There's A Black Mark on the Business
April 13, 2005 by Adrian Cotton

First of all I want to thank the good people at OWW for giving us wrestling fans a place to voice our opinions about the state of professional wrestling. With that being said, I'd like to voice my opinion about something I've been thinking about since early 1997.

A few years back there was a stable known as the Nation of Domination and the leader of that stable was a guy by the name of Farooq. Farooq's vision was to get black's (or African Americans if you wanna be PC about it) equal respect as the white (or Caucasian) wrestlers. I will never forget the exchange between he and Vince during a promo after it was announced that he was the No. 1 contender to the title.

~~~Farooq: Are you a racist man"

~~~Vince: No

~~~Farooq: Then why has there never been a black champion"!

Now this issue has probably been brought up before but that was the first time I had heard anything of it. I had been watch wrestling for about ten years and that issue never crossed my mind. From that moment on I never looked at wrestling the same.

Now I'm not a racist but I felt and still feel to this day that he was right. I started watching wrestling back in the early eighties and look at the people I saw that "looked like me"

Junkyard Dog, Koko B. Ware, Kamala, Bad News Brown, SD Jones, "Pistol Pez" Whatley & Ranger Rick..

Not a lot of heroes to choose from is it" And the worse part of all this is I never saw any of them win a title. Oh I know they were champions in some way shape or form but I never saw them win one (a title).

Now it's twenty years later and things really haven't changed much. Oh yeah, everyone knows The Rock is a star of a star of unreachable magnitudes but let me ask a question. Why was it, the second Stone Cold came back into the picture (and believe me I'm a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin), The Rock's contract was all of a sudden "unable to be renewed"" And why wasn't The Rock at WrestleMania this year" The Rock vs. Randy Orton" Third Generation vs. Third Generation" You're telling me no one would buy that" Please! And let's go back a few years. Why didn't The Rock win the World title at WrestleMania 2000" Or Booker T at WrestleMania 19 for that matter" Oh he won the belt the following month (The Rock not Booker) but everyone knows that a WrestleMania is more special then any other. These are just some things I think about when I watch the WWE programming

I have one more thing I'd like to bring up before I go: Randy Orton and Shelton Benjamin. Now granted I like Randy but I personally feel that Shelton is a better talent than Randy. I mean if you want to wrestle on the ground, Shelton's there. If you want to go to the air for an X-Division style match, Shelton's there. Now Randy has an excellent ground game but the only thing I've seen Randy do off the top rope is a cross body block which was the finisher of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat back in the 80's.

Maybe I'm viewing things wrong or maybe I'm missing something that someone else may see but I will say this: if John Cena really was what his gimmick says he is, he may not be champion now....Think About It.

by Adrian Cotton ..

Eric S. wrote:
First of all, by the time Faarooq asked that question of Vince McMahon, there had already been at least one black WWF World Champion in Ahmed Johnson. Having said that, they are certainly few and far between, with Ahmed and The Rock being the only two I can name. I think it all begins with the fact that white wrestlers still outnumber black wrestlers 10 to 1 (at least in the WWE), so one would have to expect that the majority of champions would be white. If we want to change that, we have to change the overall numbers in the WWE. Hopefully those sorts of color barriers will continue to erode, but only time will tell on that.

Ironically, Faarooq (Ron Simmons) had also been a WCW World Heavyweight Champ by the time he cut that promo in the Nation of Domination. You wouldn't know it, though. How often did WWE bill him as a former World Champion" More often he seemed to be stuck in midcard hell. Anyway, maybe that promo was Ron's way of telling Vince that the competition was ahead of him. Of course it's most unfortunate that it took the longest-running title, the NWA World Championship, the longest amount of time to crown its first black champion. That didn't occur until late 2002 with Ron "The Truth" Killings. I can only imagine how many credible black athletes passed through the NWA in its 60-plus year history without getting a shot at that strap.

On to current events. The Rock was not at Wrestlemania because he chose not to be, I assume, since he has abandoned wrestling in favor of a full-time movie career. I have no doubt the WWE would welcome him anytime he deigned to grace them with his presence. Booker T is a much more likely candidate for overlooked talent than Rock. I would think a five-time World champion could be turned into a credible main eventer in WWE, if for no other reason than the backstory of a former World Champ trying to climb to the top one last time. They don't seem to have found the knack, or rather, the desire to do it though. Shelton has gotten off to a good start. Personally, I think he's a better wrestler than your example of Randy Orton, but Randy has better mic skills. At least they promoted Shelton well upon his Raw debut with two clean pins over Triple H. I'd hope they continue his build over time, but again, only time will tell if he stalls out short of the main event. Heck, look at someone like Edge who has been in the company much longer but cannot seem to make it quite to the top, while guys many years younger than him (i.e. Batista, Orton) pass him by.
Eric S. wrote:
Apologies Re: my last message, after a quick check of facts I find that Ahmed Johnson did not in fact hold the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, it was the Intercontinental belt I was thinking of. So Faarooq was totally correct in his indictment of the WWF and it wasn't until 1998 that they crowned their first black champion in The Rock.
twiztid4life wrote:
I totally agree with you on this. NOw im not black sorry, but since i was little my favourite wrestlers were black. First time i watched WCW and saw Booker T i though this guy was cool, because he had flames on his pants. I didn't like Faarooq that much besides his name, but i was a fan of Savio Vega in the Nation, and D'Lo and Kama Mustafa (Though i really hate the Rock). I like Ahmed Johnson, Shelton Benjamin, and even Orlando Jordan. All these guys are really cool to me and were my favourites as well as Rhyno, Tazz, Tajiri, Undertaker, etc. But the fact of the matter is that in the 80's, Hulk Hogan had the title. For even tag titles black wrestlers didn't get the IC title, or the tag titles (a few did though). But also the whole Booker T thing at Wrestlemania 19, is quite common sense. Booker T in my eyes couldn't hold that title. He couldn't carry the company/ Raw side on his shoulders. Though he is one of my all time favourites Booker was just out numbered in populatiry vote. Though same thing could of went for Benoit at WM20. Now Shelton Bejamin winning the title is a very big possibility i personally thing, and if Edge beats Batista, i think Benjamin should beat Edge win the title, but not because he is black, but because he deserves it. Booker T deserved to win the title at Survivor Series this year, and lost, but nope JBL had to win it (though i think his winning streak is kind of cool). But i totally agree with you and i stand by that.
Jesse Lee wrote:
I'd like to comment about this "no black champion thing." It's time WWE gets a black champion! I'm white, but you know what, that doesn't matter! I've respected and guessed at so many black wrestlers who could have been a decent WWF/WWE champion.

I've said Farooq would have been a decent champion. Think about it, Farooq's spinebuster (I call it the Spine-bomb) was one of the sickest moves you could watch quite simply because he really slammed people down as hard as he could. His Dominator is a unique move and can you imagine how cool it'd look doing that to shut someone up (like Orton") Plus, he's been WCW champ, but that was WCW, not WWE. That's something people can't seem to understand.

This naturally brings me to Booker T. People swear up and down he's counted as champion because he was WCW champion. Yes that gets put on his record, but that never really made him the champion in WWE now does it" I say Booker could be a decent champion if he goes back to using the Book End after the Scissor Kick.

A lot of people claim The Rock was a black champion. Excuse me, but his mama's samoan and his father is black. Last I checked, that's half and half. He also looks more samoan than black. Either the case, he's not full African American, he's only half.

Maven has potential. It's a long shot yes, but he's still only a few years in his career out of what could be a career as long as Benoit's. Give Maven time, he may become a bigger player sooner or later.

Shelton Benjamin is my current pic to be a heavyweight champion. I've never really liked Orton and I don't think Shelton has too much of that "it." But he's got tremendous athletic ability and that should be good enough. If Vince gives the man some "real" mic time, not just some lame "I did it for these people!" line, but a real interview with real emotions. If Vince allows that, I can see a Benjamin name on that heavyweight title.
Larry Christison wrote:
I recognise the derth in black wrestlers also- not just in the WWF, but among the lower levels also. The lack is simple to explain. The larger athletic black athletes go to where the money is... football, basketball, and the like. Prestige and history lead them that way. Check out the amituer wrestling curcuit, and you will find a lack of wrestlers. Why" Because their athletic focus is elsewhere. Check out the past of present black wrestlers and you will find that they switched from another sport (alot of times because of an injury). Perhaps a black champ could have changed that. I don't know- we will have to see if those kids who love The Rock start wrestling. Could JYD or Tony Atlas have held the title" Yes. If you check your history, you will find out that JYD was heading right for it, and probably would have held it proudly, except...he died. He died too soon, and it would be a decade until another black wrestler came in with the charisma to demand the belt. Tony Atlas probably could have won it, but outwrestling Bob Backlund was actually quite difficult. Then Hulk came in, and Tony was not a heal. WWF believed that face could not wrestle face for titles before the 90's, and Tony was not a big enough draw in his later career to get the chance. Koko was a more rounded wrestler with more draw, but once again being a face got in the way. This happened not only to black wrestlers, but to a large number of face wrestlers who couldn't become a top draw, and only top face wrestlers got a shot. Now the heels. No matter how much I like Kamala, or found Papa Shango interesting, would you really want either as the representative of black wrestling" Farooq had his good qualities, but couldn't hold the title for long as he was set up when he was at his most popular (infamous). Mark Henry" Transitional at best. The Godfather" Perhaps, but once again is that the representative character you want" Now onto The Rock. Finally someone who demanded to be sold! Stage presence without a goofy gimmic. A man against the world. For the first time since JYD, a legitimate stage presence and draw representing the black community. He becomes champ, and instead of celebrating and taking him into their bosom, He is constantly cast aside by his people because he is half Samoan. So one who could have been a great influence on drawing young black boys into wrestling found his efforts partially stymied by the people he represented and believed in. .. So that brings us to the present and only two worthy successors (sorry Orlando, but you need seasoning and some more training). Booker T and Shelton Benjamin. Booker T is a solid wrestler with a strong presence and some punch in his performance. He deserves a shot. We all agree to that. But there was always something missing. You see it in every Smackdown or Raw poll for titleshots. The people don't vote for him. The black people don't even vote for him to get title shots. What's with that" So Booker is stuck in the same limbo as Koko and Tony Atlas, with the one exception that he could go as a heel if that is what it takes. Yet in the last Smackdown, I saw a glimpse of something... an intervue with his wife/girlfriend(") where she tore into Curt Angle and silenced him. A light in the tunnel. Someone who believes in him and can share that belief with the audience. Perhaps she can help him finally get the call... Shelton Benjamin.

What can I say, loads of talant low charisma.He needs to find his voice, or get a manager that can be it, or he won't even break top midcard. Sorry, it's a fact. He seems nice, but if that is the way to go with him, hire the Campbell's chunky soup mother to push him. She does wonders with other noncharismatic athletes. It could be that in the future he might find his voice, but until he does, his shot will have to be in the future. Will there be another black champion" I hope so. Booker is not that far off, mainly missing the support. Give him the support and he might make a good champ, or don't and wait for another. It's up to you.
Mac Brown wrote:
Ok first of all I'm a African American and I'm all for see other African American succeed in anything he or she put their mind to. Now let me tell you why I disagree to a point.

Now the Rock situation I believe he said he is really focused in doing movies right now. And I don't blame him for that so how is the WWE is going to try to promote a wrestler black or white if they aint doing anything for the company" Now back in the day and now their might has been some racism going on but those men that you mention made their mark in the wrestling world. Almost any fan knows who you are talking about when you mention there name. Now Shelton Benjamin/ Randy Orton thing you were talking about I agree with you. But Randy has been with the WWE longer (Although his skills are somewhat questionable) and Shelton Benjamin is working his way up. You are just thinking about the heavy weight title what about the European and tag titles" Shelton has those in his history but what he lacks is mic skills. And you have to have some mic sills in the WWE. Well that's all I got to say about that have a nice day.
C Thomas wrote:
Now, first off, i'm also an African American responding to this column (even though i'd rather be referred to as an Black American).

The whole notion of WWE or any other promotion in the World not having a African American world wrestling champion is a double edged sword. Many people put that out there as a race issue and other simply have the talent but get overlooked and others are just not turned out to be world champions. A lil different to popular belief, there are Black world champions out there. Look at the soon to be defunct NWA Wildside in Georgia. Onyx (On of TNA's now forgotten Elite Guard group / angle) was there Champion and now a guy by the name of Rainman (black man) is there champion.

History was made back in 2002 when Ron "The Truth" Killings became the first black NWA World Heavyweight Champion. For black people whom were wrestling fans like myself were proud that one of our playas (A Teddy Long remark) got the big one but one thing bothered me though. Why did the NWA wait so long to have a Black world champion" I mean, we'll never really know why truly but it was just a question that I had to ask.

Now, I disagree about the fact that Booker T couldn't carry RAW on his shoulders. I mean, yes, if he's champion, then why does it take one man to carry a WWE brand instead of everybody helping each other and making the RAW brand the best in the business...(From David Carradine in Kill Bill) The plot thickens...Many of us smarks and the powers that be in the WWE think that they HAVE to make a person a credible champion so by putting pressure on their top guy to be the damn FLAGSHIP of the company, the brand either sinks or swims with him. This is a very wrong perception to have. Besides, Booker T is the most deserving champion than JBL was any way (YA DAMN RIGHT I SAID IT!!!).

To end this, wrestling is just as fickle as the music business. You are here today and gone 3 hours later. When it comes to black wrestlers of the past, most of them had over the top gimmicks to the point that many people didn't take them seriously enough to be World Champions. Koko B. Ware, The Immortal Junkyard Dog, and so on. Maybe one day, we will be able to see a black man grace the WWE Championship or the Raw World Heavyweight title. Shelton Benjamin...STOP PUTTING THIS MAN ON A PEDESTAL TOO SOON...AGAIN...STOP PUTTING THIS MAN ON A PEDESTAL TOO SOON!!! I'm not saying that he isn't good. Shelton is man that is SAVING the WWE Intercontinental Title...ADMIT IT! But he is still a baby in the business and needs MORE big, main event style matches to call him a worthy world title contender in my eyes.
Dreamerdan1978 wrote:
Farooq, may have said "why has a black man never been champion" thats like me saying "how come England havent won the soccer world cup since 1966. Answer: They are not good enough. Farooq, at his best, is not a top draw. When it was N.O.D era, it was simply boring. When Bradshaw and ge became the Acolytes/APA THAT was when he hit the peak. I think Vince may have built it all up with the rock "the first black champion" Sorry if he put down black on his passport it would not be accepted. i think "afro caribbean" i think of Samuel L Jackson. Time will tell whether Shelton Benjamin can make the step up. however.... i think not.


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