Black Wrestlers Matter delivered a strong introduction and a much-needed call to action during SummerSlam weekend. A follow-up is already in the works.
On Sunday night, Jon West, and the team behind the first show, announced that Black Wrestlers Matter 2 will take place next year on Juneteenth. Straight away, the possibility of a sequel filled many fans with hope because the event’s impact could already be felt throughout the industry in just one week. Thankfully, Black Wrestlers Matter will return and the news couldn’t have come at a better time.
On the night of the event, WWE’s Keith Lee unceremoniously lost the NXT Championship, leaving many fans disappointed again after such a high in the weeks prior. It was a sight that is all too common for Black wrestling fans. Just as soon as Lee ascended to the top of the brand as a double champion, he left NXT TakOver: XXX empty-handed. It seemed like it happened in the blink of an eye.
Sure, fans could later rejoice that “The Limitless One” made a high-profile debut on RAW but the sting of disappointment still lingered. It took six years to crown a second Black NXT Champion and he had the shortest reign that wasn’t halted by injury.
In addition, tragedy marred the week of Aug. 23. First, police brutality reared its ugly head again as a video of a police officer shooting an unarmed African American man named Jacob Blake multiple times in the back went viral. The wanton disregard for Black citizens’ lives has become too familiar and the outcry that followed was just as much so.
At the end of the week, American actor, Chadwick Boseman, lost his four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman famously brought many Black historical figures to life including Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. He was also the leading man in the blockbuster hit and cultural phenomenon, Black Panther. His sudden death added to another blow to an incredibly somber year.
Black Panther is two years old but it was such a euphoric moment for many Black people because it gave them something to believe in. The movie filled a void than many didn’t know they existed. It may seem trivial but shows like Black Wrestlers Matters represent the same acknowledgment and opportunity to vote with our wallets in an industry that often ignores the demand for representation.
It’s telling that all of this trauma happened a week after Black Wrestlers Matter because it further proves that there is a need for unity, levity, justice, and positive representation. This a microcosm of the anguish that many Black people live with all the time. That’s why there is a need to feel joy; to feel seen and represented in the world of professional wrestling. In addition, there is just as much of a necessity for Black wrestlers to create their own lanes and tell their own stories.
It was an absolute pleasure to see so many distinct characters and styles of wrestling on one card. The main event could be best described as surreal. Fans rarely get to see two Black men headline a wrestling show, so JDX vs. ACH felt special. Subsequently, it was refreshing to see Black women and the LGBTQ+ community accepted in such a warm and genuine way at the event.
It was rewarding to see many of the up-and-coming performers from the card like Stephen Wolf, Devon Monroe, Air Wolf, Faye Jackson, and Isaiah Broner appear on the 2020 PWI 500 last week. That’s a good sign that things are changing for the better and Black Wrestlers Matter was at the center of that forward progress.
The lasting impact of the first show can’t be subdued by the sobering real-world events that followed it. Instead, its message should give us something to continue to strive towards and another reason to celebrate in 2021. There’s still work to do and we can’t afford to get lost in despair. Here’s to another chance to make Black voices heard next year on June 19, 2021. Mark your calendars.