Clause and effect?
Talk about a case of "If you don't have anything nice to say…" China's leaders recently came under fire after presenting the British government with a contract for its Olympic athletes to sign. For the athletes to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, they had to sign a heavily-documented agreement which stated that they would not speak out against China's politically sensitive issues.
Amid much protest, England has included the clause for its athletes to sign. It also prompted WWE.com to ask its Superstars whether they would ever sign a similar contract -- especially if the terms were drawn up regarding WWE's Chairman, Mr. McMahon.
"I'd never sign anything that wouldn't allow me to speak my mind," proclaimed Shawn Michaels, Raw's show-stopping Superstar who also happens to be an "army brat." "That's one of the great things about living in this country. People who don't appreciate that have never traveled abroad."
Echoing HBK's sentiments was Mickie James, who got right to the point about the notion of being denied one of America's most cherished liberties. "I think that would suck," the Raw Diva blurted out. "I mean we do live in the United States of America, where we have freedom of speech."
Not all of WWE's Superstars have a problem with the idea, though, especially where WWE's Chairman is concerned. "Of course I would sign it," answered Raw songstress Jillian, "because there's nothing negative to be said about Mr. McMahon."
"Anybody who would say anything derogatory about Mr. McMahon…honestly, it's nonsense," Matt Striker declared. "Remember the first time you realized that you loved this sport? Remember the first feeling you had when you heard the initial ‘dong' signalling The Undertaker's music…saw Shawn Michaels literally soar through the air…the first time you ever felt the electricity of Hulk Hogan? Every time you do a [D-X] crotch thrust or wave your hand in front of your face…you better thank Mr. McMahon."
The ECW Superstar would also do a lot more than sign a "no criticism" contract for WWE's Chairman. "I firmly support a limit on free speech," he declared, then quickly educated WWE.com on the reasons for his extreme view. "There are too many people out there who say things out of ignorance… and I really don't think that they should be allowed to go off spouting at the mouth."
For Mr. Kennedy, contractually agreeing to restrict his own comments comes down to dollars and common sense. "I'm all about making money," he revealed. "If not signing such a contract was to prevent me from doing that, or headlining WrestleMania like I plan on doing, then yeah, I would [sign it]."
For his answer, United States Champion MVP recalled the words of basketball great Charles Barkley when he played on the U.S. "Dream Team" in the 1992 Olympic Games. "They were sponsored by Reebok…and Barkley said, ‘I have two million reasons why I don't wear Reebok.' Draw your own conclusions."
Shelton Benjamin doesn't believe that even Mr. McMahon would go the same route as China with such an extreme demand for his Superstars. "Well, there's no telling what he would do," he added, "but it probably wouldn't be good for us, or for China."