Pro Wrestling’s Race Card: Are Fans Ready?

Woods and Kingston There’s been a recurring theme lately with my articles, seems like when Gesus Oliver posts something it leads me to an idea. Last night we were chatting about an article he’s working on, then a little about NXT and the people working there, which led to a little conversation about Xavier Woods. We’re both in agreement that Woods is one hell of a worker who has a bright future, it’s just a matter of waiting at the moment. His thought is that WWE is holding him back a bit, not for any negative reason but because of the fact that he’s going for a pretty heavy degree right now and they may be letting him finish that out before considering a push. This point makes sense, I could see that without a doubt, the one thing I said was that I just hope he doesn’t become the new Kofi. While Kofi is respected by fans and is one of the most talented workers in the ring, he’s trapped in perpetual mid-card status. Partly because he’s such an over the top comic book character style gimmick that it’s kid friendly, and partly because Randy Orton decided to be a douche and stomp on his main event push, you know like he’s been known to do in the past. The points we brought up wound up leading us down a couple different routes, one of which placed me in my current thought cycle questioning the average wrestling audience member.

Looking at the current roster between the main level and NXT there are actually quite a few black wrestlers in the employ of WWE. The main roster alone has at least seven black male workers that are currently active, right around ten if you could the inactive workers of David Otunga, JTG, and Ezekiel Jackson. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston are two of the more dynamic in ring performers in WWE, and Xavier Woods is in the same territory of these men, and he’ll likely eclipse them by the time all is said and done. While R-Truth had a very brief run against John Cena at the top of the card, the only somewhat legitimate main event worker in WWE lately who happens to not be of Hispanic or some shade of Caucasian descent would be Mark Henry and he’s basically been relegated to the heavy object used to put over how incredibly strong men like Big Show and Brock Lesnar are instead of being used as the powerhouse brute that got him to the level of being World Heavyweight Champion, but he never quite made it to the top of the card as the hallmark WWE Champion. There’s a chance that Big E might make it to the top since he’s currently the Intercontinental champion, then again Kofi has held that title multiple times and look where it’s gotten him, all the way to being the “kid’s favorite” and nothing higher. JTG has a great look and great talent, but has never had a chance to break out aside from teaming with Shad in Cryme Tyme, Jackson is an incredible physical specimen but he’s been plagued by injuries, and Otunga has the look but he’s just never quite been able to get over with the crowd. That leads us to Titus O’Neil and Darren Young, a promising tag team that’s split with O’Neil looking like he’ll eventually climb the ladder and Young somewhat disappearing since the split, they both have talent and promise, it’s just a question of when they’ll break through.

When speaking to Gesus I came up with an idea for a storyline to help push both Kofi and Woods over time. I know that Woods has been paired with R-Truth so far but I think that Kofi makes a much better match for him as a tag partner, I could see something happening to Truth and Kofi taking in Woods, becoming a bit of a mentor to the young man. As time moves forward we see Woods developing, getting better by the week, eventually Kingston and Woods wind up winning the tag titles with one another, the mentor and his student carrying gold together, it’s such a perfect setup, and time tested storyline that it pretty much writes itself. They carry the belts for a while with Woods showing more promise each week and eventually becoming the leader of the team, the most focused on member, the one who everyone pays attention while Kofi fades into the background. This leads to anger growing in Kofi, he was supposed to be the star and now he’s being kicked to the curb for a new version of himself. Kingston FINALLY turns heel, something that people have speculated on for ages, turning his back on Woods in a title match and leaving him to lose the gold. This sets up a feud between the two men, they work for a month or two before either Kofi beats Woods to enter the Money in the Bank match, finally capturing his case and ascending to the main event, while Woods goes on a big run as the Intercontinental champion, making a name for himself before eventually getting up to the main event as well. Once Woods and Kingston are both on the top level of the WWE they would renew their rivalry, this time putting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line between the two men, this was what lead to creation of this article.

The question that came to mind is just how open minded society, especially the pro wrestling viewers, may or may not be at the current time. Sure, we hear about how great things have become in race relations in this world, until one thing or another happens and it sends us back into a tailspin. There are a ton of black men in the WWE right now and any one of them could be a top star in the industry, while some people question The Rock’s credibility in the world of black athletes because of his mixed background, he’s broken through the barrier because of his ability to connect with the fans. Booker T is another great example of someone who was able to connect with the fans, and as a result he was able to be incredibly successful in the world of wrestling. We all know Ron Simmons was the first WCW World Champion to be black, but at the same time he never really got back up to that level, while he will be known as a success and a great character, he didn’t quite connect the same way Booker and Rock did, which kept him from sustaining that top level status. That said, look at the spacing between (and separation of companies in some instances) when these men were at the top of the card, Booker and Rock I think met one time, for a title representing a defunct company, and again, people question Rock’s racial background so I don’t consider this the proving of the question we pondered last night. The question came up wondering if the general audience would “accept” a matchup between two black men as the top match on a WWE Pay Per View, as the anchor, the REASON people pay to see the event. While I want to say they would, you can never be entirely sure. I, as a wrestling fan, have no doubt that Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods could carry a WWE World Heavyweight Championship feud, their work would be outstanding, and although he’s never been let loose I think Kofi could make a great heel character. While I, and I’m sure many others, wouldn’t give two damns about the race of the men at the top of the card, until it’s done there will always be the question. With all the men on the WWE rosters this matchup will likely happen sometime, the question is how long will it take and who will our competitors be in that momentous matchup?

There are a lot of workers in WWE and in their developmental system, one of my favorites on that level (of the many, because everyone is getting on great for people “learning” the business) is a young black man named Jason Jordan. Having seen him work as CJ Parker’s partner I couldn’t make sense of the team but knew this man had a very bright future. He has an amateur background, which is becoming fairly common in the business in this age, and he has the look to be a standout, if he develops on the mic to match his in ring ability and look he will be a huge star in the business for years to come. They also have Angelo Dawkins, who also has an amateur background, another talented young worker with a bright future, between the current men on the main roster and those on the climb in developmental there’s no reason that we shouldn’t see a matchup between to men of color at the top of a Pay Per View card sometime in the near future. I think that people are open enough these days to accept such a main event scene, but there are still some rather backwoods folks who watch the business, so I’m sure there would be a bit of a backlash, but I truly want to believe the people who would take issue with the race of the men in the ring are a minority of the audience and not the majority. While this is a big test, an even bigger challenge would be seeing how people react to Darren Young as a WWE World Heavyweight Championship contender, being not only black, but also openly gay, but that’s an article for another date and time. In 2014 race really shouldn’t be the biggest issue when it comes to a worker being looked at as a top of the card spot, but I know that it’s something that’s considered. We’ve seen people of Hispanic descent carry the title, and face off against one another for the top title in the industry, what’s stopping two black men from being given a shot? The big question now becomes, what comes first, two black men battling for the title or two English men?

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  • Matt

    That’s funny you would post this because I was just talking to CJ a couple hours ago about how Kofi hasn’t become champ yet and how he deserves it. I don’t notice if someone is black or not when I watch wrestling. I guess it’s something you get used to but now that I think about it, it has been a while since we’ve had a black champion. I think it just comes down to who works hard to deserve it. I see Titus being the next black champ. He’s funny and talented on the mic as well as a powerhouse in the ring.

  • TT

    The real racists are those going OMG where is the black champions OMG I want a black champion everyone is racist. Why don’t they appreciate the wrestlers on their talent rather than obsessing about their race.

  • TT

    Wow more censorship on this site if you don’t like the comments don’t have a comment section simple.