Monday, July 20, 2020

Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions

Abusers using Kimura's death as comparison for their own self-made situations can fuck all the way off
Photo via Getty Images
In case you missed it over the weekend, Joey Ryan, who was outed as a serial rapist during the beginning of the ongoing Speaking Out against abusers, bullies, and creeps in wrestling, reinstated his Twitter account to post a 58-minute (!!!) video wherein he explained himself and his actions. I didn't watch it; you can't get me to watch a clip longer than 20 seconds even if it contains dogs frolicking in a field full of daisies. I was not about to sink almost an entire hour into a guy who has credible accusations from over 20 women, including someone I consider a friend, when a tweet that says "I am sorry for my actions. I am stepping away from the community, and I will turn myself in at the request of my victims" would've sufficed. From those who were foolish enough to hit play, the report is that Ryan has no idea what "consent" means and spent most of the time attempting to gaslight people into thinking that no, he's not wrong and that it must be the dozens of women whom he stands accused of assaulting who are wrong.

The most jarring thing was that he apparently compared the mob justly coming after him to the one that drove Hana Kimura to her suicide. The most shocking thing, sadly, is that he's not the first one. Will Ospreay and Xia Brookside, for example, have invoked Kimura's name, and I doubt they will be the last given how much wrestlers seem to love nailing themselves to the cross for the purpose of making them look like martyrs in the drama swirling around them. I don't need to tell you that it's bullshit, or at least I shouldn't need to tell you that. The amount of people whom these goons have hoodwinked, however, show that there are still legions of human beings who have no idea the concepts of "scale," "context," or "decency."

There is a certain and specific way where you can and should invoke the name of someone who was driven to suicidal depression thanks to sexist and capitalist pressure from people with a lot more money and power than you have, and absolutely no one who has done so at this point is even in the same galactic cluster of circumstance. Ryan and Ospreay especially have done everything short of digging up the grave in terms of desecrating Kimura's memory, and for what? To deflect blame for predatory and destructive decisions they have made? It remains to be seen whether collective action will keep Ryan away from the scene longer than the three weeks since accusations first broke, but the only bookings Ospreay missed out on were due to COVID-19 years after he did his worst. If anything, Ospreay is more like the producers of Terrace House, using his power and influence to bully female wrestlers, whether they want to fly home from Japan to mourn their dead father like Sadie Gibbs or to protect his own rapist mates by blackballing their victims like with Pollyanna.

All this pushback suggests what I feared would happen the moment David Starr's ex broke his sordid personal life wide the fuck open, that the counteroffensive from the creeps and abusers would come back and undo all the temporary changes victims pushed for and won. The worst sign of this boomerang coming true was with an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer over the weekend covering the closure of Chikara, where Mike Quackenbush compared Speaking Out to "a mob [running] into our house, [lighting] it on fire and [running] out." Does that fucking sound like someone who is contrite about their role in fostering a culture where people could accumulate power and use it to take advantage of those trying to live their dream? Quackenbush said that this movement "was not clearly good or clearly bad," but where are the examples of the mob coming for someone who didn't deserve it? Even saying that "this is a stunning lack of optics" undersells the gravity of what's to come, because people have already bought it and have mentally prepared themselves for not only Quackenbush's unearned redemption, but that of Ryan, Ospreay, Starr, Saraya Knight, Marty Scurll, Jordan Devlin, and everyone else who was named three weeks ago.

And these people have the absolute gall to pin themselves to the wall as martyrs by comparing themselves to Hana Kimura. I can't even say it's just the wrestling industry where the creeps skate back in easily enough to get a 9.0 from the French judge, but everything has just been happening so much over the last three weeks that it almost feels like wrestling is the most stressed knot in the aching back of society. It's the arch example of why this thing called "cancel culture" is a myth, and the history backs it up. I can be almost 100 percent sure Ryan will get another high-profile booking because Michael Elgin got them after the accusations against him dropped. He got a contract extension from New Japan Pro Wrestling and a chance to work for Impact Wrestling. Sure, he got fired after yet ANOTHER instance of him being a creep popped up, but you see how much rope these creeps get before they face anything, and who's to say that Elgin won't pop up again somewhere else. I mean, he's still getting IWA Mid-South bookings.

All of this happens because wrestlers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and the people making the decisions where they work allow it for fear THEIR transgressions would come to light. It's a vicious cycle, and in the interim, the fans and workers harmed by that cyclical churn of violence and abuse will have to endure the perpetrators take the names of victims in vain while the only thing they can do is lodge complaints to deaf ears. It's why I fear wrestling as it should be is an untenable goal. Victims are forced into enduring their traumas being dragged to the surface on a regular basis because wrestling cannot police itself and the authorities have better things to do than investigate assault allegations or test rape kits, like killing Black people and macing protestors. If you want to know the reason why so many people, myself included, are becoming more and more disillusioned with wrestling, you don't need to look any further than the existence of a video where a serial rapist compared himself to a young woman who was bullied to death for a stunt her producers scripted.

I don't know how many more posts I have left to write here at The Wrestling Blog for the immediate future. I've started a newsletter, The Mental Health Break, for which I plan to create wrestling content. If you liked what I wrote here for the last 11 years or so, subscribe to the newsletter and get all my takes, from wrestling to sports to food to whatever, in your inbox Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Thanks.