President Donald Trump made history in many ways on Election Day 2016. He's not only the first U.S. president to be elected with zero political or military experience, and the first former reality TV star elected — Trump is also the only WWE Hall of Fame inductee to become leader of the free world.
Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013, six years after he was on the receiving end of one of the ugliest Stone Cold stunners in wrestling history at WrestleMania 23. Fellow WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin recently praised Trump for taking the wrestling maneuver back in 2007. "He was a stand-up guy, he was there to do business and we did business," said Austin.
But in 2017, after millions of dollars in campaign donations and a McMahon being given a top White House position, WWE's ties to Trump now go well beyond stunners and WrestleMania spectacle — and some fans are tapping out.
Click through images from Trump's WrestleMania appearance in 2007
"And then my days of watching WWE came to an end. #boycottwwe," tweeted a WWE fan named Adam Carter. The hashtag #boycottwwe circulated on Twitter shortly after news broke that former WWE CEO, and wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon had been tapped by the Trump administration to head the Small Business Administration.
"I stopped watching because it made me uncomfortable."
The idea that fans should think about canceling their subscription to the company's successful video streaming service also made the rounds online. "Consider unsubscribing from the WWE Network, and supporting independent wrestling instead," Scarlett Harris proposed in an editorial for Paste magazine.
Even some WWE talent are publicly dealing with working for a company deeply tied to a president they vehemently disagree with. "I can't articulate how truly disgusted I am right now. #MuslimBan," tweeted current WWE Superstar Sami Zayn, a Muslim Canadian professional wrestler of Syrian descent, after President Trump signed an executive order banning travel into the United States from 7 Muslim majority countries.
AOL News reached out to Zayn, along with multiple other current and former WWE wrestlers, but received no response.
Comic book writer Aubrey Sitterson, host of popular professional wrestling podcast Straight Shoot, recently stopped watching and covering all forms of WWE content — meaning he'd no longer be talking about the most popular wrestling promotion in the world on his weekly program, a move he called a "massive decision for the show, which is a significant part of how I make my living."
"I'm not boycotting. It's not a boycott. I'm not stopping watching in order to effect change. I stopped watching because it made me uncomfortable," said Sitterson speaking to AOL News.
Sitterson recalls days after the president signed the travel ban struggling to justify discussing WWE programming on his show.
"It was Royal Rumble weekend and the last thing I wanted to do was to sit down on a Saturday night to watch a WWE brand Pay-Per-View," said Sitterson. "And then to go live on my wrestling show — promoting this company that had not only paid for Trump to get into office and do the things he is doing, but in the process had bought Linda McMahon a spot in the administration.
"It sickened me that I was part of their marketing plan, that I was not only complicit, but that I was helping."
Other anti-Trump WWE fans have started strategizing how to support WWE talent without directly contributing to the company itself. "Let's think of ways to support the wrestlers working for wwe while giving as little $$ as possible to the McMahons. I'm open to suggestions," tweeted Erin Cline of the podcast Not Your Demographic.
"Personal check," quipped one responder.
But as the industry's biggest weekend of the year approaches, Sitterson says he hopes Trump's connection to the WWE doesn't negatively impact the progress and cultural relevance professional wrestling, as a whole, has achieved in recent years.
"It is really easy to be a wrestling fan and not be a WWE fan. I hope that people who are put off by the McMahons' connection to Trump are not put off by wrestling as a medium. Instead, I hope it encourages them to check out other promotions like Ring of Honor, the stuff on Flow Slam, or New Japan."
"It's a fascinating, nerve wracking time for everybody ... including wrestling fans."