Wrestling stars including WWE and AEW performers have been accused of sexual and physical abuse in a wave of online allegations. The #MeToo movement has helped shine a light on the prevalence of abusive behaviour and misconduct in many different walks of life.
Now an equivalent focused on the wrestling industry, #SpeakingOut, has emerged, sparking what is hoped will be the start of real change.
In an industry focused on physical strength and athletic prowess, you might think all women wrestlers, like their male counterparts, would feel empowered, valued and appreciated, as they are, by fans across the globe. But many clearly have not.
Despite what has been dubbed the ‘Women’s Revolution/Evolution’ in sports entertainment – with female performers gaining more respect and finally being afforded a status on a par with their male peers – the business has been blighted by allegations of sexual abuse similar to those which rocked Hollywood and Westminster in 2017 and 2018, relating to both women and children.
Multiple women have come forward, some of whom decided to name their alleged abusers, while others, such as former Ring of Honor star Kelly Klein who said she was raped, have chosen not to.
Some performers, including independent talent David Starr and Impact Wrestling’s Joey Ryan, issued conciliatory statements in response to a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct and then disappeared from social media. Impact has fired Ryan.
Others such as WWE’s Matt Riddle and El Ligero denied allegations of sexual abuse levied against them, and Jordan Devlin refuted an accusation of physical abuse.
WWE confirmed it had released 205 Live and NXT star Jack Gallagher after he was accused of a sexual assault dating back to 2014, though the company did not give details of the reason for that decision. The British grappler is yet to respond to the allegation.