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TNA Wrestling’s Austin Aries has been fined for an on-air incident with announcer Christy Hemme. On the last episode of Impact Wrestling, Hemme announced the wrong tag-team while Aries and partner Bobby Roode were making their way to the ring. A-Double played up his heel persona by getting in Hemme’s face, telling her to announce the correct team, and putting his crotch in her face. TNA president Dixie Carter tweeted that the company “has ZERO tolerance for inappropriate behavior.” According to TMZ, Aries has been slapped with a “severe fine.”
Some of the Internet reactions have been harsh. Some have accused Aries of bullying and sexual harassment. That seems ridiculous to me. Aries is a heel — a pro-wrestler that’s acts like a villain. He’s playing a part. This is, after all, a character that refers to himself as, “The greatest man that has ever lived.” Of course he’s going to get annoyed and act like a dick when the announcer botches his entrance. Hemme’s mistake was insulting, so Austin Aries — the character — insulted her in retribution.
A few people have compared the situation to Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) getting fired from the WWE for choking announcer Justin Roberts with a necktie. Certainly there are similarities, but ultimately both punishments were stupid. That said, I understand WWE’s stance more than I do TNA’s. WWE has been upfront about making its programming “PG.” Danielson crossed a (vague) line and was unemployed for a short time before being rehired by WWE. As far as I know, TNA doesn’t have the self-imposed restrictions that the WWE has.
While Aries’ actions were improved, a crotch to the face isn’t the worse thing wrestling fans have seen. Triple H once simulated necrophilia. Kane covered Jim Ross in gasoline and set him on fire. Paul Bearer was buried alive. From that standpoint, I don’t see what the big deal is here. Some are claiming that Hemme was put in an uncomfortable situation. I would completely agree with that…if Aries and Hemme weren’t characters that were part of a show. While I don’t condone men shoving their crotches in women’s faces, the act made sense for the Austin Aries persona. They’re actors on a stage, not accountants in an office.
Obviously I’m biased. Some of you are aware that I know and like Dan Solwold, the gentleman that portrays Austin Aries. As a friend, I’m supposed to stand by him when he’s wrong. The thing is, I really don’t think he did anything wrong. Of course, I’d love to hear your take on the matter. Do you think that Austin Aries crossed a line? Was the alleged “severe fine” by TNA appropriate? Or do you agree with me and think that it’s ridiculous that an actor is being punished for playing his part? Do you think this is all an elaborate angle that will help TNA, Aries, and Hemme get some mainstream press? Am I part of the angle? Shout it out in the comments section (please), but don’t put your crotch in my face or I will fine you.