Professional wrestling has never cared for black people, and apparently, they still don’t.
The very short list of male and female black wrestlers that have ascended to the top of the sports entertainment world speaks volumes, and even fewer have donned championship belts.
World Wresting Entertainment is reminding us of that, as they’re in the middle of a he said/they said dispute with Jordan Myles. The black pro wrestler on WWE’s NXT circuit is accusing the company of making a racist shirt with his name on it that resembles the Sambo Doll.
It’s very similar to what Gucci did earlier this year.
According to Myles’ Twitter feed, the shirt should have never been made.
“They don’t see the disrespect in producing a design that screams racism against African Americans,” he wrote. “They have been blinded for years and they need a reprogramming because they are ignorant.”
However, WWE claims Myles cleared the shirt.
“Albert Hardie Jr. (aka Jordan Myles) approved this t-shirt for sale. As always, we work collaboratively with all of our performers to develop logos and merchandise designs and get their input and approval before proceeding,” WWE wrote in a statement. “This was the same process with Albert, and we responded swiftly once he later requested that the logo/t-shirt be redesigned. No t-shirts were sold.”
Myles did not immediately respond to the Shadow League’s request for comment.
But no matter if Myles approved the shirt or not and is pulling a Jussie Smollett, it speaks volumes that WWE even made it.
However, this isn’t anything new for WWE or pro wrestling.
“Wrestling is all about lowest common denominators and the base characteristics of someone. If you’re a plumber you walk around with a plunger. If you’re a soldier you carry the American flag. Unfortunately, when you’re a minority you carry your race and the stereotypes that come with it,” said David Dennis, Interactive One’s Senior Culture Editor, to The Shadow League.
Just two years ago, WWE was in a similar predicament when champion Jinder Mahal mocked an Asian opponent with a racist accent and facial expressions.
“It feels like the WWE, in particular, doesn’t understand or want to understand anyone but white men,” Dennis explained.
These issues have been rampant throughout the sport, as every gender and race have portrayed stereotypical characters inside the ring.
WCW’s “Booker T.” began his career as part of a chain gang and had a white owner. “The Godfather” once played the role of a pimp. The Junkyard Dog wore an animal collar and was a battering ram for white wrestlers on their ascension to stardom.
The group “New Day” were originally supposed to be Baptist preachers. And Kamala, “The Ugandan Giant” was portrayed as an animalistic savage.
The WWE once had a Caucasian (Scott Hall) play the role of a Mexican “Razor Ramon.”
“I feel guilty for every dollar I’ve ever spent in support of these places,” added Dennis.
It’s no secret that diversity is good for business, and the lack of it is probably why WWE isn’t having the best of years. According to a report from Ringside News, net income for the WWE Network dropped by 83% from the previous third quarter. The loss of subscribers is why the company is expecting a decline from 1.51 million to 1.43 million in the next quarter, which adds up to a year-over-year 10% drop.
“This Myles controversy added in with Hulk Hogan being accepted back have turned me off as a fan,” said Andrew Hammond of the Tacoma News Tribune, to The Shadow League. Hogan returned to WWE last year in Saudi Arabia after being ostracized for his use of the N-word.
“I canceled my WWE Network subscription a few months back. It will take them being aware of their missteps for me to consider coming back. But, I don’t see them doing it any time soon.”
Dennis and Hammond are two black wrestling fans that are fed up. And in a sport that greatly lacks diversity in the ring, and in the stands, they represent a demographic that the sport should value instead of disrespect.
However, racism and fiscal responsibility seldom coincide.
Which is why black people need to stop supporting a sport that rarely showcases them, and often insults them when they do.
It’s way past time to “tap out” the bigotry in pro wrestling.