WWE is facing severe criticism for having one of their top stars, Charlotte Flair, reference Simone Biles’ mental health struggles during the Tokyo Olympics in a heel (bad guy) promo.

Biles has made headlines this summer after she dropped out of Team USA’s gymnastics team event final following an awkward vault in the opening round. The 24-year-old, widely regarded as one of the greatest gymnasts of all-time, also dropped out of the individual all-around competition as well as the vault, floor and uneven bars finals. On both occasions, Biles cited mental health concerns and a case of the ‘twisties’ meaning that she felt lost while in the air.

During Monday’s edition of WWE’s weeklyRaw show, Flair – real name Ashley Fliehr – who is currently a heel on the sports entertainment show, said in a scripted promo: “A few days ago, I woke up to a headline that said: ‘Simone Biles withdraws from Olympic Games’ and I couldn’t help but take a second to think to myself, why would the greatest gymnast of all time not wanna go for the gold anymore? And later I discovered that it was for mental health concerns. The more I learned, the more I couldn’t help but empathise with her.”

Flair went on to state that she related to Biles because she had recently lost her Raw Women’s Championship to Nikki A.S.H, which she believes was “stolen” from her. Flair added: “When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t help but think to myself, what the hell is going on? I am near a breaking point, I am going to have my own nervous breakdown!”

Although the promo is still available on WWE’s YouTube channel, Flair’s comments have drawn a largely negative reaction as they appeared to be making light of a very serious situation for Biles, regardless of whether the wrestler saying it was a good guy or not.

Fellow American wrestling company AEW also made a reference to the four-time Olympic gold medallist when wrestler Max Caster, who often raps when on his way to the ring, spoke about it during a recent match on their Dark show which goes out on YouTube. The rap, which also featured a rape joke and Covid-19 conspiracies, has since been edited out of the video.

Much like WWE, AEW has also received criticism for making light of Biles situation.

Numerous people, including Piers Morgan and Saturday Night Live star Michael Che, have been criticised for their comments and jokes about Biles and her mental wellbeing.

The athlete was able to return to the competition in Tokyo on Tuesday when she won bronze in the beam event having previous won silver for her involvement in the team event. She later wrote on Instagram: “Not at all how I imagined or dreamed my second Olympics would go but blessed to represent the USA. I’ll forever cherish this unique Olympic experience. Thanks, everyone for the endless love and support. I’m truly grateful.”

Biles also revealed that her aunt recently passed away while she has been in Tokyo: “Two days ago my aunt unexpectedly passed, and that was something I wasn’t expecting to happen at the Olympic Games either, so at the end of the day, you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you say online, because you have no idea of what these athletes are going through as well as (in) their sports.”

Indy100 has contacted WWE and AEW for comment.

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