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Comcast scrubs WWE programs of racist content after move to Peacock

Comcast and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are editing some shows to remove racist and problematic content.

On Wednesday, the wrestling newsletter PW Insider noted that fans had discovered edits that were quietly made to at least two pay-per-view events when the programs moved from the WWE Network to Peacock.

The edits were found in “WrestleMania VI” a pay-per-view event that aired in 1990. In that program, a match between pro wrestlers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Allen “Bad News Brown” Collage was removed entirely after Piper appeared in partial blackface during the bout. A backstage segment featuring Piper in half-blackface was also removed from the program.

Another pay-per-view event from 1995 called “Survivor Series” was also edited to remove a scene in which the WWE’s founder and chief executive Vincent McMahon used a racial slur while having a conversation with professional wrestler John Cena. The slur was used in front of wrestler Robert “Booker T” Huffman and his wife Sharmell Sullivan-Huffman, both of whom are Black.

Fans also discovered missing content on other pay-per-view events, including “Summer Slam 1998” and “WrestleMania 2000.”

The programs were not edited for content when they appeared on the WWE Network, a soon-defunct streaming service that was wholly owned and operated by the WWE. Comcast and the WWE announced an agreement in January to move WWE’s original and acquired programs over to Peacock.

Programs from the WWE’s library began moving over earlier this month, though not all shows and events that were once available on the WWE Network were made immediately accessible on Peacock.

Comcast, the company that owns and operates Peacock, said most of the WWE’s library should be available to stream by this summer. But some are now wondering if the delay is due to the cable giant scrubbing content that has not aged well over time.

“Obviously, Peacock will be removing anything that goes against their community standards and practices going forward,” Mike Johnson, a writer with PW Insider, wrote on Wednesday, noting that other WWE content — including its “Attitude Era” story lines and acquired shows from Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) — may be under a similar microscope.

“It should be interesting to see Attitude Era, ECW, territory-era content that pushes the envelope will be handled,” Johnson wrote. “One would think we’ll see additional edits of older material as it begins to materialize on Peacock.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).