WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
Will there ever be a top African-American wrestler in WWE? You may ask, why just WWE. Reason being, I’ve been watching WWE/WWF programming since I was young. My sweat, tears, and passion is more with WWE/WWF wrestlers, programming, etc. However, with everything I mentioned, there is also sorrow. The sorrow and sadness comes from the terrible and sometimes disrespectful representation of African-American wrestlers over the years. With that being said, I won’t say there hasn’t been some strong African-American personalities. I began watching WWF programming when I was six and that when I was introduced to one of those strong personalities, “The Nation Of Domination”.
I can remember being a young child and watching NOD, capture the audience attention and demanding respect among their fellow wrestlers. Seeing African-American performers was one thing, but also seeing familiar Muslims colors was amazing. When I was a boy, the Muslim beliefs were a huge part of my life, more than now actually. More importantly, each member represented someone in my life, Faarooq (My dad), Kama Mustafa (Uncle), D’Lo Brown (Uncle) and The Rock (Me). Sadly, with any group, they got strong even to where the only people who could beat them, was their selves. In an instance, the group I was familiar with and say that is me, quickly was disbanded and gave rise to something bigger.
“Can you smell what the rock is cooking?” With Faarooq being the leader, the nation took in a young man who breathed wrestling since he was young. An arrogant, self-centered, and egotistic wrestler who made me wish I was him. That man was Rocky Maivia, and then “The Rock,” the people’s champion and every other nickname associated with him. As I came into a young man, I saw The Rock take control of a group and lead them to new heights. Everything about’ The Rock” I saw myself, minus the muscles, but the attitude and hunger for more, was me. This man was a verbal assassin before I could pronounce assassin. Just when I thought, “The Rock” was the everything I was looking for in an African-American wrestler. A family friend introduced me another entity over in another company, WCW.
When the NOD went their separate ways, I thought it was the end of empowering African-American groups/teams. What I thought was the end, was the beginning of a love affair between WWF and WCW. Booker T and Stevie Ray aka “Harlem Heat” were the reason for the love affair. WCW, Road wild 1999, was my first WCW pay-per-view and viewing of the company. I saw two brothers walk into that event and they put on a show. Speed, power, agility, and with a decent crowd being behind them, I saw Harlem Heat defeat “The Triad” for their eighth tag team title reign. While the team didn’t last long, it was another stepping stone for Booker T singles run.
Booker T is a former six-time world champion and one of the best things that came out of WCW ending. His career was up and down when he debuted in the WWF/WWE, but still amazing to watch his progress and growth as a performer. Where I saw “The Rock” as that young brash young man, I saw Booker T as the evolved personal of myself. A young man became a man and with that, he took his knowledge and helping another generation, i.e. tough enough.
As a fan, you’ll think you would think there was other African-Americans performers and there was..BROOKLYN, BROOKLYN, BROOKLYN, who can ever forget the tag- team of Cryme Tyme. I remember watching Monday night raw, and they show the first of several training videos for Cryme Tyme. The series of training videos showed them robbing, stealing, and running from the police and I laughed every time, I saw those videos. Although, in those days, I didn’t have the appreciation and knowledge of African-American culture. Looking at Cryme Tyme’s entire WWE run today, I put my head down in shame. WWE allowed this team to portray several negative stereotypes and at the end of the day, it got them nowhere. Cryme Tyme, entire run was predicated on giving WWE diversity, and it worked. However, the team itself became nothing.
However, since the end of Cryme Tyme, WWE has some individuals who may have the potential to be the top African-American superstar.
This man here is a combination of skill and concentration. When I watch an Ezekiel Jackson match, he seems like every other blend superstar. Meaning, there is nothing special or new about this gentleman. He has raw strength, but hasn’t showed what he can do with it. Limited ring work, but that isn’t surprising. His mic skills, needs massive improvements, but with that said, he has potential. If WWE really get behind him, he can be a WWE champion. WWE behind you, they can hide your negatives and show off your positives. Jackson has impressive strength and with WWE behind him, he can become a monster face or heel. His ring skills can be developed over time, but it also goes with being booked properly. The same can be applied with his mic skills, by getting him a manager or giving practice. Don’t give him a script, allow him to be himself and be a monster. This next gentleman may not be a monster, but he has potential tattooed on his head.
Trouble in paradise, it would be a joy in paradise, when this gentleman is pushed properly. Kofi may be the United States champion, but could have been world champion. Once upon time ago, Kofi and Randy Orton was involved in the hottest feud, crowds were behind him, and WWE had the chance to pull the trigger. However, WWE dropped the ball and he went completely nowhere. Since coming out victorious that Randy Orton feud, Kofi has been here and there. He has remained a fan favorite, but seems to be lost in the deck. It would be a shame if WWE, allows his mic, ring, and overall skills to go to waste. If WWE gets behind this gentleman, with the “Money in the bank” pay-per-view in July, him winning and cashing would be paradise. While it may be paradise for Kofi, it would be a conspiracy for another man.
When R-Truth re-debuted, I strongly disliked him. Reason being, I couldn’t stand his character, going back to my issues with Cryme Tyme. I could remember, Truth coming out rapping, and dancing to a decent rap song. He was a walking stereotype, however, everything changed. Either he or WWE wanted a heel Truth and so did I. I wanted the complete opposite of his character and I got it. The heel R-Truth is amazing I adore this character. He’s not like any other superstar, his mic skills are good and grabs the crowd and my attention. He’s a different type of heel, not the cult leader, the viper, or AWESOME. His character seems personal and it’s coming through loud and proud.
I asked, will there ever be a top African-American wrestler? I honestly don’t know, but there is potential for a top African-American superstar. I wrote this topic because I love wrestling, but I wanted to see positive images of African-American superstars. There has been positive, but negative also. A fair, balanced and diversity among the top superstars is what I ask.
If you appreciate exceptional wrestling discussion, check out the alternative to traditional pro wrestling radio at: sunsetflipwrestling.podomatic.com Check out this past week segment, Bill’s classic of the week, where he discuss Abdullah the Butcher and wrestling handy man review of 3XW event “Divide and conquer.”
By Jerrod Sullivan