Black Wrestling in WWE

Jun 22, 2024 | Features

In my book, we just crossed the summer solstice, marking the middle of 2024. It’s time to take a look at the state of Black wrestling in WWE. Why? Because I love wrestling. I religiously watch WWE Raw and Smackdown, follow the rumors, and ramble about booking decisions. I read a post on Cagesideseats about MVP’s campaign to bring back The Hurt Business, which was shot down by former wrestler and Chief Creative Officer HHH. MVP insinuated that the group’s demise and lack of return were racially motivated. A fan commented, “The Triple H era is emasculating black men. I’m really hating it.”

Is Black Wrestling broken in WWE?

That comment struck me. Are they emasculating Black men in this new “Renaissance Era”? I couldn’t pinpoint a specific example, so I decided to take stock of the current Black Male roster of WWE and see where they are based on booking decisions over the past six months. Maybe by the end, we will have a clearer picture of the state of Black Male Wrestling in WWE.

Carmelo Hayes

Let’s start with Smackdown’s #1 draft pick from NXT this year. Since the WWE Draft, Hayes has been featured prominently on Smackdown weekly, with a few wins to call his own. He continues to grow and is consistently put in positions to maximize his time on the mic and in the ring. His matches have been great, tussling with legends like Randy Orton and doing toe-to-toe with LA Knight on the mic. He still has a long road ahead of him. He just earned a spot in this year’s Money In The Bank so it’s looking up for Hayes.

Apollo Crew

Oh, Apollo. This man cannot catch a break. Apollo is a gifted wrestler and performer who falls way short of his potential. He’s been a losing loser who loses with no upside in sight. He put over Andrade in both Raw and Smackdown debuts this year, got jumped by Santos and Legado Del Fantasma before a match for god knows what reason, and is usually seen in backstage segments in what I can only assume is catering. Apollo needs an advocate backstage. The man needs a gimmick and a motivation because right now, he’s buried under terrible booking.

Ashante Adonis & Cedric Alexander

This makeshift duo exists, yet I have not seen them do anything besides a fashion-focused vignette announcing their partnership. I believe they wrestle on house shows and whatever pre-Smackdown tapings are happening. The team has yet to debut on the main roster, so there is no booking to speak of. They were shown and mentioned at Clash of the Castle, along with another M.I.A team Pretty Deadly. To what end remains to be seen? Currently, these two are treated the same as they always have been. Poorly.

Bobby Lashley

Lashley is an anomaly. While he’s a key player on the roster, he is a rudderless ship in choppy waters. His partnership with The Street Profits remains fruitless, as the trio continues their 50/50 booking, gaining zero ground towards singles or tag team gold. Bobby’s character work remains confusing as he flip-flops between heel and face, not giving the fans the best of either world. He’s currently injured and off TV, leaving the Street Profits to fend for themselves. Speaking of which…

Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once tag team champion contenders, the Street Profits are now fodder for The Bloodline and a team booked to put over current champs. This duo has done the post-mania job of putting over the newly crowned champs two years in a row. First, losing to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owns after their historic win at Wrestlemania 39. A full year later, they took the L against newly crowned WWE Tag Champs Austin Theory and Grayson Waller. Entertaining as all hell, The Street Profits are caught in limbo, being too good to be jobbers and not booked well enough to be champs.

Odyssey Jones

Who?

R-Truth

Truth continues to carve his uniquely undeniable path through the history books. R-Truth is an enigma, making the best of every situation he is given. Relegated to a comedy act, Ron continues to shine in every segment he’s given, maximizing his minutes to the umpteenth power. He finally got his Wrestlemania moment, winning the World Tag Team titles with Miz at Mania 40. Since then, he’s been doing his job, making people laugh and defending his gold. You can’t ask for much more.

The New Day: Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods

Touted as one of the greatest teams in WWE history, The New Day continues to shine whenever they can. Currently locked in an angle with Karrion Kross and his band of angry theater kids, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, put in the work. They have taken a backseat to many new teams and stars, doing the job for new guys like Ludwig Kaiser, GUNTHER, DIY, and more.

Xavier Woods Cont.

I will call out Xavier Wood’s booking for a moment. I think that man is grossly misused and consistently overlooked. His entire career has revolved around making his teammates look good. A career support character. When he was given the opportunity to become King of the Ring, his crown, music (his first solo theme, mind you), and the title of King was stripped away from him unceremoniously. Everyone rightfully calls out the burial of Kofi’s championship reign by Brock and Vince, but you rarely hear about Wood and his glass ceiling. Big E and Kofi were bestowed singles gold, while Xavier holds his trombone, waiting for an opportunity. It doesn’t look like that opportunity will ever come, so allow me a moment to acknowledge King Woods. We see you.

Trick Williams

Right now Trick is on top. He’s holding gold and leading the NXT roster. I must admit, I don’t watch NXT, but every clip I see of it revolves around Trick (or the TNA collaboration). The man is over, has a mouthpiece in Booker T, and continues to grow as a performer.

Wes Lee

Lee returned and was immediately put into a program with the monsterous North American Champ, Oba Femi. Wes was always an incredible NA champ so it makes sense he’s back in that race. I watched his triple threat at Battlegrounds and Lee hasn’t lost a step. I’m sure he’s poised for another NA run, if he can “David & Goliath” he way to victory

Oba Femi

This guy came out of nowhere and impressed the hell out of everyone. So much so they wrapped that tile around his thick waist, making him the first Next In Line grad to win gold in WWE. He’s fast, strong, and dominant. His triple threat against Joe Coffey and Wes Lee was a banger and I see nothing but success in his future.

Black Wrestling Assessment

That is certainly not every male Black wrestler on the roster (there are numerous in NXT) but those are the ones I am most familiar with / in programs at the moment. I wouldn’t say their booking is emasculating. I would call it lacking across the board. While NXT gold is dominated by strong Black competitors, The Culture on the main roster is struggling on the wins front.

Teams like Street Profits nd New Day are languishing in a sea of losses while Apollo Crews continues to be mishandled and fed to folks.

Who deserves an immediate push?

Xavier Woods: I had my rant above and I will continue it here. Woods needs a fresh start. That may be the demise or at least halting of the New Day train. The group hasn’t been the same since Big E hand to exit the ring. As a tag team they feel incomplete. It could be time to reinvent the former King of the Ring and pick up the Sami Zayn underdog persona on a bid to grab singles gold, finally. Xavier Woods is capable, knowledgable, and strong. If nothing else, get that man in a program that connects him with fans and lets him show off his myriad of skills.