WWE to JI: I know you are, but what am I?

Maybe this is gonna end up in a steel cage, and we’re just seeing the build up. In any case, World Wrestling Entertainment escalated its war of words with the Journal Inquirer today by saying that the newspaper was the purveyor of porn, not the WWE.

Finding an ad for an adult video store in the pages of the newspaper, the WWE pounced with a statement by Brian Flinn, the senior VP for marketing and communications:

“Hypocritically, on the very same day that Mr. Powell of the Journal Inquirer implied that WWE is in the  business of pornography, the Journal Inquirer itself was advertising Choice Video, an adult DVD store,  in Manchester, CT.”

If you haven’t been following the exchange, Chris Powell of the JI made an unflattering observation in a column last week about U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon: “Her practical qualifications for office did not extend beyond her fantastic wealth, and that wealth derived from the business of violence, pornography, and general raunch.”

In a letter to Powell, Flinn, demanded a retraction by June 4: “Should you fail to issue the retraction, we will seek legal and all available remedies.”

Things then got weird or creative, depending on one’s sensibilities: Powell responded with a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, suggesting the WWE was trying to help the McMahon campaign with threats to its editorial critics.

Knowing Powell, I assumed this was a tongue-in-cheek act.

I have no personal knowledge of Flinn, whether he has a sense of humor, or what form that humor takes. But it appears that Powell has gotten under his skin — or someone’s at Stamford-based WWE. They dispatched someone to get a hard copy of the Manchester paper and comb through it.

And they found the ad from Choice Video.

“Choice Video sells explicit videos that depict sadomasochism, orgies and other unmentionable forms of sex, and also promotes ESCORT SERVICES,” Flinn said in an emailed statement. “To our knowledge, no other newspaper in the state of Connecticut advertises where such pornography can be purchased except the Journal Inquirer.

“WWE is not in the ‘business of pornography.’ Is the Journal Inquirer?”

WWE has a show June 16 at the XL Center in Hartford. Maybe they’ll settle it then.

Just don’t put Powell in spandex.