AEW: The importance of Cody’s words on diversity

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Cody Rhodes and Brandi Rhodes of TNT’s All Elite Wrestling attend the WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 arrivals on the red carpet at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2019 in New York City. 602140 (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Cody Rhodes and Brandi Rhodes of TNT’s All Elite Wrestling attend the WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 arrivals on the red carpet at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2019 in New York City. 602140 (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) /

Cody Rhodes had an important statement on diversity after AEW Double or Nothing, but the road to inclusion is a long and hard one that requires continued action from start to distant finish.

We are now living in a post-Double or Nothing world. AEW held their first event during the Memorial Day weekend and that showcase has become the rage of the wrestling community. Much of the praise has been positive from top to bottom; and that praise is well deserved.

There’s one talking point that’s garnering attention all the way to the United States House of Representatives and that’s the fact that AEW is showcasing diversity in a way that isn’t common in professional wrestling. While this is a first step in improving inclusivity within the industry, it’s a first step in a long journey that will hopefully change the wrestling world for the better.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become a popular personality in politics for a variety of reasons. But on Sunday, she may have garnered a few more fans for her positive tweet towards Cody Rhodes – the current face of All Elite Wrestling. The tweet was in reference to a quote about Rhodes getting a better understanding of the importance of diversity from a conversation with his wife, Brandi.

That is an important statement for a variety of reasons. It’s hard to imagine any scenario when anyone in a position of political power not named President Donald Trump would tweet anything positive about the WWE without controversy; so, it’s important to recognize this exchange. But while that garners attention, it’s the quote that Rhodes had during the interview that deserves much more discourse.

“I’m in an interracial marriage and I’ve learned a lot that I would have never known,” Rhodes explained while talking to WWE Hall of Famer, Mark Henry. “I told Brandi one time that I don’t see color and she said ‘well, then you don’t see my experience.’ You need to be able to see that experience and at least understand it. The old territory system of just one is out and the best wrestlers are going to feel the gain and that’s a very diverse profile.”

That quote couldn’t be any more correct. Diversity and inclusion are two important topics that need to be discussed in professional wrestling. Even in the year 2019, the wrestling industry especially continues to struggle with its usage and placement of men and women of color.

Kofi Kingston is riding high as his story of triumph led to a WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania 35. That story alone and the way fans have embraced this moment as much more than just Kingston winning the title, is an important moment in wrestling. While Jim Ross (also a member of AEW) made incorrect statements about Kingston’s race being interjected into the story, that moment in wrestling meant so much to not only fans, but men and women who’ve lived the struggle of being a minority in professional wrestling.

But while we celebrate the rise of Kingston, there are still plenty of negative examples, such as the lack of women of color being included in important storylines within the WWE. There’s still a lot of work to be done, not only in the WWE, but across the industry as whole.

Rhodes’s statement lets the industry know he’s more attune to the struggle than some of those in other places. We’ve seen AEW bring in talent like Sonny Kiss and Nyla Rose – both of which performed at Double or Nothing. These steps are important in highlighting the diverse set of wrestlers that are found around the world. AEW, which continues to trend across social media days after it’s first PPV, has a platform that can feature and introduce these talented personalities to fans that may have never known about them otherwise. That is important and deserves praise.

As mentioned, this is just the first step in the process. There’s a continued need to push for diversity and inclusion that goes well beyond snippets of interviews and tweets. Rhodes’s comment calls for continued action such as putting titles on diverse talent and verbally combating fans or other wrestlers that have negative reactions to some of the talent hired. We saw multiple examples of wrestling fans making dangerously harmful comments towards some of the talent and when that happens the leadership within the AEW needs to make it clear that such antics are not welcome within this promotion.

Next. AEW: Double or Nothing Results and Grades. dark

This is more than just putting together a great video package during Black History Month or Women’s History Month. It includes avoiding stereotypical characters that speak to disgusting narratives of entertainment from generations past. It includes not being lazy when booking men and women of color. Cody Rhodes and AEW have gotten off to the right start, but the journey to have a full impact on diversity and inclusion in wrestling is a long one. Many within the industry are cheering them on, especially after what we saw at Double or Nothing.