As noted, Big Swole called out AEW for a lack of diversity and revealed it was one of the leading factors in her departure earlier this year.
Tony Khan responded in a tweet, pointed to how other people of color have succeeded in AEW, and then said he let Swole’s contract expire because her wrestling wasn’t good enough.
Lio Rush took to Twitter shortly after Khan’s tweet and expressed frustration over the response.
“Im not cool with any of this shit to be honest,” Rush wrote. He added in follow-up tweets, “Nope. Nah.”
“If nobody says something, then I will. Because this is fucked up and now I’m pissed,” he wrote.
“APOLOGIZE. @TonyKhan @AEW,”
Powerhouse Hobbs, took some time to release a statement through social media. As seen below, Hobbs defends AEW to a degree, pointing out that they have put minorities in “heavy” spots since the company’s inception.
“I’ve been featured in some heavy ass spots since being signed to AEW as well as other minorities. Now TK has put me in spots at the right time that meant something (Punk,Christian Cage,Brian Cage and Hangman and especially running in and saving Mox). This company has been there since the passing of my Mother. Cody and QT played tremendous part in getting me signed. Lastly if you have a issue with someone pick up the phone,”
Shawn Dean, a star that is featured in dark matches and serves as the AEW Extras Coordinator backstage put his own two cents into the discussion. Being a part of the production team, Shawn Dean hopes that people will start trusting their process in getting black stars over with the fans.
“Shawn Dean @AEW Extras Coordinator…my official title in #AEW behind the scenes, a black male in the office, giving as many opportunities to minority talents as I can every single week. On the community team…raising awareness for inner city kids any chance I get…The things we are expecting can and will happen…Trust the process,”
A star that has been featured in various AEW Dark matches in his own right, Darius Lockhart, had a lot to say on the matter. He also noted how he had provided a whole presentation that he gave to Tony Khan in an attempt to enlighten him better.
“Absolutely not. This is completely disrespectful, not only to Swole, but to the black community that AEW has been consistently not listened to,” Darius wrote. “I wanted to be a part of the change AEW so desperately needs but you’re showing that you’re willingly missing the point. It takes more than meeting a quota. It takes more than predetermined wins that you can count off in a single tweet. Your tactless response to Swole’s valid critiques have now shown us all what you truly think (or don’t think) about us as a community when we voice our concerns. Or what we truly provide as talent for that matter. @TonyKhan Professional Wrestling is committed to ignoring our power.
“This is not the change you promised, this is more of the same @TonyKhan , and it’s been more of the same, and it’ll be more of the same because you are not listening,” Darius Lockhart continued. “The entire industry is not listening. A lot of buzzwords are being thrown around, so I’ll say it bluntly: Your wrestling isn’t diverse if only white and white passing wrestlers are at the top. @TonyKhan You can’t gaslight your way out of a critique that the entire community you’re allegedly serving has. We had a quick meeting at AEW in Greensboro where I gave you a flashdrive that featured an extensive explanation (with numeric breakdowns) on exactly how the black community is being underserved in your company. That breakdown was not only there for personal gain. @TonyKhan.
“I want to be a change but don’t want a check bad enough to ignore what’s going on. This ain’t it. @TonyKhan.”
Several AEW Stars React To Tony Khan – Big Swole Exchange