For years now, internet wrestling fans have either wondered if Vince McMahon is racist, or they’ve outright said that he is.
There have been years and years worth of possible examples of said racism. Gimmicks and characters that are nothing but thinly veiled racial stereotypes, as well as main event scenes that tend to be lacking in any sort of minority representation. Most wrestling fans have their favorite non-white wrestler that they swear up and down could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve been WWE Champion but were held back because Vince didn’t want to push them. While we’re talking about that particular title’s history, let’s take a look back through the years, shall we?
A total of 53 men have held the title, going all the way back to Buddy Rogers being named the first World Wide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion (say that ten times fast) in 1963, with a total of 141 recognized title reigns between them all. Of those 53 men, the following have at least some non-white in their ethnic background (they will be listed in chronological order of becoming champion):
- Pedro Morales (Puerto Rican)
- “Superstar” Billy Graham (Native American)
- The Iron Sheik (Iranian)
- Hulk Hogan (Panamanian)
- Yokozuna (Samoan)
- The Rock (Samoan & Black)
- Eddie Guerrero (Mexican)
- Batista (Filipino)
- Rey Mysterio (Mexican)
- Alberto Del Rio (Mexican)
- Seth Rollins (Armenian)
- Roman Reigns (Samoan)
- Jinder Mahal (Indian)
- Kofi Kingston (Black)
- Bobby Lashley (Black)
You can argue amongst yourselves if some of those should “count” in this particular debate. For example, nobody is going to exclude Kofi Kingston from a list of minority WWE Champions, but would you put “Superstar” Billy Graham on the list? Hell, it’s 2021 and people are still debating whether or not Armenian people should be considered “white” at this point. The Universal Title lineage doesn’t add any names that aren’t already listed above, but if you want to look at the former World Heavyweight Championship (2002-2013), then you can add the following people to the mix:
- Booker T (Black)
- The Great Khali (Indian)
- Mark Henry (Black)
Just for shits and giggles, let’s look at the other “World Titles” that WWE has presented through the years. Their version of the WCW World Title doesn’t add any new names here, but their version of the ECW World Title sees the following people added:
- Chavo Guerrero (Mexican)
- Ezekiel Jackson (Black)
The NXT Title will add the following names:
- Big E Langston (Black)
- Samoa Joe (Samoan)
- Shinsuke Nakamura (Japanese)
- Andrade “Cien” Almas (Mexican)
- Keith Lee (Black)
- Karrion Kross (Central American & Puerto Rican)
When you add them all up, that’s a total of 26 names in approximately 58 years of title histories. Again, if you want to discuss so-and-so and how they don’t “belong” on this list, that’s your prerogative (duh-nuh-nuh) and you’re free to do so. I’m just listing the facts here.
What’s that, you say? What about the women? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s fire up some more stats, shall we? Starting with the WWF Women’s Title, we have:
- The Fabulous Moolah (Native American)
- Bull Nakano (Japanese)
- Jacqueline (Black)
- Jazz (Black)
- Victoria (Puerto Rican & Turkish)
- Gail Kim (Korean)
- Mickie James (Native American)
- Melina (Mexican)
- Candice Michelle (Costa Rican)
- Layla El (Moroccan)
Now, let’s throw the Divas Championship into the mix:
- Eve Torres (Nicaraguan)
- Alicia Fox (Black)
- Brie Bella (Mexican)
- Nikki Bella (Mexican)
- Kaitlyn (Mexican)
- AJ Lee (Puerto Rican)
Next, the Raw Women’s Title:
- Sasha Banks (Black)
- Bayley (Mexican)
- Nia Jax (Samoan)
- Ronda Rousey (Trinidadian & Venezuelan)
- Asuka (Japanese)
The Smackdown Women’s Title only sees one name added:
- Naomi (Black)
Finally, let’s add the NXT Women’s Title to the conversation:
- Ember Moon (Black)
- Shayna Baszler (Chinese)
- Kairi Sane (Japanese)
- Io Shirai (Japanese)
Once you add those names up, you come up with 26… the exact same amount as the men. However, the men’s title histories here go back to 1963, while the women’s title histories start in 1984. The WWF Women’s Title was also deactivated for nearly four years, from February 1990 to December 1993. It was deactivated again from December 1995 to September 1998. So, while 58 years worth of men’s wrestling have given 26 names to this list, the women have added 26 names in only 30 total years.
Before I move forward, I have to say that I know I’m “skipping” the midcard and tag titles throughout the years. That’s being done on purpose, though. How fucking long do we need this column to be, anyway?!? The main point is about the people who have been pushed all the way to the top, so we’re going to run with that.
As I said in the beginning of this column, people have often wondered about Vince McMahon and whether or not he happens to be racist. I won’t lie… I’m one of those people. I don’t know if I would ever say that he’s a RACIST outright, but I would certainly question some of his racial sensitivity. Vince has called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. his “hero” on record multiple times, but his track record through the years doesn’t always match up to that. If you were to force me to pick a side, I would say that the only color Vince truly cares about is green. If he feels you can make him some money, he’s going to push you whether you’re black, white, brown, yellow, green, purple, pink, or vermilion. Yes, he has pushed more white wrestlers to the top of the company, but even at its absolute core, the law of averages would say that makes sense. Look at his rosters for any given year… chances are, you’re going to see more white wrestlers than anything else. That’s just how it has worked through the years. Now, if his roster was 90% minorities and he still found a way to make his World Champions white again and again, we might be having a different conversation. Actually, we probably wouldn’t be having a conversation about it, because he would’ve been out of the business a while back if that were the case.
I want to go from the past to the present, though. With WrestleMania coming up soon, it’s officially time to start looking at the potential matches we could be seeing. By now, matches are being penciled in, or they’re at least being set up pretty clearly, so it isn’t like fantasy booking an event six months away where you have no idea what could be happening by then. We already have two matches announced for the show:
- Roman Reigns vs Edge – Universal Title Match
- Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair – Smackdown Women’s Title Match
What do you notice there? Of the four wrestlers involved, three of them are minorities, and even Edge would be able to get a plate at the cookout. What about some of the more heavily rumored matches?
- Asuka vs Charlotte Flair – Raw Women’s Title Match
- Bobby Lashley vs Brock Lesnar or Drew McIntyre – WWE Title Match
- Damian Priest & Bad Bunny vs The Miz & John Morrison
- Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton
- Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon
- Riddle vs Keith Lee or Mustafa Ali – United States Title Match
- Big E vs Apollo Crews – Intercontinental Title Match
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs The Street Profits – Smackdown Tag Team Title Match
What do you notice about those eight matches? Six of them feature at least one minority wrestler involved. That’s ten matches listed, and eight featuring minorities. For the sake of comparison, last year’s WrestleMania event had a total of 19 matches if you count pre-show matches and the post-show “dark” with Drew McIntyre defending his newly-won WWE Title against Big Show, and in those 19 matches, a total of seven featured at least one minority wrestler. We haven’t even mentioned the Raw Tag Team Champions, who are both black. Or the Women’s Tag Team Champions, who are both minorities… and who could be dropping the titles before WrestleMania to another team of minorities or to another team that features a black woman. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods will probably find themselves on the show. If we get the return of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal, there will obviously be some non-white wrestlers involved. If we don’t see those matches make their return, the likes of R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bayley, and others should find themselves on the card pretty easily.
Are we in the middle of something of a renaissance period when it comes to people of color getting the spotlight in WWE? The main roster currently has 12 title holders, and nine of them are people of color. Not that long ago, a number that high would’ve been nothing more than a pipe dream.
What does all this say about Vince McMahon? Is he no longer a racist? Is he still a racist, only he has no choice but to push people of color simply because there’s so many of them on the roster right now? Was he never a racist in the first place? Obviously, I can’t speak for Vince, as I don’t know him on a personal level, but I would think it would be really difficult for a true blue racist to not only employ so many minorities, but to place them in very prominent roles within your company. Let’s say, for example, that you hate Mexican people. I don’t just mean simple annoyance, folks. I’m talking HATRED. If you hate Mexican people, why would you hire so many Mexicans to work for you? “Racist CEOs hire minorities all the time” is what some of you are thinking right now. That might be true, but what jobs are those minorities given in those companies? Menial jobs. Jobs that assure the workers won’t have to be seen or heard from, as far as the CEO is concerned. With this example of wrestling, Vince is pushing people that he needs to see and be around. All the time. Even when they’re not in the same room, Vince would have to see their faces everywhere. On television as they do media appearances for WWE. On the side of the numerous production trucks that are outside the arena(s). Ev-er-y-where.
Like I said earlier, I don’t think I would say that Vince has ever really been racist. Now, he did grow up in the southern United States during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. It’s impossible to not be surrounded by racist thoughts and ideologies in that scenario, but I really do think that he either avoided them, or at least grew out of them as he got older and was able to form more of his own opinions on things.
This is a very important time in wrestling for countless people all over the world. Representation matters more than ever. WWE is only the example I’m using right now, but this extends to damn near every wrestling promotion you can think of. It’s great for people of different races and ethnic backgrounds to be able to watch wrestling and see themselves represented. As a kid, I was always excited to watch wrestling, among other sports, and see people who looked like me. I could look up to them. Now that I’m a father, I want the same thing for my daughter. I’ve seen so many stories about little girls who watch wrestling, see the likes of Sasha Banks or Bayley, and fall in love with the business. I would love nothing more than for my daughter to grow up and see strong women of all races and colors, but specifically ones that look like her, to show her that she can accomplish tremendous things in life.
There are many, many… many… valid things we can criticize Vince McMahon for. The more I look into the current WWE landscape, the more I feel that Vince being a racist isn’t one of those valid things. Maybe we should focus more on how Raw has been almost unwatchable for a long time now instead. Perhaps we should focus more on Vince falling in love with using part-timers and putting them over his full-time wrestlers. How about him wanting to do a storyline that would’ve seen him as the kayfabe father of his daughter’s child? Something. Anything. Just not the “he’s a racist” talk.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Bobby Lashley: Not only is he the brand new WWE Champion, but he’s very deserving of the spot. It was a very long journey for him to reach this spot, both in his career and on an episode of Raw that seemed like it was six hours long, but he made it. He has been booked almost perfectly on his current run, and he looks damn near unbeatable right now. The next step is to wait and see if WWE actually delivers on the “dream match” of Lashley vs Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania this year. If it was ever going to happen, now would be the time.
- Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus: What a fantastic, hard-hitting match this was. They were given 25 minutes to work with, and they spent every one of those 25 minutes beating the ever-loving doodoo out of each other. What once looked like it could’ve been a WrestleMania main event match was placed, unannounced, on a random episode of Raw, but kudos to McIntyre and Sheamus, who treated it as if it were the main event in front of 100,000 fans. McIntyre comes out victorious and with new momentum. If we’re getting Lashley vs Lesnar at WrestleMania, perhaps McIntyre gets a WWE Title shot at Fastlane, although it would almost certainly be a loss. If a Lesnar return isn’t in the cards, you’d have to think Lashley vs McIntyre headlines the Raw side of things at Mania.
- Jon Moxley’s Post-Match Promo On Dynamite: I’m not sure there’s a wrestler on the planet that is better on the mic than Jon Moxley right now. That’s not taking anything away from his matches and his in-ring abilities. It’s just me pointing out that nobody seems to understand who they are more than Moxley right now. He knows what works and what doesn’t work, and it shows. With a huge match coming up at AEW’s Revolution pay-per-view that is sure to be the talk of the wrestling world, no matter the outcome, Mox was able to paint the picture of what all this means to him and just how badly he wants… no, needs… to be at the top again.
- Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair at WrestleMania: It was expected from the moment Belair won the Royal Rumble, but sometimes, the expected things happening in wrestling aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Piggybacking off of what I said in the main section of this column, this is a huge match. Two of the hottest acts in wrestling, who just so happen to be black women, squaring off at the biggest event in the sport. People are already demanding to see the match main event one of the two nights, but I’m still not sure about the chances of that happening. Roman Reigns vs Edge is a pretty good bet to main event one of the nights. Bobby Lashley vs Drew McIntyre, but especially Bobby Lashley vs Brock Lesnar, would be a good candidate to main event the other night. If we get Asuka vs Charlotte Flair, you already know how that match looks in the eyes of Vince McMahon. The same will be said about whatever version of Bray Wyatt we get against Randy Orton. Even if Sasha and Bianca don’t close out one of the two nights, they’re going to tear it up in there. I’m really looking to the promos between them over the next six episodes of Smackdown.
- Apollo Crews: His official heel turn was followed up on with a very good promo where Apollo was able to tap into his old Uhaa Nation ways. He was able to tell a story about how powerful he and his family are, and how that type of power should come with a certain level of respect. One promo is all it took to actually give Crews the character development needed for fans to sink their teeth into. It boggles the mind that it took WWE over SIX YEARS to give him anything to work with, but here we are. Adding a victory over Shinsuke Nakamura after the promo was merely the icing on the cake.
- Rey Fenix vs Lance Archer: Am I crazy to think that Rey Fenix is a future AEW World Champion? Sometimes I feel like I am crazy for thinking that, but then I’ll watch him do something that defies any law of physics and gravity in a match, and I feel better about thinking it. This was one of those matches where both men needed a win, but only one could get it. On one hand, not getting to see Fenix in the Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match at Revolution is very disappointing. On the other hand, Lance Archer adds an element to the match that it was lacking, and he probably needed this win more after his mega push kinda fizzled out recently.
- Cameron Grimes: As always, when Cameron Grimes comes up in conversation, I am contractually obligated to mention that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling show a few years back. With that out of the way, he’s really shining in this new role in NXT. His comedic timing has been great. Him trying to be the new version of Ted DiBiase is very entertaining, and will continue to be so when he inevitably blows all of his money quickly.
- Xia Li: I dig seeing matches end by Referee stoppage. I dig them even more when the winner isn’t a massive person that is twice the size of their opponent. It’s different. It’s unique. It makes all 5’3″ of Xia Li look like an even bigger badass. She is now 4-0 since her gimmick change, and is looking like someone who will move up the ranks quickly. She has also been improving in the ring a great deal, which is a nice bonus.
- Karrion Kross vs Santos Escobar: I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this match. Escobar has looked great in NXT, but we all know WWE’s track record with putting any sort of Cruiserweight in the ring with someone the size of Karrion Kross. We ended up getting an entertaining No Disqualification Match that worked on multiple levels. Kross is in a weird spot right now, working as a bit of a face, even though his heel character was very well received, but it seems to be working for him so far. It’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the NXT World Title picture. Escobar, meanwhile, is still someone I think can have great success on the main roster. For now, the company is really waiting for COVID travel restrictions to lighten up so they can do Escobar vs Jordan Devlin to crown an undisputed Cruiserweight Champion. From there, it’s anyone’s guess what Escobar will do.
- Tamina: It’s time for the annual Tamina Mini-Push! She has now won her last two matches on Smackdown, pretty much out of nowhere. Last year, she won two straight (and three out of four) matches on Smackdown. In 2019, she won two straight matches on Raw and even won the 24/7 Title for a bit at Hell In A Cell. 2018 saw her win two straight matches on Raw, and you can make that three if you count her being on the winning side of a Survivor Series elimination match, even though she was eliminated in the match. In between those mini-pushes were more losses than you can count, so I fully expect her to start losing again here before randomly winning a couple straight at some point in 2022. See you then!
This Week’s Playlist: “PROBLEMA” by Daddy Yankee… “Hold On To Me” by Lauren Daigle… “Happy Endings” by Mike Shinoda, iann dior & UPSAHL… “Broken As Me” by Papa Roach & Danny Worsnop… “Real Steel” by Sean Paul & Intence… “One Way” by Rebel Souljahz… “Funkdafied” by Da Brat & Jermaine Dupri… “Fa All Y’all” by Da Brat… “Give It 2 You” by Da Brat… “Da B Side” by Da Brat & The Notorious BIG… “Hot Spot” by Foxy Brown… “Touch Me Tease Me” by Case & Foxy Brown… “Mellow Mood” by Bunny Wailer… “Dream Land” by Bunny Wailer… “Heartbreak Collision” by Dolla… “Lemme Freak” by Lil Dicky… “Pillow Talking” by Lil Dicky & Brain… “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky & Chris Brown… “Professional Rapper” by Lil Dicky & Snoop Dogg… “Sit Down” by Kent Jones, Ty Dolla $ign, E-40 & Lil Dicky