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AEW’s Sonny Kiss shines in the TNT championship spotlight

Kiss challenged Cody for the TNT championship at AEW’s Fight for the Fallen Wednesday night, one year after making his singles debut at the same event.

Sonny Kiss, Cody, All Elite Wrestling All Elite Wrestling

Note to our readers: Genderfluid individuals use a variety of pronouns depending on circumstances and situations. This article reflects and respects that.

Update: Sonny Kiss held his own in a hard-hitting affair against Cody at AEW Fight for the Fallen Wednesday night but ultimately fell short in her bid to win the TNT championship.

That doesn’t mean Kiss didn’t leave an impression though, including another memorable entrance alongside the Roar of the Jaguars cheerleaders.

Even in defeat, Kiss proved that he can throw elbows as well as he lights up crowds.

Original Story: It was one year ago that Sonny Kiss made his singles debut in an All Elite Wrestling ring at the inaugural Fight for the Fallen. Kiss won the hearts of audiences from the minute he entered the arena, the Jacksonville Jaguars Roar of the Jaguars cheerleading squad in tow, and won his match against Peter Avalon. The power of the moment adorned Kiss’ face post-match.

Now, one year later, Kiss enters the same arena and ring at the second Fight for the Fallen event with an entirely new challenge: TNT champion Cody. The title was on the line Wednesday night, but, in many ways, the opportunity to challenge for the TNT championship is a victory in and of itself because of what it represents to the LGBTQ audiences that tune in.

“There wasn’t really queer representation, and then having this high profile match gives them someone they can look up to like, ‘OK. They have this huge opportunity. They’re not just being used for comedy,’” Kiss said on Outsports’ LGBT In The Ring podcast. “It’s a statement in a way. Whether I win or lose, that I have this match under my belt just shows that you can do anything. You’re not just a gimmick. You’re not just a character. You can be a kickass fighting phenom.”

Kiss, along with former AEW women’s world champion Nyla Rose, has been at the forefront of AEW’s push for diversity in the industry, carving a path for LGBTQ identities that have never experienced authentic representation on a mainstream stage.

The “Concrete Rose’s” genderfluid identity has been on full display across AEW programming, shedding light on a sector of the gender spectrum that tends to be obscured by the LGBTQ blanket at times. But Kiss puts an unabashed face to that population and knows the power such an act invokes.

“If it’s not authentic, you shouldn’t be doing it,” Kiss said. “You can be effeminate and unapologetic and you’ll be fine. It’s just a matter of showing them, through me, that anything is possible.”

Kiss was ready to bring that authenticity, along with the entire LGBTQ community, into the ring with her against Cody Wednesday night. But the challenge Kiss presented wasn’t lost on the champion. Cody recognized Kiss as “the modern snapshot of what a wrestler looks like in 2020” on AEW’s Road to Fight for the Fallen YouTube series. And that “modern snapshot” was ready to prove once again that she belongs opposite a figure like Cody.

“I’m picking up where Nyla left off in a way… me being an effeminate LGBTQ person and being as unique as I am shows LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color, that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Kiss said. “I’m going to prove [it] to the world.”

Hear the entire interview with Sonny Kiss on Outsports’ LGBT In The Ring podcast. Download and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts and wherever you find Outsports podcasts.