Editor's Note: This has been updated from the original editorial to reflect the report posted by TMZ.com.
TMZ.com reports that Austin Aries apologized privately to Christy Hemme for his actions on last Thursday's episode of Impact, and was fined a "severe" amount by the company.
Forgive my skepticism. Until Aries apologizes publicly, I'm not buying it.
Hemme was humiliated on national TV. Shouldn't Aries apologize on national TV? At the very least, on Impact's website? On Twitter, even?
Let’s clarify a few things that have been said since this story broke:
*This was NOT part of an angle. It was NOT scripted. It was absolutely a shoot. Absolutely spontaneous.
*What Aries did may have been in keeping with his heel character. But that DOESN’T MATTER. Punching Hemme in the face would be in keeping with Aries’ heel character, too, but that’s still assault. Being in character does not provide a free pass. What Aries did was bullying, and sexual harassment.
*Some feel that I should not comment on this matter because I’ve allegedly said misogynistic things in the past. That doesn’t matter. No matter who reported this, this is legit news. A legit case of sexual harassment. Everything I reported was accurate. If it’s accurate, it doesn’t matter if it’s me, or Walter Cronkite.
*Some feel that Hemme deserved what happened because she botched the intro. That’s nonsense. It’s been said that Aries should get a break because he’s a star. More nonsense. The perceived abilities of either DO NOT MATTER. ARE NOT RELEVANT. If a secretary at a major corporation forgot cream for the boss’ coffee and he sexually harassed her afterward, her error would not justify what he did. Learn to live in the real world. This is a real-world matter.
*There is no reason to trust Dixie Carter to do the right thing. She has lost control of her wrestlers, and too often is allowed to tap-dance around that fact.
*The reaction of many wrestling fans to my reporting and editorializing was vile and disgusting. I’ve been threatened. I’ve had AIDS wished upon me. I’ve been insulted in every way possible. That’s OK. I consider the source. But I don’t think you marks understand: This isn’t debatable. What Aries did was wrong. Spike TV VP David Schwarz called it SEXUAL HARASSMENT. His words. If you don’t think what Aries did was wrong, you may have bigger problems than he does.
Some male wrestlers have spoken out for Aries, like Konnan, Chavo Guerrero and Mike Bennett. Not surprising. The boys are going to stick together.
I’m disappointed the WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts aren’t speaking up for Hemme. They should. They could very easily be next.
Women get treated just terribly in wrestling. I’ve previously said that they are put on the road for the boys’ amusement, and I stand by that statement. I’m not celebrating that fact. But it is a fact. Some awful things have happened.
When I worked for WCW, I heard an executive offer a woman a job in return for sex. A married TBS executive got his mistress a job with the Nitro Girls. Melina and her boyfriend, John Morrison, were separated on the road so a WWE superstar deemed more worthy of Melina could maneuver her into his bed. Trish Stratus had to bark like a dog and strip on WWE television.
But Melina could have refused Batista. Stratus was scripted to do that. Hemme was ambushed by what Aries did. She was terrified. Watch the video. If she laughed, it was nervous, scared laughter. She did not enjoy it. IT WAS NOT SCRIPTED.
Dixie Carter can do what she wants. Impact can be whatever it is. Austin Aries is a wrestler very few colleagues respect or want to work with, but he can keep impressing the smart marks with whatever-star matches. Christy Hemme needs a paycheck. She didn’t walk out, and I don’t blame her.
Follow Mark Madden on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX. Listen to his THE VOICE OF WCW podcast at WXDX.com.
austin arieschavo guerrerochristy hemmeDixie Carterimpact-wrestlingkonnanmark maddenmelinamike bennettTNAtrish stratusHave a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?