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Does the WWE have a race problem?
Submitted by Going Broadway on 02/21/2019 at 03:33 PM


Going Broadway: Does the WWE have a race problem?

By J.D. Bachman

Kofi Kingston almost made history last Sunday, as he nearly accomplished something nobody else ever has: Becoming the first 100% African-American to win the WWE Championship.

Now before you get your knickers in a twist, I will point out that both Mark Henry and Booker T have been called "World Champion" in their own rights, however, this was the reincarnation of the WCW Championship, which shares lineage from the National Wrestling Alliance. Their first African-American champion was Bobo Brazil in 1962, even though the NWA didn't recognize the reign.

30 years later in 1992, Ron Simmons would defeat Vader to become WCW Champion. More on him later...

So we have the obvious train of logic, and here is where many may get off said train: The Rock. It's no doubt that The Rock is half-Samoan and half-black, but he isn't 100% now is he? This doesn't take away his accomplishments or that he is a part of a marginalized population, but it does continue to further the question:

Why hasn't there ever been a 100% African-American WWE Champion?

The belt that was won by Buddy Rodgers in a fictional tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 1963 holds a long lineage of legends to the wrestling business -- none of whom are 100% African-American.

In 1971 Pedro Morales became the first ever Puerto Rican-born WWE Champion, and names like Antonio Inoki (though short-lived) and The Iron Sheik have represented the prestigious title from Japan and Iran, respectively. Italian-born Bruno Sammartino held the title for a combined 4,040 days throughout the WWWF in the 1970s, a record that will likely never be broken.

With the exception of Canadian champions like Bret Hart, Chris Jericho and Jinder Mahal, no wrestler from another country would hold this title until 2010 in Irish-born Sheamus, and 2011 in Mexican-born Alberto Del Rio. (Unless you count Andre the Giant's 1-minute title reign before handing it over to Ted DiBiase in 1988)

For the record, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr. were both born in America.

So what does this all mean? Does it mean anything?

One could easily make the argument that with The New Day holding the longest tag team title reign in WWE history, and the recent championship reigns of Naomi and Ember Moon on the women's side, and Bobby Lashley, and currently Ron Killings, on the men's side, that this argument is null and void.

However, this still doesn't take away from the fact that no 100% African-American has ever held this prestigious championship; and if we are counting The Rock -- then that's only one out of 49.

1 out of 49 isn't that great. That means there will be a black world champion less than 1% of the time. If we even took the combined reigns of all WWE Champions in history, (roughly 21,687 days) and matched with the combined days The Rock has held the WWE Championship (378 days) that still comes out to less than one percent.

Out of 82 Intercontinental Champions, only 8 have been African-American.

It's not much better on the World Heavyweight Championship side, either, as throughout the long lineage of that now defunct title dating back to the NWA days, only 4 champions in that title's history were black.

Kofi Kingston almost had a date with destiny in his feud with Randy Orton in 2010, but after a botched finished during one of their matches leading to Randy Orton famously yelling "stupid" three times at Kofi, and then later complaining backstage about it, said plans for Kofi were scrapped.

Has it always sort of been like this? You tell me: Has there been worthy World Champion material over the decades that the WWE has passed up on? A few names come to mind:

-Kofi Kingston
-Shelton Benjamin
-Rocky Johnson
-Junkyard Dog
-Ernie Ladd
-Butch Reed
-Koko B. Ware
-Tony Atlas

...and of course, Ron Simmons, who after being recognized as the first-ever African-American champion in WCW history was given a ridiculous gladiator gimmick in Farooq in his WWF debut, and accomplished nothing more than tag team gold and a catchphrase through his tenure. This is the same organization that thought pushing a large white man as "Akeem the African Dream" was a good idea.

While this stigma may not exist for many fans today, history and statistics tell a different story: A story where WWE officials simply never saw fit to put their one and only true championship on a black man. We now have many rising stars that could one day become WWE Champion.

Velveteen Dream, Keith Lee, Ricochet, and of course, Kofi Kingston come to mind on talents either deserving right now, or in the future of holding this championship: this elusive championship, which was won in a fictional tournament by a man who is as painfully white as white can be.

Does the WWE have a race problem, or are the statistics misleading? Only time will tell.

tl;dr version: A black man is good enough to hold every other title in the WWE except the WWE Championship.




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