The Very Real Problem of Sexual Abuse in the Wrestling Industry

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2020 | Youth Athletic Organizations

Wrestling may be best known for its entertainment value and its pre-determined outcomes.  But right now the entire wrestling industry is deal with a very real crisis of sexual abuse.

Last week, “a wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations hit Twitter as several names from WWE, NWA and across the wrestling scene have been accused of serious allegations by various women.  We at Horowitz Law doubt that anyone is shocked by this. But you may be surprised by the public response of the sports’ official body.

“Individuals are responsible for their own personal actions,” proclaimed the WWE.
Wow. Could the WWE be more self-serving and tone-deaf?

What COULD the WWE have said? What have other similarly-situated organizations said?

–“We’re deeply saddened by these disclosures. . .”

–“We extend our most sincere apologies to anyone hurt by anyone associated with our institution. . . ”

–“We hope others who may have been assaulted will step forward. . . ”

–“We were unaware but are taking the following steps immediately to make our members/supporters/fans safer. . . .”

Not the WWE. Apparently, their first instinct is ducking and dodging: “Hey, we really got nothing to do with these folks. They’re just individuals. . .”

Shame on wrestling officials. They know full well that any predators in the sport use the money and fame gained through the sport to get access to vulnerable fans and employees of the sport. It’s just that simple.
To be fair, the WWE’s public statement about these revelations includes the boilerplate, unconvincing kind of language we’ve seen in other settings where long-hidden abuse reports surface suddenly. For example, “The WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.” And “We take any allegation of this nature very seriously and are looking into the matter.”
But of course, at this point, these are just words.

Supposedly, wrestling officials have set up an “emergency meeting . . .to discuss the accusations.” If that’s true, let’s hope the room isn’t crammed full of lawyers and public relations ‘spin doctors.’
Let’s hope the WWE and similar groups have the common sense and decency to involve experienced abuse survivors and their advocates in planning what comes next.

It’s not just wrestlers, however, who are among the alleged wrongdoers. “One of the most prominent allegations implicates NWA Vice President Dave Lagana, who is being accused of sexual assault by a woman who goes by the name of Liz Savage on Twitter,” according to one account.

Among those publicly accused of sexual assault at this point: David Starr, Jordan Devlin, Travis Banks, Joe Coffey, Tyler Bate and Simon Musk (a.k.a. ‘Ligero’) who is accused by independent wrestler Natalie Sykes of sexually harassing her.

A number of indie promotions have cut ties with Starr, an encouraging start toward creating the kind of environment needed for victims of assault to feel less fearful in speaking up.

And kudos to AEW star Nyla Rose and WWE NXT UK stars Piper Niven and NXT UK women’s champion

Kay Lee Ray who “have spoken out in support of the #SpeakingOut movement, which is reminiscent of the #MeToo movement that shook up Hollywood.”