Is WWE Racist: Part Two: When The Lights Come On

Yesterday we looked at some of the backstage issues in WWE with race as well as the history of the WWE championship. If you missed that you can click here. This time let’s look at what happens when it spills over to the ring. Some things such as Harley Race telling Ron Simmons “When I was a champion, I had a boy like you to carry my bags,” or when Junkyard Dog being called a “Shucking and jiving ring ape,” repeatedly by Jesse Ventura, I’d like to leave out. For the sake of things like that, we’ll simply consider that part of the time period when racial insensitivity was at a high point. I’d like to take a look at more recent things.

The oldest thing I’ll look at is the Booker T vs HHH feud in 2003. HHH cut what many consider to be one of the most racist promos in recent memory. HHH started off by telling Booker T “You’re confused about your role in life. Someone like you doesn’t get to be a World Champion. People like you don’t deserve it.” He followed that up with “You’re not a competitor, you’re an entertainer and you’re here to make people like me laugh.” HHH then proceeded to talk about how Booker T’s “nappy hair.”  But that wasn’t the end of this. The next week Ric Flair offered Booker T a more suitable job of limo driver and bag carrier. In a back stage segment Booker T approached HHH and was given $1 to fetch him a towel so he could dry his hands. This isn’t the first time race has made its way into a feud. However, usually they overcome the racism and win. That wasn’t the case here. Wrestlemania XIX rolled around and during their match Booker T hit HHH with every finisher and signature move he had multiple times. Only to be defeated by one Pedigree from HHH. That was the end of their feud. There was no rematch. HHH simply moved on to another storyline. Booker T however remained a fan favorite and midcard wrestler until 2006. 


There was also the Kerwin White gimmick. Chavo Guerrero came out dressed in khakis a pink polo shirt and a sweater draped over his shoulders. Chavo then denounced his Hispanic heritage in favor of the “Anglo-American way.” He didn’t just talk about Hispanics, but African Americans, Native Americans and Japanese Americans. He then proceeded to beat members of each of these races easily. He then would spout off phrases such as “If it’s not white, it’s not right.” This continued this until the death of his uncle Eddie Guerrero. WWE mercifully allowed him to drop this gimmick. When asked where the gimmick came from Chavo stated that it came directly from Vince McMahon. Vince thought the gimmick was a great idea and would really go over with the fans. Chavo stated he went along with it because “Everyone knew I was still Mexican, I’m still brown.”  While this was a serious gimmick, WWE has a history of comedic racial gimmicks. 


The Kerwin White gimmick actually began two weeks after the debut of the Mexicools. The Mexicools were a group made up of three Mexian wrestlers; Juventud, Psicosis, and Super Crazy. Individually all three of these men had made names for themselves not only across Mexico but the United States as well. WWE didn’t believe they could be single stars, but that understandable. Sometimes, just because a person makes a name for themselves outside of the WWE it doesn’t mean that WWE fans will love them. What was racist is that the WWE forced them to ride out to the ring on lawnmowers and depicted them in vignettes as lazy Mexican gardeners. WWE would have the Mexicools cut promos about how stereotypes were not true and hurtful to the Mexican people. Then they would portray the Mexicools fulfilling these stereotypes. In one instance the Mexicools complained about Mexicans being depicted as lazy only for them to be shown sleeping backstage later in the night. 


When I started talking about minorities and comedy gimmicks in WWE, I know the first thing that popped in your mind was Cryme Tyme. For those of you who don’t know Cryme Tyme was a tag team made up of Shad Gaspard and JTG. Their gimmick was to steal items from other wrestlers and sell them to the crowd. They were often seen backstage selling stolen goods and frequently called hoodlums by characters such as JBL. Despite all this Cryme Tyme became one of the most popular tag teams in the company for several years. However they only received three championship matches in their time with WWE. They of course lost all three. They aren’t the only black wrestlers in the recent years to get that treatment. R-Truth has been forced to endure the same rapper gimmick for several years. The one time he was able to drop the gimmick he became one of the best heels on the roster. He was soon back to the rapper gimmick. 

Currently on the roster the WWE has a tag team called Los Matadores. They are a duo of Spanish bull fighters. Here’s the problem. Eddie and Orlando Colon, better known as Primo and Epico, portray the duo of Spanish bull fighters, they’re Puerto Rican. WWE has a history of having minorities portray other minorities. Yokuzuna was not Japanese, Roddy Piper is not Scottish, Kofi Kingston isn’t Jamaican and Camacho is not Mexican. Sometimes WWE believes they don’t have enough of one minority on the roster so they simply rearrange them.

There have also been some moments that weren’t story based, but simply cringe worthy. On one occasion Vince McMahon greeted John Cena with “What’s up, my nigga,” and cheerfully walked away. On another occasion JBL literally kicked Mexicans across the border because they were illegals. Yoshi Tatsu portraying possibly every Asian stereotype possible in his run and many more cringe worthy moments exist.

The question was “Is WWE racist?” I can’t make that decision for you. You have to make it on your own. There’s evidence sprinkled everywhere in the company’s history. Not just backstage but in the ring as well. Is WWE racist? Maybe, that’s for each person to decide. I enjoy WWE so I don’t want to call the company racist, but it's not like I can't see the writing on the wall. I can say for sure that they have a history of racial insensitivity that they aren't shamed of continuing. 

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Is WWE Racist: Part Two: When The Lights Come On Is WWE Racist: Part Two: When The Lights Come On Reviewed by Darrell S. on Friday, August 22, 2014 Rating: 5

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