The release of Serena Deeb by WWE – reported by Dave Meltzer as a “disciplinary firing” – is yet more evidence of the corporation’s ingrained hypocrisy if the details are accurate.
Serena was a refreshing addition to the WWE women’s ranks when she was brought up to TV, initially glimpsed backstage in one segment, then introduced, contradictorily, as a “fan” weeks later when CM Punk inducted her into his Straight-Edge Society. She was far from cookie-cutter “diva,” unconventionally attractive, with long dark hair, an almost dorky (or “dweeby”?) aura about her – and she could work a match well in developmental league FCW. WWE then took away all of those unique traits in scripting her to drop them, and adapt to a character about as far removed as you can get without, say, putting her in an Undertaker-led revival of the gothic “Ministry of Darkness” storyline.
As if there was any question of Serena’s dedication to her on-screen role, she willingly allowed her long locks to be cut off, and her head shaved, to become one of CM Punk’s followers in the SES.
Serena handled the whole angle and character with immense professionalism – though badly cast in the role, she certainly didn’t hold back, wearing a punk (no pun intended) wardrobe, throwing herself in front of Punk with willing sacrifice, and slapped and sneered her way through WWE’s roster of men. She was a bad girl, for sure – and the miscasting of her didn’t stop her.
Then WWE booked an angle where CM Punk found “Straight-Edge” Serena drinking in a bar, and admonished her. At the time, it simply seemed a continuation of the storyline where Punk berated and often humiliated his minions on TV (presumed to lead to a split along the line). In retrospect, we now have reason to believe this was yet more TV time wasted, without any narrative purpose whatsoever, and serving only to allow the McMahons and Triple H the opportunity to punish and warn anyone they felt didn’t meet their specific subjective requirements (for other examples, just look at Mickie James in the misogynistic “Piggie James” angles, or even Triple H’s on-screen “horsing around” comment about “horse-faced” singer and ring announcer Lilian Garcia in return for her helping the company out by standing in for absent ring announcer Justin Roberts, who was left stranded in Europe by the volcanic ash cloud).
Apparently, Serena didn’t fully embrace the “Straight-Edge” role. Now you may be thinking, “She did – she had her head shaved,” but that’s just TV. You see, whereas other wrestlers such as the Undertaker (Mark Calaway in tank top, shorts, and bandana strolling with then-fiancee Michelle McCool) or Kane (Glen Jacobs, going on news programmes to offer political opinions) are not at all expected to live out their on-screen characters off-screen – especially since the demise of kayfabe – for some strange reason management reportedly frowned upon Serena’s failure to adopt the gimmick into her day-to-day lifestyle (despite presumably passing Wellness Policy tests with flying colours).
One argument is that, as is often the case in WWE, someone in power simply didn’t like Serena Deeb, and they decided to raise the standards and expectations of her to deliberately unreasonable heights so they’d have an excuse to get rid of her. But abruptly firing talent – even at Christmas time, or when they’re expecting a baby, or when they’re injured – has never been a moral quandary for the McMahons and those around them, to say the least. She simply wasn’t in the McMahon / Kevin Dunn club.
As Linda McMahon’s race to the Senate rolls on, the media would do well to highlight cases such as Deeb’s as an example of WWE’s absurd, perverse, and contradictory claim of hiring “independent contractors” who are told how they should live their lives away from a company they’re not even employees of.