WWE has frequently been called out through the years for the allegedly offensive gimmicks and storylines it has given to its wrestlers of color. The latest such accusations came over the weekend when NXT superstar Jordan Myles — formerly known in the independent wrestling scene as ACH — fired off a series of tweets claiming that WWE invoked racial stereotypes when designing what was supposed to be an official T-shirt.
As cited by WrestlingNews.co, Myles took to Twitter on Sunday, saying that WWE will "regret" the design it chose for the wrestler's T-shirt — a black tee with the wrestler's name in white text on a red, smile-shaped background. Separately, Pro Wrestling Sheet noted that the design appeared reminiscent of "racist" portrayals of African Americans from years past, including Sambo dolls and the use of blackface in minstrel shows.
"Does it matter if the shirt was replace? The FACT that they even made the first one overshadows anything till WE get what we deserve," Myles tweeted, per WrestlingNews.co.
"I will keep posting this till my voice is heard. I'm not sorry for anything I say or do.As quoted by Pro Wrestling Sheet, WWE issued a statement in response to Myles' allegations, suggesting that the NXT star, whose real name is Albert Christian Hardie Jr., initially approved the controversial T-shirt. The company added that Myles did as its other wrestlers are required to do — work closely with WWE to develop logos and designs for merchandise and have the final word on whether an item shall be sold or not.
"Representation is important.
"If this is @VinceMcMahon & @TripleH 'vision' of me then this is a slap in the face to EVERY African American performer, fan, and supporter."
"This was the same process with Albert, and we responded swiftly once he later requested that the logo/t-shirt be redesigned."WWE concluded its statement by stressing that no T-shirts with the offending design were sold. Per Pro Wrestling Sheet, Myles' new shirt on the company's online store is reminiscent of the Space Jam logo.
Although numerous African American performers, including The New Day, Bobby Lashley, Sasha Banks, and The Street Profits, have benefited from significant pushes during their time with WWE, the company still faces criticism over its handling of black wrestlers and other on-air characters.
In a 2014 report, The Atlantic observed how Bulgarian wrestler Rusev easily defeated a number of African Americans — including future New Day members Big E and Xavier Woods — during his initial winning streak on the main roster. Among other examples, the outlet added later on that former WWE tag team Cryme Tyme (JTG and Shad Gaspard) were made to portray gang member stereotypes for laughs during their time with the company.