Ring of Honor's Kenny King and Shane Taylor discuss the African American experience through their eyes in wrestling.
In 2019, Kofi Kingston became only the second Black WWE Champion history. As issues regarding racial tension continue to be a major talking point in society, Ring of Honor's Kenny King & Shane Taylor spoke with Forbes about elements of the black experience in wrestling that they feel need to change and whether or not they are territorial about other black professional wrestlers coming into promotions they are in and receiving opportunities when there is already a battle for airtime.
“When they first paired me and MVP together (in IMPACT Wrestling)—and that wasn't necessarily because it was a black talent—I just felt like, initially, I felt like our gimmicks and our styles were too similar to work together and it ended up being fantastic. But you know, it's just one of those things where I always, you know, when I see somebody trying out or I see somebody getting a look, I always mentor or at least open my arms because like I said, I know if you're there, I know what you went through,” said Kenny.
Taylor added, “I think it 100% depends on the individual person as to how they feel about it. A lot of that changes based on generation, and as we're seeing more and more, it seems some of the old-school cats kind of feel that way. Whereas myself and Kenny, you know, once I first got to ROH Kenny was one of the first people to pull me aside and say ‘You know what? Let me show you how to avoid these landmines and let me show you how to avoid this, this and that. One of the first ones to always come and offer advice or give you a foot in the behind if you need it. So it depends on the person.”
Both also spoke out about the frustration they have regarding stereotypical black gimmicks. Kenny King specifically used Triple H as an example of a professional wrestler who gets to live a gimmick based off of his abilities rather than cultural stereotypes.
“They write us as pimps or as shaman, bogeyman, all this other nonsense. Triple H gets to be The Game. He gets to be the cerebral assassin. He gets to be all of these things. The emotional attachment is what you need to believe in a world champion. So you have to care about someone's world, someone's well being, in order for you to get that push. It's all about how we're being represented and the people who are literally just kind of pulling the trigger.”
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