Trump act has roots in WWE
“Parallels are uncanny” between wrestling bravado, president’s tactics
NEW YORK» Making bombastic boasts. Dropping signature catch phrases. Attaching insults to rivals’ names. Shouting down perceived enemies.
If President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on television personalities, journalists and political rivals feel like something straight out of the pro wrestling circuit, it may not be a coincidence.
Wrestling aficionados say the president, who has a long history with the game, has borrowed the time-tested tactics of the squared circle to cultivate the ultimate antihero character, a figure who wins at all costs, incites outrage and follows nobody’s rules but his own.
“In our terminology, he’s playing it to the hilt,” said former World Wrestling Entertainment writer Dan Madigan.
On Sunday, Trump’s apparent fondness for wrestling emerged in a tweeted mock video that shows him pummeling a man in a business suit — his face obscured by the CNN logo — outside a wrestling ring. It was not clear who produced the brief video, which appeared to be a doctored version of Trump’s 2007 appearance on World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. But it was tweeted from the president’s official Twitter account.
Madigan was struck by the parallels last summer when Trump was introduced at the Republican National Convention. There was a backlit Trump, unveiled in stark silhouette, who then sauntered onto stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, just like wrestling’s most infamous antihero, The Undertaker.
“His demeanor, duration of his walk to the podium, his playing to the crowd . ... Pure Undertaker,” Madigan said.
And Trump’s tiger-like pacing on stage behind Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate last fall in St. Louis? That’s how wrestlers stalk their opponents during prematch taunting sessions.
In subsequent months of Trump’s tweets and public feuds, it became clear to Madigan and other former WWE writers that, consciously or not, Trump was channeling professional wrestling in his politics.
“The parallels are un- canny,” said Domenic Cotter, a producer who in the mid-2000s cut backstage segments for WWE.
Depending on your political affiliation, the writers said, Trump is playing one of two classic wrestling characters: The “heel,” or ultimate bad guy, who wins at all costs; or the modern-day wrestling protagonist, dubbed a “face” or “baby face,” in wrestling parlance.
“I think of Donald Trump as the ultimate baby face,” Cotter said, “almost in the ilk of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, who was this rage-against-themachine, anti-authority and establishment figure.”
Cotter saw Trump employ a classic pro wrestling tactic during his first news conference as presidentelect, when he ordered CNN reporter Jim Acosta to be quiet and barked, “You are fake news!”
“In wrestling terminology, he cut a promo on that CNN reporter and got over him, basically,” Cotter said. “In wrestling, some swarmy heel is going on and on and on and the baby face quips a response right back and the audience goes crazy.”
A New York Post illustration paints President Donald Trump as a professional wrestler.