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Using real life tragedy for cheap heat; do you approve?


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It's been being done in wrestling (namely WWE) for quite some time now; writers using the real life passing of a wrestler's family, friends, etc. or, in lesser cases, using a competitor's real life past to garner heat for a heel wrestler. The most recent instance of this happened on this week's RAW:



During the contract signing between Divas Champion Charlotte and #1 Contender Paige, Paige used the real life passing of Charlotte's younger brother, Reid (who passed away in 2013 at the age of 25), to garner heat, saying that Reid "didn't have much fight in him".



The backlash of the comments was strong, most notably from Ric Flair and Reid's mother Beth. While Ric would not discuss his feelings in length for fear of Charlotte being punished for what he has to say. However, Ric did say on the following on his podcast regarding the segment:


Credit: Wrestling-Online.com

During his latest podcast, 16 time World Heavyweight champion Ric Flair said that he cried when he saw the angle between his daughter Charlotte and Paige on Raw and his dead son Reid was pulled into it.


Ric did not like the fact that Reid’s name was used to enhance the angle but would not say anything negative because of his daughter’s position in the company. He also added that Charlotte, regardless if she agreed or not with the decision, is in no position to refuse what they say.


Despite being hurt for using Reid’s name on Raw, Flair said that he hopes that WWE has Charlotte’s best interests in mind and that he would be attending the Survivor Series this Sunday and there’s no problem with him and WWE.


Reid's mother and Ric's ex-wife was not as kind with her words:


Credit: Wrestling-Online.com

Elizabeth Fliehr, the mother of WWE Divas champion Charlotte, expressed her anger at WWE for using her dead son Reid as part of the angle yesterday between Charlotte and Paige, an angle which main evented Monday Night Raw.


Fleihr called the WWE writers “that lazy” and used the hashtags #cheapheat, #disgusting #disrespectful #cruel, and #sad. The tweet was addressed to Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon, and Triple H. She then later said that she did not know that was going to be part of the show.


During the contract signing segment, Charlotte mentioned her late brother and how when he passed away, Paige was there for her. “I’m here today because of him and that’s the only reason, to fulfill his dream.” Paige said that she was using Charlotte all along from day one and called her naive. Charlotte then added that she will continue to fight each and every day just like her father did and just like her brother did.


“You know what Charlotte, you’re wrong sweetheart. Cause your little baby brother, he didn’t have much fight in him, did he?” replied Paige. The comment sparked a brawl between the two Divas and WWE referees had to break them up.


Reid died at the age of 25 on March 29, 2013, after he was found in bed at a Residence Inn in the SouthPark hotel room in Charlotte, North Carolina by his father. He died of an accidental overdose of heroin and the prescription drugs clonazepam and alprazolam.


In the years that I've been watching WWE, the most memorable instance of this was a segment between Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio that took place a few months after Eddie Guerrero's passing. Orton famously said "Eddie's not up there, Rey, he's down there". When I heard this, I was surprised and the segment introduced me to the concept of "too soon". I wasn't particularly outraged; I understand what they were trying to accomplish. I didn't particularly like it and I definitely didn't think it was okay.


With the Charlotte/Paige segment, I wasn't surprised that WWE used Reid to try and give some last minute build to their match this Sunday. It's no secret that WWE Creative has been phoning it in for quite some time now and this is just the latest example. The reason I disagree with this instance is because there was no call for it. Paige saying this is not going to change the fans' perception of her in my opinion. It seemed to fall flat, so, essentially, WWE used this old tactic for no reason whatsoever. To me, Creative just ran out of ideas (again) and, instead of coming up with something original, they just took the easy route.


What also bothers me is that WWE apparently didn't consult either Ric Flair or Reid's mother for their approval. I can understand why they wouldn't contact Beth Fliehr for her approval, but Ric works for the company. At least ask the family of the deceased if they are okay with it. When they used the passing of Paul Bearer to further the angle between Punk and The Undertaker, WWE got the approval of Bearer's sons.


I'm also assuming that Charlotte did not want to use Reid for the segment either, but I think she was afraid of losing her spot, so she went through with it. The same could be said for Paige.


Now the question I have for all of you is, do you approve of WWE (or any other company) using a real life tragedy to garner heat or to advance a storyline? Is there a certain amount of time before it's acceptable to do so or do you believe it's in bad taste regardless of how much time has passed?

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its always uncomfortable viewing, i remember the Hawk alcohol storyline. i didnt like the way they were using his personal demons as a way to get viewers and when jerry lawler forced a bottle of whiskey down jake roberts throat. it has to be embarassing for the men for their problems to be shown in front of millions.
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It's over two years ago since it happened, the Bearer thing happened within weeks so there's a fundamental difference there.


My biggest problem was that it was a shit line. It was really throw away, if you're going to go for heat that cheap then just fucking go for it. "I don't want you to be divas champ because I don't want young kids to read about the divas champion dead in a hotel room with a needle in her arm." or something like that.

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If you can use personal life accomplishments and accolades for a positive reaction, then you should be able to use personal life setbacks / tragedies for heat too. Of course, there has to be limitations and they would have to be agreed in advance with the performers, but it's character work at the end of the day.


I was surprised by the Reid Flair comment simply because of how he died and would be under the impression WWE would not want the "Universe" to search online (as a lot of them will never have heard of Reid) and see that he died of drug-related complications.


Also, as Megz said, the line wasn't very good. Even something as simple as Paige asking "And why isn't he here, Charlotte? Because he was an even bigger screw-up than David?" would have been better.

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