World Wrestling Entertainment announced late Thursday it was scrubbing some "dated and edgier" footage from its website, a day after its co-founder's political opponent used clips in an attack ad.
"Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced," WWE's Brian Flinn told The CT Mirror. "This damages the corporate reputation of our company."
Flinn said the footage's removal wasn't related to an ad released Wednesday by Rep. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat running for Senate against WWE co-founder Linda McMahon, a Republican. The ad briefly uses WWE footage while attacking McMahon for allegedly off-shoring profits to avoid taxes and failing to provide health coverage for the company's performers.
WWE said the footage's removal was part of a re-branding effort. While the WWE had a PG-14 rating for much of the late 1990s and early 2000s -- generally called the company's "Attitude Era," when she was running the company with her husband, Vince McMahon -- its current content is rated PG or G, the company said.
"For years WWE has produced programming that is rated PG in primetime, and most recently rated G on Saturday mornings," Flinn told the Mirror. "To better reflect our current family-friendly brand of entertainment, WWE is removing some dated and edgier footage from digital platforms."
Since McMahon's first run for the Senate in 2010, when she lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal, opponents have used WWE footage to criticize the Republican for promoting violence and sexism. The Mirror reports one such clip, in which Vince McMahon orders a female wrestler to strip, get down on all fours and bark like a dog, has been wiped from YouTube.
After her expensive loss to Blumenthal in 2010 -- she spent $50 million on her campaign -- McMahon has retooled her image in 2012, focusing less on her business experience than her life story, often mentioning a bankruptcy she went through early in life. A late August Quinnipiac University poll found McMahon leading Murphy, 49 percent to 46 percent, in the race to replace retiring independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman.