The WWE reportedly reduced Titus O’Neil’s suspension to 60 days from the original 90-day ban, according to the New York Post. But the likable O’Neil will still miss Wrestlemania 32, despite not doing anything that tarnishes the WWE brand — no foul play, no lewd behavior, no legal transgressions. The popular wrestler playfully grabbed WWE head honcho Vince McMahon‘s arm (see below) in what looks like an attempt at a hug. It put McMahon out of sorts — and he lashed out with the suspension.
McMahon is a veteran marketer and a great promoter and protector of his brand, so the move seems odd in that O’Neil only enhances the WWE’s reputation. The Twitterverse reacted with insinuations of racism on McMahon’s part (O’Neil is African American), but those charges are hard to square with McMahon’s hiring and promoting O’Neil in the first place. That McMahon sometimes runs the WWE in a tyrannical style is less in dispute. With the O’Neil suspension it looks like McMahon is just signaling to his troops to stay on script. That’s how the whole thing works. Improvisation is for The Groundlings.