by Jason Howard Kelly
In a surprising move, WWE’s Titus O’Neil was immediately sent home upon arriving to last night’s Smackdown tapings in Portland, Oregon, suspended for “unprofessional conduct” according to PWInsider.com. WWE has confirmed that the suspension is 90 days.
For those who watched the Daniel Bryan retirement segment as it transitioned to the WWE Network, you saw the incident occuring just before the screen went to black as Bryan and his wife went backstage. O’Neil grabbed CEO Vince McMahon as he was heading backstage. The grabbing is not being reported as malicious. but rather “playful”. Nonetheless, McMahon didn’t appreciate the gesture, and over the years, we have learned what that means.
Don’t cross the boss. Seriously, don’t ever do anything that may be perceived as crossing Vince McMahon. One of WWE’s most affable superstars will now be forced to sit out Wrestlemania because of “unprofessional conduct”.
Here’s the real reason why Titus O’Neil is suspended: Vince McMahon got embarrassed by one of his own employees, and Vince hates to be embarrassed. We often hear backstage reports of Vince going ballistic when one tiny, meaningless thing goes wrong on a Raw broadcast. So can you imagine how irate Vince must have been that he essentially got ribbed by Titus O’Neil for all the WWE universe to see? Now, should O’Neil have grabbed Vince’s arm like he did? No, of course not. It was awful timing given the emotion of the moment and, quite frankly, it’s just a childish thing to do. That being said, a 90-day suspension is a massive overreaction by Vince and the WWE officials. It’s especially egregious considering the tremendous ambassador Titus O’Neil has become for the company. O’Neil is constantly being lauded for his outreach efforts and for his connection with the younger audience of WWE.
But this is certainly not the first time that Vince has punished someone for making him feel embarrassed. Remember Paul London? Not many fans do, but at one time Paul London was a young prospect in WWE with high potential and a bright future… Until he crossed the boss. During a segment on Raw back in 2007 Paul London was seen with a big smile on his face during a scene in which all the superstars were supposed to look stoic and downtrodden.
Paul London / via http://www.ign.com
London was fired shortly after this for several reasons, but primarily because of the massive amount of heat on him for that one, ill-advised smile. Vince McMahon has a history of absolutely burying superstars for the smallest of mistakes, and it seems Titus O’Neil is no exception.
Yes, O’Neil should have been smarter and refrained from his, “boys on the playground” behavior during a live telecast. But a 90 day suspension? Come on now. Was Vince’s ego really that bruised over something that most people didn’t even notice anyway? I guess we have our answer…