Big Swole says Lack of Diversity lead to AEW Departure, Tony Khan Responds
Big Swole recently revealed her reasons and motivations for not renewing her contract with AEW and deciding to mart ways with the company. AEW President Tony Khan responds to Lack of Diversity claims and divulges his reasons for not renewing Swole's AEW Contract.
Earlier this year on November 30th, Wrestler Big Swole announced that she and All Elite Wrestling had parted ways mutually, ending their working relationship. Big Swole had been signed with AEW since December 2019, after she appeared in the Casino Battle Royale at AEW All Out that same year. Swole began to make regular appearances on AEW Dark but was unfortunately sidelined in early 2021 when it hwas revealed that she was battling Crohn’s Disease.
Big Swole has gone on to divulge the reasons why she parted ways with the company while speaking on her “Call In Show”, detailing what exactly lead her to make the decision to leave the company. Swole explained that the most emotional moment she had while under the AEW Banner was when former AEW World Champion Kenny Omega thanked her for all her hard work in her feud with Diamante, stating that it made the other women within the promotion feel more comfortable and at ease to present ideas to management
Big Swole used this moment as a lead in to her finals talks with AEW President Tony Khan.
"I explained to TK that I didn't want to re-sign because my peace was being disrupted. If anybody knows me or knows myself, if anything is disrupting your peace, it's time to let it go. It might be scared or be hard, but it's time to let it go. When Kenny said that, it was the circle coming to an end because Kenny and I would bump heads sometimes throughout my time in AEW. To end it on that note felt good. It felt wonderful to end it at a place where, we didn't see eye-to-eye, but we were there," she said.
Swole then went into detail as to why she parted ways with the company and what she divulged to the company in her exit interview.
"My heart just stopped being in it as the reason why I left AEW. I felt like there were a lot of things, and I told them in my exit interview, there are a lot of things that need to change. I know fans of the company don't take criticism well sometimes, certain ones. Know this, this is somebody from the inside, the structure is a little off. It's fine to be loose, but I like to have a little bit more structure. I felt like the women shouldn't have gone through everything they went through just to get on TV or get time. You're signed to this big company; you should get time. All these men are getting time, but the women weren't getting anything or you're not putting people on TV because more people are coming in. Okay, there are more people coming in, but you don't have enough product for all of these people. Now you have all these people sitting around having two- or three-minute matches on Dark doesn't keep me happy. Shovelling more money doesn't keep a person happy. We've seen time and time again, especially in a place where there's not enough space. There's no writers in a sense. Not everyone is comfortable writing their own things. Closed mouths don't get fed. That's exactly what that environment is. If you are shy and don't know how to write or are not creative, it's not going to work unless they want it to work for you. That's one of their biggest issues," she said.
Alongside the apparent lack of structure in Big Swole’s eyes, she also saw a much bigger issue within AEW stating that she felt there was a lack of diversity.
"Outside of [lack of structure] their BIGGEST issue, which is diversity. I do not beat around the bush when it comes to diversity and my people. There is no representation, truly, and when there is, it does not come across in the black community as genuine. At all. I don't know why everybody is so afraid to accept it or say it, but it's not a good look. What happens is, you have this wonderful company that treats people like family, but there is nobody that looks like me that is represented at the top and in the room with them. They are not helping to necessarily influence decisions, but to explain why certain slang and certain word shouldn't be said. There is no one else who can explain our culture and experience except for us," she said.
Swole went on to put her feelings into perspective by explaining that her daughter brought the diversity issues front and centre for her and helped her recognize even more that AEW had a lack of diverse representation in AEW.
"I knew something was up when my daughter, who loves watching wrestling, she would watch AEW all the time and seldomly watch WWE. She's not a big fan unless dad [Cedric Alexander] was on TV, which stopped happening after they botched the Hurt Business. She would say, 'Mommy, there is nobody that looks like me on AEW. There's nobody that looks like daddy.' Then she started watching WWE because she saw Bianca and Big E. She saw herself represented. If that wasn't a 'click.' 'You are absolutely right. I don't have an explanation.' It's 2021. Why are people saying, 'it'll take three years for AEW to have a black champ'? This is a scripted sport. It should not take that long if you have been watching WWE for 50+ years and you know what not to do," she said.
Swole went on to say that she is "exhausted" when it comes to pandering regarding diversity, even going so far as to state that it feels much like a "use this person for a little, they've done what you need, now what's next?" situation.
"I believe that the company is making better strides than before, but a couple of things need to be fixed. You have to be able to call people out because not everything is perfect. I hope they listen to this with an open heart and not just, 'Ah, she's just saying this because of XYZ.' I genuinely want them to succeed. I love this art form. I love wrestling and I want it to succeed, and I want the people in it to succeed if they are genuine people. I want WWE to succeed. I want wrestling to flourish, and I don't want it to be a long-forgotten, Tartarian sport where 'in the old days, we used to wrestle,' and it's folklore. I want nothing but the best, but I also want the change and application to happen. With promises you made to be diverse, I want to see that. Not just with black people. I would love to see a Latino or Hispanic or more Asians. I feel like Asians and Indians do not get the love. They just don't. It's such a big gap. I hate the fact that I turn on the TV and it's the same stuff over and over again. Hopefully, they get the message. Me leaving, honestly, was not bad. There is no bad blood between TK and I. I just don't like my peace being disrupted. I didn't like certain things and other things that I will take to my grave. The diversity. That's what matters," she said.
September 21st was the last time Big Swole wrestled for AEW on an episode of Dark, where she went on to defeat Allie Katch. At the time of Swole’s departure Fightful reported that AEW had just chosen not to renew Swole’s contract. Shortly after Big Swole’s thoughts were made public, AEW President Tony Khan took to Twitter to comment on Fightful’s article regarding not renewing Swole’s contract, but also touched on the diversity within his company.
The top 2 @AEW execs are brown (me & Megha)!! Jade, Bowens, Caster, Dante, Nyla, Isiah & Marq Quen all won on tv this month. The TBS Title Tournament has been very diverse. I let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough. #AEWRampage Street Fight TONIGHT! https://t.co/NprF6I7D6G— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) January 1, 2022
Tony Khan’s comments received heavy criticism and have divided not only the AEW Fan Base but also the larger Pro-Wrestling Fan Community. Even Khan’s own employees have spoken out against his comments, in particular Lio Rush who posted the following Tweet in response.
Other AEW personnel such as “Captain” Shawn Dean, Live Events & Touring Director Rafael Morffi and Powerhouse Hobbs have also come forward sharing their thoughts and experiences, Hobbs even going as far to say that if people have issues with each other, then they should be confronting each other about them. Their tweets can be seen below.
Shawn Dean @AEW Extras Coordinator…my official title in #AEW behind the scenes, a black male in the office, giving as many opportunities to minority talents as I can every single week.— Capt. Shawn Dean (@ShawnDean773) January 1, 2022
On the community team…raising awareness for inner city kids any chance I get…
Disappointed in the “diversity in AEW” story from earlier today. I am 100% Latino, @AEW & @TonyKhan value & offer me autonomy as a company executive to make very big decisions on #AEW ‘s behalf. Have been blessed to work with multiple organizations, trust me in my defense of AEW. https://t.co/8ykubQtTsG— Rafael Morffi (@rmorfnyc) January 1, 2022
Whichever way you look at it, this situation has completely divided the larger Pro-Wrestling Community along with its fans. A lot has been said online in response to the statements by Swole and the Comments from Khan. One thing for sure is that diversity in professional wrestling has once again become a hot topic, no matter what side of the fence you sit on.
What are your thoughts regarding Big Swole’s statement? Do you feel they were true and just?
What do you think about Tony Khan’s response? Was he justified in what he said and how he handled the situation?
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