Over the past 13 days, brave men and women have shared their stories of surviving abuse in the British professional wrestling scene and beyond through #SpeakingOut.
People sharing their stories has already led to changes within the industry. IMPACT Wrestling fired Joey Ryan and Dave Crist and announced Michael Elgin will not appear on any future programming. WWE fired Jack Gallagher, Ligero and Travis Banks. Mike Quackenbush closed CHIKARA. Dave Lagana resigned from the NWA. wXw severed ties with Jay Skillet and Julian Pace. Several promotions cut ties with David Starr and multiple UK companies have gone on hiatus while they reflect on how to make wrestling safer after the coronavirus pandemic.
WWE Superstar Big E was asked about the #SpeakingOut movement during a recent interview with Jensen Karp on The Sports Bubble podcast.
The SmackDown Tag Team Champion said: "Sadly enough, I wasn't surprised. You hear some whispers or have an understanding of culture. I will say there wasn't any specific instance or a wrestler that I knew that I saw and that I had like covered up, or there wasn't anything that I knew of and just shrugged my shoulders at. So, there wasn't anything that I was specifically aware of but it's really, really, really saddened me to see and disgusted me to see how prevalent this was and I have to give my like hats off to like a friend of mine actually was the one who started this all, Victoria.
"She was brave enough to tell her story about David Starr and this all came out and then she emboldened a lot of women and even men to come out and talk about some of the things that they've experienced, the way they were victimised in this industry. And I think too often, we as men, we've shrugged our shoulders or we've said, 'Ah, she's probably lying' or we've turned a blind eye to it and we haven't given these victims the voice and the respect that they deserve and I think our industry can no longer tolerate what's gone on. We can no longer tolerate rape. We can no longer tolerate sexual harassment. We can no longer shrug our shoulders at the way women have been victimized in this industry.
"And, I hope these stories, I don't want to know that there are more stories or that, you know, I don't want that to be the case. I hope this is the end of it, but I hope every woman gets an opportunity to speak her voice, to be heard, to be respected, to not be dismissed. I hope all of the people who are guilty of this, I hope they're eradicated from the business. I hope they're arrested. I hope they're imprisoned. I hope it's something that we never see. I hope it's a real turning point in our business and I hope that women aren't persecuted. I've already seen a lot of horrible comments from people. You know, at a time I think we have a great fan base, but I think it can also at times, there's a portion of it that can be very toxic. I think the way it disrespects women, the way it condones abusers and rapists, I think is disgusting.
"And I think one of the things that happens with a lot of these movements is that it causes a surge and then a week or so later, it can be forgotten. And I hope to God that's not the case. I hope this is not forgotten. I hope it's something that we continue to talk about, that we continue to clean up this industry, that we continue to eradicate abusers and rapists, that we get them all out of this business. That we have them prosecuted because it's something that no woman or man, no one should ever be victimised or have to endure.
"And seeing so many stories of kids, of people who are under age and who came into the wrestling business and wanted to learn or to train and were victimised. It's really disgusting. It's abhorrent and I hope we continue to keep fighting this and to listen to and support those who come out, who tell their horrible stories, who are brave enough to, that they get the support they need. That we don't condone these abusers, that we don't just say, 'Hey, it's okay to go to rehab and you can come back,' because that's not something that I'm interested in if it means that justice is not something that we're trying to pursue here.
"I hope it is something that we continue to talk about and we continue to be open with and I'm glad these stories are being heard. I'm sorry that there are so many stories but it's something that's important to speak out against and show women that we support them and we're going to do our best to investigate these allegations, to get rid of these abusers and that we have them prosecuted."