As a kid, I grew up watching Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair dominate professional wrestling. As a Black kid, I was always looking for myself on the screen. Unfortunately, I never saw anyone who looked like me.
I know what you’re going to say: “There have been plenty of Black Wrestlers Dave! How could you even write that you weren’t represented?” Simply put, I wasn’t represented. I didn’t know anyone who danced around with a bird like Koko B. Ware. The only other person that I knew who dealt with junk was Fred Sanford, so I couldn’t relate to the Junkyard Dog. To be honest, as a 10 year old kid from Philly, I don’t think I could have pointed at Uganda on a map, so there goes Kamala (who is penniless and amputated). Tony Atlas was showed off for his body but not his technical prowess. He had to take a backseat to Hogan and later wound up homeless. Where was the WWE when he was found freezing and lay dying on a park bench?
I remember the attitude Era, and I remember the Nation of Domination, a team of Black jobbers that were caricatures of proud Black men who wouldn’t take any crap. I couldn’t relate to them either. They had a revolving door of talent that at one time included Owen Hart (and we all know how Black Owen Hart was) and the Rock.
So let’s talk about The Rock for a minute, shall we? The Rock comes from a long line of wrestling greats. Ironically, the WWE rarely talks about the great Soulman Rocky Johnson. You know, the Black guy who is the Rock’s FATHER. Instead, the WWE likes to focus on The Great One’s Samoan roots. The Rock is one of my favorites, but to act as if he represents me or the hopes and dreams of having a Black champion in the WWE is unfair. The Rock is an amazing talent but to the WWE, he’s safe and racially ambiguous.
It’s sad to think that talented wrestlers like R-Truth can never be champion. I remember when this man was K-Kwik and WWE let him go. It was then that he went to TNA and developed a realer version of himself. He was a heel but he had amazing charisma. Although I hate rapping wrestlers, I loved Ron Killings and so did millions of TNA fans. This is when WWE signed him (when they shouldn’t have let him go in the first place)
Remember when Truth was beating the brakes off of John Cena, only to lose at Capital Punishment (which was a throwaway PPV)? You can’t have a fed up brother who was sick of dancing and rapping to appease “Little Jimmy” win the championship against a White man who spent the majority of his career rapping to appease Little Jimmy.
Truth was cutting great promos and dropping pipebombs that would make CM Punk proud, but he never got the brass ring Vince likes to talk about.
I refuse to go any further without acknowledging Mark Henry. The World’s Strongest Man. An actual Olympic contender who was reduced at one point to having a relationship with Mae Young and being dubbed Sexual Chocolate. Yes Henry held the ECW and World Heavyweight titles, but those were glorified empty titles and every true wrestling fan knows that.
Booker T. was treated with dignity and respect in WCW, and while he is a WWE Hall of Famer and the King of the Ring, the inventor of the Spinaroonie was also relegated to the World Heavyweight title.
Viscera and Brodus Clay respectively went from being vicious scary competitors to sweatsuit wearing clowns.
Titus O’Neil wears speedos and barks like he’s on campus in a bad Spike Lee joint. Darren Young is phenomenal but the odds of a Black AND Gay wrestler getting the WWE championship are slim and none.
That brings me to The New Day: Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods. Out of the three, Kofi Kingston is the most talented. He’s also the most experienced. He’s held several tag titles and the IC title 4 times, but he never gets to the dance. Although the man is a human highlight reel, he’s never been given a push. I won’t even point out the fact that Vince thought Kofi having a Jamaican gimmick was cool. The man is from GHANA for Christ’s sake!
Big E. was an enforcer for Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee for a while. He even won the IC title, but I knew he was going to be a transitional IC champ. His mic skills are horrid, but he’s freakishly big and scary…
Well, at least he used to be. With Xavier Woods (a PhD candidate who can talk and had a great run in TNA) and Kofi, Big E has become a happy smiling Southern Baptist preacher character, complete with a horrible haircut, TD Jakes levels of sweat, and a prayer handkerchief.
There was a time when it looked as if The New Day would bring balance and respectability to the company that brought us such offensive characters as the Godfather & the Boogeyman but it was not to be.
Xavier told the fellas (initially) that they were done pandering and that they were going to take want they wanted.
Then they disappeared without a trace only to re-emerge full of coonery and buck dancing and “Do it for the day” chants, delivering no substance whatsoever.
Sasha Banks is considered the best wrestler (Diva) in NXT. Naomi is considered the best wrestler (Diva) on the main roster, yet it’s Charlotte and Nikki Bella who hold championships respectively
Now WWE wants to celebrate Black History Month? How about acknowledging that your history with African-Americans leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t see see myself in the product. I don’t see a group of strong, intelligent people who have massive talent and are masters of entertainment. I see a rudderless ship heading to a port of uncertainty, and we all know how that worked out the last time when a group of Black folks got on a boat by force to an unknown land. They were stripped of their dignity and identity. Why does that sound so familiar when I see today’s product regarding the Black talent?
I don’t want a Black takeover, I just want some balance. Is that too much to ask?
Dave Anderson is an award winning journalist, author and businessman. He resides in the home of ECW, Philadelphia PA. Follow him on twitter @LikeAHater