In 2023, the landscape of pro wrestling is vast and healthy. At the forefront of that success and innovation is the WWE, which is synonymous with the business and culture of pro wrestling.
Triple H is the man who was given the creative reigns of this product for the better part of the past year. There are now reports that he sits firmly in that seat, and I think creatively, it’s for the best.
I have been a fan of pro wrestling for the majority of my life. Coming up as a kid, I could literally count how many Black characters I’d see on one hand while watching. And if I were to account for those shown in a prominent light on the card, that number would significantly dwindle. This could be for a myriad of reasons. It could be that Black characters weren’t seen as marketable on a national level, so the average consumer may not have paid money for tickets with a Black act on top. It could’ve been that leadership in WWE didn’t think the Black talent they had possessed enough intangibles to be the face of the company. None of these reasons are things Black people haven’t heard before. In fact, this thought process is emblematic of how most businesses viewed Black talent in this country for decades.
Clearly, these philosophies are rooted in a country whose DNA is steeped in racial prejudice. Nearly all of this country’s legislation and culture upheld that influence. What that means is that even someone who is white and may not exactly “hate” Black people, can also find it normal to see them as inferior in a plethora of ways. Again, this isn’t only in the pro-wrestling business, but our culture as a whole.
Over the years in the world of entertainment, Black people have had to break barriers. In conjunction with that, our culture has smartened up. The people of this country have had access to the truth because of the internet’s growth and accessibility. With that, I think people’s mentalities are challenged and you begin to see that what you may have believed in the past, may not be so accurate after all. That shift I think we have seen is evident in movements like #OscarsSOWhite.
As pro-wrestling fans, we’ve been fortunate to witness this shift in real-time. We’ve gone from seeing the likes of Koko B. Ware, Bad News Brown and Ahmed Johnson on undercards, to seeing Kofi Kingston win the company’s biggest title. From that point, we continue to see the company’s talent pool evolve and become even more diverse. Under the creative direction of Triple H, we’re enjoying seeing the WWE’s women’s division featured in a more prominent role. Bianca Belair, Asuka and Piper Niven are a few characters who I feel exhibit the vast variance of the product these days. Even the recent signing of the extremely unique Jade Cargill further shows just how insistent the company is on bolstering and evolving its women’s division.
We’re also beginning to enjoy much more fluid storytelling under the direction of Triple H. He really blossomed in a period that fans have defined as the “attitude era” in WWE. It was, at the time, the most fiscally rewarding, and culturally relevant period for the company. There was an energy that permeated during the shows that was electric. It’s a feeling that was lost when the likes of The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin decided to hang it up. But it really has been Triple H, out here restoring the feeling.
He has been having success doing this, by defining characters a lot more. The action we see in the ring and out just makes more sense. There are callbacks and other content that reward the viewer. Much of these tenets had been lost in recent years. But I think the biggest proponent of the company’s success is the concerted effort to showcase a full spectrum of ethnicities, sexual orientations and physical builds in prominent positions.
Now more than ever, it feels like more talent can really get a fair opportunity to realize their full potential in the WWE. And that’s a product of the public keeping them honest and smartening them up. You can believe without equivocation, that true diversity, is best for business.