June 22, 2023

When you look at the vanglorious image Jedi Jack Yeti cooked up for the fifth annual #BRP50, there’s one wrestler in particular that feels most “khal-like.” His name is Darius Carter (#15 on the 2023 #BRP50 list), and he's spent almost 15 years bridging the gap. No, I’m not speaking about the gap between Black wrestlers who deserve to get shine and the rest of the world, but the gap between the era that influenced Carter and the era he actually performs in. Carter, the current four-time Warriors of Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, oozes sophistication. For a performer who is so connected with the National Wrestling Alliance of the 1970s, it should be no surprise that Carter prefers to handle business.

“When you get Darius Carter, you get everything,” the All Father told Joel Pearl & SP3 during a recent appearance on In The Weeds. “You get the look, the mic work, the ring work. In and out of the ring, you're getting somebody that you want to put a championship on.”

During the 12 months in the #BRP50 calendar year (May 2022 through May 2023), one of my favorite wrestlers was Bryan Danielson. Danielson, a man close to my age, has been in god mode. Actually, let me stop. The key to Danielson’s performance since joining AEW has been that he’s a true “seasoned veteran.” The vignettes of Danielson with William Regal—someone who Darius Carter mentioned on In The Weeds as an influence—training with the motley crew known as the Blackpool Combat Club inspired me. I don't know about you, but I could see Carter fitting in perfectly with that tough-as-nails squad, both as a performer and as an individual. And while pro wrestling isn’t just about the technical aspects, I love seeing Darius Carter step into the squared circle (rocking what I imagine legends like Regal would wear to the ring in 2023) and get busy with whoever is unlucky enough to have to face him on that night. And sure, he may be remembered as the guy who rocked a gray three-piece during Faye Jackson’s Gray Sweatpants Battle Royal, but that next time you saw him on a card, facing anyone from Savannah Evans to Billy Dixon to O’Shay Edwards to Rev. Ron Hunt, you know you’re going to get the finest in Carter’s style of close-quarters combat.

Serious question: does Darius Carter own a pair of sunglasses? To totally jack a line from this random ‘80s jam, Carter’s future’s looking bright; it may be time to invest in some Cartier shades. Think about it: one of the biggest stories coming out of Bad Bunny bringing WWE back to Puerto Rico was the appearance of Carlito as a part of the LWO. This is the same Carlito who will be a part of a four-way bout for Darius Carter’s aforementioned WOW Heavyweight strap at Ultimate Survival 2023 in July. Carter, who is in his “legend run,” says he’s gunning for Carlito with the title on the line. “This is the type of person I am,” Carter told In The Weeds. “I have a job to do.” That job isn’t just “defend the most esteemed title in WOW,” though. Carter has set his sights on the 10 Pounds of Gold that Tyrus currently holds in the NWA.

Carter, who quickly shouts out the NWA style in regards to what he emulates as a performer, isn’t feeling the current situation in Billy Corgan’s NWA when it comes to the “open challenges” that are given out, openly saying that they don’t feel authentic. “It doesn’t feel, to me, that you’re really giving all the opportunities that you can to the most deserving talent and challengers out there.” Carter explained. Carter also asked if the press that Tyrus gets by showing up on cable TV with the NWA title is positive, which…thank you, Darius. There’s a beauty in being able to say what you mean to say without having to spell it out. And truth be told, Corgan’s NWA would only benefit from Darius Carter holding the top prize. “Give me the mic, give me the ring, you can give me three minutes,” Carter boasts. “You don’t need to give me the world because I can make the world out of a city.”

That’s what attracted me to Carter initially; any time I saw next-day timeline hype about a hot indie event, I’d eventually see photos of Darius Carter looking like the Sophisticated Menace I appreciate. There’s a reason why WWE Hall of Famers like Sean Waltman (a.k.a. X-Pac) felt obligated to post now-deleted tweets celebrating the “f*** ton of star potential” that Carter possesses. He feels like the real deal; throw on a Darius Carter promo and tell me you aren’t ready to see this man take over the NWA, Battle Club Pro, and the world. Hell, many of us saw him in Jersey All-Pro, cutting a scathing interview after his first appearance in the fed.

Let me dial it back a bit. One of the beautiful things about being a part of BRP is our diligence in keeping up with the cutting edge of Black pro wrestlers. It’s a simple aim, especially with the breadth of talent that graces our annual #BRP50 list. It’s a slippery slope though, right? You still have to be dope, and the thing with a performer like Darius Carter is that he’s not just “dope.” He’s the total package (sorry, Luger). Carter’s the most khal-friendly pro wrestler on the #BRP50 because he not only talks like Ric Flair from the early ‘80s, but he wrestles like Regal from the ‘90s with a knowledge of what’s going on in the modern era. . He isn’t just a jack of all trades; Darius Carter is a master of all

“This isn't just a job or an on and off thing for me,” Carter told In The Weeds. “This is who I am and who I represent, to show people that a persona like this can exist in 2023.” I don’t want to say that the “persona” he’s referring to is “a talented Black man who can catch-as-catch-can with the best of them,” but have you seen him in the ring? That’s the M.O. of a performer who feels they represent “something that is very real and is missing in wrestling. I don't think we have someone who is going back to the tradition and bringing it fully into the modern times,” Carter said. “You have people that are more traditional, but I'm mixing 2023 with the style and look, with a 1970s and ‘80s wrestling approach.”

Does that make Darius is the Greg Nice of pro wrestling? If you want to take one facet out of him out of context, sure. To fully understand what makes a Darius Carter tick, you have to remember that his base of pro wrestling influence starts in the ‘70s. For Darius Carter, pro wrestling is traveling to whatever dump would have you and putting on the best show you could that night. But don’t worry, if this is your first time hearing about the greatness that is Darius Carter, he’s fine with it. Hell, the All Father relishes in those moments.

“That's the feeling I want promoters to have when they book me for the first time,” Carter explained. “'Where has he been? Why didn't I do this sooner?' I'm not saying this to be braggadocious, I'm saying this because I put time and effort and energy, every moment of the day, into who Darius Carter is.” And what is Darius Carter? Let him tell it, he’s the Alpha and Omega, a stellar combination of classic pro wrestling fundamentals with a keen awareness of today. For myself, and many pro wrestling fans like me, Darius Carter is another shining example of Black Excellence and the broad spectrum of what being a “Black professional wrestler” is. All praise due to the All Father.

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