The Street Profits are a talented team that excel in the ring, but need some minor adjustments to their gimmick to remove negative stereotypes.
NXT TakeOver XXV was a moment to sit back and see just how far the WWE has come with the NXT brand. The group that has introduced mainstream fans to the likes of Finn Balor, Sasha Banks, Asuka, Sami Zayn and more was celebrated with a fantastic network special on Saturday. One of the key moments was the coronation of The Street Profits, who earned the Tag Team Titles by defeating The Undisputed Era, Forgotten Sons and Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a Ladder Match.
With the belts around their waists, the spotlight will shine much brighter on them. One hope is that WWE Creative will move away from some of the problematic areas of their gimmick, which are based on negative stereotypes and let these two athletes shine as we know they can.
It goes without saying that Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are two characters on the roster that can immediately draw attention anywhere that they perform. The gregarious nature of their personalities flows through the crowd, their music and nearly every motion they complete when they perform.
As a team, they are a group worth watching within the tag team division; and individually, Ford has been tagged as one of the more intriguing prospects on the roster. This is a great time for both men and can result in a boost to their careers. At the same time, there should be an onus within WWE Creative to make some minor changes to remove the cringe-worthy aspects of their gimmick.
At first glance, the idea of the Street Profits as a gimmick is easy to understand. They are close knit friends that embody a lifestyle of partying 24/7, but can turn up the intensity in a moment’s notice to win a match in front of the WWE Universe. Their delivery and style of clothes is reminiscent of the days when Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J ruled the hip hop scene.
There are subtle instances within their gimmick that bring up what many can perceive as negative stereotypes within the African American community and this is where the slight shift can benefit this group and the community they represent as they rise through the ranks. Let’s show some examples of mannerisms and in-character statements from this duo that may give many pauses when they understand the connotations behind the words and actions.
The Street Profits used to do a hand motion that looks like mixing a concoction in a cup or pot. Whether you agree that the dance was created by either rapper Lil B or Pimp C, the motion was a reference to the idea of cooking drugs – mainly methamphetamines.
As with many other examples of cultural appropriation, the idea behind the act was forgotten as the Street Profits originally entered the NXT space. To see children cheering and making that motion as well is a questionable moment for those within the culture that understand what the dance means.
They also have a baked in merchandise opportunity in the red solo cups that they bring to the ring every match. Fans ringside are quick to hold up their own cups and sing along with the Street Profits’ theme music. They’ve recently referred to the drink within the cup as “Numb Numb Juice,” which is a play on the song by ScHoolboy Q. But there’s more to break down from there as that cup has symbolism beyond that reference.
The red solo cup was an item that was jokingly used to represent a mix of soft drinks and recreational drugs. Knowing that, is it still funny to see fans of The Street Profits – some of them kids – raising the cups in the air and mimicking taking a chug from the cup? Did the WWE social media team realize the phrase “push weight” was meant to mean selling drugs before a 2018 social media post featuring Dawkins and Ford?
All of these are viable questions when looking at what has made The Street Profits such an enticing gimmick.
This conversation isn’t meant to be a complete damnation of The Street Profits after winning their first WWE title. They are a talented duo that many hope continue to rise through the organization and can be featured when it comes time to push tag team wrestling back to prominence.
But WWE Creative needs to recognize what they are promoting within the characters that represent a minority demographic. The days of Stone Cold Steve Austin giving middle fingers and pounding beer in the ring are long gone. While this isn’t as egregious as the famed Cryme Tyme tag team of years past, the Street Profits are a highly talented group that need to experience slight adjustments in their character before they become nothing more than a sad joke.