The May 28th episode of AEW Dynatime was a major milestone for Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida. Having held the promotion’s most prestigious women’s title for a full year, she was awarded a brand-new gold and diamond belt as she prepares to defend it this weekend against Dr. Britt Baker.
? New Women's World Championship Belt! #AEWDynamite pic.twitter.com/Laju9uGqmY
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 29, 2021
The lack of focus on women’s wrestling in AEW has drawn criticism since its inception, but the upcoming match between Shida and Baker is seen as a potential inflection point where the promotion can make good on its promises to make women’s wrestling as important as it’s become in competitors like WWE.
Right before the momentous segment got underway, audio from the AEW Spanish announce team was broadcast during the commercial break on Fite TV. The team, which includes Alex Abrahantes, Wille Urbina, Dasha Kuret & Thunder Rosa, was preparing to call the segment after the commercial when Abrahantes asked Urbina to do an impression of Shida’s promo. At that point, Urbina started doing an offensive racist stereotype of the “Asian accent.”
Los comentaristas en español de @AEW se han burlado del acento japonés de @shidahikaru durante la pausa publicitaria previa a su segmento en #AEWDynamite.
Esto es inaceptable @TonyKhan.
Por favor, haced RT para que lo vea la gente. pic.twitter.com/K6TYCZJwLY
— Miguel Uceda (@MigUceda) May 29, 2021
Here’s an English translation of the segment, via Fightful by Luis Pulido.
Alex Abrahantes: “Do Shida.”
Willie Urbina: Speaks incoherently using a stereotypical accent.
Thunder Rosa: “Shut up, holy crap!” (Laughs)
Willie Urbina: Continues on with accent.
Thunder Rosa: “I will throw the pen at you if you don’t stop.” (Said in a joking manner)
Dasha Kuret: “Stop it! You are mean.” (Seemingly addressing Urbina, sounding crossed about it)
Aside from the much more serious fact that the impersonation is racist, it’s also just fairly lazy and stupid. Who is possibly entertained by something like that? (Some of the other members of the announce team, clearly). Not to mention that this occurred during a broadcast of a wrestling promotion owned by someone of South Asian descent during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Doing anti-Asian racism right under the nose of your Asian-American boss about one of your Asian coworkers while also roping 3 other coworkers into it as you all forget that you're on the air live might very well be one of the most impressive cases of self-owning I've ever seen. https://t.co/e0c7IHF3DY
— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) May 29, 2021
Shida even released a video earlier this month regarding the #StopAsianHate campaign, calling for an end to recent violence and for everyone to be treated equally.
— HIKARU SHIDA 志田 光 (@shidahikaru) March 19, 2021
Sufficed to say, Urbina was not long for AEW and Dave Meltzer reported Saturday morning that he had been let go by the company.
Willie Urbina was let go by AEW.
— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) May 29, 2021
No word yet on whether or not the rest of the Spanish announcing team will see changes, but if nothing else, you can believe that anyone sitting at an AEW announcer table is going to be very aware that the mics are always on when you’re out there. And in an industry where racial stereotypes and casual racism have been par for the course for decades, let’s hope that we hear less of these kinds of “jokes” as it becomes more and more global.