AEW News

Big Swole Criticises Lack of Structure And Diversity In AEW

Big Swole

One month removed from her November 30th exit from the company, Big Swole has opened up about the lack of diversity and structure in AEW.

An early fan favourite of the AEW women’s division, Big Swole was officially signed to the company in December 2019. She went on to have a high profile feud with Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D, ultimately defeating the devilish dentist in the cinematic ‘Tooth and Nail’ match. Flying high after the win, Swole would then have a championship match against Hikaru Shida on the first Dynamite anniversary show.

On her Swole World call in show, the current free agent explained her reasons for parting with All Elite Wrestling. One of her key complaints levied against the company was the lack of television time given to the women’s division, as well as the hinderance that the structure of the company presents to talent less creative with their own material:

“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. Shoveling 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.”

h/t to Fightful for the transcription

Many AEW wrestlers have been outspoken in their praise for the freedom the company grants its talent. Bryan Danielson, after making the jump from WWE, detailed earlier in the year how he has been ‘blown away’ by the creative freedom offered to him in AEW.

Big Swole also praised the creative freedom available in AEW on the same show, however. Discussing her long-running feud with Britt Baker, Swole described the ‘amazing’ process that allowed her to present her character authentically:

“AEW was pretty lax about, ‘Okay, who do you wanna do? What do you wanna do?’ You have creative freedom, in a sense, to at least pitch your own ideas and come up with your own storylines, so that’s how Brittnay (Baker) and I started with that – and that was amazing because they just let me do me.

“They told us the gist of what the story was going to be about but they just let me fly off the handle with my promos and kinda just say whatever I wanted. So most of the stuff that you did hear me say was kinda just on the fly and it was magic, in all honesty.”

An area Swole was more critical of AEW in, however, related to the issue 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.”

h/t to Fightful for the transcription

Swole’s issues were shared by her daughter, who she explained opened her eyes even further to the problem within the company:

“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.”

Diversity in AEW has been a talking point since the company’s inception. Fellows wrestlers such as former GCW World Champion AJ Gray have discussed the issue in the past, criticising the company for the lack of black male singles talent.

AEW have made strides in this area over the past year, adding the likes of Lee Moriarty, Jay Lethal and Lee Johnson to the ranks. Big Swole did note that AEW have improved the state of the diversity in the company, though she believes they need to do more:

“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.”

h/t to Fightful for the transcription

Big Swole primarily wrestled on AEW Dark and AEW Dark: Elevation in her last year with the company, last appearing on an episode of Dynamite back in December 2020. She teamed with Serena Deeb to score a victory against Diamante and Ivelisse, the former of whom she would have a fierce rivalry with on Dark in her final months with the company.