Well…That escalated quickly.
In less than 24 hours after first voicing his displeasure with his first official WWE/NXT t-shirt design, Jordan Myles FKA ACH, has taken to Twitter and no one has been spared. From WWE and Ring of Honor to Jay Lethal and Hulk Hogan, Jordan Myles has unabashedly and unashamedly voiced his opinions. And while it started with a t-shirt, it’s very clear this goes well beyond that as Myles in one particular tweet wrote, “the FACT that they even made the first one [referring to the shirt] overshadows anything til WE get what we deserve.”
This is more than a shirt, it’s about better representation and a continued fight for equality.
“Representation is Important”
On October 26th at 11:32 PM, Jordan Myles shared a tweet of his new t-shirt design, and it sparked a heated but very important conversation.
Myles’ original tweet was simple, noting that WWE would regret making the design, which featured his name in white block letters over a red background on a black shirt. No matter the intention of the company, the shirt evoked a racist theme. It was the kind of image one used to see in anti-black cartoons, depicting and exaggerating stereotypical black features in the form of caricatures. Today, a collection of such images can be found in the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, a museum that seeks to use “objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”
It is not an image that belongs on a t-shirt for a prominent African American wrestler, nor anywhere in today’s day and age, outside of places like museums or historical exhibits. It has no place in today’s world as the racist inclinations and evocations are undoubtedly there.
So, after sitting on his knowledge of the design for some time it seems according to accounts from both Jordan Myles and WWE, the wrestler spoke up. His initial tweet received almost 3,000 likes, 554 retweets and most importantly, hundreds of comments, including many from Myles himself, as he continued to describe his emotions, among them, hurt, anger and frustration at WWE, that such a shirt design was even given to him in the first place. In response to one comment, questioning “Why did they even bother,” Jordan Myles had this to say:
Because THEY are blind and stuck in their ways. THEY don’t see the disrespect in producing a design that screams racism against African Americans. THEY have been blinded for years and THEY NEED A REPROGRAMMING BECAUSE THEY ARE IGNORANT!
The conversation continued and two distinct camps of people began to emerge. Those who supported Jordan Myles, such as @LennyStarkNJ who noted his offense in a tweet that mentioned he was “done with this company as a fan after this,” and those who weren’t sure why the design was offensive.
By the time Jordan Myles, made his second tweet, the one noting that “representation is important,” the support had swelled. 431 comments more than tripled to 1,700+. 554 retweets jumped to 4,800 and 3,000 likes turned into 13,500. Myles and his story had trended but it was only just the beginning.
“MY PEOPLE will have their moment”
What started out as a conversation around a t-shirt design had turned into one about systemic racism, and whether it was his intent or not, Jordan Myles had now become somewhat of a public face of it, at least on Twitter. On October 27th, in a response to David Bixenspan, Myles replied “I’ve used this shirt as fuel. I knew the shirt existed and my soul hasn’t been able to rest properly since I’ve laid my eyes on it. My voice will be heard..my true opinion will be heard..and MY PEOPLE will have their moment.”
In response to the Twitter accusations, on Sunday night, a spokesperson for WWE confirmed Myles’ comment that he knew about the shirt, stating, “Albert Hardie Jr. (aka Jordan Myles) approved this t-shirt for sale. As always, we work collaboratively with all of our performers to develop logos and merchandise designs and get their input and approval before proceeding. This was the same process with Albert, and we responded swiftly once he later requested that the logo/t-shirt be redesigned. No t-shirts were sold.”
It should be worth noting however that the shirt did, in fact, make its way online and was for sale for a brief time, even if no one had actually purchased one. Jordan Myles too, had a response to this, refusing to allow WWE to put the blame on him for the shirt passing the approval phase. According to NXT’s Breakout Star of the Year, he was lied to by a man by the name of Baker Landon, from WWE Corporate, who according to Myles gave him the impression that the design was approved by Triple H so he felt his “hands were tied.” But as Myles continued, when speaking to Triple H in person, it was The COO who thought that Myles had approved the shirt.
Confusion, racism, blame. All of it was center stage on Twitter over the weekend as people debated who was in the right. Should Jordan Myles have spoken up about the offensive design as opposed to just countering with another offer? Was it his responsibility in that moment to educate his employers on the offense? Or was it solely the fault of WWE, a company that has somewhat of a checkered history when it comes to racism and their use of African American wrestlers. One that was just recently brought to light again during Kofi Kingston‘s world title chase as Big E was noted as saying “people like us will only get so far.” Fans on Twitter were torn with people taking sides almost. But one thing among it all was certain, this was about more than just a t-shirt.
Around the same time that Game Changer Wrestling announced a show for their Collective event at WrestleMania which will showcase some of the top wrestlers of color in the industry, Jordan Myles issued another tweet. On October 27th at 1:57 PM, he urged people to use #ForTheCulture as well as to turn their Twitter profile photos black and white in protest. In effect, Myles was looking to make a statement and have his followers do the same.
“WWE doesn’t care about black people”
The Twitter tirade continued, but now, Jordan Myles wasn’t just talking about the racism of his t-shirt design, but that of WWE as a whole as well as another prominent company he worked at, Ring of Honor.
In a video that has since been deleted, Myles made a simple statement. In just six words, he made his opinion felt: “WWE doesn’t care about black people.” And while that video was removed from both Myles’ Twitter and Instagram, a post with a similar message remains.
WWE weren’t the only ones to feel the wrath of Myles’ comments. In a scathing indictment on Ring of Honor, in another tweet that has since been deleted, Jordan Myles said, “Fuck ROH TOO! The only allowed ONE African American to be the “Top Guy,” while guys like @CedricAlexander TD, @Malcomvelli and myself had to chase this visible carrot a stick. Name another African American who was reached great heights there other than this Uncle Tom.”
This was followed up with a photo of Jay Lethal, at the time when he held both the ROH World and TV championships. The connotation was a damning one as for those who don’t know, referring to someone as an “Uncle Tom,” is incredibly derogatory. But it was a message Jordan Myles felt he needed to make, just as he did when someone tweeted that Kofi Kingston becoming world champion made the argument that WWE doesn’t care, any less valid.
Myles’ movement seems to only just be getting started. He’s actively been retweeting wrestlers who have supported #ForTheCulture and is continuing to use Twitter as his platform to get his message out. When asked a simple question, regarding the end game of all this, Myles’ response is one that many would argue WWE has done a poor job of meeting in the past.
“Better representation and to be heard.”
Jordan Myles, despite winning NXT’s Breakout Tournament on August 10th, has not had a televised match since he challenged Adam Cole for the NXT Championship on August 15th. In the interim, he’s also only wrestled four matches for NXT period, the last coming on September 21st. It’s worth noting that WWE released Myles’ t-shirt, along with dozens of others for NXT wrestlers, just three days prior.
To conclude that Myles’ absence in the ring has anything to do with him voicing his opinion upon seeing the final design is something that would be speculative at best. However, if it is indeed the case, Jordan Myles is certainly onto something with just wanting “to be heard” without needing to worry about the fear of repercussions.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.