AEW has been criticised for an alleged ‘lack of diversity’ on their roster in recent months, most publicly by former AEW star Big Swole, who expressed her dissatisfaction with how persons of color were presented on AEW television.
AEW president Tony Khan recently appeared on The Ringer Wrestling Show, where he spoke about having a diverse roster, signing names like Jade Cargill, Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland, Athena and Stokely Hathaway.
Khan said that having a diverse roster is important to him, but most of the names were not available at AEW’s inception.
“It’s something that’s really important to me.
“Well, every single person you named pretty much was not available when AEW started. Those are all free agent acquisitions, except for Jade, who we’ve trained and is one of the very few wrestlers that has trained from the ground up in AEW because primarily, the general rule of thumb is we signed people with experience in wrestling. We don’t train people from the ground up, and Jade is the exception of any rules. What a great wrestler she is. I think virtually every other wrestler you named — Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland, Athena, Stokely Hathaway — These are people that were not available to us. They were under contract elsewhere. I would have killed to have these people in AEW before and now I’m thrilled they’re all here as a part of AEW. But I also in that time, tried to develop talent through a grassroots system. And I was using AEW Dark and still continue to this day to develop wrestlers on AEW Dark on YouTube. They aren’t always on television. And these people weren’t even coming in to be showcased on AEW Dark. They were coming in for tryouts, for developmental work. But great examples of this are Powerhouse Hobbs, Max Caster, and Anthony Bowens at first separately as individual wrestlers actually trained at the same school and never teamed before. Now they are The Acclaimed, one of the pushed acts on television… Red Velvet is a great example of that also. So Hobbs, Red Velvet, Caster and Bowens individually they were all tryout wrestlers on AEW Dark. I was trying to build a better roster and a more diverse roster, frankly, and the best wrestlers at that time were not available to build a diverse roster. Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland, Athena, Stokely Hathaway, the best manager in wrestling. These were not people that were available to us. So I would have killed to have them and when they we got released, I thought it was crazy. Every one of those people getting out of their contract getting released, being on the street, looking to wrestle work for us. It was crazy to me. And I’m so happy that we’re all here.”
For a list of all win/loss records for the AEW men’s roster for 2022 so far, click here.
transcription via WrestlingNews.co
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