By Jay Kirell
World Wrestling Entertainment held it’s weekly live 3-hour Monday Night RAW program tonight from Anaheim, California. It was the first live event following the WWE’s annual summer pay per view, Summerslam. It was also the first on-camera event since wrestler Darren Young [Fredrick Rosser] announced to the world he was gay.
One of the bigger questions surrounding the story of Young coming out was how he would be received by the fans of professional wrestling, who haven’t always been known as being the most socially progressive of audiences. There were also questions surrounding what the WWE would do to his character post-announcement.
Observers didn’t have to wait too long, as Young and his tag team partner, Titus O’Neil [former U of Florida football player Thaddeus Bullard] appeared in front of a live audience for a match during the second hour of the show. The match was against a tag team called “The Real Americans” who are managed by a character, Zeb Coulter [Wayne Keown], who made news months ago portraying a right-wing tea-party zealot type.
Coulter talked about illegal immigration in his pre-match promo, but steered clear of any references to Young’s homosexuality, as did WWE commentators.
Young and O’Neil came out to modest applause from the Anaheim crowd. The noteworthy aspect of this is both the Prime Time Players and the Real Americans are bad guys. Matches between two heel wrestlers or teams is a rare occurrence, since wrestling crowds tend to need at least one “good guy” to root for.
By having Young and his partner face off with a team of despicable anti-immigrant heels is a sign the WWE is converting the pair to babyfaces – or good guys in wrestling parlance.
The match ended with Young hitting his finishing maneuver on one of his opponents and pinning him in the center of the ring to thunderous applause from the crowd; certainly a shift in attitude from how fans reacted to the formerly dastardly duo just a week prior.