On a recent WWE Raw, the main event featured The Street Profits facing off against MVP and Bobby Lashley. This was one of the first times four black wrestlers main evented a flagship WWE show. Why hasn’t it happened more often?
The Street Profits vs. MVP and Bobby Lashley from a couple of weeks back was one of the only times I can remember four Black wrestlers main eventing either of the WWE’s two main shows, Smackdown and RAW. Incredible to consider when you take into account the thousands of episodes of both shows.
Representation is important and we’ve seen the impact that Black wrestlers who are portrayed in prominent positions can have on fans – particularly Black fans – with Kofi Kingston’s emotional WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania 35.
Seeing Black performers booked in top spots in WWE is a rare sight. For many Black performers, there exists a ceiling where it is acknowledged that they’re good enough for certain positions, but they won’t be given the opportunity to reach the next level.
The match is seemingly overlooked, but it is a significant piece of history that has yet to be replicated in the nearly 20 years since this match took place.
How did this match come about? How was the match? And why haven’t we seen two Black wrestlers’ main event a PPV since?
In the Summer of 2001, The Rock was returning from his first venture into Hollywood, recently wrapping filming on “The Scorpion King.” The Invasion storyline was in full swing, but considerably more disappointing than most fans expected. One of the few WCW stars who was still thriving was Booker T.
Booker entered the Invasion storyline as the WCW Champion and was immediately portrayed as WCW’s top dog.
By the time July rolled around, Booker wasn’t the leader of the WCW/ECW alliance anymore, due to Stone Cold defecting from team WWF, but Booker was still far and away doing the best of any original WCW roster member.
When The Rock and Booker finally met, The Rock was in peak form hitting all of the classics, “who in the blue hell are you,” “It doesn’t matter what your name is.” Along with a new addition, “what’s two plus two? Thomas Jefferson, Sucka!”
The Mcmahon’s, particularly Shane, was heavily involved in the feud, but ultimately Booker T and The Rock got to take center stage at SummerSlam as the main event.
This was a huge, historical moment—two Black wrestlers in the primes of their careers main eventing a WWF PPV. Not just any PPV either, this wasn’t Insurrection, this was a big four PPV. This was SummerSlam.
This wasn’t just groundbreaking, it had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since.
We were finally going to get the chance to see two high-level Black wrestlers with the opportunity to headline a show. And what that provides to a generation of Black fans is hope that people that look like you can make it to the highest level of the sport/entertainment that you love.
The match delivered as well. It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but it was entertaining from the start, and the crowd exploded for the finish of The Rock dramatically kipping up following a Scissors Kick, Spinaroonie combo by Booker, and hitting a Rock Bottom for the victory.
Why haven’t we seen two Black wrestlers’ main event a PPV since then, though? Did the PPV not draw well?
SummerSlam 2001 did 565,000 buys on PPV, slightly down from the 570,000 buys that SummerSlam 2000 did on PPV the previous year. However, the month before SummerSlam was Invasion, which did a monstrous 770,000 buys.
The huge surge in the Invasion PPV can be chalked up to people being excited to finally see WWF vs. WCW/ECW and the huge dropoff the following month can be attributed to the Invasion storyline being a huge disappointment as a whole.
However, compared to SummerSlam 2000, it was a minimal dropoff, and 2000 was the most profitable year of the Attitude Era.
In the 19 years since we’ve seen two different Black World champions and one other Black WWE Champion besides The Rock in 2002 and 2013: Booker T (2006), Mark Henry (2011), and Kofi Kingston (2019).
When Black wrestlers have been given the World Title, it has been very rare that another Black wrestler has been built up to be in a position to main event along with them.
The closest we’ve gotten since SummerSlam 2001 was Vengence 2007, which featured John Cena defending the WWE Championship against King Booker, Bobby Lashley, Mick Foley, and Randy Orton in a Five Pack challenge.
In the cases of Mark Henry and Kofi Kingston’s reigns as World Champions, neither of them even got the chance to main event a PPV.
In five PPV World title match opportunities for Henry, he had zero main events and his match was positioned near the middle of the card in all but two of them with one match at Vengeance being the semi-main event and his World TItle match at The Royal Rumble opening the show.
For Kofi, he was WWE Champion for six months and defended his title at six PPVs and didn’t main event any of them before losing his title in eight seconds to Brock Lesnar in the main event of the Smackdown premiere on FOX.
It is uncertain when the next time there will be a chance for two Black wrestlers to once again be the main event of a PPV. Historically WWE has largely shown an unwillingness to position multiple Black wrestlers in main event positions.
Even as Bobby Lashley faced off against Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship at Backlash, he’s the only Black wrestler currently in the main event picture on Raw.
There is hope for the future, and the talent is there. Keith Lee seems destined to be a main eventer when he arrives on Raw or Smackdown. Big E is someone that has all of the tools to be a World Champion. Montez Ford has potential to be the top guy in WWE, and Kofi Kingston will always have the fans behind him if he’s given a main event push again.
You can’t forget the Black women with the ability to main event as well. Bianca Belair is a generational talent, Sasha Banks has already showcased that she has the ability and star power to main event and Naomi has mainstream breakout potential that WWE’s only scratched the surface on.
The Rock and Booker T already paved the way, and Black wrestlers just need to be allowed to roll the road some more, and hopefully, we don’t have to wait 19 more years for it to happen.