STAMFORD, CT—The reach of sports entertainment into the minds of its millions of fans has expanded considerably during WWE’s ascent as television’s most popular cable and pay-per-view product. Unfortunately for WWE CEO Vince McMahon, his ability to blur the lines between reality and entertainment has come back to bite him in the form of a subpoena.
McMahon’s history of depicting himself as a tyrannical boss at odds with disgruntled employees, who exact their own justice, dates as far back as the mid-1990s. This trope has increased WWE’s popularity at a steady rate ever since. But it has become clear that such a dynamic does not translate well in the real world.
A group of recently terminated employees are seeking a class action lawsuit against McMahon on the grounds that they lost their jobs due to a WWE storyline involving Superstar CM Punk and McMahon himself. Punk’s open contempt for his employer, the suit explains, motivated the plaintiffs to defy their bosses in an effort to improve the business. Instead, they were handed pink slips.
Attorney Harvey Whippleman agreed to represent the plaintiffs once he realized that they came from a diverse enough swath of the country to justify class action. The 40 plaintiffs were terminated from jobs ranging from Wal-Mart greeter to Certified Public Accountant, and they all believed that their new attitude would translate into the improvement of the businesses of their employ.
“This is more shocking than the time I hit my dad in the face when I was 6, only to find out that the punch sound effect from the movies isn’t real! You know, the *pch,*” said Warren Cremins, former Assistant Manager of Baby Gap in Sandusky, Ohio. His former boss, Manager Dennis Taylor, fired Cremins after he sat cross-legged in the middle of the store and refused to shelve the rompers during floor set change that night unless he got a $50,000 raise.
Cremins’s stunt was not the most controversial to result in a firing. Miles O’Ryan, once a Senior Vice President of Marketing at Pepsi, hijacked a Pepsi truck and parked it outside of the Mall of America in Minnesota. Once there, he spent 2 hours shouting into a bullhorn about how he was going to take his services to Shasta if the CEO of Pepsi didn’t give him a private jet for personal use.
Cremins and O’Ryan are only 2 of the dozens of the newly unemployed who are claiming that the highly addictive and potentially dangerous entertainment of the WWE has ruined their lives. The group has adopted the unofficial name Shooters On Bosses, or SOBs for short. However, Whippleman has advised that they keep the name quiet in order to remain sympathetic.
“What we have here,” Whippleman announced during a press conference, “is a classic case of life imitating art when art imitating life gets completely out of hand. My clients have fallen victim to the manipulative machinations that Vince McMahon has created in the WWE. And in this climate when job creation is all but a myth, the man and his empire must be held accountable before any more people lose their livelihoods.”
WWE’s Public Relations department could not be reached for comment about the case, but since the greeting describes the WWE as “the strongest global juggernaut in live entertainment today,” chances are that everyone in the office was off somewhere winning.