Former AEW wrestler Big Swole has discussed the fallout from the recent public spat with AEW President Tony Khan and says Khan hasn’t apologised for his comments.
After two years with AEW, Big Swole parted ways with the company on 30 November and recently spoke about her departure on her Swole World call-in show. During the episode, she discussed the problems she sees in the company which includes a lack of structure, the amount of time given to the women’s division, and, perhaps most contentiously, issues with 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.”
Big Swole also explained that she believes AEW is making “better strides than before”, but there are still things she believes need to be fixed.
“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.”
Tony Khan hit back at the comments on Twitter, pointing out that he and AEW’s Chief Legal Counsel Megha Parekh are two of the top executives in the company, before taking a swipe at Big Swole herself:
“The top 2 @AEW execs are brown (me & Megha)!! Jade, Bowens, Caster, Dante, Nyla, Isiah & Marq Quen all won on tv this month. The TBS Title Tournament has been very diverse. I let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough. #AEWRampage Street Fight TONIGHT!”
Now Big Swole has responded to Khan’s remarks on her latest Call In Show and says her initial response to Khan’s message was disbelief followed by disappointment:
“When I read the TK tweet, it was, not necessarily sent to me, but I got a text message saying, ‘Do not respond to him, it’s not worth it.’ At that time, I was already a little zooted because it was about to be New Year’s. I looked at it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot.'”
“It was a lot to process to read between the lines. Then I saw the complete uproar about it and my first instinct was….’ughh,’ you know you turn your nose up at something? Ughh, what, why would you? You could have stopped right there and everything would have been Gucci. But to continue on? Dude. You still had enough character to promote the match? Dang. I couldn’t believe it. It went from that to disappointed.”
Big Swole continued, saying that she felt embarrassed by Khan’s comments:
“Overall, I’m very disappointed. A person with that pedigree should know how to respond in a way that doesn’t come off in the most negative way possible. What couth do you have? What grace? I’m a person. I’m a person that, in my exit interview, you praised me. You praised me for my leadership roles in the division and what I’ve done to help and how my matches were good and great and how ‘hey, we would love to have you back.'”
“A couple weeks or so later, to this. I was very disappointed. Embarrassed, even. Embarrassed for the people that are there. I really couldn’t believe it. Did he even listen to the podcast? Obviously not because it went completely off the rails. You went completely to counting brown people. If it was truly about counting brown people, I would be naming certain demographics. ‘Oh, why isn’t there more Indian people,’ that type of thing.”
Swole added that she has not received an apology from Tony Khan and there has been no communication between the two. Big Swole also took a dig at those AEW stars that seemed to defend Khan by posting their own experiences on social media:
“To answer everybody’s question. No, there’s been no apology. There’s been no contact or anything and I don’t think there will be. I feel like, maybe he feels he said nothing wrong. At all. Maybe he felt he had to send out the performative people with their tweets trying to negate my own experience with their own experience because that’s exactly what it is because I’m sharing mine, then you come around to share yours in a way that you dig at me in the middle of it.”
“How sincere is that? Would you have shared anything if I said nothing? Would you have spoken up about how wonderful it is in your spots? Diversity isn’t spots, sweetheart. Okay? It’s not. It’s performative at this point.”
“Sharing your experience does not negate anybody else’s experience. You have a right to share how you feel and what you’ve experienced and what you see. That has nothing to do with anyone else. It only has to do with yourself and how you feel.”