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Wrestling Rumblings #3 - Wrestleview.com

Wrestling Rumblings #3

Wrestling Rumblings #3
February 20, 2009
By: Jose Marrero of WrestleView.com


It has been often said that pro wrestling mirrors what is going on in society. You can always get a bead on what is going on in society by just watching wrestling for about a month or so. During our conflicts with other nationalities you bet there was a wrestling villain out there to represent the source of America's aggression and when a new fad was breaking out you knew wrestling would tap into it like it did in the 80's with the Rock ?N? Wrestling era. ?It has never been far off in feeling the pulse of the people. In actuality it usually has been way ahead of the curve. This month is black history month and it goes without saying that African Americans have been a great part of this business but still the specter of racism looms in this business. It has been almost a year since the most recent accusation of racism in mainstream wrestling was levied. This columnist is going to try his best to answer the question ?Does racism still exist in wrestling today?? Of course you are reading ?Wrestling Rumblings?.
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It was probably around the time of last years Wrestlemania where all the WWE racism allegations came about that I had written a column where I asked the readers to name 3 black wrestlers who was a main event act who didn?t have to fulfill the stereotypes that African American's tend to be labeled as in this business at one point in their career. Very few were able to do so and it was something that as a person of latino descent bothered me very much. Professional wrestling has been around for well over 100 years yet I could find very few people who fit the criteria I had given my readers and neither could they.? Don?t misunderstand me and think I am na?ve. I know racism exists not just in wrestling but in every facet of life. I have a close personal friend who often tries to get me to listen to this song f rom the Avenue Q soundtrack called ?Everyone is a little bit racist?. I will admit the song is hilarious but the hilarity comes f rom the part of it being true. We are all a little bit prejudiced in our own way and that of course extends to our expectations of what we expect to see f rom wrestling.
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?In 1992 Ron Simmons became the first African American to win a world title in a major promotion up until that moment how many people actually took the time out to even think that up until that moment a African American was rarely even a contender for a world title? I sure as hell didn?t. I don?t want to say I didn?t care but at the time it was a afterthought I couldn?t even tell you I enjoyed many black wrestlers back then due to the way they were portrayed on TV. I mean who was out there? Kamala? Koko B. Ware? There just weren?t many guys out there that projected that big time quality where I saw them as a world champion. Of course there were guys who would grab my attention men like Butch Reed and Bad News Brown but for some reason they would never get that push. Back during ECW's heyday I always thought New Jack was about as over as you could be and yet he never even got a program with the world champion much less a run with the belt. Was that coincidence or was it racism? I never really thought about it much at the time and I am guessing neither did many of you.
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Pardon me if I don?t fully count the Rock as far as African Americans being featured prominently due to his mixed heritage but to me the first and only breakout African American wrestler is Booker T. and with that being said look at all the hokey stuff he had to go through to make it. f rom being G.I. Bro to at one point being in shackles. You always hear how in wrestling you have to pay dues to get to the top but is that really paying dues? I?m honestly not sure. Why is it that it seems we have had a million African American wrestlers who rap and sing and dance and yet they never get a main event push regardless of their ability but yet the first Caucasian to do it gets pushed to the moon and is the flagship star of not just WWE but the industry overall? Is that racism? You tell me.
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Let's not let the African American wrestlers have all the fun it is probably even worse with Latin American wrestlers. As entertaining as Eddie Guerrero was during his main event run it somewhat always bothered me that his gimmick portrayed on the racial stereotypes of Mexicans being liars and cheaters. Everything f rom the car he drove ringside to the way he talked I mean Eddie Guerrero did not sound like that when he talked to you outside of the ring. He was playing a part and I?ll be the first to admit it was one of my favorite characters in years but at the same time I can?t help but feel it was a little bit racist. Those that know me know that I am pretty much a fan of anything physical and of course that would include boxing and you can?t be a boxing fan without knowing of Oscar De La Hoya. I always found it funny how many Mexicans called Oscar a sell out over the years simply because he conducted himself intelligently. You have no idea how many times I have heard people call Oscar a sell out because he wasn?t a ?typical Mexican?. I never understood what that was supposed to mean. Was he supposed to come in on a low rider and say ?esse? and ?vato?? Here we are only talking about boxing's undisputed biggest draw ever and some of his own people consider him a sell out for breaking the stereotypes instead of being bound by them. Is it that way in wrestling? Look at Chavo Guerrero?it wasn?t that long ago he was running around calling himself Kerwin White doing a gimmick where he denounced his heritage and put his people down. What about the Mexicools coming down to the ring on lawnmowers? Was I the only one who found that just a bit racist? I hope not.
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What about this last year or so since the allegations of racism in WWE. What has been the fate of the African American wrestler in its wake? We had Mark Henry as ECW champion for a little while but what has really happened to him since? We have had Shelton Benjamin who is one of the best pound for pound athletes black or white in this business as United States champion for 7 months and while on paper that is great when you take a deep look at that reign you will see how uneventful those 7 months have been. Coincidentally it would seem the only major programs if you want to call them major that Shelton has been involved with has involved Shelton feuding with another African American wrestler like R Truth or MVP. If Shelton lost the title tomorrow would he be any better off than he was before he won it? I personally don?t think so and who should take the blame for that? Of course when people talk about a guy like Shelton's lack of push you hear the complaints of him not being able to cut a promo but I can?t help but notice a guy like Brock Lesnar, Goldberg or Bob Backlund who were given more of an opportunity despite the same flaws.
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Of course I cannot forget TNA and their idea of an African American superstar. Black Machismo may be a nice little merchandise seller but I am sure he is not going to main event a pay per view anytime soon and don?t get me started on Consequences Creed. Many people like to refer to LAX when talking about the supposed racism in TNA. I don?t know if I would agree or disagree with that I do have to say though I find it fishy when you talk about breaking up what at one time was your hottest tag team without a direction for either superstar. Now that I think about it with ROH ready to break out into the mainstream I can?t think of a single African American wrestler on their roster at the moment as I don?t think they have had one since Jay Lethal left the promotion. Are you telling me there are no African American wrestlers out there that could exemplify the ROH style? Now if ROH responds to this and hires one African American just to satisfy people and fulfill a quota isn?t that a bit racist too?
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When does it stop? When does everyone just relax and just go back to watching wrestling? I don?t know these things are funny and in a society where everyone questions everything I am sure these are questions that will always be asked. If it makes you feel better wrestling is not alone I can easily make arguments for other sports like baseball. How come no one has went out of their way to find a smoking gun on Mark McGuire but yet there seems to be this insatiable thirst to get A-Rod and Barry Bonds? I am a big fan of sports talk radio and I just love it when I hear these talkies talk about how Barry Bonds physique changed so much and yet no one made mention of that same fact when Mark McGuire was the one breaking the records. What about football?? With its sparing number of African American head coaches and owners despite the fact that it is heavily populated by African American players. It is all throughout sports and entertainment there is no escaping it.
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Make no mistake though times have indeed improved years ago we wouldn?t even have had a column like this so I guess that means something. Hopefully more athletes of all ethnicities whether it be African, Latino or otherwise get a chance to be the break out stars I know they can be and hopefully our business can be better for it.
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On that note I think it's time to wrap it up for this week. As usual whether you like the column or hate it give me a shout at wrestlingrumblings@hotmail.com and you can of course check out the older editions of ?Wrestling Rumblings? on the myspace page at http://www.mypsace.com/wrestlingrumbling and well that's it. Next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.