Big Swole Criticizes AEW for “Lack of Diversity,” Tony Khan Responds

During an episode of her Swole World Callin show, Big Swole criticized what she said was AEW’s lack of diversity.

Swole, whose AEW contract was “mutually” not renewed in November, also said that the lack of diversity and lack of TV-time was one of the reasons she “left AEW.”

Tony Khan then responded on Twitter, attempting to defend the criticisms over diversity and claiming that he “let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough.”

Here’s what Swole had to say on her show:

I explained to TK that I didn’t want to re-sign because my peace was being disrupted. If anybody knows me, if anything is disrupting your peace, it’s time to let it go. I know sometimes it might be scary, it might be hard, but it’s time to let it go.

My heart just kinda stopped being in it, for the reason why I left AEW. I just felt like there were a lot of things, and I told them in my exit interview as well, there were a lot of things with that company that need to change. I know fans of the company don’t take criticism well sometimes, like certain ones. But 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, just to get time. You’re signed to this big company, you want 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 have come. Okay, there are more people coming in, but you don’t have enough product for all of these people. So now you have all these people sitting around having two or three minute matches on Dark. That doesn’t keep me happy. Just shoveling money isn’t gonna keep a person happy. We’ve seen it 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. Closed mouths do not get fed. If you are shy, if you don’t know how to write, if you are not creative, it’s not going to work unless they want it to work for you. That’s one of their biggest issues.

Their biggest issue is diversity. I do not like to beat around the bush when it comes to diversity, when it comes to my people. There is no representation, truly, and when there is representation, it does not come across in the black community as genuine. At all. I don’t know why everybody is just either so afraid to accept it or they’re afraid to say it, but it’s just not a good look. What happens is you have this wonderful company that treats people like family, but there’s nobody that looks like me that is represented at the top. They’re not in the room with them. They’re not helping to – not necessarily influence decisions, but to be there to explain why certain slang, why this certain word shouldn’t be said. There’s no one else who can explain our culture except for us, who can explain our experience except for us.

I knew something was up when my daughter – she loves watching wrestling – she would watch AEW all the time and seldomly watch WWE. She was not necessarily a fan of the product unless dad [Cedric Alexander] was on TV, which stopped happening after they botched the Hurt Business. But she started saying, ‘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 lightbulb and a click… I was like, ‘You are absolutely right. I don’t have an explanation.’ It’s 2021. Why are there people saying, ‘it’ll take three years for AEW to have a black champ’? This is a scripted sport, sweetheart. It should not take that long. If you have been watching WWE for 50+ years then you know what not to do.

I believe that the company is making better strides than it was before, but there’s just a couple of things that need to be fixed. You have to be able to call people out because everything’s not perfect. I hope that 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. This art form, I love. I love wrestling and I just want it to succeed and I want the people in it to succeed if they are genuine people. I want WWE to succeed. I just want wrestling to flourish and I don’t want it to be a long-forgotten, like Tartarian type of sport, like 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 dark-skinned latina or Hispanic or just something. Or more Asians. I feel like Asians do not get the love… the Asians, the Indians, they just don’t. It is such a big gap. Like, I hate the fact that I turn on the TV and I’m just seeing the same stuff over and over again. It’s like you’re in the Truman Show. So hopefully they get the message. Me leaving, honestly, was not 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 just honestly take to my grave. But the diversity, that’s what matters.

AEW Wrestlers Comment

Some AEW wrestlers weighed in on the issue.

Notably, Lio Rush demanded that Khan apologize.

Powerhouse Hobbs defended AEW, tweeting, “I’ve been featured in some heavy ass spots since being signed to AEW as well as other minorities. Now TK has put me in spots at the right time that meant something (Punk, Christian Cage, Brian Cage and Hangman and especially running in and saving Mox). This company has been there since the passing of my Mother. Cody and QT played tremendous part in getting me signed. Lastly if you have a issue with someone pick up the phone.”