The professional wrestling business has been embroiled in controversy after referee Scott Armstrong failed to witness a flagrant breaking of the rules during a match earlier this week.
Because Armstrong was distracted by manager Vickie Guerrero, who had climbed onto the ring apron and was shrieking “excuse me,” he did not observe Jack Swagger pummel opponent Sheamus with a metal folding chair.
This allowed Swagger to score an ill-gotten victory, rather than suffer the disqualification that would mandatorily follow such brazen flouting of the rules.
Not since the “Double-Dave-Hebner” debacle of 1988 has public confidence in wrestling refereeing dwindled so low, according to recent polls.
“If we can’t put our faith in referees to properly officiate a match, then what?” said Dr. Richard Van Epstein, a wrestling analyst based at Harvard University. “If we can’t trust referees to catch and punish wrongdoing, anarchy will reign.”
Armstrong, a veteran referee with an otherwise impeccable record, was given a 60-day suspension for tacitly allowing the rulebreaking to occur.
WWE immediately formed a Refereeing Ethics and Procedures Committee, aimed at preventing any future acts of rulebreaking from going unnoticed.
“WWE referees are among the most highly trained and observant officials in the sports world,” read a WWE press release issued Tuesday. “We regret the incident with Mr. Armstrong, and we assure our fans that rulebreaking will not be tolerated, and will never go unnoticed again.”