Mt. Killamanjaro: Fire Dale Oliver, Not Austin Aries – A Story of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Mike Killam

Christy HemmeI know what you're thinking – who the hell is Dale Oliver?

Dale Oliver is the primary musician behind the dozens of TNA theme songs you hear each and every week on Impact Wrestling. Now, steering away from the real issue behind Austin Aries alleged "sexual harassment" for a moment, this entire situation could have been completely avoided with more recognizable, individualized entrance tunes – can you blame Christy Hemme for mixing up her introductions?

I don't envy the person who has to decipher between "Generic Instrumental Rock Jam #1" and "Generic Instrumental Rock Jam #2" segment after segment. That being said, I wouldn't much care if I screwed up and one of the Knockouts decided to mount a turnbuckle in my general direction…

EDIT: I didn't think this actually needed to be said, but by some of your forum and Twitter comments, apparently it does – I don't actually want TNA to fire Dale Oliver. It was meant to be a joke, and I quite enjoy some of TNA's current tunes. At the very least, they have improved in the last few years. Now…go listen to Madison Rayne's entrance theme and calm down. 

And now on to business.

Pro Wrestling is a pretty convoluted game. Grown men in tights play out characters in front of live television audiences. The heels have to get "over", but not to a point where the audience starts to actually cheer for them.  Scripts are written, re-written and edited to ad nauseam, in an art that used to rely on individualism and improvisation. Wrestlers are praised for sticking to character outside of the squared circle (See: Randy Savage) but, at the same time, are tossed away for being human (See: Serena Deeb).

So where's the line? When a heel marches to the ring – fully in character, in front of a live TV audience – and mounts a turnbuckle to mess around with a gorgeous ring announcer, is it sexual harassment? Not in my opinion.

Vince McMahon has made out with multiple women on national TV, and abused his daughter for the sake of a story. Where's the line? That was fake, sure, but he's also been accused of ACTUAL sexual harassment, and was at one point on trial for giving steroids to his performers. But it's ok, because he's the father of global wrestling expansion, right? Who cares if the girls are sucking off VKM, so long as the franchise show continues to run smoothly…

I'm being crass, I know, but there's a point to be made. And it's not just that Mark Madden hates TNA with a passion, and would rather see it burn to the ground along with Hulk Hogan, than ever see it succeed.

Where were the morality police hiding all the years when Triple H and the gang would mock Lilian Garcia? Was that not wrong enough to merit notice, or do people just not care about Lillian enough to bat an eye?

Where was Madden the hundreds of times when his good friend Ric Flair made vulgar gestures towards women in the audience, called them fat, or offered perfect strangers a ride on Space Mountain? It's ok when the Nature Boy makes sexual advances at fans on a nightly basis, but it's a damn crime when a "nobody" like Aries puts his junk anywhere near another employee? Talk about subjective morality…

Hulk Hogan has a sex tape come out the week before Bound for Glory, and it turns out he was sleeping with his former best friend's wife – a guy who's been on Impact Wrestling before, might I add. I have no problem with the consensual habits of fully grown adults, but it still doesn't make the company look good. Where was Spike TV Executive David Schwarz on that one?

Professional wrestling is a dirty business. The problem now is, the fans know too much. And the former pros are on the internet, directing traffic.

When the cameras are rolling, and a million people at home are watching you be a character, the pressure is on. Ask anybody who has ever been in the ring – you have to feed off, and react to the crowd you're in front of. To borrow a popular phrase: shit happens.

Am I defending Austin Aries? To a point. I still don't think what he did was appropriate, but I'm also not trying to crucify him.

Wrestlezone broke the exclusive about the incident being a shoot and the follow up of Spike TV taking action against Aries. Great. It was the right thing to do, after all, we're a wrestling news website. But that's where it should have ended. Mark Madden's multiple columns both told the news, and exaggerated it to the point of creating a scene. For a brief moment, he was both Al Jazeera and Fox News at the same time.

We also reported that Aries went to Christy Hemme privately and apologized. Why was that not enough? Madden kept pushing, and Spike TV issued a "serious fine" against him. Why was that not enough? Madden kept pushing. I genuinely believe he won't be happy until Aries is fired.

Christy laughed the whole thing off on TV, and said (literally) two words about it on social media. If there was real world damage done by Aries to Hemme, I didn't see it. Neither did Chavo Guerrero, who was actually there, and mentioned that she didn't seem at all upset backstage after the show.

Many of our readers, and obviously the originator of the chaos, feel there is no reason to apologize, and that our coverage of the incident was exemplary. Be that as it may, I truly believe we may have done more harm than good, and it's not Mark Madden's job to play morality police to an incident we have no inside eyes on. Especially when he's been responsible for slandering many women in pro wrestling, and not too long ago, the degradation of Maria Kanellis. There's a point where "telling the news" becomes blatant slander.

Unlike some, I'm not trying to get over. I have no glory days to reflect on. I don't make my career by shoving everyone under me in the dirt. I don't need, and I don't intend to be recognized by wrestling companies because of my affiliation with a wrestling news website.

What's your opinion on this controversial news story? Hit me up on Twitter, or in the comments below. I genuinely want to hear what you've got to say on this one! 

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