As More Allegations of Abuse Within Pro Wrestling Arise, How Should its Governing Bodies Proceed?

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A growing movement on social media is shedding light on sexual, physical, and emotional abuse in the wrestling community as women have come forward with claims against multiple pro wrestlers, including some in WWE and AEW this week.

The “#SpeakingOut” hashtag has revealed abhorrent allegations of sexual and physical abuse within pro wrestling over the last three days. The allegations have exposed an ugly dark side of the business.

Wrestling writer Justin Barrasso joins Madelyn Burke to shed some light into the abuse that is running rampant in the pro-wrestling.

Madelyn Burke: A growing movement on social media is shedding light on sexual, physical and emotional abuse in the wrestling community as women have come forward with claims against multiple pro wrestlers, including some in WWE and AEW this week. Joining me now is SI's Justin Barrasso wrote about wrestling's growing reckoning with abusive behavior. Justin, what was the tipping point for so many women to come forward with these allegations?

Daniel Bryan photo_courtesy WWE

Justin Barrasso: It seems like earlier in the week, a pretty big name in independent wrestling, David Starr (Max Barsky) had allegations against him, and he spoke about those. I think that that was the tipping point that allowed a lot of other people to speak out as well. Women and men who had been abused, whether it's been sexual or physical or mental abuse. Obviously, it's clearly a major problem in professional wrestling.

Madelyn Burke: Now as we're seeing more and more of these allegations come to light. How can or should the governing bodies respond to these claims?

Justin Barrasso: It's a good question because it's not just one governing body. I think everything starts up top with WWE. The biggest, most powerful, most influential wrestling company in the world. I think there need to be more women in positions of power, and that even includes the writing team. That includes someone to speak to in cases of incidences. So I think that starts there with WWE and AEW and hopefully trickles down to other promotions as well. I think the independents are a little bit trickier. Those are independent contractors and you normally don't work for one promotion. You work for multiple ones. You work a Friday show with one group or Saturday show the other a Sunday with another sometimes. So that's a little harder. But I do think there needs to be something in place. Clearly, this is a massive problem. In order for wrestling to exist and exist in a healthy fashion. This cannot continue. So I think that there needs to be changes. It'll be interesting for me to speak to as many progressives as possible and executives on how this can change.