WWE's 15 Most Nearly Racist Moments in History (With Video)
Let's not pretend like there isn't racism all around us. Depending on what one specific person finds offensive and not offensive, there are varying levels of racism in society today. WWE is no different than that. While many gimmicks are built around race and others are simple mockeries or parodies of ideas, some gimmicks are just plain racist. They could be fun or just blatant rips at entire races of people.
Either way, they all make you feel a little uneasy inside and question if you are supposed to be enjoying this.
A lot of the world is becoming aware of racism in sports and the media has been responsible for a lot of it. The Jeremy Lin saga is just the latest example of a person's race becoming a big part of their story. It is also still Black History Month, only adding the eggshells that need to be sidestepped so as to not offend any specific race or background.
WWE is just as guilty in saying a dumb thing or making a dumb move associated with race. Ranging from "that's sort of funny" to "are they allowed to do that?", here are 15 moments that could be deemed racist by many people.
WWE Spoofs "Controversial" MNF Opening
Forget about WCW for a few minutes. The real major rival of WWE Raw every week in the fall was Monday Night Football. The classic pop culture staple featured a flirty Nicolette Sheridan, clothed with only a bath towel, speaking to Terrell Owens, a member of the Philadelphia Eagles at that time. The two embraced, sending the program into a spin cycle of publicity. How could a man and a woman of two different races be so sexual with kids watching?
Even WWE saw this as ridiculous and sought to spoof the idea the following week in order to open Raw. The spoof featured Shelton Benjamin and Trish Stratus. Meanwhile, this spoof included Vince McMahon showing up. McMahon would share some of the obvious facts we discussed and eventually sent it over to begin the broadcast.
Kerwin White was one of those gimmicks that would either work amazingly or would just be awful and a waste of time. To some people, it is both. For Chavo Guerrero, it was one of those short-lived bad ideas. Always wrestling with the pride of his last name, Chavo allowed himself to get repackaged into White, a man that has converted into being Caucasian.
Apparently, all it takes to be white are sweater vests, Frank Sinatra music, blond hair and a desire to play golf. I am white and I don't have most of those things. Thankfully, this would not be Chavo's gimmick for too long. Unfortunately, the thing that kicked this gimmick to the curb was the shocking death of Eddie Guerrero.
Cryme Tyme Starts a Dancing Circle
Do I know what pay-per-view this is? No. Does it even matter? Not even a little bit. All that we know and all that matters is that Vince McMahon was backstage with Teddy Long, Jonathan Coachman and William Regal, only to be interrupted by Cryme Tyme.
Shad and JTG swooped in to talk to V-Mac (their name for McMahon) about his paternity suit storyline. This led them into a dancing circle around McMahon. At first, all but McMahon and Regal were dancing. It just happened to be four black men who couldn't help but dance. Then, Regal couldn't help but dance as well, leading to McMahon being surrounded.
It would take the addition of another African American, Ron Simmons, to break this up with just one word: DAMN.
Rodney Mack's Whiteboy Challenge
If you were a white boy and looking for a challenge, Rodney Mack wanted to talk to you. Before Teddy Long was a GM, Long was a former referee then went back to managing. Long had adopted a bitter attitude to "the man" and had Mack defeat any man thrown at him within five minutes, as long as the guy was white.
I get that this was some sort of squash tactic for Mack to become known on Raw, but Mack could barely help himself. He was sort of sloppy in the ring and Long wasn't quite on his game just yet. These white-boy challenges would end up with Goldberg accepting one and destroying Mack in about 30 seconds.
Kung Fu Naki
Funaki was a great performer in WWE during the Attitude Era. They kept him on as the No. 1 announcer on SmackDown, at least according to himself. Eventually, R-Truth started talking to Funaki, revealing his unknown first name: Kung.
That's right. His name was Kung Funaki. Eventually, the Fu left the rest of his last name and all that he became was an Asian stereotype gimmick with a shockingly catchy theme. Kung Fu Naki knew about as much karate as the Karate Kid could teach him. Eventually, this gimmick led to his release. Shocking, I know.
Roddy Piper Inquires About Soul Food
Piper's Pit is a stereotype in itself. They threw a kilt on Roddy Piper and made him Scottish. His brash attitude made it work and his beloved career is definitely Hall of Fame-worthy. Some very unforgettable moments happened inside Piper's Pit. While many remember Piper hitting Jimmy Snuka with a pineapple, there was also this time.
Piper brought Tony Atlas into the pit and only inquired about one topic: soul food. He asked about chicken and pig feet, to which Atlas replied that he does eat those things. I don't know how long it took Atlas to catch on that it was a joke at his expense.
I still find myself wondering what exactly this faction accomplished. Super Crazy, Juventud and Psicosis were three great wrestlers in WCW or ECW, only to come to WWE to...be Mexican guys? If I am to understand some of their gimmick, they are supposed to be backstage workers and guys with jobs in the arena, but want to fight instead. They wear jumpsuits meant to be their uniforms. They come to the ring on lawnmowers, which is good to cut all of the indoor grass out there.
Then again, was the point that someone saw them and assumed they were day laborers? Maybe the confusion led to Juventud being released within six months and the other two being a tag team for most of 2006.
Yoshi Tatsu Gets Even with Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin was hardly a ray of beaming light. He certainly didn't shine with charisma as the Gold Standard. One of his brightest moments, unfortunately, came at the expense of Yoshi Tatsu, who was debuting on ECW that night. In his debut match, Benjamin did not take Tatsu seriously.
The match began and Benjamin was busy doing bows, making stereotypical sounds that resembled Japanese speech and mocking Yoshi overall. Tatsu took offense to it, kicking Benjamin hard in the head once, leading to a victory in his debut.
Muhammad Hassan was incredibly controversial. It was such a controversy that pressure from the media forced UPN to have WWE take the gimmick off TV. It wasn't so much the gimmick itself as much as it was the timing of everything.
It was late 2004 when Hassan was unleashed on WWE programming. The gimmick was a compelling one. Hassan was a character of Arab-American descent, born in the United States, but angry that he has been chastised in the post-9/11 world.
Every one of his promos had some truth to it. The main controversy came from Hassan having masked men attack The Undertaker and choke him out with piano wire, while Daivari, Hassan's manager, was carried off like a sacrifice. The act was taped on a Tuesday, but aired on a Friday, the same day as a terrorist attack. By then, WWE was already airing the segment worldwide.
The media turned it into a firestorm, which Hassan later would address in the video provided. Everything said was true and from the heart of Mark Magnus, the man who portrayed Hassan. Magnus was a man who was born in Jordan, had an Italian father and an Arab mother. In many ways, this were really Magnus' emotions.
Roddy Piper Argues With...Black Roddy Piper
Roddy Piper often did things that nobody was quite sure of. For WrestleMania VI and his feud with Bad News Brown, Piper decided to paint half of his body in blackface. That's right, Piper was half black and half white in a feud where he took on an African-American man.
I don't think I really need to say much more about why this is on the list.
It's pretty common for masked wrestlers to pop up on WWE programming, especially when superstars are unable to chase after titles anymore. That's the story of Los Conquistadors. During the peak of tag team wrestling in the late '90s and early 2000s, Edge and Christian were no longer able to try for the tag team championships. In their place came Los Conquistadors, named Uno and Dos.
This was actually a revival of the gimmick originally used in the late 1980s. This time around, they looked and acted like Edge and Christian, but would only spout off random Spanish words. Edge and Christian also were seen backstage with guys dressed in the outfits, leading people to believe that they were not the masked men. Once Los Conquistadors won the tag team titles, Edge and Christian could try again. Thinking this would be easy, they lost quickly.
It turns out that The Hardy Boys, the ex-champions, stole the costumes from Edge and Christian's hired men.
Harley Brings Race into It
This is WCW, but it still counts, due to it being owned by WWE today.
Before Ron Simmons could break down a barrier and be the first African-American World champion in a major promotion, he had to deal with a rant from the likes of Harley Race. It's ironic that the legend had Race as his last name.
Race would talk about how Simmons didn't belong in the title picture and a multitude of stuff that just got a rise in emotion from Simmons. Feelings were high when Simmons finally captured the World Championship in WCW, making for a fantastic moment in the future Hall of Famer's career.
JBL Goes Hunting for Illegal Aliens
You read that title correctly. If you don't remember this segment, don't worry; you won't exactly see it on JBL's Hall of Fame highlights one day.
The uber-American JBL was very anti-Mexican, especially against men like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. In this segment, JBL shows a lot of his emotions about illegal immigrants, but has the sentiments directed toward Mysterio. Mysterio is not an illegal immigrant. In fact, he was born in San Diego.
Still, it was close enough for fans to get a good rise out of it, especially when JBL found some prospective immigrants looking to cross the border.
Triple H Explains Black Wrestlers and World Championships
This was similar to the Harley Race and Ron Simmons segment, but much more fueled. Booker T was a five-time champion in WCW, but had not won the title in WWE at this point. Booker T was the top contender for Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship (the same belt that WCW used) and had a match set for WrestleMania XIX.
Triple H then came out to cut this promo on Booker T, which has received some mixed signals over the years. Specifically, the controversy stems around what Triple H means by "people like you." Triple H has since said that the statement was in reference to Booker T's status as a convicted criminal, while many jump to the aspect of Booker T's skin color. Whether or not it was intended to be a racial thing, it still makes a lot of people feel uneasy when they watch this one.
Mr. McMahon Says the "N" Word
There isn't really a nice way to sugarcoat this one. It's a pretty blatant reason for why it is the top racist moment in history. Sure, some will wonder where on the list is Booker T's rant that ended with the same word being said. There may even be some looking for Vince McMahon and a similar encounter with Sabu.
None of them, however, top this fiasco.
There's no easy way to explain this video short of Vince wanting shock value. Then again, maybe he sides with this teacher.