Dot Net Exclusive: WWE Smackdown lead writer Michael Hayes serving a 60-day suspension for using a racial slur
WWE Smackdown writer Michael Hayes is currently serving a 60-day suspension for using a racial slur during WrestleMania 24 weekend. Hayes was at a public gathering and used a derogatory term while speaking with Mark Henry, who took offense and reported the issue to either Vince McMahon or Stephanie McMahon.
Hayes and MVP had been using the word while joking around together earlier in the night. It was a party setting and Hayes had been drinking when he approached Henry. A pair of sources confirmed that Hayes told Henry, "I'm more of a n----- that you are." One of the sources claims that it was a play on something MVP jokingly said about Hayes earlier in the night because of the white suit that he wore to the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Hayes then headbutted Henry in what one source described as a playful manner. Henry and Hayes exchanged words, and the former reported the issue to WWE officials.
Hayes, who normally goes on vacation the week after WrestleMania, was eventually informed of his suspension. Sources are unaware whether the suspension kicked in before or after his vacation was scheduled to begin. Either way, he has not appeared at any WWE functions since WrestleMania weekend.
Although a well-placed source told Dot Net that he believes Hayes was joking, multiple sources say he has a history of using the word and has been warned by Stephanie McMahon in the past. "On the surface they did the right thing, but this has been going on a long time," one colleague told Dot Net. However, the same source said that while Hayes has flippantly used the slur during creative sessions, he has never known him to use his power to bury a minority wrestler.
Powell's POV: One source explained to me that Hayes feels comfortable using the word around African Americans because he doesn't mean any harm. Of course, even if the word is accepted in some of his social circles, Hayes has to realize that he's working in the corporate world for a publicly traded company, not to mention how offensive that word is to many people. He's also in a position of power and I've heard from multiple sources that there are some wrestlers who laugh off these outbursts in front of Hayes, yet privately complain to others about his use of the word.
There are some people within the company who feel like Henry overreacted by reporting the incident and did so mostly because he was concerned about how it came off in front of others who witnessed the exchange. Again, though, I've heard from more people who felt like WWE officials should have addressed the problem with Hayes years ago. Furthermore, some sources are concerned that Henry will eventually pay a price politically, particularly if he remains on the Smackdown brand with Hayes. "Michael holds grudges," one source noted. "I'm talking for decades. You're his enemy for life."
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