The reason Big Swole is a personal favorite for many is that she listens to the fans. While she was signed to AEW, she wasn’t shy about sharing her views on diversity in wrestling. She knew the work wouldn’t stop because she’s signed to a major company and she remained vocal.
Swole recently made comments that solidified a belief that there are still adjustments for some companies to make in the future. It rubbed fans the wrong way and even garnered an unusual reaction from Tony Khan.
When Tony made those comments it brought back old feelings on why wrestling companies seem to can’t get it right. The current model in place for diversity needs to change soon for wrestling to truly thrive.
Reasons why wrestling companies can’t get it right with diversity.
The major thing about this era of wrestling is the power of social media and how fans can voice displeasure. It’s a double edge sword where its great fans can speak openly, but the wrestling companies did some selective picking of what they cater to and it led to a disconnect with many important subjects over the years.
A thought occurred whether those adjustments would have been made if there was no vocal movement or social media to add fuel to the conversation. When looking at it from a historical perspective, the answer would be no.
There was a movement for women’s wrestling and a call for more diversity in WWE. It seemed like WWE was fulfilling orders as a way to please a demographic, rather than making it an integral part of their formula. After that big moment, it would fizzle until the next movement or outcry.
A good example of when it’s just pandering was when Jazz held the women’s championship. Jazz had the belt, but she wasn’t on pay-per-view posters and there wasn’t much in terms of storyline. When Jazz lost the belt, there were other champions who had segments and moments and it was a head-scratcher why that was happening after Jazz lost the belt.
There’s obviously a difference between her title reign to Rich Swann, Bianca Belair, Kofi Kingston, and Big E. Even though fans may have found the way they lost the title controversial from their respective companies, they still had a fair build-up which contrasts from twenty years ago.
The new company AEW has fallen into a hole which was dug by themselves. They vowed for diversity and that became a theme in response to what has happened in wrestling over the years. Much like WWE, there is a lot of pandering and not a sense of changing the system model beyond campaign words.
When AEW signed Big Swole obviously there was a lot of excitement and hope that the women’s division was heading in the right direction. That hope was something fans hung on to for Big Swole and many others on the roster. It’s one thing to sign a bunch of talent of color, but never utilize them in meaningful stories or have them lost in the shuffle is the same historical system.
It’s just like any other corporation promising to add diversity to their team, but they are not utilized. Thus making it a poster to satisfy the masses filling a status quo. If they have no role in the company, it isn’t true diversity.
It isn’t about winning as many titles, but having a legacy that makes sense and is memorable for their careers. Some wrestlers may win multiple world titles, others may be known for their storytelling ability in high-profile rivalries where AEW was able to lean on them for the main event match or secondary to main event match.
Diversity is not about putting the title on a person of color solely as a business move with no meaning to that title reign, nor is it a competition to who as the most people of color in positions of power and roster. It’s about wrestlers of colors rising without a footnote of it being a reaction to a movement or outcry, and done as a part of the overall system naturally.
The standard set by major wrestling companies is a reaction and business move as opposed to genuine. That’s the disconnect with diversity in wrestling in so many ways. It is a chess piece strategy in their business and now it has become a major conversation yet again.
It doesn’t have to be that way anymore and companies can take major steps to ensure they are providing the best product with a diverse roster without it being just a reaction to what’s said. Each individual company has different necessary steps to take to make that happen. One can hope all companies are serious about achieving true diversity in wrestling.
The repeat cycle of this system in place for wrestling simply does not work and is long overdue for a change. It’s time for wrestling companies to not be a reaction platform and be an action platform with no need for outcries, input, and criticism. When that happens, wrestling has succeeded in diversity.