Monday, June 4, 2012

Do you guys remember back when Ezekiel Jackson won the ECW title? The thought (hope?) two years ago was that we'd be seeing a new phase for the WWE, where the title scene wasn't so whitewashed, or at least it wasn't so one-sided. Now, it's not to say that we're not still seeing the same guys winning the belts, as we can't escape that, but has the WWE really tried to push Black men as legitimate title contenders? The immediate thought is a big, fat NO. When you peer a bit deeper, the Black man is definitely being thrown bones, but on the grand scheme of things, are we closer than we were two years ago?

It's an interesting thing, the way WWE Creative books. We've seen a guy like Mark Henry have an amazing year, which included one of the more dominant title reigns as of late. Once they let him fly and use his imposing figure and surprising knack for being equally as menacing during promos, I had to wonder why he had been held back for as many years as they did. R-Truth turned heel and has been using this line-towing comedy gimmick, and many forget that it was his return match with Cena last summer on Raw that laid the scene for CM Punk to being his latest push. He wasn't picked by ANYONE to win it, but still, it was something different and with the right direction? It could've been bigger than it was. And while Truth and Kofi are currently holding the WWE World Tag Team Titles, would you truly consider either of them for world title reigns? Hell, Kofi had the US title and had some great matches with Dolph Ziggler, but outside of opening many WWE PPVs and having solid matches on Raw, Kofi's been stuck in tag team limbo for the better part of the last 12 months.

The best part is, the WWE currently has a decent amount of Black wrestlers on the active roster. We've seen Darren Young before, on NXT and with the initial Nexus run, but this current push with Titus O'Neil "feels" different. They already have their MILLIONS OF DOLLARS thing going on, and they got featured as henchmen for John Laurinaitis on Raw. Does this mean they'll be challenging Kofi & Truth for the Tag Titles? I truthfully don't see that happening, which would then make this all for naught. What's the point of debuting a new tag team when you've got a definite NEED for rich, new tag teams but not have them actually work together, or at least work towards something? You can already smell it - these two will break up/drift apart eventually, to wallow on squash matches on Smackdown/longer matches on Superstars. This would be great if this was the old WWE booking model, but if you're not considered a "superstar" by the fans (not Creative), you're two months of nonexistence on TV before being future endeavored.

And don't get me started on the Divas division. Sure, Layla is the current WWE Divas Champion, but who is looking at her as a viable leader within that division? Two, three title defenses in, and you've got heads questioning if she is really ready, or why Beth is challenging her instead of someone else. The only good out of this is that everyone is waiting for Kharma to return and have a run with Beth Phoenix. I can tell you one thing - no one is looking for Alicia Fox anytime soon.

One of the only superstars on the WWE roster currently making moves in David Otunga, although most of his work has been of the comedic sort. From his oversized-coat intro and the constant coffee cup in hand, Otunga's a definite character, but he lacks a LOT in-ring. As we all saw, he has the charm and "it" factor the WWE is looking for, but without the ability to improve on his ring skills, be prepared to see him rocking bowties and sweater vests this summer. Same could be said for Ezekiel Jackson, who has the look that Vince loves but hasn't been able to capitalize on anything - and this includes an Intercontinental Title run last year. Big Zeke could easily have been their Ryback - a huge, unexperienced brut, beasting over the competition. How simple was that?

And I think that's the key, as it is with all pro wrestling booking and creative: simplicity. Sure, the storylines can be as complex as needed, but the actual character? Simple. We don't NEED to have Cryme Tyme 2012 (and judging by how JTG is being used, it looks like they're shying away from that). But booking a Black guy in a role shouldn't be that much different than booking a similarly talented/positions White wrestler. With the wealth of Black talent on the WWE roster, much of it still untapped to it's greatest potential, we can only hope that time will tell. And with Truth and Kofi holding the Tag Titles, Layla holding the Divas title (with Kharma potentially vying for that), we can only hope that some of these guys get enough of a push to one day chasing the World Heavyweight or WWE Title. Or at least an emphasis on the IC or US belts, and having them battle at length for either of those. It'll be that or their nightmare: guys like MVP or Shelton Benjamin, who have GREAT talent that they consider underutilized, moving onto other federations and having success. It's not WWE money, but I imagine the piece of mind is worth it's weight in gold.

Share some of your thoughts on the Black superstar's plight in the WWE in the comments section.

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