This week, Wrestling Inc. sat down with independent wrestler Joe Black for comments on an incident that took place at an Intense Wrestling Entertainment (IWE) show in Augusta, Georgia, earlier this month.

Video of the altercation soon went viral, showing Black knocking a hat off a fan’s head. Things soon got heated when the fan grabbed Black and headbutted him, causing the wrestler to retaliate.

Black shared with Wrestling Inc. that the incident happened right after the main event of the show, in which he had wrestled Anthony Henry in a title unification match. Black was the heel and had a manager named Tyreeke in his corner.

“[Tyreeke] is doing the typical things a manager does, you know, he’s talking crap to the people, he’s choking the babyface, blah blah blah. So this gentleman, who was the person who headbutted me, actually said to Tyreeke, he called him a racial slur. So Tyreeke whispered to me, ‘Watch out for this guy’. So I ignored it, kept working the match, and getting my heat. He then said something racial to me, which I really don’t want to repeat, but I let it go, cause at the one show before, a couple shows before this, a fan actually stepped over the barricade and got on the apron because he thought he was part of the show. And I didn’t even antagonize this fan, because I was a babyface and he just decided to step over the barricade.

“So I didn’t want to take away the match Anthony and I were having so I ignored it, kept getting my heat from everybody else. At the end of the match, Krule comes out and we set up an angle off this match. I’m walking around the ringside. At this point, this gentleman [front row fan] mouths to me the same racial slur he called Tyreeke. So, at this point, I flipped his hat off and I kept walking. He got up and then he headbutted me in the face, which prompted my response to hit him back. This gentleman kept saying things. At this point, it was pretty much diffused and a lady that was sitting near him said he was being obnoxious the entire night. He was drunk, like not a ‘couple drinks’ drunk, but he was plastered. And he was sitting front row and apparently he was being obnoxious to the other talents, too.

“So my intention was never to go and assault this fan. He tried to spin it and say that I made contact with his face when I flipped his hat off and his glasses flew, which if you look at any of the angles of the video, there is no way I touched this guy. I flipped his hat off and then, you know, he’s trying to make it seem like the reason he attacked me was because I made contact. It was the bill of his hat flipped up and that was it. He was being racist to me and Tyreeke, the response that just flipping his hat, to me, was tame. I’m still in character, I’m still the heel persona. I didn’t stop and curse at this gentleman, I didn’t call him out. I just flipped his hat off.”

When asked about comments on social media calling the act of flipping the hat off the fan’s head “assault,” Black replied that in that case, every altercation with fans at a show could be labeled the same thing. He noted that he had recently posted videos on Twitter showing footage of heels such as MJF doing the same thing at AEW events in the past.

“If it is then, you know, grabbing a sign out of a fan’s hand and ripping it up, that’s a form of assault, too. If you’re slapping a drink out of a fan’s hand, and you’re actually making contact with them to do that, that’s a form of assault. I just tweeted out a video of MJF, to open dialogue about it, of MJF flipping a guy’s hat off. This guy [in the MJF video] didn’t even say anything to him. He just walked by him, being the heel that he is, flipped his hat off and kept walking. So if that doesn’t cause an uproar, then why are the rules different for me when I do it? Especially when this fan is saying racial things to me, and I let that go and I could have escalated to something so much more. All I did was something I’ve seen heels do for 15, 20 years of watching wrestling. I’m going to flip your hat and be a smartass and keep walking. And to take it a step further, MJF, who has been one of the best heels in the business in the last several years, he does the same thing at an AEW taping, where he actually grabs the hat off the guy’s head and throws it across the arena. So, I mean, he’s in a major company. I would think if that doesn’t cause an uproar, if Tony Khan didn’t come out and say, you know, we shouldn’t do things like this, and everybody laughed at it, it’s funny. Why is it funny when he does it, but it’s assault when I do it? It just seems like it’s not equal.”

Fans on Twitter weren’t the only people to level criticism at Black about the incident in Augusta. Noted wrestling manager and podcaster Jim Cornette recently commented on it as well, saying that both parties involved “were to blame”. When asked about Cornette’s comments, Joe replied that he felt the legend’s words possibly put too much of a positive light on the fan who attacked Black.

“Cornette made it seem like he put this guy over, like this was his dream jobber from Mid-South from back in the day or something. Like in Smoky Mountain this dude would’ve been a star, the way he spoke about him. He made it seem like I was just rendered defenseless, and I believe he said I was ‘pummeled’, which I don’t think Jim realizes what the word ‘pummeled’ means, maybe in his older age. He created a culture with that video where now we’re going to focus on all these other intangible things instead of focusing on the problem, which was a fan was embarrassed because a heel was being a heel and flipped his hat off and he decided to react in the most extreme way, which was literally to headbutt me in full force in the bridge of my nose. It seemed because of what Cornette said, these fans were giving this guy a pass, which is why I responded with the MJF video of him doing the same thing.

“You know, I respect Cornette for his tenure in the business, you know, he’s done a lot of things. But, he’s proven throughout the last couple years that he’s severely out of touch. I only listened to about 5 or 6 minutes of what he said because once you egregiously get the facts incorrect when there’s five angles of video, that lets me know you’re trying to sensationalize something for views, rather than ‘Here’s the situation and I’m going to speak specifically to that.’ He put his own spin on it, he made it carny. I don’t respect that.”

Black has been in the professional wrestling business for 13 years. He says the overall experience has been a positive one.

“I’ve loved this sport, this business for as long as I can recall memories. So for the better part it’s been a great 13 years. You meet a lot of great people living out your dreams.”

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