By Bayani Domingo, Associate Editor
Black History Month is over. Some of you didn’t realize it; some of you didn’t care. That’s fine, the idea of a month dedicated to African American history and experience of African Americans in America has been under attack for years. But quite frankly, the fact that there was even LESS of a light shined upon it throughout wrestling is the very reason it SHOULD exist, and probably will need to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The WWE did a very good job of shooting a promo showing their wrestlers at an African American History Museum, unfortunately they only shot one. ONE video package they kept running over and over. Apparently, they didn’t have the production money for a 2nd one? Or more appalling is that they didn’t even have enough Black wrestlers to even FILM a 2nd video package. That’s where we are today, in need of a change. In need of…a hope.
I wanted to write a column last week about what an “All Black WWE Show” would look like in honor of the Black Panther movie and it’s predominantly Black cast. But, you know what? It would suck. I hate to say it, but it would either be a mediocre episode of Smackdown or a REALLY great episode of Saturday Night Main Event. Let’s look at the main roster when it comes to Black wrestlers:
RAW: Apollo Crews, Jason Jordan (injured), Titus O’Neil, Alicia Fox (Injured), Sasha Banks.
Smackdown: Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Shelton Benjamin, Naomi
That’s pretty damn sparse. But that’s ok, let’s not forget to add in 205 Live, where we have…. Cedric Alexander.
Hmmm…. ok, NXT? Angelo Dawkins, Montez Ford, Lio Rush, Velveteen Dream, Ember Moon, and Bianca Belair are the only official members of the NXT roster and while there is some potential there, Rush is constantly being rumored to be leaving, the Street Profit$ are basically a rip off of Cryme Tyme, and Velveteen Dream is over by FAR with the crowd, but may have a very limited shelf life due to his gimmick. At least the women seem to be pushed properly and show some promise, however the WWE has had a very checkered past when it comes to loading up on too many women of color, especially Black women. It seems like they treat Black women on the main roster like The Walking Dead treats Black guys in Rick’s group. If Ember Moon gets called up to RAW I’m worried Sasha is getting bit by a walker in 2 weeks.
I’m not sure whether this is intentional or just a function of fewer Black candidates trying out for the Performance Center or being trained on the Indies. There’s also a significant delta in Black vs White wrestling fans, or at least it appears so if you ever see the crowd shots during WWE shows and ESPECIALLY IMPACT tapings. I’m not sure it’ll be ANY better now that it’s a Canadian company. If you look at RoH, Evolve, House of Hardcore, PWG, or any other prominent Indy you’ll basically see the same 3 or 4 Black wrestlers on every show and lord help us if there’s a Black faction. They’re either “Militants”, “Hustlers”, or…Cheeseburgers. I can’t really blame wrestling companies if there is simply a dearth of attractive candidates. However, maybe it’s in part to the history of the treatment and marketing of Black wrestlers in the past. That’s where we look at what is oddly the most progressive company in wrestler, at least as recently as a few months ago: IMPACT Wrestling.
IMPACT has done a pretty good job recently of featuring Black wrestlers, at least as far as the men go. Moose has been given a solid Main Event Push after running through the mid-card, Dezmond Xavier was pushed mightily in the X-Division, winning the X-Cup in the process. But the crown jewel was Bobby Lashley. A guy who stalled out in the mid-card in the WWE, eventually being capped by being the champion of their “C Show”, ECW. But through TNA’s booking and his success in MMA he was rebuilt as a champion and unquestioned star. He even managed to improve his promo skills to the point where he is at least passable on the stick without being worried that he “thaw a pooty tat”. Bobby Lashley helped keep TNA afloat long enough for it to become GFW…and eventually IMPACT. Alas, he’s gone now, a victim of either the new management’s agenda or budget. However, IMPACT’s loss is now rumored to be WWE’s gain.
Bobby Lashley is Vince’s wet dream, the kind of guy he salivated over in the past, but for some reason couldn’t get behind fully in his first go around. THIS time around, however he’s built up some more street cred. He now brings multiple world championships runs with him, a successful MMA record, and improved promo skills. Even if he isn’t up to snuff in Vince’s eyes on the mic, there’s a number of managers or…” advocates” that he could be paired with. He also returns in the same jacked condition he left in. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing standing in Bobby Lashley’s way…. other than…HHH. There’s really no telling what the man of H’s will want to do with Lashley. I think he recognizes that he’s an asset and a great addition to the roster, however Lashley definitely isn’t one of HHH’s “Guys”. Then again, I’m not sure Lesner is, and what better way to replace a guy who may be leaving on his own than to go bigger and blacker?
I’d like to think that the WWE wouldn’t be able to screw up a return that’s will be so readily accepted by the fanbase as Lashley’s. I just wonder if he’ll lose his last name in the process. Methinks “Bobby” is a less intimidating name to wrestle under. More importantly Lashley can be to the E what he was to IMPACT and be the first truly successful FULLY Black wrestler in the WWE in over a decade. Say what you want about Mark Henry’s run as the WWE Champion, but 3 months and a handful of title defenses, including one where he lost it to Daniel Bryan, then suddenly didn’t wouldn’t be a rousing success in my book. I’d like to hope that perhaps seeing Lashely pushed and succeed as a champion might help promote wrestling more to Black athletes and perspective wrestling hopefuls, but only time will tell. I will say this much, seeing yourself in the success of others is RARELY something that discourages your own ambition. So until I see Lashley paired with Apollo Crews in a comedy skit where we find out they’re actually twins and Apollo is the Danny Devito, I’m going to keep Black Hope alive.
- Do we get to celebrate Seth Rollins’ run in Ring of Honor during Black History Month?
- You know what’s nice about IMPACT wrestling being based in Canada? Even the racist chants against Moose couldn’t be that hard, because it won’t end in a hard “R”, it’ll be a soft “Eh”.
- Keith Lee, if rumors are correct, was offered a contract with WWE at their PC. Keith Lee is well known on the Indy circuit and has impressive athleticism for a man his girth? Size? Jiggle? Little known fact, Keith Lee was originally kicking around the idea of changing his finishing move to a sleeper hold he would dub “The Itis”. Also rumored to have been offered a contract is Aussie wrestler, Walter. It’s like the E thinks is easier to just sign guys with no last name than to just take their last name from the beginning.
- FOX is still rumored to be looking at purchasing the WWE. Rumors have ramped up recently as “Fox & Friends” has been repackaged with hosts Brian “Killer” Killmeade, Ainsley Ainsley, and “The Dooce”.
- In IMPACT contract news, Alberto de Patron’s contract runs out next month. IMPACT has been looking re-up his contract in order to increase their viewership and expand their demographics. It’s been long rumored that AdP has been a real “Hit with the Ladies”, though no charges were pressed.
- Rey Misterio Jr is rumored to be returning to the WWE, playing the part of a Make-A-Wish kid, that got signed after he beat lupus.
- I’m kind of enjoying the Hania vs Rosemary feud on IMPACT, and it has nothing to do with the thicky thick goodness that is Hania. Although, I hate that I accidentally saw a spoiler and know what her ultimate fate will be. It’s kind of like when you click on that thumbnail on Pornhub and you accidentally see the Finish.
- Tammy Lynn Sytch, aka Sunny, was arrested again this week, on charges of “Contempt – Disobedience/Resistance”. I didn’t even realize you could be ARRESTED for a bad Tinder date…
- The Youngbucks are moving on up to the Heavyweight Tag Division. Meaning they will now be throwing “Super-Size Me Kick Parties”.
- In CMLL, wrestler El Terrible just joined Los Ingovernables. Jumping from Bullet Club Latinoamerica to TGR to LI, El Terrible is basically incepting his own factions now. How long till he ends up forming a sub-sub group of LI called Los Deplorables?
- 2018 New Japan Cup opening round match-ups have been announced and there are more Gaijins in the tourney than you can shake a hentai DVD at. I haven’t seen this many White guys entering a Japanese fighting tournament since “Best of the Best”, which kind of explains Lance Archer’s “Eric Roberts ponytail”.
- After YEARS of toiling in relative obscurity on the WWE roster it looks like “The Big Dog” is going to get his Wrestlemania Moment. I’ve been hoping to see Roman Reigns FINALLY get a big push…in front of a bus.
- Hey, that last one was a joke; besides, Braun would end up tipping that f**kin bus over waaaay before it managed to hit Roman.
- Also, the American team in BotB was fighting a team from South Korea. Not Japan. But no one caught that did they? …. racists….
- Anyone else want to make that whole “Point to the WrestleMania sign” a thing in real life? Like when your coworkers ask you where you should all go for lunch and you point stoically at the Chipotle. Or afterwards when you get back from lunch, get off the elevator and point majestically at the bathroom?
- I’m just worried this will lead to copycats that will use that “WrestleMania Point” gesture in more nefarious or ominous ways. Like ladies, if your friends tell you that
- Tinder isn’t just an app for anonymous casual sex, but you show up at Olive Garden and your date stares you in the eye and points directly at your vag, maybe leave. I mean…that’s why Hope Hicks left…