WWE and AEW risk empty words without action in Black Lives Matter statement

AEW, Chris Jericho (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
AEW, Chris Jericho (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images) /

Both AEW and WWE need to show more to match their words. 

It is easy to deliver empty words in a time of need. Especially when there’s pressure and expectations from society. This week, both the WWE and AEW made “statements” into the growing human rights (not political) issue around the Black Lives Matter movement.

Some will say this gesture is in good faith, but unfortunately, those who watch wrestling closely are skeptical of both statements. Especially so when you look at how professional wrestling has treated those in marginalized groups for decades.

“WWE supports an inclusive society and condemns racial injustice. We stand beside our Black performers, employees and fans around the world, and encourage everyone to use their voice to speak out against racism,” WWE posted on its social media channels on Tuesday. “We offer our sincere condolences to the family of George Floyd and the families of countless others who have lost their lives due to senseless violence.”

Quite the paragraph. But notice how they did not specifically say “Black Lives Matter.” It is almost as if the organization is unable to mutter the words that so many believe to be true, regardless of the twisted narrative that has been placed on the phrase.

The WWE has long embarrassed itself when it comes to diversity and inclusion on their roster. It is well chronicled that there has never been an African American main WWE Champion (Yes, Kofi was champion last year, but let’s not act like he was treated with the same respect as Rollins was as Universal Champ). It is well documented that there is a glass ceiling with how high people of color can rise through the WWE roster. It is even more of a challenge for women of color.

And do not forget about the questionable gimmicks and storylines that wrestlers of color are frequently placed in. Every generation of WWE has a variety of moments where people of color were forced to just shake their heads in disgust at what was being put in front of them. The WWE released news on Wednesday that they are taking steps to support diversity and inclusion for their staff which is needed now more than ever. 

Professional wrestling has an overabundance of black and brown people waiting for an opportunity to get excited about the proverbial rocket being strapped to someone who looks like them. Unfortunately, the WWE continues to let them down.

AEW has work to do as well

Tony Khan, President and CEO of All Elite Wrestling, did not let those political narratives stop him from flat out tweeting “Black Lives Matter” on Saturday, May 30. He event went as far to tweet that Linda Hogan is “banned” from AEW events because of her hate-filled tweets toward African Americans.

While these are decent first steps, what does it say when some of the featured talent on the roster that Khan manages proudly respond to the human rights issue, we face with the “All Lives Matter” rebuttal? Chris Jericho recently did so. Or individuals like Jake Hager that have interacted with questionable social media posts in ways that show support to movements opposite to equal rights? It speaks volumes.

This is not about quashing someone’s personal opinions. Individuals can have all the personal opinions they want. But when those “opinions” are those that infringe on the personal rights of others, there needs to be a conversation about the deeper meaning of those actions.

The “All Lives Matter” response is nothing more than an attempt to silence an outcry by Black people looking for equality and the ability to live their lives without fear. Liking social media posts that promote transphobic thoughts or actions lets everyone know you are opposing the inalienable rights of others to live their lives as they so choose.

When employees take those actions, they should be questioned by their employer. Especially if their employer is positioning themselves as an organization that is understanding of the plight of marginalized people.

Many are keeping a close eye on AEW. Like the WWE, they found a lot of wrestlers of color to come in and perform when the global pandemic was limiting their ability to utilize their full roster. It will be interesting to see which of those get more opportunities to work with both organizations in the future. Fans are clamoring to see more of the diverse roster that Cody touted in the development of AEW. Something that has yet to occur.

Professional wrestling is meant to be an escape from the real world that we all face each day. Unfortunately for some, it continues to be a reminder that we can only reach certain heights on the ladder. AEW and WWE put a lot of words into the ecosphere in a time of unrest within the United States.

Next. WWE needs to remove The Forgotten Sons immediately. dark

Let us just hope those words are not as empty as previous trends in professional wrestling. There’s work to be done.