Yesterday, professional wrestling news sources confirmed the release of WWE Superstar Lars Sullivan.
Sullivan (real name Dylan Miley) has been a hotbed of controversy. His call up to the main roster in 2019 as the next big monster heel seemed to be dead on arrival due to his various scandals and injuries.
At the beginning of his main roster run, Lars suffered a setback after an anxiety attack derailed a Wrestlemania feud with WWE legend John Cena. But instead of debuting at the Royal Rumble in January, he showed up on WWE TV in April of 2019.
A month after his official debut, Some of Sullivan's old posts on a bodybuilding forum surfaced. WWE issued Lars a $100,000 fine for his homophobic, sexist, and racist comments. He apologized for his previous hate speech and underwent sensitivity training.
According to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, Lars's release came after he no-showed a TV taping. But why didn't WWE terminate Sullivan's contract after his initial offense?
The answer is because Vince McMahon will turn a blind eye to a wrestler's repugnancy if he deems them a valuable asset to his vision. McMahon only feels compelled to discipline a coveted member of his roster if it keeps sponsors and shareholders happy.
WWE has a storied history of looking the other way when a top superstar violates company policy or breaks the law. They've been very transparent when some of their employees have done so, but they've consistently made exceptions for wrestlers who were big earners and upper management favorites.
For example, in 1983, WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino. Despite not being charged until 32 years after Argentino's death, Snuka's involvement in such a tragic ordeal should've been grounds for dismissal.
But his popularity amongst fans of the then-WWF was too valuable for the company, both literally and figuratively. Snuka was a recurring act in WWE until his death in 2017.
Jimmy Snuka and Nancy Argentino
In June 2020, NXT Superstar Velveteen Dream became one of the many wrestlers hit with claims of sexual abuse during professional wrestling's #SpeakingOut movement. Dream (real name Patrick Clark Jr.) allegedly sent nude photos of himself to a minor.
WWE removed Velveteen Dream from television pending an investigation — only for him to return to TV two months later. He, like Sullivan, is another superstar that the higher-ups believe to be the future of the business.
Now, according to the dirt sheets, Dream's days in WWE are coming to an end. The level of controversy surrounding his presence in the company doesn't seem to be going away as they intended. Had WWE ripped the band-aid off and released him in June of last year, there wouldn't be a need to do so now.
Sullivan's long-overdue release only highlights WWE's repeated avoidance of accountability. They pride themselves on being a company that celebrates inclusion and diversity but have dawdled to remove employees who haven't done so and who've done worse.
Moving forward, WWE has to remove its biases when penalizing popular superstars. Keeping a problematic superstar on the roster may pay-off in the short term, but it will cost Vince McMahon so much more in the long run.