Be it an excessive suspension, his horrendous booking or his current lawsuit; it seems the only thing that WWE superstar Titus O’ Neil cannot catch is a break.
When the news broke that former WWE cameraman Donald Anderson was suing superstar Titus O’ Neill for the sum of 1.2 million dollars, I buried my face in my hands and let out a long sigh for one of the most generous men in the sport of professional wrestling.
Anderson alleges that while filming an episode of the WWE’s “Punk’d” rip-off show “Swerved” in May of 2015, a segment involving WWE superstars being unexpectedly shocked with a cattle prod was being filmed when the surprise of being shocked angered the 6’6, 270 lb O’Neil, leading him to kick the camera out of Anderson’s hand in the process, causing damage to his hand, wrist and fingers. Anderson alleges that afterwards, in fear of having Titus further his assault, WWE officials asked Anderson to leave the premises.
Who would’ve guessed that being shocked with a cattle prod and having the results filmed could piss someone off so badly? It doesn’t take a scholar to see that the show’s prank segment was one that could incite the anger of a person and was probably better left on the shelf of bad WWE ideas alongside the Gobbledygooker costume and any footage of last Sunday’s “House of Horrors” match.
This marks another errant moment in an already rollercoaster era of Titus’ uncertain WWE career as last year saw Titus suspended in February over an incident where he playfully grabbed Vince McMahon’s arm after Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech, leading to a 90 day suspension. The suspension was later reduced to 60 days after WWE came under fire for the eye rolling explanation of how O’Neil came to be suspended for an excessive period of time. That suspension even prompted former WWE heavyweight kingpin Batista to speak out on O’Neil’s behalf; saying Titus was “shafted” and that McMahon is well-known as a physically playful individual and couldn’t understand how the suspension was considered fair. Batista also publicly acknowledged that he urged Titus to ask for his WWE release and would help O’Neil adjust into acting and television should he choose to depart.
Throughout his WWE tenure, there has hardly been a superstar who could hold a candle to Titus on the charity front. O’Neil is the 2015 recipient of MEGA’s “Celebrity Dad of the Year” award and has been notably praised for his charitable work which has ranged from walking children in “at risk” neighborhoods to school, reading to children, donating thousands of toys for Christmas events for the less fortunate, and making routine visits to cancer hospitals to help raise the spirits of sick patients. In addition to all of that, Titus has also assisted nearly 250 students in the Tampa Bay area in their efforts to go to college.
While all of these wonderful things are O’Neil’s doing, the highlighted stories will always be the negative ones. The headlines will read of suspension and lawsuits, micro-measuring any amount of good this man has brought into the lives of others. WWE has always been quick to share involvement when it comes to Titus’ charitable accolades, yet have placated Titus as a villain through an excessive suspension, have used him minimally on television or in storylines (since that suspension) and have yet to speak out on O’Neil’s behalf in this latest instance that is just as much the fault of WWE and their unwatchable prank show’s writers as it is O’Neil’s for reacting the way that he did.
Let me repeat: They unexpectedly shocked this man with a cattle prod, continued to film him and he got angry. Who couldn’t see that coming from a mile away?
While Titus must atone for the damages and shoulder a definite monetary loss, I feel Mr. Anderson’s lawsuit is an absolute sham that tells others that there are 1.2 million reasons you should work for WWE and get hurt on the job. Yes, Mr. Anderson was an innocent party who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but is in no way deserving of 1.2 million dollars for whatever breaks or issues he has with hand. Having broken both hands, a wrist and multiple fingers; I can attest to having hands that are left with lingering issues, but in no way is any of my “pain and suffering” worth a million plus dollars.
Why hurt a man’s future and life over something like this? I hope WWE does the right thing and supports Titus through this process. What message does it send to their superstars if they do not? That is certainly not a place I would feel comfortable working if I am to lose my livelihood over an unexpected moment on a C-Level prank show that I didn’t even know I was being pranked on.
At 40 years old with a trail of both past and looming drama, Titus’s WWE career may be close to over with this latest turn of events. I personally feel a deep sadness when I think of a man who has overcome so much, who has done so much for others and who is now in a position to be unceremoniously disregarded by a company he has lived for because of a terrible prank gone awry.
To Titus O’ Neill, you have my respect, admiration and support.
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