Brief Comment on Racism in Wrestling Fandom

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  1. Note: This has mostly been phased out of his character by now, but John Cena debuted as the "Professor of Thuganomics", a character largely derided for his white-boy rapperisms. The traces of this are still heard in Cena's (awesome) theme music "My Time Is Now." One can hate a white boy rapper character for being racist appropriative nonsense in itself (it was), but back in the day before I even watched wrestling I remember people hating that character for the things about him that were coded as black. Cena has had much more success as a clean-cut, America-loving face who salutes the troops, the iteration of the character seen in his recent feud with Rusev. Note: This is the exact opposite character arc of Dwayne Johnson.
  2. I don't really explain this well enough in the tweet but seriously, on the right is the Nation of Domination. They're clearly a riff on the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, they do the Black Power sign in the ring (which was eventually incorporated into The Rock's signature ring pose), and they were consistently played as heels throughout their period of prominence.

    The Rock first got over by switching from his clean-cut Rocky Maivia persona (a notable feature of the character was his pride in his Samoan heritage) to being a member of the Nation of Domination, and playing an arrogant heel. People forget because he's so beloved now, but The Rock was first the wrestler that You Loved To Hate. Even Steve Austin, who consistently played an asshole, never really went through this.
  3. I make exceptions for Mexicans and Samoans because of the prominence in the early 2000's of Lucha performers like Rey Mysterio, but they are few and far between right now. The Rock is himself Samoan and a member of the Anoa'i family that has produced many, many famous Samoan wrestlers. (Including WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi, and . . . Roman Reigns.)

    A few things about this:

    1) None of them was ever a Heavyweight Championship contender in a national-level promotion until The Rock. Roman Reigns is a championship threat, but right now fans fucking hate him. This is especially notable since World Heavyweight belts can change hands incredibly quickly, allowing for title reigns of months or less, depending on the promotion. WCW became particularly infamous for title changes in it's final years, for example.

    2) Very few have gotten over by emphasizing their Samoan heritage. The Rock couldn't do it, and Roman Reigns is having a very hard time doing it right now.
  4. This is pretty simple. Roman Reigns does some badass superhero shit like a cocking his arm like a shotgun before a knockout punch, punching the ring like he's doing a god damn Akuma win pose, and he's got the best looking spear in the business. Daniel Bryan does . . . *shrug*
  5. Just sayin' y'all.
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