For the past couple of years now, the WWE (formerly the WWF) has been taking their wrestling circus abroad to different countries. Despite what might happen on the plane flights back, they've made several profitable trips to Europe as well as Australia and parts of Africa. During these trips to these different lands, many crowds react differently to certain characters. For instance, Chris Benoit will never be booed in Edmonton, Alberta, nor Chris Jericho in Toronto (even though both now live in the United States). While I understand Canada does not count as "abroad," it does exemplify the point.
Due to the differences in customs and languages found in these foreign crowds, many of the WWE Superstars will act differently as well. A heel character in England, for example, might make fun of the audience's bad teeth, foul smell, or make some reference to a certain war in the late 1700's. Anything to get the crowd riled up, as that's the job of the heel, to make the audience hate you with a passion.
In the recent months, John Layfield's character has been in cahoots with Kurt Angle and feuding against current WWE Champion, Eddie Guerrero. During this feud, there have been several remarks made about Eddie, the fact he's from Mexico, and many other comments about his race and how he may or may not belong in the US. Here, the WWE is playing the race card pretty heavily, as with Eddie's advance to champion, a new Latin market has been pulled into the WWE. While I can't really condone what's going on here, I let it slide because Eddie, the face in the feud, is supposed to be degraded by the heel, who is supposed to be as big of a bastard as he possibly can and make the face's life a living hell (and I never liked him to begin with). Yet things can get out of hand.
When a character reaches the main event, often they are given liberalities with their characters. The Rock can spout out any mindless drivel about pastries and monkeys and the crowd will eat it up, because of who he is. Triple H can be as cocky as he wants to be, and talk about how good he is for 10 minutes, because he's paid his dues in the company and has main evented for years. John Layfield, formerly known as Bradshaw and Blackjack Bradshaw, and currently known as John Layfield Bradshaw, is new to the main event, and recently tried to add depth and more heel heat (hatred/negative crowd reaction) to his character at a houseshow in Munich, Germany. Bradshaw, however, went about this in the worst possible way. To garner more heat, Bradshaw goose-stepped around the squared circle, and flashed the nazi salute to the audience. This, if you might not know, is really-very-highly frowned upon in Germany (and I'd imagine everywhere else too) and can bring a hefty fine and other judicial punishments. Bradshaw's actions inflamed one member of the audience so much that he attempted to jump the barricade seperating the ring from the audience. The audience member was stopped by security.
Nothing has been heard from police in Munich about pressing charges against Mr. Layfield. The WWE, on the other hand, has hit Bradshaw with some internal punishment, and have not released details to the public. The WWE, however, has released this statement saying, "WWE and John Layfield deeply regret Mr. Layfield's actions in the ring at our event in Munich, and apologize if it has offended or upset our fans. Mr. Layfield has been reprimanded for his actions." John Layfield also lost a job he was given one month ago, as a financial analyst on CNBC. A spokesman for the company reasoned that, "We find his behavior to be offensive, inappropriate and not befitting anyone associated with our network."
Bradshaw's first appearance in the states since the debacle was last night, at the Smackdown! tapings in Uniondale, New York. The spoilers did not comment on what type of reaction Mr. Layfield received from the audience. While many in the audience might not know what happened over across the pond, many smarks in the internet wrestling community are both upset and baffled as to why Bradshaw would make such an egregious error in judgement. This is akin to John McClane wearing that plackard around him in downtown New York in Die Hard: With a Vengence. The silver lining in this situation only goes to those that didn't like John Layfield as a singles wrestler to begin with, as his time in the main event scene is surely limited now.
first quote from the good folks at 1wrestling.com (http://www.1wrestling.com/news/newsline.asp?news=18650)
second quote from the also good folks at the Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/8872809.htm?1c)