In honor of Black History Month, I am shining a spotlight on the recently dethroned MLW World Heavyweight Champion, Alex Kane. The first openly out LGBT+ World Champion in a major promotion (with former IWTV Champion A.C. Mack being the first wrestler to disclose this kind of information in the industry) has been a stabilizing force for MLW.
Someone who has grown into the role of a credible and deserving world champion. Someone who proudly represents and promotes black and LGBT athletes. The former champion, besides being a locker room leader, has even made time to visit schools to read books to children for Black History Month.
Kane’s character and the Bomaye Fight Club that he captains represent black strength in a way that feels fun, inclusive and real. Unlike past heel gimmicks related to black pride, like The Nation of Domination, the group is not presented as militant or a response to oppression and racism. Rather, it is a reflection of the strength and solidarity the black community shows despite adversity.
Making An Assassin
1st July 2002, an 8th grader sits watching WWE Raw. The main event is a legendary ladder match for the WWE Undisputed Championship. The Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy. “Climb the ladder, kid! Make yourself famous.”
It’s this match that makes up Alex Kane’s mind. Turning to his dad, Alex tells him he wants to be a wrestler. Kane’s dad doesn’t dismiss the dream. Instead, he points out the hard work and dedication that will be needed.
A Georgia boy, Kane did not shy away from the physicality. In high school, Kane played football and was a freestyle wrestler. His enjoyment of physical combat led him to become both a collegiate wrestler and a rugby player.
When Kane began training with AR Fox in 2018, Kane was confident in knowing the mechanics of wrestling. With just six months of training, Kane wrestled his debut match. In the ring, the moniker “the suplex assassin” is apt for a wrestler who “fell in love with throwing people”. Kane’s ability to throw men of all sizes around is fun to watch. The hangtime some of his opponents experience on a release suplex (Kane’s favorite) is marvelous.
Beyond Suplex Island
When Kane joined MLW in 2021 as part of the Open Draft, Kane was the second-round pick. Fans could see Kane was positioned as a long-term investment, a top prospect. Paired with the American Top Team (ATT), Kane’s technical skills were put front and center. His first interview highlighted Kane’s ultimate goal: the world heavyweight championship held by Alex Hammerstone.
His debut had the window dressing of former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion King Mo as his cornerman. Adding personality to the proceedings, Mo held up cards with numbers to help the audience track the number of suplexes Kane hit. It made a spectacle of Kane’s strength and emphasized his prowess. It was the first layer of Kane’s gimmick. Kane touted how he would take his opponents to his domain: “Suplex Island”.
ATT and Dan Lambert’s association with MLW dissolved after Kane’s debut. This was to Kane’s benefit. In charge of his destiny and character, in the short term helped Kane from just being another super-athlete and excellent technician.
Pretty suplexes can only count for so much. Fans have been spoiled by great athletic wrestlers who can throw opponents around, from Konosuke Takashita to Hook (who I have profiled here). You need more to stand out. Kane, influenced by Shelton Benjamin (particularly his criminally overlooked “Gold Standard” phase), has shown awareness of knowing that success comes with character as well as athleticism.
Only two matches into his MLW run, Alex Kane competed in for an MLW championship in a five-man ladder match. The match type that made him want to be a wrestler. On Fusion on Thanksgiving 2021, captured the MLW National Openweight Championship. Alex Hammerstone had vacated the championship.
Immediately after his championship win, Kane started a movement.
Bomaye is Power
Kane held a press conference and announced he had dumped ATT. He was building his stable. Flanked by his “fight strategist”, Mr Thomas, Kane’s conviction and self-belief radiate as he describes The Bomaye Fight Club and its meaning.
At The Rumble in the Jungle, as Muhammed Ali took control of the champion, George Foreman, the fans chanted: “Ali Boma ye!” “Ali, kill him!” On the surface, it’s a clever nod to Kane’s technical and MMA-inspired offense. Like Ali, Kane is a killer. Instead of punches, Kane uses suplexs and his Fade to a Black chokehold.
But on a deeper level, it connected Kane’s character to a monumental event in sporting history. It connects Kane with a history of influential and world-shaping black athletes. As well as how sport has been a source of strength and unity for the black community.
Although technically a heel, Kane’s shouts of Bomaye were adopted by the crowd. Throughout his 229 days as the National Openweight Champion, Kane’s conviction and personality became stronger. His purposeful use of African American Vernacular English reflects Kane’s confidence, security and care as a representative for his communities.
The Movement Grows
I took a break from MLW just as the Bomaye Fight Club started until November of last year. When I rewatched Alex Kane win the 2023 Battle Riot (MLW’s weapons-filled Royal Rumble) and earn his world title shot, it was impossible not to feel emotional. The crowd chants Bomaye. Kane deservedly cried afterwards.
When Kane challenged for the world championship at Never Say Never, the crowd wanted Kane. Chants of Bomaye showed fans wanted Kane to kill Hammerstone despite Kane being the heel. Kane’s victory also came with the added reveal of Bombaye’s financer. Don King is the legendary boxing promoter who promoted The Rumble in the Jungle.
Behind the scenes, MLW CEO Court Bauer gave Kane the responsibility of being the locker room leader. Something again, Kane has taken in stride. Kane, alongside the Bomaye Fight Club, has grown into a movement. Other members have included Myron Reed, O’Shay Edwards, J Boujii and Faye Jackson. Over time, Kane wants to elevate his stable mates. For Bomaye to dominate each division.
Fans do not just chant Bomaye because it sounds fun. Watch any MLW show, and you will see fans wearing Bomaye merchandise. Fans have invested in Kane and the movement.
Stabilizing But Profitable Reign
In my three months covering MLW, it is clear Kane has been the linchpin of MLW during a turbulent time for the company. Kane has been aware of this and how the wrestling game is changing. MLW has/is still losing talent to free agency. Alex Hammerstone (who I profiled here) and Richard Holliday left and have returned part-time, it seems (I profile here). Jacob Fatu is also leaving (see our coverage here).
Across 267 days, Kane carried the flag and exemplified the hybrid MLW style. Defences against Willie Mack, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, Jacob Fatu, Matt Cardona and Richard Holliday have resulted in story-driven matches. Kane’s goal of listening and responding to the crowd has been tested. Ultimately, it was a successful and profitable championship reign.
Kane’s reign ended at SuperFight. Satoshi Kojima became MLW’s first-ever two-time MLW World Heavyweight Champion. However, if Kane stays with MLW, don’t be surprised if he becomes the second two-time world champion. There is a lot for Kane to brag about. Kane’s aware of his capabilities, and the run so far has been exactly as he envisioned. In his own words: “Humility is for h*es”.
More From LWOS Pro Wrestling
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