Barnett’s Blog: The #SpeakingOut Movement and the shocking amorality of professional wrestling


By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)

Much like the rest of you, I have observed social media in utter horror as the seemingly endless stream of misconduct allegations against wrestling personalities have poured in over the last few days. I do not seek to address any specific allegation in this blog, nor am I in a position to proclaim anyone’s guilt or innocence, but I will say that my first instinct in these cases is to believe victims. The alleged conduct is appalling, including various forms of rape, grooming and soliciting minors, sexual favors traded quid pro quo for jobs and promotions, spousal abuse, gaslighting, and other forms of personal and workplace misconduct.

In many cases, prominent wrestling personalities have spoken up in support of the victims, with some even acknowledging that they are yet unprepared to tell their own stories. The trauma, anguish, and regret conveyed through these stories is simply staggering, and something that is difficult enough for me to process as an observer, let alone being a victim. I could not help but think of my own 9-year-old daughter, who has attended several wrestling shows with me, and how uncomfortable I have suddenly become with recommending wrestling to her as a form of entertainment. I imagine many of the victims of these incidents at one time being wrestling fans as children, and how that passion may have led them into the paths of predators that they wanted to believe had their best interests at heart.

The ugliness of these allegations was met with an equally ugly response from portions of the wrestling community who do not wish to believe their heroes capable of depravity and moral failure. I saw many who would demand impossible levels of evidence to be produced or would immediately question the motives and credibility of accusers. The truth of these allegations will be sorted in due course, but the net effect of this knee jerk anger at victims creates a chilled atmosphere where people are afraid to tell their stories, and emboldens predators who continue to traumatize people without fear of repercussions. I would encourage everyone to embrace empathy for victims, because the consequences of being taken in by a lying victim are far less severe in scope than further enabling monstrous behavior by forcing victims to live in fear of speaking out.

Throughout the process of reading these stories and the subsequent reactions, it is hard for one’s mind not to wonder how many people in a position to do something about these situations were generally aware of their occurrence? How many were participants? Whether it is fellow performers, small time promoters, or corporate executives, it seems impossible for this type of atmosphere to persist in locker rooms without leadership adopting a permissive attitude towards it. We have all read the same stories and shoot interviews for decades about political maneuvering and bullying in wrestling locker rooms, but extraordinarily little about this other elephant in the room. If the situation is this bad now, what does that mean for other eras? The situation feels like an iceberg, where the few cases that have been made public throughout the decades must be dwarfed by what still lies beneath the surface.

The response to this explosive situation from wrestling companies has been a mixed bag. Some have done the right thing and immediately terminated relationships with certain wrestlers until the matters are resolved, but others have remained completely silent or released carefully worded PR statements that did not acknowledge or condemn the behavior directly. This lack of leadership, especially from major promotions that carry significant weight in the community, has been both maddening and disheartening to witness. Each of these situations presents an opportunity to set the right example, both publicly to fans and internally to the organization. The cat is now out of the bag. This problem is prolific, and it must be pursued and eradicated. If that means legendary wrestling personalities, leaders, executives or even entire organizations need to be humbled and shamed, then so be it. This seeming amorality in the pursuit of celebrity and profit betrays the dignity of both fans and performers.

I am certain that over the weekend, and in the weeks to come, we are going to hear more from people whose lives have been upended by the traumas inflicted upon them at the hands of people in wrestling. It is vital that their voices be heard, and that we encourage those who may feel paralyzed to act to stand up and be counted. This situation is a cancer that eats at the very bones of this industry, and it cannot be allowed to persist. To all the victims out there that have yet to be heard, I hope you find the courage to share your story in due time. I will support you in exposing and condemning this behavior whenever and wherever I can.



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Readers Comments (24)

  1. Write This Way June 20, 2020 @ 5:53 pm

    “Much like the rest of you, I have observed social media in utter horror as the seemingly endless stream of misconduct allegations against wrestling personalities have poured in over the last few days.”

    I’m neither surprised nor horrified. A few of the alleged incidents are reprehensible. A few are incidents from several years ago that are suddenly being re-imagined through the modern victim first mentality instead of anti-fragile humanity. A small number are reminiscent of the worst of the Me Too movement where they’re clearly false and possibly even criminal themselves.

    The shocking thing to me is that so many wrestling “journalists” are surprised by these kinds of allegations in this kind of business.

    • “few are incidents from several years ago that are suddenly being re-imagined through the modern victim first mentality instead of anti-fragile humanity.”

      You must be a Trump supporter

      • Write This Way June 21, 2020 @ 10:33 am

        That terminology is straight from Nassim Taleb, Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff and other well known modern liberal academics that are sick of their party being hijacked by progressive pansies who equate getting their feelings hurt with being attacked or abused.

        Try again troll.

        • Well you obviously think the women are lying.

          So you’re also a tremendous piece of garbage. Would rather be a troll than you.

          • Write This Way June 21, 2020 @ 5:22 pm

            Congrats on outing yourself even more. No mention of the MEN involved in some of these situations?

            You’re an ignorant POS and not capable of adult conversation.

            SOME of the people making claims were abused and the people who perpetrated those acts should face legal repercussions.

            SOME of the people making claims are reinterpreting things through the modern lens where literally anything that makes you uncomfortable is abuse. Those people need to grow up.

            SOME of the people are just making shit up and they should join the first group in going to jail.

      • I’m a liberal Democrat and I agree with WRITE THIS WAY, every situation has to be looked at within the context of it’s own merits. Especially those that happened years ago, which need to be viewed through the lense of the time they happened, not through this ultra-woke vision that disregards facts to stoke outrage.

  2. This may be unpopular, but I don’t care about any of this. I am not a police officer or a judge or a psychologist. It is not my job to pass sentence on any of these people or even hear about their allegations. If the legal system decides that people deserve to be charged, then they can charge them. Even then, I don’t care. All I worry about is watching these people in the ring. That’s it. Anything they do outside the ring, I don’t care about and no one else should either aside from authorities in the event they are needed. It is not my job to judge any one of these performers, I just want to watch wrestling.

    • Well, enjoy being a soulless monster with no morals then. The world would burn in flames if everyone was like you.

    • Wow, so you’re OK with men raping women. Got it. You’re a tremendous POS

      • I never said that. I said it’s not my job to worry about it or punish offenders for it. BIG difference there. Reading comprehension is a skill you will use after school. Try and work on yours.

      • Write This Way June 22, 2020 @ 9:42 am

        The world of adopting the worst possible outcome as the only logical position is a modern construct that needs to die in a fire. People who can’t/won’t do anything but be professionally outraged are the biggest dregs of society.

  3. WWE is probably paying off a few people right now to keep certain names out of the press

    • Write This Way June 21, 2020 @ 10:34 am

      So you’re a troll and conspiracy theorist, kudos on achieving some variety in your intellectual laziness.

      • Whoa, you got me. Damn, however will I sleep at night with your intellectual wit

      • Sadly I doubt ORION is a troll, just another brainwashed child who can’t understand that situations have context that they need to be evaluated with.

  4. Instead of going to twitter, go to a lawyer right away. Not wait YEARS. Most of these accusers want money anyway. Before anyone says how do you know, shut up, you know it’s all about the money. When they get fired from their job it’s going to be even more difficult to get the money you want. It’s like insurance liability. You slip in a store 2 years ago but then all of a sudden your back hurts and in a money pinch, oh it must have been the slip I suffered in the store two years ago. Let’s sue the store we can get money from their insurance! Famous people are acceptable to anything now a days. Hopefully this will lead to everyone acting more appropriate, but #speakingout years later is just ridiculous. Should have done something the very next day. (But they were scared, it’s hard!) Shut up.

    • What an absolute moron right here. Seriously, get some help or grow tf up.

      • Actually Joseph is right, we need to get real as a society about how we handle allegations years after the fact. I’m of the opinion at this point, considering how many of these allegations just seem false, that if we want to really say “believe all women” then we also need to say that women have an obligation to report these incidents to the police so they don’t become a he said-she said situation. Yes it’s hard, yes it’s embarrassing, etc., etc., I get all that, but otherwise it’s a horrendous double standard that can ruin lives with no evidence.

  5. So am I supposed to believe that insiders like Dave Meltzer have never gotten a whiff of this stuff?

  6. I feel like avoiding independent wrestling for a bit. At least WWE,NJPW,ROH and Impact! should have the ability to deal with things like this properly.

  7. This is some really horrible stuff, and some truly horrible stories. They are all just allegations at this point, which has to be remembered. This can’t be allowed to happen though. If any are found true, whomever it is, regardless of ability, needs to be erased from the industry.

    My concern is these will be handled based on who the alleged abuser is, and not facts. WWE has already released Jack Gallagher because, let’s be honest, he doesn’t matter to them. Matt Riddle, otoh, was just promoted to Smackdown, thrust into a prominent program, and is possibly in line to win a title. They may know facts that we don’t. Both stand accused, however. What separates them aside from one being a prominent talent, and the other being a replaceable piece?

    • Well for one Matt Riddle kept WWE informed about his situation two years ago before it became public. He’s also had a lawyer file a restraining order against his accuser for stalking before any of this surfaced. Sure doesn’t sound like she’s telling the truth from the few facts that we do know.

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