Uhaa Nation is WWE bound, at least he was the last I heard. Once he’s finished up his scheduled indie dates, he’ll be on his way to the wonderful(?) world of WWE. That prospect has me equal parts super happy and excited, and terribly worried for the twenty-seven year old Uhaa Nation.
You’ve probably noticed this by now if you’ve seen Uhaa wrestle over the last five years or so in places like Dragon Gate in Japan and Evolve, Uhaa is a big guy. Like Bobby Lashley/Brock Lesnar/Brian Cage big. Yet, he somehow moves around like a jr. heavyweight the likes of Flamita or Kota Ibushi. Well, maybe he doesn’t move THAT well, but very close. You may also have noticed that he’s very charismatic and comes across as an extremely likeable person. He recently competed in his final Dragon Gate match before heading to the Fed against DG champion BxB Hulk. After the match, Dragon Gate held a Graduation Ceremony for Uhaa with pretty much every single member of the DG roster coming out to the ring to say their farewells. It was one of the most emotional, heartwarming moments in wrestling I’ve ever witnessed. It also speaks volumes of Uhaa that so many of his peers were so happy for him as he moves on to bigger and hopefully better things, but also deeply saddened to see him go. To summate, he’s got the perfect WWE look, in that he’s tall and has all the big muscles. He’s young and charismatic. And as a bonus, he can actually wrestle, whether he’s bringing the power game or the high-flying. There are never any guarantees, but Uhaa Nation’s chances of success in the WWE look very good, and that is why I’m very happy for him and his move to the “Big Leagues”.
Oh, wait. There’s just one thing. It a very subtle point and I don’t blame you if you’ve never even noticed it before. It’s very easy to miss. The thing about Uhaa Nation is…he’s black! Shocking, right? I know. You see, the world of wrestling outside of the WWE is actually filled with people of varying backgrounds and ethnicities. What’s more, those backgrounds and ethnicities have almost no bearing on the person’s success in wrestling. You can be white, black, Japanese, North American, South American, you name it, and you can still have success in pro wrestling. Outside of the WWE, particularly on the indies, skin colour and ethnicity is a non-issue. What’s important is being good at pro wrestling and having the ability to entertain and connect with the audience. Shinsuke Nakamura can do that, and he’s Japanese. So can Flamita, and he’s Mexican. You know who else is a great wrestler, knows how to be entertaining, and can connect with fans? Uhaa Nation, and he’s black!
Photo: Uhaa Nation not being white
I’m not saying everyone in the WWE is white. I’m not blind. They’ve got their Japanese quota filled with Hideo Itami, and their non-white quota with R-Truth and the New Day Gang. They’ve also got their Mexican quota filled with Kalisto and Sin Cara El Segundo. Clearly WWE really is a worldwide company. I mean, look at how diverse their roster is. The problem is that while they do have these great talents, for the most part (Titus O’Neil?), from various backgrounds and ethnicities, the way they are used ranges from terribly to not at all. Case in point, let’s take a look at some black WWE Superstars past and present and how they were/are represented:
- The Junkyard Dog – A “dog” who lived in a junkyard, and danced. Also a favourite of mine as a kid.
- Virgil – Slave
- The Boogeyman – Worm Assassin
- Bobby Lashley – I guess he did alright for a while. He got to hang out with Donald Trump’s hair. But wasn’t he released for being injured?
- Cryme Tyme – Two thieves who can’t spell crime or time correctly.
- R-Truth – Has performed the same rap song for over eighty years. And dances.
- The Prime Time Players – Actually, I don’t think they’ve done anything overly offensive. Unless, you class Titus O’Neil’s wrestling s offensive. I guess WWE did silence Darren Young when he spoke out about WWE touring in the Middle East. And they do have a dance, of course.
- The New Day – I don’t even know. They clap and smile.
And to hammer the point home, let’s take a quick look at the black Superstars being featured in WrestleMania Play Button this year:
- The New Day: Pre-show.
- Prime Time Players: Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal number fillers.
- R-Truth: Despite having done absolutely nothing for quite some time, he’s resurfaced as the guy who constantly steals the IC title (I actually don’t mind it when guys steal titles. It’s fun! But not when “steals title” is their only defining trait). As a result he’s been inserted into the multi-man IC Title Ladder Match.
Wow! With so many well-defined black Superstars on the Mania card, just who am I going to cheer for?
Do you notice a pattern? This is the part that has me terribly worried for Uhaa Nation. WWE’s track record when it comes to representing black professional wrestlers is fairly atrocious to say the least. I sure hope he’s a good dancer
WWE’s big thing is that they’re not just about wrestling matches. They’re about characters and stories. They’re a weekly episodic TV program that is supposed to keep you coming back each week because you want to know what’s going to happen with your favourite character(s). And that’s great, in theory. Wrestling shouldn’t just be about the matches. Intriguing, entertaining characters and intelligent, engaging stories are what I love about pro wrestling. Of course I love the athleticism and the “sport” side of it too, but without good storytelling and build, the matches are nothing. Why is WWE so bad at telling stories and creating interesting characters with their two-hundred or so creative writers is beyond me. Maybe they need more writers? And more to the point, why are they especially bad at writing for black professional wrestlers?
Despite all of this, I still have hope for Uhaa Nation. Sometimes, even in the WWE, the cream rises to the top. Daniel Bryan defied the odds and made it to the top, albeit ever so briefly. He did so almost solely on his tremendous talent and his ability to connect with the fans. If Uhaa Nation is going to reach any kind of level of success in the WWE, he will probably have to be prepared to do the same thing because I frankly doubt he’s going to get any help from the WWE Machine. And if anyone can make it in the WWE on talent and charisma alone, it’s Uhaa Nation. In fact, it may just be “Too Easy!”
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