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On December 1, Darius Lockhart will present ASÉ at the Grady Cole Events Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
As a professional wrestler himself, Lockhart is no stranger to the bright spotlight. However, now he’s using his in-ring experience and out-of-this-world imagination to build a stage unlike any other before.
Fresh from a Janelle Monae concert, west side Charlotte’s favorite Revolutionary sat down with the Black Wall Street Times to talk about what ASÉ has in store for the Queen City.
For years, Black professional wrestling fans have clamored for better representation, quality matches, and meaningful title reigns for Black talent.
Despite Black wrestlers’ vast talents, polarizing personalities, and dominant physiques, their careers are often stereotyped, sidelined and suffocated.
“The math never mathed.” Darius Lockhart
“It’s an internalized bias,” he added. “I don’t think the show bookers and match makers know how to perceive us as great. We’ve never been positioned to be honored like our White counterparts.”
He explains of the past greats, “Ron Simmons was never positioned to have a Stone Cold Steve Austin-type legacy. “We have to acknowledge that if Simmons has never been considered the greatest of all time, there was also someone saying ‘no, you don’t get to be that great.’”
Choosing to be better over bitter, Darius Lockhart said, “I thought, ‘Let’s make a show about us.’”
He added, “It can celebrate our past, present, and future rather than being mad about what we didn’t get in their space.”
Lockhart continued, “Our culture knows these characters exist. And if they can’t exist in their space, let’s build a space where they can.”
Understanding the problem from the inside out, Lockhart decided he would not only enter the squared circle as a Revolutionary, but hold the rope open for others to step through behind him.
Seeing ASÉ with a clear eye-view, Lockhart says he’s invested in seeing his dream come to fruition despite never planning anything of this Mecklenburg County magnitude. “I try to remember to have fun with it.”
He continued, “I went from quietly working on this by myself and now people love coming up to me to talk about it.”
Other than an admittedly “lit” birthday party, Lockhart says he’s never planned an event “so ambitious, I knew ASÉ was going to sound crazy to anybody who heard the idea initially.” He followed up, “And it should, that’s what excites me.”
He said, “I get excitement from people who have told me they don’t even watch wrestling but they’re coming just because it’s our show. That’s been really cool.”
What does professional wrestling teach us?
While casual skeptics have always argued about the authenticity of in-ring performers, Lockhart contends, “Wrestling characters teach you how to own yourself. They teach you love, self-respect, discipline, and boundaries.”
He joked, “People get their boundaries crossed all the time in wrestling because we’re naturally habitual line-steppers.”
More than merely cheers and boos, Lockhart explains “there are stories that teach us human endurance and human empathy. You’re watching someone get beat up, and you’re cheering for them to come back.”
He states, “Wrestling naturally shows you how to empathize for people even if they aren’t your race or gender.”
But why ASÉ?
“I looked at nearly every definition of the word and read its interpretations. It was checking all the boxes like ‘yes, yes, yes.’”
After losing his beloved father and taking time away from the ring, Lockhart says he has found peace in an industry that “you can grow up quick in.”
Once considering VENDETTA as the name for his wrestling organization, Lockhart says his better judgment later chose ASÉ.
“I’d rather create and speak life into something new than have a chip on the shoulder. That way we can focus more on us,” affirmed Lockhart.
“I want this to challenge what people think success in pro wrestling looks like.” Lockhart contends, “ASÉ doesn’t answer to the wrestling infrastructure success model.”
Behind every great wrestler is a great entrance
Like any wrestler worth his or her smelling salts, Lockhart has long known the power of a quality entrance.
Whether personable or persona non grata, Lockhart says, “I think pageantry is what makes us great.”
After curating protest-themed anthems for himself, he stated, “I think my entrances were probably the first mode of organizing I ever did.”
Reminiscing on the younger days when he got his hair cut at The Chop Shop, Lockhart says both Jeff Hardy and CM Punk were two superstars he could see his personality reflected in.
“I liked people who were different and stood up when they saw some BS going on.” The ASÉ founder continued, “Those two were very influential even though they were polar opposite.”
Though he grew up listening to his mother play R&B and clean versions of hip hop albums, the Revolutionary credits a “cool cousin” for sliding him explicit CDs.
Also a former African Diaspora studies minor, Lockhart named Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and D’Angelo’s Black Messiah among his most infuential albums.
Darius Lockhart’s Top 5: Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Ms. Lauryn Hill, 2pac, Jay-Z
With DJ Steel Wheel keeping the good vibes rolling, Lockhart wants everyone to come away from ASÉ feeling seen and heard.
ASÉ is coming soon
On December 1, the Grady Cole Events Center will open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m with a special performance by Lute. The show will be live-streamed as well.
ASÉ tickets can be purchased here.
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