Alex Kane and his belt. | MLW

Game Changer Wrestling’s “For The Culture” event has become a staple of its The Collective, a weekend-long showcase of top names across independent pro wrestling during WrestleMania Week. The event specifically features Black pro wrestlers, providing a stage for them to shine during pro wrestling’s biggest week.

This year is no different. The fifth edition of “For The Culture” will close out Friday night’s The Collective slate in Philadelphia, where WrestleMania 40 is taking place.

What is different is the perspective of the person running the show: Pro Wrestling VIBE co-founder and LGBTQ pro wrestling cornerstone Billy Dixon.

This marks the second year Dixon will helm the event after taking over for past showrunners AJ Gray and Naptown All-Pro Wrestling co-founder Jordan “J-Rose” Rose. After gathering the lay of the land with last year’s “For The Culture 4” in Los Angeles and wading through various misinformed narratives on social media around his appointment to the role, Dixon is ready to bring the event to new heights.

Some of that hinges on clerical maneuvers. Moving the show to Friday night eliminates a conflict with “WaleMania,” another long-running WrestleMania Week event focused on Black populations and culture. Dixon also lobbied to make general admission free to anyone, opening the opportunity for people to attend, with lower financial hurdles.

But another change can be seen up and down the card: the expansion of queer talent featured on the show.

“I think it’s both a conscious and unconscious thing to increase the queer representation on the show,” Dixon said during a recent appearance on the LGBT In The Ring podcast. “Obviously, I’m a queer person. I have relationships with queer people. I am looking at talent and, you know, they are queer. But I also think that if we look at 2023 as a whole, how could you not?

“I don’t really love some of the phrasing when it comes to shows about marginalized identities because I really think we’re a collective, no pun intended … it’s a sum of all parts. But how can you not say that Alex Kane, regardless of orientation, didn’t have a crazy 2023. How can you not say that Sonny Kiss, finally freed from being basically paid to sit in the back … how can you say that she isn’t deserving of a spot?”

Kane and Kiss are slated for major matches against Pan Afrikan World Diaspora World champion Suge D and U.K. star Man Like Dereiss respectively, but they are only two members of the community stepping into the ring Friday night. Joining them are names like Jordan Blade, Faye Jackson, Brooke Valentine, Devon Monroe and Keita. Historic former world champion AC Mack brings representation to the commentary booth. Dixon himself will write the next chapter of his years-long feud with Darius Carter. This “For The Culture” looks to be the queerest one yet.

Still, the focus of Friday night’s festivities will be placed on all facets of Black populations and culture within pro wrestling, a process that brings unique joys and challenges that Dixon fully understands.

“I think that this show has the most emotional labor,” Dixon said. “If you look at other cards on The Collective, and all WrestleMania Week, there’s this plethora of available legends and high profile names. When it comes to ‘For The Culture,’ a lot of people are signing contracts and for one reason or another aren’t available to us. That puts us at a disadvantage.

“A lot of our legendary Black figures in wrestling have transitioned out of the business. So there isn’t really an opportunity to do the GCW staple of a name from way back when. The number of active legends that are willing or able to be part of the show, the ratio is just much different than, for example, ‘Joey Janela’s Spring Break.’ So, you’re dealing with different tools at your disposal to make these shows great.”

Despite those challenges, Dixon has built one of the most stacked cards of the week, including Black legends 2 Cold Scorpio and Ruckus, and cannot wait to show what Black independent wrestling, queer and otherwise, has to say.

“I’m really excited to see what a really strong independent-only loaded card gives in comparison to having a healthy helping of huge names or legends or televised and contracted talent,” Dixon said. “It’ll be interesting for sure.”

GCW “For The Culture” will take place Friday, April 5, at 11:59pmET from Penns Landing Caterers in Philadelphia. The event will also stream live on TrillerTV.