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WWE Wrestlers Slam Bullying At Jacksonville Middle School

Ryan Benk

WWE wrestlers took a break from pummeling each other Tuesday to take an anti-bullying message to Jacksonville middle schoolers.

The wrestling stars’ pit-stop at Mayport Middle School  was part of a day-long visit in support of the troops, ending with a show at Veteran’s Arena.

Seventh- and eighth-graders chanted “Be a Star,” following the lead of WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler and six of the entertainment franchise’s female wrestlers shared personal stories about bullying in the packed gymnasium.

WWE Diva Natalya says her life as a famous wrestler may seem glamorous but not all that glitters is gold.

“It’s funny because people see us on 'Raw,' they see us on 'Smackdown,' they see us on 'Total Divas,' and they think that our lives are perfect,” Natalya said. “It may seem that way, but like you guys, all of us have been bullied.”

Bullying may be an understatement for the violence that appears to happen between performers in the ring. And the WWE has come under fire for its Be a STAR program by critics, like Bleacher Report writer Jacob Rachwel, who say it’s hypocritical to promote violence one day and peace another.  But WWE Diva Paige told the students, it’s just a show.

“Sometimes you might see me intimidate the other Divas or say really, really mean things, but I promise you that is not who I am in real life,” Paige said. “So, there’s a lot of differences between me and my television character.”

Mayport Middle School Principal Katrina McCray agreed, the wrestling stars can actually be the best spokespeople for tolerance. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.