AJ Gray has started to make a name for himself on the indies and recently appeared at Impact Wrestling's All Glory event. He discussed how he would describe himself to a new fan when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"Take a DMX song and put it into a human being... that's AJ Gray. It's a combination of DMX and Motley Crue," said Gray who then discussed his path into wrestling.
"What brought me into wrestling was that I got done playing football and powerlifting and I was honestly kinda bored. Wrestling was always one of my dreams as a kid so I got on YouTube and learned how to bump and hit the ropes. Then I went to this really shindy place in Tennessee and they thought I was trained and let me wrestle. Then I met Colin Delany and he showed me the ins and outs of wrestling."
Gray may be best known for his time with GCW and he and the promotion are teaming up to present a unique come 2020. "For The Culture" will take place in Tampa and will be a showcase of wrestlers of color. Gray talked more about it and what they are looking to accomplish.
"It's essentially gonna be in the same light as Effy's Big Gay Brunch or Markus Crane's Bondage and Go-go. It's under the GCW banner but it's gonna have a lot more input from me compared to if it was just their show because I have a lot of creative input for the show," stated Gray.
"I'm hoping to give people of color the biggest platform we've ever had on a wrestling stage. The POC, whether they be wrestling fans or wrestlers themselves, have something to go to. There's many times an ethnic wrestling fan will feel left out in an indie crowd because they're not mixed and are predominantly white. That's not a negative and I appreciate all fans, but it's not comfortable for a lot of people to be in situations like that. So, I want to give them something to look for."
Recently, Jordan Myles of NXT called out the WWE, ROH, Vince McMahon and others for being racist in the wake of a T-shirt design debacle. Gray discussed that controversy and also the reaction that it received.
"I react with genuine hurt because I'm from Tennessee and The South. I feel what he went through because I felt racism directly in my face," revealed Gray. "People think racism is getting better but in some communities racism is the exact same and it doesn't seem like it's changing much at all. When I saw that, it made me speechless. I couldn't gather words to talk about it and I still have hard times putting that into words."
After Myles called out WWE, the promotion then issued a statement which said that Myles approved of the T-shirt design. Gray believes that statement was nothing more than WWE trying to avoid further humiliation.
"I'm sure they are trying to save face with the whole situation. Honestly, I didn't look at it and tried to block it out as I don't wanna drag myself into a negative hole. That's what that will do so I try to block it out," said Gray.
Like most indie stars, Gray has ambitions of possibly wrestling for WWE one day. But he was asked if this controversy makes him less likely want to go there.
"I want to go places, yes. 100 percent. But I want to go on my own terms to where I have control of things. This makes me want to have control of things as this takes my trust away even though I'm not even there. So if I ever get the chance to be there, I'm already walking in calloused up and scarred up," admitted Gray.
The timing of Gray's announcement of For The Culture and Myles blasting the WWE has raised some eyebrows, but Gray maintains those two were purely coincidental and there's no link between he and Myles.
"I didn't see all the tweets [from Myles]. I saw the one originally of the shirt. I didn't see the one that stemmed from that and didn't know he used the hashtag at all," Gray said of Myles tweeting #ForTheCulture. "I had named the show days prior and had the graphics on my phone waiting to announce it. It was supposed to be announced on that Friday but we just didn't get around to it.
"So, the show had already been named For The Culture way before the situation with Jordan Myles happened."
Gray was then asked if Myles will appear at For The Culture and he chose to neither confirm nor deny.
"There is a certain crowd out there that thinks this is all one work which is not. It's two things that happened coincidentally, but neither one happened together with any kind of communication," stated Gray.
"I'm not gonna confirm or deny anyone's gonna be there outside of myself as I haven't put the show together yet. I can't tell you who's gonna be there or who's not gonna be there. But I can tell you it's gonna be one of the most colorful shows and has the potential to be one of the best shows the entire weekend if not all of 2020."
AJ Gray and GCW present For The Culture this coming WrestleMania weekend in Tampa, FL. For more information and tickets please follow GCW on Twitter @GCWrestling_. AJ's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of today's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In the full interview AJ discusses who AJ Gray is, teaming with GCW to present "For The Culture", the Jordan Myles - ACH controversy, why FTC will be different than other GCW shows, WWE pulling the carpet out from under Kofi Kingston, how pro wrestling can better engage people of color and more.