A number of professional sports-entertainers in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have sparked a fierce public debate over freedom of expression after kneeling in protest during performances of the Rusev Day anthem.
Performers including AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Roman Reigns and The Undertaker have “taken a knee” during Aiden English’s rendition of the anthem, though there is speculation that The Undertaker’s kneeling is just his standard evil salute to a magical urn.
According to a joint statement issued by the wrestlers, taking a knee “is a symbolic gesture to indicate our disapproval of Rusev Day’s pro-Russia sentiment, given the country’s human rights abuses and proven attempts to subvert American democracy.”
The statement continues: “We also don’t think Aiden is a very good singer, and we’d like him to stop.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin has denounced the protests as “patently disrespectful,” which prompted WWE Hall of Famer and US “President” Donald Trump to tweet: “Yeah, what Uncle Vlad said!”