hearing "this is what you do to lunatics" and seeing someone who is restrained without their consent being beaten up. Sure, Jericho's meant to be the bad guy, but since when was 'bad guy' supposed to mean 'pushing ableism'? Hell, I guess being surprised is fucking stupid at this point, because WWE don't seem to draw the line at sexism or racism, so why would ableism be any different? Why would they care that this PG product, ostensibly aimed at children, could be sending negative messages about how we treat people who deviate from the straight white male in perfect mental and physical health?

WWE Wrestling Show SmackDown Mocks Mental Health Issues

There's precedence for this, of course. We've had Zeb Colter talking about undocumented immigrants sneaking over our borders, we've had Nikki and Brie Bella told to their faces that they only reason they got anywhere in wrestling was because they were sleeping their way to the top, and we've had a paralyzed Zack Ryder tipped out of a wheelchair. WWE isn't exactly known for keeping their gimmicks to the softer side of issues; they prefer to run out and tackle something head on, badly, and then pretend it didn't happen, like bringing up Reid Flair's death or that forcible kiss from Ric Flair to Becky Lynch.

WWE Commentator Speaks Out About Bipolar Disorder

I'm not surprised that WWE would stoop this low. With recent changes to the commentary team, Mauro Ranallo speaks often and eloquently about his bipolar disorder, and spends a great amount of time on Twitter replying to people who talk to him about their own mental health, as well as trying to break down the stigma of talking about it. He's done a hell of a lot to improve the commentary of SmackDown, and he's doing an incredible job of making connections with the fans, too. He's impressive, and he talks about mental health in a way that makes you want to listen, and take note, and address certain issues. What upsets me is that he had to sit there while this was going on, and not think about how, within his lifetime, this sort of thing has happened to people with his mental health condition. Everyone watching with any sort of mental health issue had to sit and watch and try not to hear 'you belong in an asylum' as we get on with our lives, take our medication, and pretend no one's thinking these things about us.

Wrestling Gimmick Not Progressive On Mental Health Issues

Abuse of patients in mental health care is still incredibly high; it's not something that went away with the asylum system, and the stigma that still stands over 'crazy people' is a horrible burden to bear. To use this as a gimmick isn't just insensitive, it's perpetuating the idea that it's okay to hut people because they're different. It's an incitement to violence. The Lunatic Fringe gimmick has run its course, and WWE needs to put a stop to it, rather than making statements like this. We've had promo after promo where Dean says 'I'm not crazy', and I, for one, am sick of commentary taking apart one of the best technical wrestlers of a generation with 'he just does stuff' and 'he doesn't know what he's doing'. I want to see Dean as just an angry guy with a chip on his shoulder who doesn't mind pain so long as he gets the job done. Call me crazy, but I think the time of The Lunatic Fringe is over.

Steph Maxwell-Kavanagh is an English wrestling fan and writer with too many opinions. She is the owner and writer for Rasslin Rehash. You can follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.


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