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Monday, June 27, 2016

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Retrospective: The Increasing Dominance of Black Wrestlers

By @TrueGodImmortal

Now this article might only appeal to a certain demographic and I'm totally okay with that. It's been years and years since we've seen black wrestlers being so prominent in the wrestling business, and I truly believe this is a cause to celebrate. After being passed over for opportunities so many times over the years, it's been truly something special to witness the rise of black men and women in the business.

The Japanese have always been prominent and had their own organizations, as have the Latino community in wrestling, but despite a few select wrestlers who might breakthrough here and there (The Rock, Ron Simmons, Booker T come to mind as the only ones really), there were no huge black stars in the history of professional wrestling. It was believed that some black wrestlers were marketable and even in the indie scene, black wrestlers seemed to be slightly on short supply. In this era however, that's changed. And it's a beautiful thing. Let's look at the Cruiserweight Classic, shall we?

Out of 32 participants, we have two heavy favorite that are black, and two more that were formidable names. The guy with one of the biggest chances to win the Cruiserweight Classic based on his popularity and soaring achievements right now is Cedric Alexander. He's one of the best wrestlers today and he's shown and proved it, much like Rich Swann has as well over the indie circuit and now in WWE. Swann has positioned himself to be a force in the future and he will succeed. Anthony Bennett has a strange gimmick, but he's a talented in ring performer. The WWE has the Cruiserweight Classic full of stars from all around and two of the top picks are black. That's extremely dope and one of the best things about this whole tournament is seeing that. However, while black men are currently prospering in the Cruiserweight Classic, we have black women slowly on the rise as well, definitely in the independent scene, but also on the WWE side as well.

NXT signed Athena, Naomi is still quite popular (and fine chocolate), and they also have the absolutely gorgeous Bianca Blair on their roster now, with the beautiful JoJo also gaining fan support for her announcing. There are a few more female prospects for WWE Women's wrestling in the future, but what has to be said is the fact that the most important woman currently in the WWE is a black woman. Outside of Jacqueline and Jazz, we really never saw a black woman at the forefront, but Sasha Banks is miles ahead of everyone else. It's not even close. With that being said, Sasha is the most over wrestler in the division and she definitely brings a certain aura to the scene, but as I've said, it's not just limited to WWE.

The indies are full of amazing black wrestlers, such as ROH's ACH, the sure to be a star Lio Rush, Jay Lethal, Moose (soon to be departing), Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, Stokely Hathaway, and more. Fred Yehi is a solid name for EVOLVE, and there have been many others such as Willie Mack, Joe Black, AR Fox, Ricochet, Scorpio Sky, and many more. The women of the indies are shining from the gorgeous Mia Yim to Marti Bell to Awesome Kong to Aerial Monroe to Savannah Evans to so many more. Black Excellence is all around you on in your face in professional wrestling, and there's so many more to list. They've all asserted themselves as some of the best talents in the world in this business, but if we could go back to the WWE to close this out, that's where the true excellence was cemented.

Sure, Titus O'Neil is competing for the US Title, Darren Young is being rebooted with Bob Backlund, Mark Henry is still around, R-Truth is still a comedy act, and Apollo Crews is finding his footing, but there is nothing better than the highly loved, cheered, and championed trio, The New Day, who currently sit atop the merchandise sales, always in the top 3. Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods have certainly cemented themselves as one of the most over groups in the business over in the last 10 years, combined with the success they had as the current tag team champions for over 300 days now. It's truly an amazing feat to hold the WWE Tag Team titles, but to have one of the longest title reigns in WWE tag title history and be a black trio of guys who weren't seen as future main eventers anyways??? Even more special.

The New Day has changed the business in a number of ways, and they could be seen as inspiration for a bunch of younger and teenage black wrestling fans who would aspire to get into the business. The same could be said for an Apollo Crews, a Sasha Banks, an ACH, a Jay Lethal, a Cedric Alexander, or any other symbol of black excellence in professional wrestling. This is necessary and vital and truly groundbreaking to finally see success for black wrestlers after decades of being held down in some way and just lack of opportunity. Watch these symbols of black excellence continue to shine well into 2017 and beyond.



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