Wal-Mart pulls wrestling doll from shelves after hearing protests

Tuesday, November 2nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) -- A doll depicting a World Wrestling Federation wrestler carrying around a woman's head has been pulled from Wal-Mart shelves following a complaint that it makes light of violence against women.

John Bisio, a company spokesman, said Monday that complaints from Sabrena Parton, assistant professor of communications at Kennesaw State University, and from the manager of a Wal-Mart in Cartersville spurred the company to pull Summer Slam '99: Road Rage Al Snow. The toy is modeled after Al Snow, a World Wrestling Federation competitor who carries a female mannequin's head into the ring. The doll comes with a woman's head with "Help me" scrawled backward across her forehead. "My sons are 6 and 11. What kind of message would this toy send them about brutalization of women?" Ms. Parton said.

"Our management has decided it is at least a questionable item," Bisio said from Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. "So we are removing it from the shelf, probably permanently."

Jim Byrne, WWF vice president for marketing, defended the doll. "This is the first complaint we've had about the toy," he said from WWF headquarters in Stamford, Conn. "Al Snow's act with the mannequin head is as silly as it gets -- loads of fun."

Snow said the mannequin head is popular among wrestling fans. "One match I lost, and I started beating the daylights out of that head. All of a sudden all those people who had cheered me got mad and started booing. Seems like everybody likes that head."

Said Ms. Parton: "I could see if this was an adult novelty item, people could make a choice about whether to buy it. But the label says it's recommended for children ages 4 and older. That's terribly wrong."