On The Nightly Show last night, Larry Wilmore and company took a look at the real problem of racism in professional wrestling. While Hulk Hogan being "a little racist" on a four-year-old sex tape had many people re-examining the history of racist angles and characters that have competed in the squared circle, Tommy Dreamer mentioned that time when Virgil, the former man-slave to the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, fought a Klansman and got hanged from the ropes.
Seriously. This could be the most racist spot you've seen in professional wrestling.
Let's set the stage: This match took place in the National Wrestling Conference, a now-defunct independent operation that threw about 19 events between 1994 and 1998, bringing in a number of wrestlers who'd been big in the WWE and WCW who were trying to now make a buck (the federation has included everyone from the Honky Tonk Man, The Bushwhackers, The (Ultimate) Warrior, Rob Van Dam, Cactus Jack, and many, many more) and keep active. Based on their results, it looks like Virgil spent a LOT of time wrestling for this organization, even though he didn't amount to much during his stint in the WWE.
This also took place in the '90s...so '90s that Virgil entered the ring to "Whoomp! There It Is," while his opponent (The Thug) entered to the end of "Thuggish Ruggish Bone." It's an interesting choice, considering that The Thug rolled to the ring in a KKK-esque hood, as did some random bodyguard-esque dude with him.
As the match starts, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (who was a WWF World Tag Team Champion with Bret "Hitman" Hart) reveals himself as the henchman under the white sheets.
At that point it just turns into your standard beatdown. Hell, you might even start wondering why he came to the ring looking like a Klansman in the first place, as there's no real racial vibe to his attack at all...then this happens:
That's right, for some reason Virgil's attack turns into a proper lynching. The guy who was a goddamn man slave just had to get lynched. We're assuming Virgil was OK, even though he ended up getting stretchered out (and truth be told, maybe it was this attack that birthed the attitude Virgil has taken in his later life).
The worst part of this? It's Neidhart's interview after the fact where he says (and I quote), "Look what I did to Virgil...I hear he's still hanging around!"
While the obvious hope is that this was a gross misstep for a federation that wasn't getting as much national exposure as the big boys, it's another horrible example of the racism that's pervaded pro wrestling for ages.