A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
‘In The Black’ Wrestling Reviews 2004
NEW JERSEY.—Well, another year is in the books, and it’s about that time to look back at some of the accomplishments of our African-American superstars of the squared circlein 2004. I’ll even throw in a mini-preview for the upcoming year of 2005 concerning a couple of WWE superstars in the biz.
I’ll start with Booker T. With Duane Johnson(The Rock) out of the picture – while doing motion pictures, Booker is now the premier Black wrestler in the game today. While his run at his first WWE Championship went unfulfilled, Booker has most recently had yet another successful tag team venture with Eddie Guerrero. Booker’s double-digit tag team title reigns should be the gold standard for any tag team wrestler. It’s a feat that goes highly underrated. Perhaps ‘05 is the year that Houston’s favorite son(please don’t say Roger Clemens) will wear the big strap.
Staying on Smackdown, Orlando Jordan has made quite a few strides since 2004 began. Almost 12 months ago, Jordan seemed to be a forgotten man, with regular stints on the WWE’s forgotten show, Velocity. Orlando is now at the side of current WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield, and the next big step for this young star is to step out on his own, and prove that he is for real. I’m not at all sure that next year will be that time, though. I would lean towards no on that one.
Two guys who are definitely missing in action are D-Von Dudley and Mark Henry. These two have MIA for pretty much the entire second half of 2004. You have to wonder exactly how much wrestling is left in either of these guys futures. Henry will be entering his 9th year in the business, having sustained quite a few injuries in the previous eight. D-Von is going on his 11th year, and the wreckage of his glory days in ECW has to take a toll on him at some point, if they haven’t already.
Switching to Raw, Shelton Benjamin has been the surprise of 2004. Winning the famed Intercontinental title has put his career to the next level. While it is still a relatively short list, the number of African-American IC champs is starting to grow, and Benjamin has the skills to be compared with any of them down the road. His “Monday Night Football”/”Desperate Housewives” parody with Trish Stratus not withstanding, Shelton Benjamin has arrived.
Now, I’ll have to admit to not knowing a whole lot about NWA-TNA’s “Alpha Male” Monty Brown, other than him being an ex-football player. I do know that Brown is currently similar to Booker T. in that he is right at the heart of the world title picture, and it’s now a matter of Brown breaking down the door. Something to keep a sharp eye on for 2005.
Finally, there’s Ron “The Truth” Killings. While Killings has had a couple of successful runs of being NWA-TNA Champion, it seems that those days are over. He has and will continue to run with the 3 Live Kru, which includes Hispanic partner Konnan, and “The Road Dogg” Jesse James. He won’t reach the tag team heights of a Booker T., but then again, who would?
Of course, people such as Jazz(hanging with husband Rodney Mack), Jacqueline(last seen beating Chavo Guerrero for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship), Ernest “The Cat” Miller, and New Jack(who reportedly was just released from jail) have not been around for whatever reason. Surely, somebody out of this group will surprise in the upcoming year. Hey, if Randy Savage can make a comeback(and he has), then there’s plenty of hope for this tandem.
Anyway, that’s my short story for the African-American wrestling community in 2004. Over the last 20 years, there have been strides, but of course, there are still many to be taken. From the days of Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson to the legendary Junkyard Dog, to where we are today, there is quite a bit to be proud of. Even the Vince McMahons of the world had to stand up and take notice that there are those who can carry the ball, and not have to be all about song and dance. I didn’t even go all the way back to the days of Bearcat Wright, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, although I certainly could have. In any event, there’s still quite a bit to do, and the talent is out there to get it done. While professional wrestling hasn’t(at least since the ‘80′s,) and will never be taken seriously by any mainstream media, there is a group of African-American wrestlers out there who can bring the sport one step closer to that goal. I’m definitely proud to be one who can see them work.
Happy New Year, and a prosperous 2005 to all. Peace…