STAMFORD, CT—In response to criticism over World Wrestling Entertainment hiring policies, World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon defended the league's reliance on Mexican wrestlers as "the only way fans can witness the grueling, bone-crunching maneuvers that American wrestlers want nothing to do with."
McMahon made the remarks after the Border Patrol, an unaffiliated Texas-based tag team known for wrestling masked Mexicans and then reporting them to Immigration and Naturalization Service officials, revealed that dozens of illegal Mexican wrestlers join the WWE each year.
The wrestlers, also known as "jobbers," come in search of greater title opportunities and more interesting storylines than those available in their small, unorganized Lucha Libre leagues.
"These masked luchadores are hard-working, energetic, and always willing to learn new skills that Americans consider beneath them—such as being power-bombed from the top turnbuckle or chokeslammed through the announcer's booth," said McMahon on this week's WWE Raw.
"The idea that these Mexicans are somehow stealing jobs from American wrestlers is ridiculous,"McMahon said.
"After all, someone's got to take these folding chairs to the face." McMahon then picked up a folding chair and whacked Rey Mysterio Jr. in the face.
It is not known exactly how many Mexican wrestlers are on the WWE payroll, since many lack Social Security numbers, or even clear and verifiable identities, as McMahon himself admitted Monday. "I know as much about these masked wrestlers as the fans do," McMahon said. "What's certain is, they often seem marvelous and mysterious, saintly, and even rude."
Yet some American-born wrestlers say they see the influx of Mexicans as a threat to current titleholders, with some going so far as to start on-camera feuds and challenge the Mexicans to special "Retirement Matches."
"Juventud Guerrera, you're headed for your own personal Day of the Dead," said Triple H, a noted opponent of Mexican wrestlers. "If I see you creeping down the aisle one more time, I'm going to notify the Big Boss Man, and you'll be sorry you ever crossed over into my storyline's territory."
Pro Wrestling Illustrated investigative reporter Bart Sweet said that McMahon is hiding cynical motives. "The WWE just wants these men for cheap labor they can use at non-televised house shows," Sweet said. "They believe luchadores lack the looks, personality, or basic speaking skills to headline main events. Even if one did successfully climb to the top of the company ladder, he would immediately be suplexed off of it and through a table."
Legendary Lucha Libre wrestlers Mil Mascaras and The Son of Santo, who say they always longed to cross over to the U.S. in search of the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes, claimed that the WWE is exploiting its Mexican wrestlers.
"Match after match, the world can see that the Americans hit our brethren with foreign objects like brass knuckles or barbed-wire baseball bats, but U.S. officials turn a blind eye to the abuse," Mascaras said. "When they turn around, the Mexicans are passed out in sleeper-holds, which only perpetuates the untrue stereotype that Mexican wrestlers are lazy."
According to The Son Of Santo, the brutal smackdowns that Mexican wrestlers suffer through just to earn a living have begun to take their toll.
"One of our country's greatest stars, Eddie Guerrero, has already been worked to death," The Son Of Santo said. "If the WWE continues to allow them to perform this risky, high-flying labor, many more will end up in casket matches well before their time."