Hello and welcome to the WrestleTalk Super News – I’m Oli Davis. Superkick the thumbs up, and then lock the subscribe button into a four minute long rest hold.
This Thursday 31st October – which is rather appropriately Halloween, because it’s a total horror show – will see the fourth ever ‘WWE sells out whatever soul it had left’ event with the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia.
And just when you think that’s enough controversy for WWE – let’s chuck some racism accusations from their own wrestlers on the pile too!
Shortly before WWE launched NXT live every Wednesday on the USA Network last month, the company released a series of t-shirt designs on their shop to get merchandise ready for the new wrestlers that were about to get over with a much larger audience on Network TV.
Unfortunately, they were all pretty crap – with a printer seemingly just grabbing .jpg files of those wrestlers’ logos, and then poorly superimposing them on a stock t-shirt. Which, compared with WWE’s usual design quality, is pretty lacking.
But as bad as all those designs were, at least they didn’t look like blackface – as NXT wrestler Jordan Myles is now accusing the company of making a racist design.
After making a name for himself in Ring of Honor, New Japan, PWG and more, it was announced super athletic wrestler ACH had signed a WWE contract on the 11th February this year.
He made his debut on a live event the following month, competed at WrestleMania weekend’s Worlds Collide event, and then went onto debut on NXT TV by winning their Breakout Tournament, using his new WWE name Jordan Myles.
The winner received a shot at any NXT title, so Myles went for the biggest in the promotion, fighting in a losing effort against Adam Cole for the NXT Championship on the 4th September episode.
Myles hasn’t been seen on NXT TV since, with the show transitioning to its new weekly, live format. And now, almost two months later, he’s tweeted this:
“They’ll regret making this… #ForTheCulture ✊?” with a picture of a t-shirt design showing his name in white text in a red smile-like shaped-box on a black background.
You could argue this is a homage to the famous Rolling Stones mouth and tongue logo.
You could argue the design is meant to reflect Jordan’s cheerful persona in NXT, where Mauro Ranallo says “he’s got smiles for miles”.
Or you could argue it looks like a racially insensitive blackface design recalling the highly offensive days of black and white minstrel shows or golliwog dolls.
Myles evidently thought his initial tweet didn’t make that clear enough though, so he tweeted again a few hours later – but this time tagging in the two most powerful people in the company and accusing WWE of racism:
“I will keep posting this till my voice is heard. I’m not sorry for anything I say or do. Representation is important. If this is @VinceMcMahon & @TripleH “vision” of me then this is a slap in the face to EVERY African American performer, fan, and supporter.”
That second post spread significantly quicker, gaining over 4,500 retweets at the time I’m recording this, being picked up by all the wrestling news sites – and receiving an outpour of support from fans and other wrestling personalities alike, with indie wrestler Big Swole, who competed in AEW’s Casino Battle Royale earlier this year, tweeting:
“First time I saw this I shook my head, this is what they come up with?? Sambo doll looking shirt, say it with me…ENCAPSULATED RACISM. ?”
Myles then encouraged others to help turn this incident into a movement:
“Protest with by turning your photos black and white on Twitter. And use the hashtag: #ForTheCulture” – while updating his profile picture to a monochrome version.
Which has been picked up on by Raw wrestler Cedric Alexander – who has also been retweeting many of Myles’ posts, along with making his pinned tweet #ForTheCulture.
For The Culture is a “statement requesting that someone carry out a specific action for benefit of their shared culture” – thank you, Urban Dictionary – and is also the name of The Collective’s WrestleMania 2020 weekend show that showcases wrestlers of colour, which Myles has also started promoting.
Many have compared this to the incident with fashion brand Gucci earlier this year, where they released a near $900 jumper that let you pull up a balaclava bit to surround your mouth with oversized red lips. Which doesn’t just look racist, but also like a WWE 2K20 glitch.
Myles continued his anger on social media, replying to a fan “THEY will learn to regret after this. I promise you..”
A post that some people accused of being racist in itself, because they interpreted the ‘THEY’ as being white people. But Myles clarified he just capitalised the word to add emphasis – implying he was talking directly about WWE.
Faced with a PR storm, WWE issued a statement to PWInsider about the allegations:
“Albert Hardie Jr. (aka Jordan Myles) approved this t-shirt for sale. As always, we work collaboratively with all of our performers to develop logos and merchandise designs and get their input and approval before proceeding. This was the same process with Albert, and we responded swiftly once he later requested that the logo/t-shirt be redesigned. No t-shirts were sold.”
Wrestling journalist David Bixenspan asked Myles about this directly:
“from a little quick research they released and then replaced the problematic design last month…did you not know about this until now?”
To which Myles replied:
“I’ve used this shirt as fuel. I knew the shirt existed and my soul hasn’t been able to rest properly since I’ve laid eyes on it. My voice will be heard… my true opinion will be heard.. and MY PEOPLE will have their moment.”
It’s a very sensitive topic, but design misunderstandings happen all the time. You’ll be looking at something for so long, you can lose sight of any other interpretations. As the WWE statement claims, the t-shirt was never sold, and they took Myles’ feedback when he pointed out the logo’s negative connotations “swiftly”. Remember this is the same company that put out a pay-per-view logo that was a cock and flaming balls – which they quickly changed when everyone started pointing that out.
But Myles argues that this design got as far as it did is symptomatic of lacking diversity amongst employees and an unconscious bias in WWE’s company culture.
“Because THEY are blind and stuck in their ways. THEY don’t see the disrespect in producing a design that screams racism against African Americans. THEY have been blinded for years and THEY NEED A REPROGRAMMING BECAUSE THEY ARE IGNORANT!”
“Does it matter if the shirt was replace? The FACT that they even made the first one overshadows anything till WE get what we deserve.”
It’s very strong words from Myles against WWE, a company where people who say stuff privately backstage get buried for months on end, let alone those who come out publicly and accuse management of racism. It’ll be interesting to see how Myles is presented in NXT going forward, because I don’t think this one’s a work, brother. Can I say ‘brother’ there? I was quoting Hulk Hogan! Oh god, that’s even worse!
What are your thoughts on the Jordan Myles t-shirt design? Let me know in the comments down below because I’ll be replying trying to moderate the responses from outta a place of sensitivity and respect!
But it might not just be WWE’s racial sensitivity that’s allegedly broken…
Segway from a very culturally delicate issue into something that’s nowhere near as serious!
After making themselves one of the hottest wrestling acts in the world with Matt’s Broken Universe gimmick, the Hardy Boyz made their return to WWE at 2017’s WrestleMania 33… with their Team Xtreme gimmick nearly a decade out of date.
The nostalgia pop ran dry pretty quickly, leaving Matt to do a new version of his Broken character – Woken Matt Hardy – that never fully took off because of either WWE never properly getting behind it, or it never being a mainstream gimmick in the first place.
Matt teased retirement due to injury last Summer, but made his live event comeback in February this year. His last match was in the 51-man Battle Royal at June’s Super Showdown though, and he’s just been making YouTube videos since.
The latest being episode 1 of his new series ‘Free The Delete’. Sound familiar?
The episode opens on Senor Benjamin burying Matt dressed in his Team Xtreme attire. Which he then breaks out of as his Broken Matt character – before it’s revealed it was just a dream. The video description has this synopsis of the upcoming series:
“which follows Matt Hardy’s journey to recapture his #BROKENBrilliance. Finding himself somewhere in limbo between mankind and the multiverse, Matt must embark on a mission to #FreeTheDELETE and PROCURE his true DESTINY.”
‘Free The Delete’ is an obvious play on the Young Bucks’ YouTube series ‘Being the Elite’. And it was the Bucks who the Hardys feuded with in their last match before returning to WWE – an epic ladder war at ROH’s Supercard of Honor XI.
While the Hardy Boyz’ two year deal was up in April 2019, PWInsider report that WWE activated a clause that saw it roll on for another year – meaning both brothers could play AEW and WWE off each other for the next six months while they decide their next move.
Speaking of gimmick changes!
I hope you can all see that we’re really trying to take WrestleTalk back to what made you all love it over the last week. We’ve already brought back the ‘In About 4 Minutes’ reviews and shorter news episodes, and stopped posting website articles on the Community tab. But why stop there?!
I’ll be hosting a livestream later today to get all your suggestions on what you want to see WrestleTalk do, and how we can take over the wrestling YouTube world! Sorry, sorry… totally went evil again. I mean make the best possible content for you, the fans.
So go watch that and have a chat with me about what you want to see, and if you don’t manage to make the livestream, give it a watch anyway and leave your comments, as I’ll be checking in back there throughout the week.
One of the segments we’ve already brought back is Crap Gimmick Wrestling – where you submit terrible ideas for wrestling characters, and we ‘sign’ the best worst ones to our Crap Gimmick roster. And now it’s even better, because we have the supremely talented WrestleTalk fan Lewis Tillett turning the winners into actual characters!
So well done to Chris Smith, who’s Rex Rocket gimmick is now All Crap!
From ‘right here, on planet Earth’, Rex Rocket is a high flying babyface luchador, left behind on a mission to Mars and presumed dead, but managing to survive by wrestling Martians and stealing a ship to escape. Now back on Earth he wants to test his new wrestling skills against the Crap Gimmick roster.
Follow Crap Gimmicks on Twitter, and also support Lewis on Patreon by clicking the CGW link in the video description below! Join in the WrestleTalk Q&A by clicking the video on the right! And Watch us react to the craziest WWE 2K20 glitches and funny moments by clicking the video just below that. I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.