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Lashley's Championship Raises Questions.

Lashley's only the third black WWE Champion

By Jason Ray Morton Published 3 years ago 5 min read
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Wrestling fans around the world know that the WWE Championship represents the top prize in the entire industry known as sports entertainment. Throughout the years there've been other companies come and go. The biggest competitors in the industry have arguably been the defunct World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and the fairly new All Elite Wrestling that continues to make a name for itself acquiring high-dollar talent. World Wrestling Entertainment has been the pinnacle of sports entertainment for the past thirty years. Evolving from a smaller, regional, promotion and being helmed by Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the companies evolution to a billion-dollar business has been a true American success story. It did not happen perfectly, however. Until I heard someone mention it, I hadn't thought about this for a long time, but the WWE/WWF World Heavyweight Championship has only been held by three black performers in history.

Since the 1960's when Buddy Rogers was crowned as the then, World Wrestling Federation Champion, the company has had numerous main event stars rise to the rank of World Heavyweight Champion. Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Rick Flair, The Undertaker, Andre the Giant, and others dominated the squared circle in the eighties and mid-nineties. Brett Hart, Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and others dominated the late nineties to the 2000s. Each generation had their champions that held impressive reigns as the champ that were measured in years and others held their titles as short a time as a few hours.

Over that time watching wrestling, and I've often wondered about this little fact, few African Americans have held the prestigious title in the WWF/WWE. Men like Olympian Mark Henry, Booker T, Ron Simmons, and Ron "The Truth" Killings, have been world champions in other companies or held the former WCW Championship in the WWE/WWF eras. It's well known that even during the era of the Worlds Heavyweight Championship existing in the WWE/WWF, it was considered by many as a lesser title or filler title, brought out of mothballs during an episode of Monday Night Raw, as the WWE/WWF Heavyweight Title became exclusive to the Smackdown brand. After all, when Vince expanded to running two shows a week and split into two separate brands, both brands needed a title to compete over.

People may or may not know that the first black WWE/WWF Heavyweight Champion is Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne Johnson or the Rock has been around to wrestling fans since the mid-1990s era when he debuted as Rocky Maivia. The Rock, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, proved to be far too good a worker in the ring and on the mic for him to stay as a mid-card competitor in McMahon's promotion. After entertaining feuds with HHH and Stone Cold Steve Austin the Rock went on to become the first black WWF Heavyweight Champion and it took over a decade for the WWE boss and CEO to chose another black wrestler to be the face of the company.

Kofi Kingston signed with WWE in 2006 to a developmental contract and made his debut in 2008. Starting as a "Jamaican" themed performer Kofi originally premiered with a Jamaican accent. Kofi, like the Rock, turned out to be an incredibly gifted performer and someone that spent the majority of his career in the mid-card ranks, even though he racked up an impressive career list of accomplishments including 22 championship reigns. Kofi formed the faction, The New Day, and the trio turned into a tag team phenomenon, putting together an impressive title reign of over four hundred days and an overall 11 title reigns as world tag team champions. At Wrestlemania 35 Kofi went on to live out every wrestler's dream and became the WWE Heavyweight Champion, becoming only the second black man to hold the industry's richest prize.

A couple of weeks ago it happened again when the veteran of the armed services, and veteran of the ring, 44yr-old wrestler, Bobby Lashley, finally won the WWE Heavyweight Title from the Miz. Bobby, who debuted in 2005, became the United States Champion, and two-time ECW Champion and competed on behalf of Donald Trump in the battle of the billionaires, hair vs hair match. Unfortunately, Lashley did win the match and Donald Trump's ridiculous hair was saved while Vince McMahon had his head shaved at Wrestlemania 23. Lashley soon left WWE and went on to compete in mixed martial arts, Total Non-Stop Action, a struggling wrestling company started by Jeff Jarrett. Lashley went on to become a seven-time world champion in professional wrestling.

As we enter into the new era of American life, it's easy to say it isn't a thing, but looking back at WWE history I have to admit it appears they weren't fond of having African Americans as the face of the company. Ron Simmons went on to wrestle for the WWF/WWE and was inducted into the hall of fame. Mark Henry, an Olympic Medalist, held virtually every belt except the WWE Title during his time. Booker T, who was a stellar star in the defunct WCW held every title except for the WWE Title, and Ron The Truth Killings or R-Truth has never held a major top guy title, even though he's worked the majority of twenty years for the company.

Bobby Lashley's title reign may be one of the most important in the companies history. It comes at a time where inclusion and representation in the different industry's have risen to the surface of our changing cultures. Even more importantly, it was about dammed time. When it comes to wrestler, Bobby Lashley is a military veteran with a work ethic that's arguably second to none. He's got the physique, the athleticism, and the tools needed to succeed. He dresses like a wall street tycoon, is charismatic and photogenic. Bobby Lashley is a man everybody has seen as being the face of WWE for a long time. Now, Vince has finally caught up with what the fans saw in Lashley.

When I look at all the men over the years that I cheered for, I'm glad to see Lashley hit the big time and have hope for some of the others that I've honestly felt were being held down by the WWE boss. For me, it wasn't a cultural issue until I took a look at the history. Hopefully, the Lashley era will start the change that is long overdue.

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About the Creator

Jason Ray Morton

I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.

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