By Shane Thomas
Here’s two things that are true:
1) Being white can give you unearned advantages and privileges in life.
2) Being white doesn’t mean that anything you achieve in life wasn’t deserved.
There is a school of thought on parts of Wrestling Twitter that Alexa Bliss is a five-time champion because she’s blonde and white, while Sasha Banks not being champion in over a year is a result of her being neither of these things. While it’s not a stretch to imagine that WWE will always favor a white talent over a black one (just look at the company’s history), it’s far too simplistic to put the decision making only down to that.
This doesn’t mean that WWE’s front office may not have a subconscious predisposition towards Bliss, and that they would have more patience with Sasha’s backstage behavior if she was white (due to the horrible stereotype of black women always having an attitude.) One also wonders whether part of the reason Sasha may have a chip on her shoulder is due to her feeling she always has to prove herself more than her white, blonde counterparts?
But that doesn’t change the fact that if Sasha is a pain in the proverbial bottom, then she also has some accountability for the weak story lines she gets. Full disclosure, Sasha is my favorite women’s wrestler, and is at another level to Bliss in the ring. However, Alexa has something that Sasha doesn’t, which is the reason why Bliss has been so successful.
Partly because of women’s wrestling being neglected by WWE for years, one area where their women still need plenty of development is on the mic. Barring Stephanie McMahon, how many women do you feel could be given a live mic for 5-10 minutes and not flounder in that situation? While some have initially struggled and become more comfortable with promos (e.g. Charlotte Flair), Alexa – despite being part of the woeful “This is Your Life” segment with Bayley – has consistently managed to shine, giving the best comeback to the interminable “What?” chant I can remember witnessing.
Unlike in NXT, the way WWE is constructed means the best way for a wrestler to communicate who they are is with words, even if it’s an uphill battle given how terrible the segments are scripted. This, like much in WWE, is a legacy of the Attitude Era. While Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock have a litany of great matches, the clearest memories of them come from their promos, rather than the in-ring workrate. Unless you’re wresting at a lights-out standard like Seth Rollins or AJ Styles, it’s tough to get over on the main roster without being able to talk.
Vince McMahon has always preferred a big personality over a great worker. And what Alexa has shown more than any other woman at present is tons of personality. It’s why talents like her and Elias are given such prominence, when they’ve never had anything approaching a 5-star match. Also consider that the key priority in the division right now is Ronda Rousey, who they can’t make a star without giving her a foil to work off. With Charlotte and Asuka currently on SmackDown, and Sasha working baby face, who’s better suited to the ask than Alexa?
In a company that wants to present an image of promoting women’s wrestling (but only in their already established model), a woman who’s a reliable promo becomes invaluable. If you want to know why Alexa Bliss seems to be Vince’s favorite right now, I’d look more at the mic in her hand, than the color of her hair and skin.
Follow NAI Patreon Shane Thomas on Twitter at @TokenBG.