For Black History Month, Daily DDT contributors Chris Jeter, Joe Anthony Myrick, Candice Tinnon and David Joseph took a look at some of the greatest acts to ever work for WWE.
To say that WWE has had a controversial past when it came to promoting and presenting African-American wrestlers is like saying that the Big Show is “kinda tall”.
Over the last six decades — and counting — this company has found new and interesting ways to perpetuate countless stereotypes of Black people, whether they booked them as “shuckin’ and jivin’” comedy acts or by affixing the most blatantly offensive connotations to their characters.
Nowadays, WWE doesn’t do things like zoom in on Slick’s greasy lips as he chomps on a piece of fried chicken, have Roddy Piper paint half of his body black for a feud with Bad News Brown, have X-Pac go full Al Jolson years later, or having Triple H strip away all the pretense and tell Booker T that “people like Booker” weren’t meant to be world champion. But the remnants of the company’s dark past still remain.
While the company expends plenty of energy whipping up lengthy Martin Luther King Jr. tribute videos for the MLK day holiday, they’ll also send Seth Rollins out to the ring to compare his struggles Dr. King’s on the same night. They’ll have all of their Black talent travel to the same National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis — a place that carries its own set of baggage — every February while bringing back a clueless, washed racist on numerous occasions.
That clear indifference to giving their workers of color respectable angles or multi-layered characters to sink their teeth into, it has fostered an environment that has cultivated many underappreciated and overlooked grapplers.
The list of Black men and women that have plied their trade in Vince McMahon’s circus runs long enough to fill at least 50 slides at this site — among many others, names like R. Truth, Alicia Fox, Ember Moon, D-Von Dudley, Jacqueline, Jazz, and Ahmed Johnson spring to mind — but for now, me and fellow Daily DDT scribes, Joe Anthony Myrick, Candice Tinnon, and David Joseph will tell you about some of the WWE’s best Black wrestlers who left an indelible mark on our fandom.