The fierce-looking 6-foot, 225-pound grappler (who stars on MTV2's wrestling show Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors) claims to not only hail from the Valley but also - get this - that he's the son of Governor Jan Brewer.
As such, R.J. (or at least his wrestling character) supports the anti-immigration viewpoints and policies of his alleged mother both inside and outside of the ring, which includes sporting "SB1070" on his tights (in honor of our state's controversial "Papers Please" law) and starring in vignettes where he protects the U.S. border.
Plus, he also routinely assaults on masked Mexican wrestlers (also known as luchadores) inside the squared circle during episodes of Lucha Libre USA.
Like most things associated with professional wrestling, however, J's claim of being the governor's offspring to Brewer (not to mention his anti-immigration rhetoric) is all a fib.
In reality, he's John Stagikas, a 32-year-old grappler from Massachusetts who's worked for independent wrestling promotions across the country. RJ Brewer is the latest villainous character Stagikas has personified during his decade-long career and he plays it with gusto.
If you attend Lucha Libre USA's upcoming live event at Celebrity Theatre later this month, you're likely to see Stagikas earning a chorus of boos from a crowd of Hispanic wrestling fans as he waves the Arizona flag, complains that all immigrants should speak English, espouses the superiority of American beer over cerveza, and battles luchadores as a part of an ongoing storyline.
In the world of lucha libre (a Mexican-born style of wrestling popular both in its native country and U.S. border states), the R.J. Brewer character is a rudo (or villain) who serves as a foil to the heroic Hispanic characters known as technicos.
Per RJ Brewer's "official biography" -- which states that "his mother is one of the highest-ranking officials in the nation and holds great power and influence over the state of Arizona" -- the wrestler also claims to have traveled around with the Governor in support of anti-immigrations laws. (E-mails and calls to Governor Brewer's office for comment on the RJ Brewer character and his alleged parentage have not been returned as of this writing.)
"RJ feels that good morals and strong family values are the key to a successful country, and he will do anything in his power to uphold this belief," the bio states.
According to the storyline, R.J. also is a volunteer with the Border Patrol and spends his spare time guarding the fence between U.S. and Mexico with an attack dog named "Visa." He apparently isn't very effective at his job, as seen in the following YouTube clip.
Playing the race card in order to drum up business and ignite the passion of fans is something that professional wrestling has been doing for decades. The history of the rasslin' industry is replete with promoters tapping into the political and social zeitgeists of the moment with matches featuring all-American heroes battling evil foreigners.
Vince McMahon, the notorious honcho of World Wrestling Entertainment, is particularly guilty of race-baiting, having staged feuds where the squeaky clean Hulk Hogan fought the villainous tough-guy The Iron Sheik during both the height of anti-Middle East sentiment of the early '80s and after 1991's Gulf War. The WWE has also featured storylines over the years where Puerto Rican gang members have battled a pack of white bikers and a bunch of pseudo-Islamic black street thugs.
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Lucha Libre USA, which has a largely Hispanic fanbase, is doing a variation on this old school wrestling trick by simply flipping the script and having a villainous Caucasian spouting anti-immigrant twaddle to arouse a reaction.
And come April 29, we're certain that RJ Brewer is gonna get booed out of the Celebrity Theatre when he returns to his "hometown."
Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors Live visits Celebrity Theatre on Sunday, April 29. Admission is $20-$45. Click here for tickets and more info.