Kenny King recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about some of the efforts the wrestling world has made to bring various social issues to the forefront, including the Black Lives Matter campaign and racism in pro wrestling. Ring Of Honor hosted the ROH Roundtable and King says ROH deserves credit for asking if it’s something talent wanted to do and says the more people talk about these things and work towards a solution, the less taboo they will be.
“I give Ring Of Honor so much credit because they were the catalyst for that. They were the ones that asked us, ‘Would you like to do this, would you like to say something in this moment?’ and we took the ball and ran with it. I think that everybody was pleased with the Roundtable, and I think that not only us as talent, but also ROH is motivated to keep doing, especially as we get back into interactions with fans and things like that. It wasn’t a corporate ‘let’s seize the moment’ message, it’s something that we live,” King said. “This is something that I don’t get to put ‘Kenny King’ away outside of the ring, and I think we have management that understands how important that is to continue to bring these messages forward and bring these issues to the forefront. The more we talk about them, the less taboo and off-limits they are, the more comfortable we’ll be and we can align and come together as a country.”
Noting that Shane Taylor, one of the other members of the Roundtable, has been vocal about how he doesn’t want to be portrayed in wrestling, King agreed that we’re starting to see less stereotypical acts in the professional wrestling business, with WWE’s The Hurt Business being a notable example. King is familiar with the group since he was also in a stable with MVP and Lashley in IMPACT Wrestling, going by the name “The Beat Down Clan.” King pointed out that both groups were initially referred to as the “new Nation of Domination” by fans because they were groups of black wrestlers, but he feels that’s where it stops, and things will improve as long as everyone gets the same opportunities.
“I think we’re in a pivotal moment and you have to understand that they did that to us when we first got put together [as the Beat Down Clan in TNA]. We were ‘the new Nation’ and then because we didn’t have a name,” King said, “we were just black dudes with a similar, common focus, the internet community cleverly named us ‘MLK’ because of our initials. So there’s going to [be that connection] now and I feel like it’s because the writing doesn’t support it.”
“It isn’t ‘four black dudes being black dudes and militant’—no! It’s four businessmen and it’s their business to beat your ass! We dress well, we’ve got fine taste and we’re educated and classy, but when it comes to the 9-to-5, our job is to beat your ass. That’s as relatable of a stable in pro wrestling that’s ever been created. As long as that continues—and all that really has to continue is the depth,” King said. “Triple H can be the ‘Cerebral Assasin’ and ‘The Game’ and all of these things, and as long as Bobby Lashley can be the same, then we won’t just have to continue to pair Bobby with who is like him or who is black. As long as we continue to have depth and different levels, then I think we’re on the right path.”
King also noted that Andrade and Santos Escobar’s respective alliances in WWE and NXT also started off as ‘a group of Spanish guys’ but they had a common bond that surpassed that, so it’s up to the people that are aware of things in the writing room to keep pushing for these opportunities.
“It can’t just be ‘let’s put the Spanish dudes together, let’s put the black dudes together,’” King said, “and if you can find a reason to create depth and make people relate to these characters, then I think we’re alright.”