THE RHODES SCHOLAR – 07.12.2017: An Open Letter to Jeff Jarrett

by Tony Cline, Columnist

To: Jeff Jarrett, Chief Creative Officer, Global Force Wrestling

CC: The Gorilla Position

Subject: Alberto El Patron

Date: 7/12/2017

Mr. Jarrett,

First, let me congratulate you on regaining creative control of the promotion you helped found a decade and a half ago and the recent very positive steps you have taken in rebranding the company and beginning to rehabilitate its image in the industry. However, as so often is the case in this business, your best efforts are now being undermined by actions outside of your control. Jose Rodriguez, also known as Alberto El Patron, the man that you just trusted with your newly unified world championship, is being accused of domestic violence against his fiancé, Saraya-Jade Bevis (better known as the WWE Superstar Paige). Clearly, this creates a sensitive situation for the new brand and must be addressed properly.

Alberto-El-Patron-y-PaigeBefore we discuss how best to handle the situation, let’s review what we know. On Sunday, July 9, police were called to Orlando International Airport to respond to a suspected domestic battery situation involving Mr. Rodriguez and Miss Bevis. No charges have been filed yet, but the incident is still under police investigation. Were this all the information we had, perhaps the prudent course of action would be to simply monitor the situation without taking action, but it is not. An eyewitness has testified that there was a physical altercation between the two. Ms. Bevis issued a statement on social media that blames the hubbub on an unnamed woman who was trying to take photos of the couple and threw a drink on Mr. Rodriguez when he objected. Unfortunately for the couple, we live in an age of proliferation of recording devices, and a recording made by a fan at the scene clearly refutes Ms. Bevis’s entire statement. In the recording, Ms. Bevis and Mr. Rodriguez can be heard arguing, and she calls him abusive, accuses him of being on a coke binge, and yells that she is always trying to get away from him. Later, Ms. Bevis’s brother released a statement on social media that he claims represents the views of her entire family and says that they fear for Paige’s safety and well-being because Mr. Rodriguez is controlling and beats Ms. Bevis.

Taken alone, none of these presents enough evidence to do more than temporarily suspend Mr. Rodriguez pending the outcome of an investigation. Unfortunately, taken together, the evidence, especially when considered in conjunction with previous incidents, presents a textbook case of a man abusing and manipulating a woman. For anyone who has ever lived through a domestic abuse situation, there are a ton of warning signs here: the threats, the drug and alcohol fueled rants on social media, the public fights that always end with her making an unqualified defense of him, the repeated cycle of break-ups and reconciliations, etc. give us a visible pattern of typical abuser-abusee behavior. You may be unaware of such warning signs, but I urge you to speak to people who are experienced with this sort of thing to verify my conclusions.

So, what is the proper course of action for GFW? Of course, Ms. Bevis is an adult and has the freedom to remain in an abusive relationship if she so chooses, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction on the part of Global Force Wrestling. Your company has been through a long decline before reaching its nadir and being sold to Anthem in the last several months. You were installed as the top creative officer and pretty much given the task of rebuilding the brand. You have rebranded as Global Force, ditching the tainted TNA name for a fresh start, and your recent Slammiversary event seemed like the rebirth of a once-vaunted professional wrestling company. Now, your new champion has been tainted by his own actions, probably beyond repair in the public eye. You have two choices. The first is to allow your suspension of him that was announced today to be a token move that strives to save public face while offering no lasting consequences for Mr. Rodriguez’s actions. You will, I assure you, have to fire him later when Ms. Bevis appears in photos or on video battered and bloody at Mr. Rodriguez’s hands, as she certainly will. Abusers ALWAYS escalate. The second is to take this moment to make a public stand against domestic violence, to show the world that you have a certain set of values that you stand for and that those who do not stand for them as well will not be a part of your company. I urge you, Mr. Jarrett, to fire Mr. Rodriguez and to strip Alberto El Patron of the GFW title. Furthermore, I urge you to engage in the time-honored tradition of blending kayfabe and real life and state, on your show, that Patron has been stripped because the company refuses to be associated with anyone who engages in domestic violence. Do not refuse to act and make every abuser who witnesses this situation feel like what they do is acceptable. Do not refuse to act and make every abuse victim who witnesses this situation feel like what they endure is normal and acceptable. I implore you, Jeff Jarrett, to take a stand in favor of the victims of domestic violence. Professional wrestling, at its core, is about the struggle of good vs. evil. Do not allow evil, one of the greatest evils, to be the victor here. You have the control, and you have a choice to make. We will all be watching, and we will judge you and the company by the choice you make here. Don’t wait until Ms. Bevis is hospitalized or worse to take action.


The Rhodes Scholar


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