The 'Token Black Guy' Storyline Pitch Elijah Burke Turned Down In WWE

Elijah Burke experienced an underwhelming run with WWE from 2006 until his departure two years later, but it could have been worse for the former Superstar. Earlier this year, he revealed that he turned down the chance to join The Spirit Squad on the main roster. During a recent interview with "WrestlingNewsCo," he explained why he wasn't interested, noting that he didn't want to become a racial stereotype.

"I always think long term, not just short term, 'Hey look, I'm on TV and I'm with the chairman. ' Nah, I just didn't feel it," he said, "It was not me, and more importantly, I wasn't going to go out there and be the token black guy. It's always got to be one; I wasn't going to be that in that group." 

Burke explained that even if not deliberate and hammered home, the 'token' role would have been abundantly clear to the viewer. He noted horror movies for reference, where it can appear obvious when just one black person is cast. He said he feels he would have been in the same situation.

"I got natural hair. I probably would have been asked to put, you know, either wearing my afro all the time. Not saying they would have, but I could certainly have seen it. 'I'm a cheerleader; hey, let's put some afro puffs in your head,' you know."

Burke said that as much as he wanted the opportunity, he needed the correct role, and he felt the Spirit Squad would have set him up to fail. He later pointed out how the group turned out, with only Dolph Ziggler finding success after reinventing himself back in Ohio Valley Wrestling. 

"Ziggler went, and he put in the work, and he was able to remove that stench of the Spirit Squad that ultimately became a joke."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WrestlingNewsCo with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.