“AEW is for everyone” has become a rallying cry throughout All Elite Wrestling’s first year, highlighting the upstart organization’s progressive attitude toward inclusivity. But a recent misstep by one of the company’s most high profile wrestlers undercut that sentiment.
During an appearance at AAA Triplemania in Mexico City last month, AEW’s Cody Rhodes joined AAA stalwart Psycho Clown and a debuting former UFC champion Cain Velasquez in leading the crowd in a “puto” chant following their match.
After being contacted by Outsports, a spokesperson for All Elite Wrestling issued both an explanation on behalf of Rhodes, and an apology.
The chant has come under fire in recent years due to its homophobic nature. Other athletic organizations have cracked down heavily on its use, among other homophobic chants, most notably in soccer. Two separate matches, first in France and later in Brazil, were suspended last month per updated FIFA guidelines due to fans’ use of homophobic chants. Today, the U.S. Soccer Federation will be tested, when the U.S. Men’s National Team takes on Mexico in a friendly match at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Mexican sports has a storied history with the anti-gay chant. The country’s soccer federation has incurred fine after fine from FIFA due to the chant’s use, though the cost of the infractions amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist. The last fine levied against Mexico Soccer, a paltry $10,000, came in 2018.
The chant’s use should come as no surprise to regular viewers of Psycho Clown. The masked luchador regularly leads the crowd in the chant during matches at events for AAA and various other organizations across Latin America.
Following the match, Psycho Clown appeared to call his two partners together in the ring and convinced them to participate in the chant, complete with theatrics. A clip of the three leading the chant was included in episode four of AEW’s Road To All Out series on All Elite Wrestling’s official YouTube channel.
The homophobic slur was used a second time on AEW programming by fan favorite Pentagon Jr. during Saturday’s All Out pay-per-view. Pentagon Jr. can be heard yelling the term during a ladder match with his brother, Rey Fenix, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson, collectively known as the Young Bucks. The Jackson brothers double as Executive Vice Presidents of the organization.
In their statement to Outsports, an AEW spokesperson said Rhodes, who also serves as AEW’s Executive Vice President, was unaware of the term’s “negative connotation” and participated in the chant believing it to be a “post-match tradition in Mexico.”
“Cody joined his teammates at AAA TripleMania for what he understood to be their post-match tradition in Mexico and was unaware of any negative connotations. Certainly the last thing Cody would want to do is to hurt or offend anyone, anywhere.”
Now that he, and presumably the rest of AEW’s roster, know the chant’s homophobic intent, hopefully there will be no further participation in such chants going forward. That will be put to the test in the future as AEW continues its working relationship with AAA.
Representatives for AAA did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.