As you’re probably already aware, there was a pretty big wrestling video leak over the weekend. Being a wrestling news column, it’s something we have to cover…
…Southpaw Regional Wrestling has debuted on WWE’s YouTube channel!
The video cassette ‘footage’ from February 1987 provides a rare glimpse at some of the era’s biggest stars, such as Tex Ferguson, Big Bartholomew and Sea Creature.
The series actually appears to be a cleverly designed piece of branded content, with the ‘Ric Flair impersonator’ plugging KFC in every episode. Lance Catamaran himself has tweeted how to we can get more Southpaw:
— John Cena (@JohnCena) March 19, 2017
Now to the ‘leaked video’ news you’re actually watching this for. Because this is a rather sensitive subject, with very real victims, there’s not going to be many jokes for the next few minutes. And besides, the Internet has made every conceivable pun on Paige’s name already in the last couple of days.
In what’s being coined as the Fappening 2.0 – after a similar string of leaked nude photos and videos of celebrities back in 2014 – the currently out-with-injury WWE wrestler Paige has found herself amongst the hacking victims, with multiple images and videos of a sexual nature being posted to the Internet. Paige herself has confirmed this on Twitter:
Personal and private photos of mine were stolen and unfortunately they were shared publicly without my consent.
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) March 17, 2017
Paige’s mother, the British wrestler Saraya Knight, also commented:
People get hacked, unfortunately my daughter had pics and video shared from years ago, my husband and I support her 100% no fault of her own
— SarayaKnight (@RealsarayaK) March 17, 2017
She seemingly also threatened legal action against the hackers and those sharing the links in a since deleted tweet:
“IP addresses taken ✔ Reported✔ Blocked✔ Emailed lawyer✔”
The leaked videos show Paige with what appears to be former WWE wrestler Brad Maddox and the currently contracted Wrestlemania 33 co-host, New Day star Xavier Woods. Which, in retrospect, does sounds like a porn star name.
Despite his New Day teammates Kofi Kingston and Big E appearing at both Friday and Saturday’s WWE live events, Woods was nowhere to be seen – leading to speculation the company had pulled him because of the leaked video. In reality, he wasn’t on the show because he was already booked to co-host the SXSW Gaming Awards in Austin. And in true New Day style, he made a joking reference to the larger news outside when introducing the show:
“Sit back…kick your feet up…and delete your Twitter.”
How WWE themselves will deal with the scandal remains to be seen. Paige hasn’t been the easiest employee since the brand split last year, receiving two Wellness Policy violations (a third would mean her automatic dismissal from the company), frequently turning up backstage for rival promotions on which her real-life boyfriend Alberto Del Rio is wrestling and clashing with WWE over whether or not she needs neck surgery.
But then there’s also Rock ‘The Dwayne’ Johnson. A few months ago, he decided to make a movie based on Paige’s life called Fighting With My Family after seeing the Channel 4 documentary detailing her wrestling upbringing. WWE, always happy to work with the world’s highest grossing actor, jumped onboard.
And to release Paige based on the leaks would be hypocritical compared to how Seth Rollins was treated when nude images of The Architect were posted online in 2015. Back then, Triple H dismissed the scandal as “an unfortunate personal incident and that’s all it is.” Also, if WWE do punish Paige in any way, they’d also have to reprimand Woods.
Another comparable example is Hulk Hogan. WWE terminated their contract with the Hulkster in July 2015, following the leak of his private sex tape. But that was more because of the racist slurs it showed Hogan using, with WWE’s statement on terminating Hogan’s contract explaining that they’re “committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds.” Nothing about the sexual acts themselves.
The site responsible for the leaked content has threatened more is on its way. Before you get excited about that, listen to what Summer Rae and Big E have to say:
As they say, dont believe everything you see on the internet. There's people out there with a lot of time on their hands & a big imagination
— Summer Rae (@RealSummerWWE) March 19, 2017
For disseminating this nonexistent nonsense, I pray the inside of your thighs chafe bloody every day of your existence. Amen. https://t.co/qjoISr5TVj
— ShinigamE (@WWEBigE) March 20, 2017
And that’s when you realise the people in those leaked videos aren’t wrestling characters or impersonal celebrities – they’re people, humans – who have friends, and sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers – whole families affected by this news. So, to steal a phrase from WWE themselves, try not to adopt a bullying approach to the story, and ‘be a star’.