Austin Aries had a chance to dodge a bullet in the aftermath of bullying/sexually harassing ring announcer Christy Hemme on Impact this past Thursday. When Aries opened his mouth, these needed to be the first two words to escape: I’M SORRY.
The path Aries chose instead was extremely ill-advised.
Aries, via Twitter, actually MADE FUN of the incident.
You talking to me? No one’s afraid of a 5-foot-2 male stripper, junior.
Aries’ response takes stupid to a whole new level. He intimidated a woman, putting his crotch in her face, THEN JOKED ABOUT IT. Dig the hole deeper, Einstein.
Then, later, this:
Uh…maybe if you stood on a box.
As one veteran wrestler said to me while discussing this, “You can tell the guy isn’t a pro. He’s just an indie guy who got on TV.”
Impact and Dixie Carter have yet to address the issue. Obviously hoping it goes away. It won’t. I intend to formally ask Carter for her reaction to Aries’ conduct. I also intend to ask executives at Spike TV about the incident.
The big-time wrestling “journalists” have barely addressed the issue. Wade Keller had a small blurb at PWTorch.com. Dave Meltzer has ignored it. Problem is, it’s a real-world issue that threatens, to some small degree, the golden goose. It’s not a 5-star match. This isn’t just a test for Impact and Carter. It’s a test for guys like that.
The Aries-Hemme incident has brought the worst out of the IWC. As the brain of the brainless, I knew it would.
Read the comments posted below my original story at WrestleZone.com. The vast majority are HORRIFYING.
Hemme did not deserve it. Aries may have more status within the context of Impact than Hemme, but that’s not relevant. Hemme did not enjoy it. Other incidents in other companies have nothing to do with this. Hemme appearing in Playboy doesn’t matter. It was not a work. Aries was not justified “staying in character.” Yes, he’s a heel. So what?
These notions – and others too disgusting to discuss – were mooted. I’m occasionally told I should be ashamed to be a wrestling fan. After reading what most of the IWC thinks about the Aries-Hemme incident, I am. I’m ashamed of the marks. I'm ashamed of YOU.
Lots of wrestling folk don’t seem surprised by Aries’ actions. “A small-time punk with a bad attitude,” is how one insider described him. “An arrogant ass,” said another.
Is it too late for apologies? Probably. But I bet he tries anyway. Aries clearly won’t be sorry. But they pay a lot less in ROH. If Aries apologizes, it should be on Impact. Hemme was humiliated on Impact. The same should happen to Aries.
Imagine if such a clear-cut incident of sexual harassment, with witnesses and video evidence, occurred at a major corporation. It wouldn't take HR long to punish the perpetrator.
Aries is still employed by Impact. Not fired. Not suspended. Not fined. Not even censured. It shouldn't take me writing about this incident for any of that to happen. Carter saw what happened. We all did. It was on TV.
Follow Mark Madden on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX. Check out his VOICE OF WCW wrestling podcast at WXDX.com.