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BY DAVID SCHIELE
Just over a week ago, WWE reinstated Hulk Hogan into its hall of fame, three years after exiling him for a released audio where he spewed the “N-word” multiple times. This move angered black wrestlers and black wrestling fans alike, but his reinstatement isn’t a surprise.
Hogan and WWE have issues.
* To general audiences, professional wrestling is fake, and WWE is the mecca of the genre.
* To wrestling fans, WWE is scripted.
* To intellectual wrestling fans, Vince McMahon’s billion-dollar company is a continuous soap opera, displayed through the white male gaze.
* To everybody with common sense, here’s the truth: As fictitious as this product is, it reflects how older white men see society. I have faithfully watched WWE programming as a black youth for over a decade and have witnessed many stereotypical characters come across my television screen.
Let’s start with a pair of black characters I’ve wanted to write about for years. The team of Shad Gaspard and JTG went by the name of Cryme Tyme in WWE from 2006 to 2010. The duo’s gimmick was “bringing the hood to you.” They stole items from other wrestlers and auctioned them off to audience members for a quick buck. Their catch phrase: “Money, money, yeah, yeah.” The beginning of their theme song: “Yo, yo, yo. Pop your 40 and check your rolly. It’s Cryme Tyme.” As a child, I thought these characters were cool. Now, as I near graduating from college, I realize Cryme Tyme did nothing but fuel a negative stereotype about black people who live in urban areas.
In 2005, WWE presented us with the “Mexicools.” Psicosis and Super Crazy (yep, Mexicans) literally rode to the ring on lawn mowers.
That’s all you need to know.
Before there was a “Make America Great Again” crowd, there was the wrestling stable called “The Real Americans.” Debuting in 2013, each of their segments contained dialogue that sounded alt-right based. Stable leader Zeb Colter spoke of having undying loyalty to America while blasting immigrants for coming into the United States and taking jobs.
I think this is a good time to mention that Donald Trump and McMahon are pals. The President has appeared on WWE programming numerous times, including his role in WrestleMania 23 in 2007. It’s also noteworthy that we’ve never had a black WWE champion, well, besides mega-star The Rock. Nor has the WWE made a black wrestler a “Money in the Bank” winner, which is basically the guarantee that you’ll be a world champion within the next year.
As you can see, pulling an Isa Rae by “cheering for everybody black” in WWE is nearly a hopeless cause. With pre-determined endings, you’re likely to be disappointed. You would have a better shot of rooting for the black family on Family Feud.
If all of that isn’t bad enough, Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods are the black men who make up “The New Day.” They’ve been tag-team champions longer than anybody in WWE history. They also led the company in merchandise sales two years ago. Easily, they are one of the most popular factions in professional wrestling, past or present.
So it was against this backdrop of racist and stereotypical characters that WWE officials did the inevitable with the Hulk Hogan move.
For WWE, fictitious stories, but real problems.
David Schiele is a journalism major and an African American studies minor at Georgia State University, graduating in December. He’s the former sports director of GSU’s student TV station. In his free time, David watches pro wrestling, plays video games, and reads. Follow him on twitter @Deacon_Schiele