Expert: Snuka charges could hurt WWE's image

Jimmy

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 1983 death of his girlfriend. (9/2/15)

STAMFORD - The spotlight is on World Wrestling Entertainment again after one of its former stars was arrested in the death of his girlfriend.

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka became famous in the '80s for his moves in the ring. He is now charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 1983 death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino.

An autopsy concluded that Argentino died of traumatic brain injuries, and her death was ruled a homicide. The investigation eventually went cold.

Snuka, now 72 years old, was arraigned Tuesday and was expected to post bail.

The charges against Snuka and previous incidents involving the criminality of current and former WWE stars have some wondering whether the negative press will hurt the company's image and popularity.

Jennifer Anderson, a communications expert at Fairfield University, says the news might not affect WWE's loyal fanbase, but it could hurt the company's image and stop it from attracting a new audience.

"With the WWE, it's been pretty regular that these violent and destructive stories keep popping up," she says.

Anderson goes on to say that an image shift may be the solution for the wrestling corporation, but promoting a positive image for a sport typically considered violent could pose a problem.

In a statement, a company spokesperson says the "WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately this matter will be decided by our judicial system."

AP wire services contributed to this report.

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