WWE champion Big E was a guest on the popular syndicated radio morning show The Breakfast Club this morning. E had a fun, interesting 30 minute conversation with hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God, and once again proved himself to be a great ambassador for his employers and the professional wrestling/sports entertainment business as a whole.
Check it out here.
Among the topics discussed were ones you don’t see covered on every mainstream interview with a WWE Superstar (unless you’re a woman who’s wrestled in Saudi Arabia), like racism within WWE, and the McMahon family’s political ties. It’s not surprising they would come up on the self-styled “world’s most dangerous morning show”, which routinely delves into culture & politics, including having most of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls on in the run-up to the 2020 election. But it’s interesting nonetheless, especially for how well Big E handled the questions - in my opinion, anyway.
Asked by Yee if he’s experienced racism at the company, E of course says no. But he does manage to address the frequent ethnic and racial stereotypes we see in pro wrestling, and how he and his contemporaries have succeeded in breaking them:
“No, honestly, I haven’t. I will say, I feel like, we’ve - as far as our representation on TV, we’re getting to where we need to be. It’s still always a work in progress... oftentimes, if there are issues, it would present themselves as people seeing you a certain way, and they want you to, as a character, ‘Oh, you’re a big Black man, this is the role you need to play.’ Our goal as The New Day was to start tearing down those boxes, so people don’t see performers - when they see a Black woman, they think she needs to be sister-necking and doing certain things. And I look at someone like Bianca [Belair]... but she’s so dope to me, because not only is she an incredible athlete, but she’s so authentic. What you see on screen is who she is off screen. I think we’re getting more of those kinds of Black characters on TV that are authentic, that feel like one of ones.”
Charlamagne asks the champ point blank about WWE’s donations to Donald Trump’s political machine (most evident in the fact the company’s former CEO, and wife of its current CEO & Chairman, Linda McMahon was a member of Trump’s cabinet until leaving to run his PAC). The question is about whether E gets “flak” for those ties, but he turns it into a discussion of how he approaches his job regardless of differences between his and his bosses’ view of the world:
“I don’t get flak for it. I guess I see myself as - I don’t want to say like ‘I’m light in an area of darkness,’ but I think sometimes you have to work from within. We all work for these massive systems, and there’s certain beliefs and views that I don’t necessarily agree with or feel, but I feel like my presence in WWE, I still feel like I can reach people, that I can motivate people, that I can still show like, ‘Hey, this is how I feel, this is how I see the world,’ and, yeah, so I still feel like, within the system there’s a lot of people - it’s a massive platform, and I don’t want to lose that.
“I haven’t necessarily asked, like, Vince about his political views, or donations, or whatnot. But there are things that I have wanted to do like - and, again, smaller gestures but things that matter to me. So after George Floyd [was killed], Kofi and I decided we needed to show people like, ‘Hey, we’re with you. We’re feeling the same pain you are. We’re crying the same tears.’ So I just went up to Vince and said, ‘Hey, we want to kneel and throw a fist up. And is that cool? I just want to run it by you.’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ There was no problem whatsoever, and that’s what we did.
“And again, I’m not saying we changed the world by any means, but a lot of things that I felt were important to me, this past year especially, and I feel like so many of us - George Floyd’s death was something that touched me in a way that no one... and I feel like it had a lot to do with the fact that I wasn’t jumping on a plane, I didn’t have all these distractions during the pandemic. I had to sit with this. We all had to sit with this.
“So there are things that I wanted to accomplish, that I want to do, and let - especially when you see these Black kids at shows. And obviously we’re here to entertain kids from all backgrounds and ethnicities, but there’s just something to - you can look out and see a young Black girl or boy, and they remind you of yourself, or they remind you of like my sisters when I was young. And that means a lot to me, to let them know, just because we are on TV, or just because we have money, or fame, or whatever it is, that doesn’t make us above feeling the way that you feel. I’m hurting like you hurt. I’m talking to my Black friends, we’re talking about being stopped by police when we were younger, we’re talking about these same things, having these same conversations, shedding these same tears. And that’s been important for us.”
It’s a reality many of us face, be it with employers, co-workers, or even family members. E’s approach of looking for the positive rather than dwelling on the negative - proving once again how authentic New Day really are - is the best thing many of us have come up with. It won’t be a satisfactory answer for everyone, but there are precious few of those on any topic.
What E does do is acknowledge that differences exist, which is one of the reasons many fans from many backgrounds, experiences and cultures identify with him. He also manages to handle the situation without slamming WWE, which is one of the reasons they should continue to use him as a face of the company.
Let us know what you think, and watch E’s entire interview with The Breakfast Club here.