It might not be right and it might not be fair but Lars Sullivan is still an employee of WWE because WWE is concerned over where he’ll end up if they let him walk.
After making bigoted, racial, homophobic and insensitive remarks online a few years back, Sullivan and the WWE took some heat these past few days because the optics of a seemingly racist bigot working for the wrestling promotion didn’t look good. Sullivan may have changed his ways, he may regret what he said, but the Internet doesn’t forget. And, if you’re a WWE Superstar, you can bet you’ll be seeing what you say online come around sometime again.
But, instead of firing Sullivan, WWE slapped him with a $100K fine and ordered to undergo sensitivity training. Many fans are asking why, considering WWE has fired people for a whole lot less.
One of those people is Titus O’Neil, who was almost released from his contract when he grabbed Vince McMahon during the Daniel Bryan farewell speech a few years ago. What O’Neil did was far less of a human resources nightmare, yet, his contract was almost terminated.
So, why cut Sullivan so much more slack?
Mike Johnson was asked that question and during his report on PW Insider, he noted that the general thinking is that the company didn’t want Sullivan leaving WWE only to go elsewhere and flourish.
WWE can’t really afford to let talent simply leave. With AEW and other promotions potentially willing to sign talent who leave WWE, Vince has invested a lot into Sullivan being successful and thinks he has a unique wrestler at his disposal. You could fire him, but then what if someone else picks him up?
Johnson said, “They didn’t want to fire Lars and hand him off to someone else in my estimation. So, they fined him.”
Is Fining Sullivan the Right Move?
Not firing someone because you’re worried they’ll go elsewhere is the wrong reason to keep someone employed. This is especially true if in many other circumstances you’d have terminated that person immediately.
The suggestion here isn’t so much that WWE thinks what Sullivan did is acceptable, but they’re willing to overlook it to keep him on the roster.