Alright, let’s go ahead and state the obvious and get it out the way: pro wrestling is racist. There I said it.
If you need proof, look at 80% of the angles from the 1980s. Here’s a specific one: Sgt. Slaughter’s whole gimmick was that he was a former Marine and wanted the smoke with The Iron Sheik simply because Sheik was from The Middle East.
Need more convincing? Never forget that Vincent Kennedy McMahon once said “What’s up my nigga” to John Cena on live TV, with Booker T standing ten feet away and thought it was funny. Speaking of Booker T, let’s not forget the moment he deserved at Wrestlemania.
I say that: for as racist as wrestling and Vince McMahon and the WWE have been, Black athletes have still found a way to succeed and become stars and legends.
When you start thinking about all of the great Black wrestlers, some names will always come to mind first. The Rock, Mark Henry, Booker T, Junkyard Dog, Koko B. Ware, “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, Ernie Ladd, and the late Butch Reed are some of the more notable names. Names like Kofi Kingston, Shelton Benjamin, and R-Truth are ones that may find their way onto that list of greats in time. However, there’s a name that seemingly doesn’t come up that often or at all.
That name is none of than Ron Simmons.
The passing of Butch Reed coupled with the newest WWE Untold made me realize exactly how big an influence Ron Simmons has had on Black professional wrestlers and their views. That’s right, Ron Simmons is the great of all time when it comes to Black wrestlers.
Many people are probably wondering how I can sit here and say that a man who is best known to most as a meme is the GOAT? Simple check the numbers and the history. In the words of Sean Carter, “Women lie. Men lie. Numbers don’t.”
Let’s look at Ron Simmons’ pre-WWE days for a moment. Paired with Butch Reed and Teddy Long, Simmons managed to set the bar for tag team wrestling when Crockett Promotions and WCW had stacked tag divisions that included The Fabulous Freebirds, Steiner Brothers, and The Four Horsemen. Doom had only a two-year run as a tag team, but they proved that they could wrestle any style of match against anybody and could even do it while wearing a mask.
Arguably the most crucial thing on Simmons’ resume is that he became the first recognized Black world champion when he pinned Vader in 1992. Think about it, when Simmons won the title in 1992, the belt had been around for over 40 years (it spun off from the NWA World Title), and not one Black wrestler was recognized as champion. Simmons wasn’t just a flash in the pan champion as he held onto the belt for close to half a year.
We all know Ron Simmons in WWE as the guy that would pop up randomly to say “Damn!” and then walk off. However, there’s much more to him than that. Simmons, known as Faarooq, was the leader of the greatest face faction ever, The Nation of Domination. As the leader of a pro-Black, militant group Simmons was seen as a key player in the upper midcard feuding with the likes of Steve Austin and Owen Hart. Faarooq also played a pivotal role in getting the likes of Mark Henry, D-Lo Brown, and The Rock over as viable options and future main event players.
Faarooq also helped reinvigorate Bradshaw’s career, who was sitting in no man’s land, when the duo formed the Acolytes and later became the APA. As the APA, the pair became the protection for the everyday man. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for the right price, nor was there anyone or anywhere they wouldn’t fight.
It’s clear that throughout a career that spanned over four decades, there has not been a Black wrestler that has had a more considerable impact on the business. In comparison, others may have more titles, accolades, and success inside the ring. There isn’t another wrestler who can lay claim to have made as much history in many ways while always finding a way to give back to the business and help establish the next generation of Black wrestlers. When you think of Ron Simmons, there should be two things that come to mind now: he’s the GOAT when it comes to Black wrestlers, and well...