The Sports Bubble with Jensen Karp recently had Big E on their show, and he discussed the current #SpeakingOut movement in wrestling. Big E showed his support for the movement on Twitter, and he also talked more about supporting the movement on the show.
“Sadly enough, I wasn’t surprised,” Big E admitted. “You hear some whispers or have an understanding of culture. I will say there wasn’t any specific instance or a wrestler that I knew that I saw and that had like covered up. There wasn’t anything that I knew of and just shrugged my shoulders at. So, there wasn’t anything that I was specifically aware of, but it’s honestly really, really, really saddened me to see and disgusted me to see how prevalent this was.
“And, I have to give my, like, hats off to like a friend of mine actually was the one who started this off, Victoria. She was brave enough to tell her story about David Starr, and this all came out and then she emboldened a lot of women and even men to come out and talk about some of the things that they’ve experienced, the way they were victimized in this industry.”
Big E spoke more on how issues of rape and sexual assault can be ignored by people, especially men. He talked about how the wrestling industry can no longer interrelate that kind of treatment towards women.
“And I think too often, we as men, we’ve shrugged our shoulders, or we’ve said, ‘Ah, she’s probably lying’, or we’ve turned a blind eye to it,” Big E said. “And we haven’t given these victims the voice and the respect that they deserve. And I think our industry should no longer and can no longer tolerate what’s going on. We can no longer tolerate rape. We can no longer tolerate sexual harassment. We can no longer shrug our shoulders at the way women have been victimized in this industry.”
Big E hopes that the #SpeakingOut movement can be a turning point for the wrestling industry. He also hopes that every woman gets a chance to tell their story and that those that are guilty are removed from the business and receive suitable punishment.
“I don’t want to know that there are more stories. I don’t want that to be the case,” Big E stated. “I hope this is the end of it, but I hope every woman gets an opportunity to speak her voice, to be heard, to be respected, to not be dismissed. I hope all of the people who are guilty of this, I hope they’re eradicated from the business. I hope they’re arrested. I hope they’re imprisoned. I hope it’s something that we never see.
“I hope it’s a real turning point in our business, and I hope that women aren’t persecuted. I’ve already seen a lot of horrible comments from people. You know, at a time I think we have a great fan base, but I think it can also at times, there’s a portion of it that can be very toxic. I think the way it disrespects women, the way it’s, you know, condones abusers and rapists. I think is disgusting.”
Big E reiterated that he hopes that this movement can create change and not just be something that trends and become forgotten. He hopes that people are actually listening to these stories and enacting the proper change needed.
“I think one of the things that happens with a lot of these movements is that it causes a surge and then a week or so later, it can be forgotten,” Big E said. “And I hope to God that’s not the case. I hope this is not forgotten or if it’s not, I hope we don’t shrug our shoulders.
“I hope it’s something that we continue to talk about, that we continue to clean up this industry, that we continue to eradicate abusers and rapists, that we get them all out of this business, that we have them prosecuted because it’s something that no woman or man, no one should ever be victimized or, or have to endure. And seeing so many stories of kids, of people who are under age and who came into the wrestling business and wanted to learn or to train and were victimized. It’s really disgusting. And I think as horrible as this year has been in many respects, I think the one silver lining is that people are actually listening.”
Big E also discuses stereotypes in wrestling and how when The New Day were formed, they sought to break the stereotypes that Black wrestlers were placed under. Big E talked about wanting to be authentic characters rather than just a stereotype.
“I think we have to say it kindly, a very rocky past with the way we’ve depicted black wrestlers,” Big E admitted. “You have so many that are celebrated and I’m not going to point the finger at the performer, but Junkyard Dog and Kamala, was an African Savage who didn’t speak and he patted his stomach. And there were a lot of depictions of black wrestlers that really make you cringe when you look at it now.
“And we wanted to not be that with the three of us [The New Day]. That’s what we really pushed for and, you know, at first it was, it was kind of in that mold, we came out as three black inspirational speakers slash preachers and it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like us. And then when we were finally able to have more of the reins. It really – we had a more authentic depiction of who we were. Obviously, you know, your character is who you are with the volume turned up, is kind of the saying in wrestling. And that’s what we want.”
Big E talked about the importance of representation. He noted that everyone in The New Day share various interests in nerd culture that are not commonly seen in depictions of Black people on television.
“That’s because representation does matter,” Big E expressed. “And I know sometimes it can be just something that people throw out there, but it does matter when you see an authentic portrayal of someone who looks like you, who acts like your friends and talks like your friends, because the three of us are into video games and anime, and we have a myriad of interests. And so many of our friends, so many of my black friends who I grew up with were the same.
“Like they felt ostracized because there weren’t that many depictions of black guys who like anime or black women who were nerds. So we wanted to kind of open up that box a little bit and to show like, hey, there’s a lot of us who talk like this and who, this is what we enjoy and this is who we are. And we want to keep pushing that to get more realistic depictions of black wrestlers and to kind of get beyond that past, that didn’t depict black wrestlers in a very good way.”
Big E discussed more on trying to break the mold and show more of the Black experience and how there is more of a variety that can be shown. He noted how someone like Xavier Woods can be any kind of character on any spectrum and not just tied to one specific thing.
“One of the things that we wanted to do was like, you get white wrestlers who are, like [Xavier] Woods says it, in a way they get this blank slate and they can be any character across the spectrum,” Big E noted. “They can be just pretty much any character you could imagine, they can pretty much be. But with black wrestlers, until maybe recently, and it’s something we’re still fighting for it, you had these very few tropes to pick from. You can be an angry, randomly angry guy, or you can be like a rapper slash dancer, or, like, we got saddled with these preacher gimmicks.
“You just had these, like, okay, he’s a black wrestler or she’s a black wrestler, and you have three or four of these archetypes to choose from. We want to break that mold and continue breaking that mold and showing that the black experience is not this homogeneous single experience. We come from so many different backgrounds and countries, and we have a myriad of interests that we want to continue to explore those on screen. And we want our fans to be able to see black wrestlers, Japanese wrestlers, that aren’t just stuck into these boxes that are allowed to be full, unique, interesting characters. And I think that matters and I think we’ll continue to keep pushing for that.”