In The Black

By Korbid Thompson
Updated: February 18, 2005

Orlando Jordan
Orlando Jordan

NEW JERSEY—For a long time in professional wrestling, African-Americans have been used as stepping stones for other wrestlers that promoters wanted to push towards the top. While that has changed to some degree, in some other cases, it has not.

John Cena, who is currently the WWE United States champion, has had his popularity skyrocket in the past year. Using an urban, “thug-like” personna, Cena is over big with a lot of the WWE faithful, and that doesn’t appear to change at all in the near future. However, what also hasn’t changed is the fact that Booker T. will yet again be passed up for a shot at the WWE’s biggest prize, the WWE Championship, which will be contested at WrestleMania 21 on April 3rd.

During the most recent edition of SmackDown, Cena defeated Booker T. in a #1 contender’s tournament semi-final match to advancce to the finals at SmackDown’s next pay-per view, No Way Out. This comes after defeating fellow African-American Orlando Jordan a week earlier.

Yes, urban White wrestlers have hit the suburbs. Yes, they have replaced the Black wrestler to some degree. Is it fair? No. Is it reality? Absolutely. I don’t expect Orlando Jordan to get any title shot any time soon, but it seems to me that while Cena has talent, Booker has certainly paid enough dues to hold up the brass ring of sports entertainment, at least for a little while.

Is it that once The Rock became a household name, we are supposed to sit back down and shut up, as if the powers that be are telling us, “there’s your champion, what more do you want?” I may be sitting down, but as you can tell, I haven’t shut up quite yet. When I used to write for the defunct, and the also defunct Chair Shots radio show/website, a lot of the sentiment was headed in that direction. Probably still is. You know that, though? We know where the real talent is, and it’s not putting together good rhymes. It’s about wrestling. While Booker T. will not be associated with the likes of Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit(and nobody’s asking for that), he’s earned his stripes over Cena, and needs to be recognized for that with a world title. Well, who knows when that will be? Your guess is as good as mine.

Just a quick note on the WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies to take place on April 2nd, the night before WrestleMania XXI. Your inductees will include “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, Cowboy Bob Orton(father of current WWE wrestler Randy Orton), “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik, and last – but definitely not least, the one and only Rowdy Roddy Piper.

I’ll simply say this. Cowboy Bob Orton is not a Hall of Famer. He built his entire career around wearing a cast on his forearm. You need more than a gimmick to be among the immortals. Paul Orndorff is borderline, and Nikolai Volkoff is less than that. Although he was a tag team champion(along with the Iron Sheik) worth remembering, he’s still not a HOFer. As for the Sheik, he was a world champion, and of course, he will always be remebered as the guy who lost the title to Hulk Hogan on Januray 23, 1984. That alone should probably get him in. Jimmy Hart was one of the better managers of his era. He deserves it.

As for Roddy Piper, I have mixed feelings about this one. Piper revolutionized the way heel characters should be portrayed. He made a difference in this business. However, something that Bad News Brown said to me in a interview way back when sticks out at me. When Piper put on the half blackface for WrestleMania VI to face Brown, Bad News was not at all pleased with it, and saw it as a sign of disrespect that goes beyond the ring. A mixed bag where Piper is concerned. Then again, it always was.

Hopefully, next time we get to rap, it will be about WrestleMania 21. It’s that time of year already. Until then, peace..