Whenever I read comments in regards to the topic of domestic violence, specifically within the pro wrestling community, it is usually staged between WWE spoilers, rumors on the demise of Impact Wrestling, the newest signings in NXT, and everything else going on in the world of the squared circle. We’ve made domestic violence a convenient, eye-catching, clickable topic of discussion without having an actual discussion. Once the “news” wears off, we put it right back in the bag. As if the victims that have either survived or are currently going through domestic violence get rewarded by being clickbait for a wrestling dirt sheet. As if it’s commendable for wrestling sites to quote interviews from victims such as Mia Yim or Charlotte, only to scroll down to the comments section and read even more ridiculousness from its daily inhabitants. I’ve delved into these abysses damn well knowing that some idiot is going to write something inappropriate; something hurtful. A small percentage of people can make an entire population look like insecure, uncultured, barbarians. During the Attitude Era, we all looked like this to the outside wrestling world with our cheering and egging on of “seeing puppies” and lingerie matches. Did we know better? Yes. Did we give a damn? No.
“I think people really need to kinda open themselves up to realizing that it’s essentially a live action movie that you’re watching with storylines and characters and plotlines,” Laith said. “And if you open yourself up to looking at it from a different view, then it doesn’t really enforce domestic violence at all depending on how it’s done.” — Kimber Lee (aka Abbey Laith) on the perception of intergender matches being linked to domestic violence.
As much as the wrestling industry has grown, evolved and become truly independent, have we as fans really matured with it? Wrestling is entertainment until a story comes across that totally disrupts its fun factor. Independent wrestler and Cruiserweight Classic competitor, Mr. 450 recently was cleared in his domestic violence case from WrestleMania weekend. Bram and Alberto were cleared as well. According to each investigation, either there was no evidence of wrong doing or dropped charges. So, it’s not important to talk about domestic violence until it happens again, right?
No one ever talks about the decisions made before the alleged incidents occur that even put men in a position to even be accused of being an abuser. Your wife, girlfriend, or partner could do a million things wrong in a relationship, but your reactions to these moments will always be the perception of who you are as a person. We don’t like to say it, but men are just as “emotional” as women. We hold our thoughts inside longer. We talk our problems away among our friends or alone with ourselves. We drink it away until we see the source of our frustration — then we lash out at them. For anyone to believe that the pro wrestling business with all of its stresses isn’t indicative of heightening bad situations, you’re playing yourself.
As thrilling as the ride in the ring could be, the personal turmoil of a wrestler can mount for years and years. Read about the life of Ms. Elizabeth. Her elegance masked all of her demons. Her death still saddens me to this day. Read about Debra and Stone Cold Steve Austin. His popularity and importance to WWF/E television made us downplay his domestic incidents. It’s hard to keep this strictly about pro wrestling, when Floyd Mayweather just made millions of dollars on a fight with Conor McGregor. It’s hard to talk about domestic violence and not mention the star running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliot. Teenage rapper, XXXtentacion, has received a ton of backlash comments made about his alleged incident, but fans of all colors and genders still flock to his shows. Even if an investigation ends without proof of any wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean that nothing happened.
“10 years ago, I probably wouldn’t be wrestling after coming forward. I spoke to veteran female wrestlers like Madusa/Alunda Blayze and she said back then it was really different. You couldn’t talk about domestic violence at all. And I think that was not only true in wrestling, but our society as a whole. I think the culture is starting to shift little by little. We can talk about it more openly. It’s not the victim’s fault.” — Mia Yim
The pro wrestling community trashes one another and we call each other idiots (I did it earlier), but we also try to hold each other accountable, because the outside world, the ones that don’t get us, see us all as idiots for watching a predetermined sport. Detractors say “How can women wrestle men and not be accustom to being beat or choked after the matches are over? They have it coming to them.” Wrestling is for everybody, but not for the ones not willing to believe in it. I commend all of the wrestlers, fans and writers online who have continued to talk about domestic violence and misogyny in general. Please keep holding those accountable for either speaking recklessly or outright sexist.
Bram and Mr. 450 recently released detailed statements of their accounts of each respective incident. I don’t wish anyone to be out of work or to receive fewer opportunities, and there are men that are wrongly accused and/or victims themselves. But, again, the situations leading to the incident could keep a lot of these things from happening in the first place. To those wrongly accused, just know that your words and actions can still touch those that deal with this on a daily basis. Another situation will come about within the wrestling community, because it unfortunately always does. What will you do?
Follow me @willmarelle on Twitter.
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