World Wrestling Entertainment’s deal to put its archives on Peacock is good news for wrestling fans, but not everything from the promotion’s history will be available for nostalgic fans. According to reports, NBC’s streaming platform is carefully reviewing WWE’s archival footage and removing racist material from its available WWE Network content.
As explained by The Hollywood Reporter, WWE signed a deal with Peacock to move decades of its archival footage onto the streaming service, which will be available to fans at a lower (though commercial-filled) price point than the actual WWE Network. But amid a renewed focus on racial justice and poor use of sterotypes and racially-charged language, not all of the promotion’s footage will be available on Peacock.
PW Insider first reported the news on Thursday, and THR details some moments that won’t be available such as a scene depicting blackface.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the NBCUniversal-owned streaming service is reviewing all 17,000 hours of WWE content to ensure it aligns with Peacock’s standards and practices. WWE is also being made aware of any edits.
One of the alterations has been to 1990’s WrestleMania VI, which featured a match between Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown that included Piper (a white wrestler) painting half his face black while facing off against Brown (a Black wrestler). “I hear Bad News Brown, how he’s talking about Harlem, and how he’s proud to be from Harlem,” Piper said during the pre-match interview. “Now I can stand here, and I can be Black! I can be white! Don’t make no difference to me. … It’s what’s inside.”
While some of the moments are decades removed from today, one of the most blatant racist incidents happened after the Y2K crisis and involves WWE’s founder, Vince McMahon. In a 2005 bit, McMahon intentionally uses a racial slur to spark outrage from a Black wrestler.
Another deleted moment was from 2005’s Survivor Series 19. In a notorious bit, WWE CEO Vince McMahon (acting in his on-camera corporate villain persona) said the N-word to a shocked John Cena and then strutted past a stunned Booker T, who says, “Tell me he didn’t just say that.” At the time, a WWE spokesperson defended McMahon to TMZ, calling it “an outlandish and satirical skit involving fictional characters, similar to that of many scripted television shows and movies.”
The network’s content was officially added to Peacock starting on March 18, but THR noted part of the review of content means it’s slowly being added to the NBC service’s archives. According to the report, Peacock hopes the full archive of WWE footage will be available by August in time for SummerSlam, just don’t expect to see any of the company’s more inflammatory moments there anytime soon.