As controversy continues to swirl regarding the WWE’s new “mentally challenged” character, information is now surfacing concerning his possible origin.
A former WWE employee has told SLAM! Wrestling that the ‘Eugene’ persona is likely based on a real “mentally challenged” boy who used to hang out backstage as a guest whenever the promotion visited the Northeast region of the United States in the eighties. According to the source, the boy wasn’t aware that his disability was persistently ridiculed by some of the WWE employees at the time.
“Folks in the WWF treated the kid, named Eugene, with respect, but he was always laughed at behind his back. Many people routinely mocked him and sometimes for fun he would even be mocked up front,” the source claims. “It struck me as odd that we could be so nice to the kid while at the same time delivering vulgar disrespect.”
Debuting on last week’s Raw broadcast, ‘Eugene’ is played by grappler Nick Dinsmore. Eugene was introduced as Eric Bischoff’s “special nephew” and the snobby William Regal was assigned to manage/baby-sit him. With fantasy possibly mirroring reality, Eugene’s erratic behavior was positioned as comic relief on the show with fans laughing at and not with the new character as he imitated the Bushwhackers, licked the announcers and had to be led away by¨Regal. As most fans are aware, Nick Dinsmore himself is not disabled in any way.
After being besieged by email from irate fans who expressed disgust and concern over the angle, the WWE began issuing a form letter response to defend the story line and clarify their purpose in going forward with it.
“The WWE intends to portray the character of Eugene as a hero, as are the many people with disabilities around the world (many of whom are WWE fans) who must everyday face challenges to live the type of life many of us take for granted. Eugene, despite his disability, will get a chance to achieve his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. We hope that Eugene’s story will encourage other people with disabilities to strive to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be,” states the WWE in their e-mail response.
It is unclear whether negative feedback from fans altered the WWE’s plans for Eugene or not.
In Eugene’s profile on the official WWE site, he is described as “unique” and that “the “special superstar and his manager will provide Raw fans with a lot of interesting times together to look forward to.”
In assessing the Eugene persona, the ex-employee wasn’t surprised at all that the WWE would produce such a character.
“The WWF has some strange cultural roots, and some attitudes that are shameful. This is just one of them,” said the source.
EUGENE / NICK DINSMORE STORIES
- Sep. 23, 2008: Eugene makes U-turn back to training