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Irish professional wrestling organization OTT (Over the Top) and TNT Extreme Wrestling stripped the titles from their current champion David Starr, who was accused of sexual assault by a former partner. TNT released the following statement on Twitter:
“We at TNT Extreme Wrestling fully support those who have been affected by matters recently brought to light. As people, as an organization, as a company that exist in professional wrestling: we refuse to work with predators. As such, with what has recently been made public regarding predatory behaviour, we have made the decision to have David Starr removed as champion of our promotion. We are shocked and appalled at the information that has been shared and do not condone that sort of behaviour in any way, shape, or form. It has no place in wrestling, or in a person’s life. Details on crowning a new world champion will be revealed closer to our return to live events but above all, our thoughts are with those affected, who we thank for their bravery.”
The last couple of days feel like a watershed moment for the British wrestling scene.
The victims' stories being bravely told are heartbreaking and eye-opening.
We stand with you, and we hear you. Please keep speaking out.
FULL STATEMENT: https://t.co/9jUNkMqMJ4 pic.twitter.com/vQdDdQv2z6
— PROGRESS Wrestling (@ThisIs_Progress) June 19, 2020
OTT released their statement soon after:
“With immediate effect we declare the OTT Championship as vacated. A decision on the future of the title will be made as we return to active competition”
A woman that Starr previously dated, whose name is Tori, provided screenshots from a DM of a personal conversation that she had with him. That message read the following:
“Speaking of being fooled, there are screenshots of convos w Starr coming to me confirming some things I’ve said for all the proof lovers who don’t believe women. I see you. He’s a sack of shit who mentally, emotionally, and sexually abuses his girlfriends. He kept old screenshots from 2016 to ever use against me if I were to speak up making me look angry and crazy. He has folders for several people. I don’t Lind [sic] posting my own screenshots. Here’s now an open letter to David Starr.
What kind of piece of builds a case instead of apologizing to the girl you hurt? Sociopathic serial rapists/abusers. Just to be clear. I don’t want anything. You want to book him, book him. You like his wrestling, whatever. This is for me because for years while I was trying to heal, he told everyone who would listen that I was a crazy liar. Every woman who’s dealt with David Starr is tired. I already did come out better. Unfortunately I’m not the only one with terrible stories, I’m just the only one ready to post right now. This is so much harder to do than people think. No one wants to tell the world this shit. It’s embarrassing. Is David Starr still going to use the Aziz Ansari defense to raping your girlfriend? When allegations came out against Aziz, his defense was he didn’t know it was consensual. But what Max doesn’t mention is he did know because I wanted to talk about it. He told me I liked what he did and gave me the silent treatment for the rest of the day.
A lot of my screenshots from those times are gone cuz obviously I was trying to heal and I didn’t want to be brought back to it. But I have some. I was manipulated into this relationship when he was still w his ex K and I was manipulated out of it. “I’m not letting you leave me” If he wants to post old screenshots of an angry confused woman going through a mental breakdown caused by it all, he can be my guest. I’m not ashamed. We’ve all had that breakup where you don’t know why you’re being treated like that & you’re stuck w your own thoughts.”
It has also been a dark day for NXT UK, as, coincidentally, Starr’s friend, and resigned WWE cruiserweight champion (due to COVID19-related travel restrictions) Jordan Devlin, was accused on June 18, 2020, of causing physical harm to an accuser named Hannah Francesca, who shared photos of bruises that Devlin allegedly caused through Twitter. Franscesca’s social media comments on the abuse was as follows:
‘This is absolutely right. The boys club mentality makes it even harder for victims to speak out. I approached a promotion about being abused by someone on their card and was told “One of my boys wouldn’t do that” I didn’t talk about what happened to me for a long time after (palmface emoji).”, followed by ‘I absolutely understand your intent here. But I’m not going to be sued by a man with a lot of power and WWE money. It’s a lot more complicated than just naming and shaming 🧡 https://t.co/ILMHwyKI3z” (@Textbook Glovers)
As news of this broke, WWE issued a statement through an email to Forbes stating:
“We take any allegation of this nature very seriously and are looking into the matter.”
Joey Janela on Twitter has reacted to this barrage of disturbing accounts of sexual harrassment, misconduct, and assault with the #SpeakingOut movement, noting that he has seen a lot of this first hand and regrets not doing more to speak up about the incidents at the time.
— “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela (@JANELABABY) June 19, 2020
Other NXT wrestlers, including Joe Coffey and Ligero, have been accused of sexual misconduct on Twitter with the #SpeakingOut.
PWTorch contributor Chad Koenig covers NXT UK.