I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since I was a kid.
My favorite wrestlers were the ‘Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels and the most electrifying man in sports & entertainment, The Rock.
Since The Rock returned to the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) in 2011 I’ve had renewed interest in the product.
I’ve seen CM Punk & Daniel Bryan battle with the establishment and bring a new wave of indie darlings & established legends into the big leagues.
Recently I’ve been fascinated by the WCW (World Championship Wrestling) product.
As a kid I couldn’t watch wrestling unless I was over at my friend’s house but during the Monday Night Wars I still had an alliance with the WWF.
Now as an adult I’ve been on YouTube going through the archives checking out my favorite era from WCW, the nWo invasion.
After Scott Hall and Kevin Nash defected from WWF in the 90s they formed the New World Order with Hulk Hogan.
After the faction split into two parts, nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac.
What’s fascinating to me about this time is how Kevin Nash admitted in an interview how much they were influenced by hip hop and Black culture.
“There was not a whole lot of Black characters on TV, we almost had that ‘thug/street’ cred going on”
Their entrance music was by No Limit’s C-Murder and the faction including Latino wrestler Konnan who shared that urban sensibility in his style of dress and how he cut his promos.
Historically wrestling has had a checkered past with people of color specifically Black wrestlers in the business.
While The Rock was arguably the biggest star of all time he was almost an anamoly.
There has been a White wrestler being Akeem the Dream and Vince McMahon himself has been problematic.
As ECW champion he donned a drag and is on camera playing off saying “My nigga” to John Cena as a joke.
John Cena himself was given the range to go from a Marky Mark G-Unit inspired act to a more well rounded character.
Though he benefited from being a 3rd generation superstar Rocky Mavia was extremely charismatic and a hard worker.
After turning heel (becoming a bad guy) Rocky became The Rock joining The Nation of Domination.
This group was led by Faarooq (Ron Simmons) and the members included Mark Henry, D’Lo Brown and Kama Mustafa.
Being paired with The Nation gave way to him winning the Intercontinental Championship.
Being of mixed descent he is the only Black wrestler to win the WWE Title.
His father is Soul Man Rocky Johnson who was one half of the first Black tag team champions in the WWF.
It took until 1992 for Ron Simmons to win the WCW Heavyweight Championship.
But once he broke that color barrier Booker T went on to win the title five times.
Speaking of Booker T he was the first Black champion to win the World Heavyweight title on WWE.
But this was in 2006 after one of the most controversial decisions at Wrestlemania 19.
While going against HHH he was primed to go all the way even eliminating The Rock in the 20 Man Battle Royal.
HHH cut a vicious promo with racist undertones against Booker T bringing up his dreadlocks and saying people like him were there to entertain.
“Somebody like you doesn’t get to be a world champion, people like you don’t deserve. That’s reserved for people like me…you’re not here to be a competitor, you’re here to be an entertainer.
You’re hear to make people like me laugh…with your nappy hair and your “suckas”.
You’re gonna do what people like you always do, you’re gonna lose”
A week later Ric Flair recommends that Booker T becomes a chaffier and drive them around.
This was some of the most disrespectful remarks ever made on WWE and you would think Booker T would get some payback and defeat the clear bad guy at Wrestlemania right? No, it led to Booker T losing after laying on the mat for what seemed like an eternity after HHH hit him with a pedigree.
But a tide is seeming to turn.
Sasha Banks, cousin of Snoop Dogg. is a great worker, well respected and multiple Women’s champion.
The New Day reinvigorated the tag team division and crowds around the nation are chanting “New Day Rocks”.
The Usos, cousins of The Rock and sons of Rikishi, a ruthless on the mic and have been blessed with high flying abilities.
For those young fans of the WWE now they don’t have to remember times of the past where Blacks where discriminated against.
There’s great representation on screen of every shade and it’s great that WWE is recognizing their talents.