wrestling / Columns

Cook: The Jordan Myles NXT T-Shirt Debacle

October 30, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Jordan Myles NXT

I traveled to Indianapolis on August 18, 2012 to see a CHIKARA event. As I correctly figured, CHIKARA wouldn’t be within 90 minutes of my neck of the woods very often. I saw many of my favorites from the promotion for the first time, guys like Mike Quackenbush, Eddie Kingston, Jigsaw, Ultramantis Black and many more.

The main event featured two people I had barely heard of facing off for the Young Lions’ Cup. Mr. Touchdown, a muscular football player, took on a young man by the name of ACH, which he explained stood for Attitude, Charisma & Heart. You have to admit it’s a better explanation of a name than anything CM Punk came up with for his. It was a little risky to put two inexperienced kids on last, but the risk paid off as Touchdown & ACH had what folks nowadays call a “banger”. Really good stuff, and ACH especially came off as somebody with a tremendous amount of potential. He had the athletic ability. It seemed obvious that with the proper experience & lessons learned down the road that the guy could be a future star.

So it was no surprise to me to read updates about ACH progressing through the indy scene through the years. Definitely wasn’t a shock to hear about him getting signed by WWE last year, especially with WWE signing everybody under the sun these days.

And therein lies the rub…

WWE signing every wrestler in captivity that they think has potential brings us good news and bad news.

Good news: More of the guys & gals we watch at our local venues have a chance of making it to USA & Fox. Yay!

Bad news: Most of these people get signed, then do nothing forever.

Well, they don’t do nothing. There’s a lot of training to do at the Performance Center. Maybe they work the local house show loop. Some people probably even move up to the NXT roster really quickly. Most people are left on the shelf to wait for their turn.

If you’re an ACH fan, you didn’t get to see a lot of your guy over the past twelve months. Jordan Myles (Mr. H’s new WWE-provided alias) has wrestled 46 official matches on NXT cards since signing. Unless you were in one of those arenas live, you’ve only had four chances to see an ACH match.

In fairness, those four times were pretty cool. Myles was part of a Breakout tournament where the winner got a shot at any title in NXT. Jordan won the tournament and challenged Adam Cole for the NXT Championship. Cole obviously won, but Myles had a good showing. Things were going in the right direction.

Then there was an attempt at merchandising.

Look, I don’t know why WWE decided to start selling twenty NXT t-shirts at the same time. Maybe they thought the USA thing would lead to more recognition and sales. Maybe they had a surplus in the merchandising budget. Honestly, WWE has fifteen bazillion gajillion dollars coming in from solid sources of revenue so they don’t really need a reason to do anything. They can try whatever the heck they want with money being no object. That’s probably the answer.

In any event, they dumped a bunch of NXT shirts on their site all at once. Take a look at the shop site and you’ll see all kinds of randomness. I have no idea who the Outliers are. Is Bivens Enterprises Stokley Hathaway’s group that’s been on house shows? When’s Chelsea Green getting on TV? They signed Rick Martel and are having him team with some guy named Parker? What is all this?

Luke Harper commented on how he had never had his own t-shirt for sale, which was a fair complaint considering many of these people had barely been on NXT TV, if at all. Harper’s been under WWE contract since 2012 and the only t-shirt representation he’s ever had was through the Wyatt Family. Hell, Bray was probably keeping all that money for himself to bulid the Firefly Funhouse.

Harper might have been peeved, but he wasn’t the only one taking issue with the situation. Jordan “Four Matches on TV” Myles was one of the people that got a t-shirt. He wasn’t a big fan of the design though, and around the time it got pulled from the website, he stopped being used on NXT events. Coincidence? I can’t say for sure, but I would be shocked if Myles’ recent lack of bookings didn’t play into what happened on his Twitter over the weekend.

You can check his timeline @GoGoMyles out for most of the action. Some of it did get deleted, like when he went off on ROH, claiming that they refused to book any other African-American on top other than Jay Lethal, somebody that Myles doesn’t appear to be a big fan of based off of the term he used to describe the man. Myles’ main point that the t-shirt was racially insensitive was lost to many due to the shots he took at the companies that they love & support.

WWE’s history when it comes to how they use minority performers isn’t the best. All the pictures posted of non-white people wearing championship belts can’t change that. They’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt on this type of situation no matter what kind of response they formulate. Honestly, WWE could have posted a picture of Myles smiling while wearing the t-shirt and people still wouldn’t have given them the benefit of the doubt. We’ve seen too many instances of performers “agreeing” to do things, only to admit years later on podcasts that they didn’t really want to do them.

One wonders how these things get pitched & approved & put out in the public eye without somebody saying “wait a minute here”. Myles mentions “representation” in his tweet, and that’s part of WWE’s problem here. Diversity is an important thing for a company to have, especially when it comes to aspects like merchandise that the public sees on a constant basis. Somebody should be there to give a minority perspective so things like “t-shirts that look like blackface” don’t get out for public consumption.

And I’m not recommending Michael Hayes for the job.

Is the shirt racially insensitive?

Here’s the thing: I can’t answer that question. I’m a white boy from Kentucky with no standing to speak on what minorities should or shouldn’t find offensive. Anybody with any sense of awareness wouldn’t pretend to speak for other races, genders or nationalities on what they should find offensive.

Certainly, not every member of a race, gender or nationality is going to agree on what’s racially insensitive. Booker T seems fine with the t-shirt. Titus O’Neil isn’t. What is and isn’t offensive a tricky subject that we’re never going to get one hundred percent agreement on. We all have different standards for these things.

Me, I’m tough to offend. Other people get offended a lot easier. That’s ok! I’m not going to tell them what they should & shouldn’t be offended by! Especially when it comes to racial issues, which happens to be one of those areas where people that look like me have had the advantage for the past 2,019 years or so. I can’t identify with what African-Americans go through on a daily basis. I can read about it & have people tell me about it, but I’ll never truly understand what it’s like.

Fueled by Anger

One thing we can all agree on: Jordan Myles is an angry young man. He loves to wrestle, and wishes to make a lot of money doing so. He feels like his talents haven’t been appreciated by the likes of WWE & Ring of Honor. Like many people his age, he lashed out on social media about it.

I think that’s something people are overlooking here. Myles isn’t the first person to do something like this. Heck, he’s not the first WWE employee independent contractor to do something like this in 2019. Sasha Banks expressed her frustration with WWE by walking out. The previously mentioned Luke Harper publicly asked for his release, as did Mike Kanellis. Hell, the Revival have been chirping about their status all year. What about Lio Rush? It seemed like he had one foot out the door and now he’s Cruiserweight Champion.

Myles admitted that his tweets were disrespectful & unprofessional. However, his apology was for not giving a hoot about what others think about him. He hasn’t handled this perfectly, not by a long shot. Most of us wouldn’t, no matter how smart we might sound when we’re disaffected & typing away on our keyboards & smartphones. It has to be a little bit different when you’re the person with your gimmick name on the shirt.

As far as I can tell, Myles still has that potential he showed in Indianapolis. Will he be allowed to reach it? Will he allow himself to reach it? Time will tell, but I would advise you all not to count him out just because of one social media meltdown that was mostly justified.

It’s wrestling, folks. You never know what the next hotness is going to be. And sometimes it just happens to be the person who was complaining last week.

article topics :

Jordan Myles, Steve Cook