On New Year’s Eve, when everyone’s focus would normally be elsewhere — and if everything had gone according to plan, AEW fans would have been focused on the violent delights of Rampage’s Street Fight between Anna Jay & Tay Conti and Penelope Ford & The Bunny — much of the wrestling world was talking about Tony Khan’s Twitter response to Big Swole’s criticism of his company’s diversity.
It was a topic of discussion among some on the AEW roster, too. Lio Rush, who spoke out about related issues during his time at WWE, was the most obviously angered by Khan’s tweet. He doesn’t specify whether it was TK’s choice to only respond to part of Swole’s longer comment in a 256 character post that ended with a plug for a wrestling show, his decision as an employer to disparage a former employee’s skills after previously praising them — giving the appearance he was now retaliating for her critique, or some other aspect of the AEW head honcho’s tweet.
Im not cool with any of this shit to be honest.— Lio Rush (@IamLioRush) January 1, 2022
If nobody says something, then I will. Because this is fucked up and now I’m pissed.— Lio Rush (@IamLioRush) January 1, 2022
But it’s clear what he thinks TK should do at this point...
Ricky Starks didn’t post anything to indicate if it was related to Khan’s tweet, but his Twitter is now deactivated. Nyla Rose admitted to being unsure of how to respond, and opted to try to ensure excitement was high for Dec. 31’s Street Fight and the women who made it happen:
Truth is I really don’t know WHAT to say rn and my head is swimming…— Beyoncé Bloodlust (@NylaRoseBeast) January 1, 2022
But I’m BEGGING y’all not to punish the performers…especially @AllieWrestling @thePenelopeFord @TayConti_ and @annajay___ who absolutely gave it EVERYTHING tonight on #AEWRampage
Conti took a similar approach, but first did speak up for the company & her boss:
As y’all know I’m Latina & I know the struggles. I have an accent & cutting promo on National TV is not something that you see normally but AEW & TK makes me feel comfortable and not ashamed doing it #TayJay vs Bunny & Penelope start almost a YEAR AGO & it ends tonight. Watch US pic.twitter.com/iiO78YHWOn— TAYNARA MELO (@TayConti_) January 1, 2022
Without directly addressing the controversy around his tweet, Shawn Dean spoke up about his experience with AEW’s diversity efforts:
The things we are expecting can and will happen…Trust the process— Capt. Shawn Dean (@ShawnDean773) January 1, 2022
Something that Powerhouse Hobbs also did, before closing with a thought that could be directed at Swole, Khan, or both...
We’ll see if Khan choses to speak directly to the many responses to his tweet, or give a more thoughtful answer to the questions raised by Swole’s account of her experiences with AEW.