Ring of Honors Shane Taylor Discusses African American Wrestlers

In February 2020, Ring of Honors Shane Taylor committed a great deal of himself to his craft in the ring, with the emergence of Shane Taylor Promotions and prominent championship opportunities within the company.

We discussed several topics, but our discussion over racism in wrestling and the need for widespread change became prominent. Taylor’s thoughts were quite pertinent in advocating for change. A change that isn’t just in the industry but one that is reflective of society today.

While aware of his accomplishments, Shane Taylor is not willing to rest on his laurels. Ring of Honors Shane Taylor continues to do exactly what he sets out to do. Several times Taylor will refer to shattering the glass ceiling.

A ceiling that while some believed has cracks in it has barely scratched the surface on what should be done. During our interview, Shane Taylor discusses the impact Jay Lethal has made in Ring of Honor. Taylor also shares that he too is primed to be the flagbearer as the champion in the foreseeable future.

A great deal has changed in your career since 2017 with Ring of Honor. What has happened since that time with Shane Taylor Promotions?

ST: Since 2017, I have had a chip on my shoulder. People that know me best know that it doesn’t take much to do that. But a motivated and upset Shane Taylor is the last person that you probably want to deal with.

I took the momentum from 2017 and carried it with me into becoming one of the biggest breakout stars that Ring of Honor has had in the last decade. It is not only with my matches with Jeff Cobb stealing the shows or my matches with Bandido or Joe Hendry.

I have been able to since then, of course, win the Ring of Honor World Television Championship.

In doing so, I became only the third African-American male in the history of the company to do so. That meant a lot to me. To have one of the most memorable runs in recent history with that championship was my goal.

For me, it’s now coming off of that and coming off of successful overseas tours in the UK and Mexico now it is full speed ahead to 2020. As being at the helm of Shane Taylor Promotions with myself, Ron Hunt, Kaun, and Moses the Sons of Savagery we are looking to shatter the glass ceiling even more.

To not only in do so in ROH but around the wrestling world. I now have negotiated the best deals in the history of ROH. In the process, I have secured myself the largest per fight deal in the history of the company.

Also, I have guaranteed myself a world championship opportunity of my choosing as well as guaranteeing a six-man championship shot as well and where I say so. I started the year off with two championship opportunities secured is a hell of a start. We are going to have a lot of fun.

One of the most important points you mentioned was Shane Taylor being only the third African American wrestler to win the Ring of Honor World Television Title.

Is color still a boundary despite those that argue against that? Is it more about the opportunity?

ST:  There is a reason why these discussions get so heated and are so in-depth because you are arguing belief. For me, I look around the wrestling landscape and it very much is an issue.

The one thing that I hate it when one person gets success and people go ‘oh well, see it’s over because they were successful’. No, that doesn’t mean it’s over. Just like people saying that ‘racism is over because we have a black President’. No, it’s not. We can look around in recent memory and you can see champions from other promotions using slurs.

There are companies now and that they have expansion and anything that they are doing they have no black people on the roster whatsoever. Some companies that can continue to use black talent in stereotypical roles because that’s what’s comfortable for those in charge.

For a lot of the matches, when they look at black culture this is what they see. This is what they are accustomed too. In professional wrestling, a lot of people are nervous about deviating from that formula because they know that this is something that people will accept and buy into.

That doesn’t mean it is the right thing. For me and so many people like myself, our goal is to be everything. We can be the babyface that can overcome all the obstacles and everything on the spectrum that our counterparts can be. We don’t just have to be pimps or thugs or variations of the same dancing characters.

African-American professional wrestlers can be so much more than that. We can be relied on for so much more that is special. We have intellect and ability. – Ring of Honors Shane Taylor

There are so many things that we have going for us other than what we have been allowed to show so far. That has been my issue and that has been the fight that we have had. It is important when I say that I am here to shatter that glass ceiling.

People think that just because we have had a few champions or just because a few people have been successful with midcard things that things have changed. That’s just not the case.

The same ideology still exists. I don’t care what new faces you put on them the same obstacles are still there. People like myself and other people that are taking up that fight to break those doors down and to continue to do what we have set to do and that’s set the example.

A lot of the Shane Taylor drive is internal that drive to be better came from within. Where is the line drawn between race and individual drive to succeed, whatever obstacle has been put before them?

ST: That’s a tough question, but everyone is different. There is only one LeBron James and only one Bill Gates. I am someone who did overcome a lot of those things. But I was very fortunate still because of the kind of people I had around me.

At different points in my life, that could have been far less. We may not even be having this conversation. But I was fortunate enough to have the right people by me at the right time. They were there to help steer me where I needed to go.

For so many people, they don’t have that. It is very difficult to say, ‘well you made it why isn’t the same for everyone else’? It is because not everyone is in the same situation.

Several people have it far worst. It’s unfortunate that we still live in a time where things are only getting harder. We have more technology than ever. Things are moving faster than ever, and yet that gap is still growing.

We live in a day and time where you can spend billions on bombs or going to war, and yet cities in our own country don’t have clean water. That makes no sense to me.

You can’t explain to me and you can’t argue the point to me that if that was a different city. To say, if that was Boston or some rural suburb that this would have been allowed and continued for this long.

Someone would have solved this or would have made it a priority to take care of it. Yet, here we are x amount of years later facing the same thing.

The water is poisonous. People are losing their jobs and yet still trying to provide for their families. Yet, they don’t even have clean water. It shouldn’t be up to celebrities to bring clean water to anybody.

That is why we have city officials and why we have politicians. It is why we these people in office to help take care of these things. However, when you don’t value a certain community when you don’t see them as being human.

That you don’t see them as being people. This is what happens when you allow these things to happen. That is something that we have to change.

Do you feel that in some respects people were sweeping racism under the rug and not giving it the attention and that social media has helped to bring more awareness to it?

Or was the approach taken differently?

ST: Oh of course, but there has never been any kind of change in this country or anywhere else that was comfortable. In order to change things, people are going to have to be uncomfortable. Things are going to have to be rough.

That is where the growth is and where the progress is. No protest or change has ever come lightly. People can be professional. But if we want things to change then people are going to have to see things differently.

No one has ever relinquished that power willingly. It is something that is going to change. And it is something that is going to come to a head at some point, and people can find themselves on either the right side or the wrong side of history.

Where do people want to see their legacies to be and what they want to be remembered as? For me and so many others, we want to be on the right side of history. We want to be on the right side change and not just for one group but for everybody. That is what I have said in many other interviews for it.

Racism is the one thing that people say ‘oh get over it’ but they don’t say that about anything else. They don’t say that about any other misconduct or any other phobia. Nothing.

It is only this and if we aren’t getting rid of everything than any of it means anything. Then we are picking and choosing who gets picked on and who is getting trampled on. Either we are choosing to stop everything or might as well be quiet about everything because none of it means anything.

Ring of Honor has celebrated African-American athletes since essentially its inception. Where does Ring of Honors Shane Taylor think they have taken steps to ensure there is a more prominent position or role for African American talent in the company?

ST: I can’t speak to how they talk because I’m not around when they do. I know that looking from the outside in that it is one of the few companies who have had people like myself in prominent roles and allowed them to just be themselves.

No stereotype or glad-handing. None of what you see in a lot of other places. For myself to see and to have an example of a guy like Jay (Lethal) that can be one of the very best to ever do this and be one of the only ones to ever hold this mantel.

One of only eight people in the history of the sport to have reached that level on an international platform as he did in Ring of Honor.

I know that the folks in charge love Jay and they are happy with his success. We are happy with his success. I have taken on the challenge upon myself to have him scoot over in that legacy talk because I want my name added to that list as well.

I want to be the ninth person in the history of this sport to lead a company. My hope is that I can lead it with the grace, skill, and mastery that Jay did. But the goal nonetheless though is to lead it and lead it well.