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WWE’s Firing of Brad Maddox a Sign of the Times

Photo Courtesy of WWE

Many WWE fans used to tune into the company’s programming for its edgy, push-the-limits style of television. Those same fans, likely much older now, either tune in for a completely different reason, or they gave up on the product years ago.

The television model for WWE has completely changed and the recent firing of Brad Maddox is a clear example of that. If you aren’t familiar with Maddox, that’s understandable. He never really made his mark in WWE. But that’s not his fault.

Maddox is most remembered for his time as the General Manager of Raw, working closely with The Authority and its Director of Operations, Kane. WWE chose to use Maddox as more of an on-air character, rather than an in-ring competitor.

But those familiar with his work in WWE’s old developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, know Maddox could get it done in the ring. In FCW, Maddox won the Tag Team titles on two occasions and was the territory’s last FCW 15 title holder, prior to the transformation to NXT.

Maddox debuted on the main roster as a referee. At the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October 2012, he was the official for a WWE title match between Ryback and CM Punk. Maddox cost Ryback the match when he hit him with a low blow. He would then reveal that this was done as an attempt to get noticed by WWE. Rather than be a refereee, his dream was to be a WWE Superstar.

Maddox was given the chance to live that dream. All he had to do was beat Ryback to win a contract. Instead, he was dominated by Ryback. It was an angle that seemed like it could have been interesting, but WWE ended it just like that.

Maddox had good charisma and the ability to cut a solid promo. What WWE didn’t see in him in the ring, they seemed to see in him being a heel character that could get under the skin of live crowds and viewers on television. Maddox excelled in that role.

However, his run as Raw GM was short-lived. He was relieved of his duties by Triple H in May 2014. Since then, Maddox had been trying to earn another shot, this time as a wrestler. He had been competing at non-televised events, once again trying to prove his worth.

But those dreams died, likely for good, at a live event in late November in Indianapolis. Maddox was doing what he does, trying to rile up the crowd. In the process, he referred to those in the crowd as “cocky pricks.” Apparently, that is a line not to cross with Vince McMahon.

Maddox was released from his contract as a result, his WWE career over because of a poor choice of words. As stated, WWE’s television model has changed — drastically. WWE caters to a younger crowd on TV, but that’s the worst part of this. What Maddox said wasn’t even televised. The only people who knew what was said were those in attendance that night. Would they really be that offended to be called “cocky pricks”? If they were, they seriously need to lighten up.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Maddox discussed the incident that led to his firing.

I had a dark match in Indianapolis and I called the Indianapolis crowd ‘pricks.’ I didn’t think anything of it. That’s never been a bad word to me. I didn’t think it was inappropriate. Vince was watching and did not like it. That was pretty much the reason.

When asked if he felt like there was any hypocrisy involved with WWE’s decision to let him go, Maddox had this to say in response.

No, just because those things are cleared ahead of time. You could call this ‘going into business for myself.’ Which I really didn’t do. I didn’t think that I’d go out there and call them pricks and get noticed more. That’s not what I was doing at all. My words weren’t cleared ahead of time though. That’s the real difference.

It’s hard to believe that Maddox really feels this way. If a guy like Seth Rollins or Sheamus used a line such as he did on television, they’d likely just be told not to say it again, at the very worst. Instead, it seems like WWE used this as a reason to get rid of some excess baggage.
WWE was never going to make Maddox a star, because it never saw him as one. He made a comment, and the company chose to let go of a guy who wasn’t big enough to make that comment. How dare he, right?
The fact that Maddox was immediately let go for something that didn’t even happen on television is bad. But the real tragedy is the fact that WWE has gotten so soft that the word “prick” is considered inappropriate and thus, an offense that leads to termination.
WWE has now set a bad precedent for itself. Are the insults Superstars use against the fans and fellow Superstars going to get even more childish? Or will WWE terminate every person who uses such horrible language as did Maddox? Even top stars such as Brock Lesnar?
Probably not.

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