Friday, April 16, 2021

Why Can't Wrestling Get Rid of Chasyn Rance?

Ivelisse Velez points to a much larger problem in wrestling
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Ivelisse Velez was let go from All Elite Wrestling yesterday. She announced on Twitter that it was because she "spoke out" and was fired for it. What she "spoke out" about revolved around her no-selling Thunder Rosa and then trying to shoot on her in a match a few months ago. She was used sparingly since. One might be tempted to take her side because it is one person against a monolithic corporate wrestling entity, but when you pull back and look at her greater history of wearing out her welcome in wrestling companies around the world, the answer becomes clear that this is the rare case that the wrestling company was in the right. In fact, her stances on gay people and mental health should have been red flags, as should have been her association with Chasyn Rance. Unfortunately, that last association doesn't carry much weight in the world of wrestling as it should.

Rance's existence in polite society, let alone pro wrestling, should not be allowed. You should know the story on Rance, but if not, I summarized it quite succinctly but luridly on here in November 2019. You would think a convicted child predator whose gym was linked to "chloroform" pornography and a woman's disappearance would be persona non grata in any circle. Yet, people not only still train with him, but they go to bat for him. Some people say the reason is because he's his defenders' weed dealer. As someone who has never had a relationship with a drug dealer in his life (not judging, just stating plain fact), I cannot attest to how strong that bond is. That being said, when I was in high school, the barber I went to regularly ended up just not being at his shop anymore after a certain date. I found out it was because he trafficked in child pornography. Needless to say, I didn't wait for him to come back to his shop; I just started going to the Asian dudes whom all my friends at the time were going to. The point is, that kind of shit should be a dealbreaker, no matter what kind of business they run.

On the same day that AEW parted ways with Velez, they featured Amber Nova, Rance's nominal girlfriend, on Dynamite. It shouldn't surprise you to see AEW continue to plumb the Team Vision depths when Executive Vice President Tyson Smith (better known as Kenny Omega) happily contacted Rance to rent a wrestling ring for the first show held at CEO Gaming Championships, back when Omega was with New Japan Pro Wrestling. He weasel-worded his way out of responsibility of knowing Rance, but there are pictures of the two smiling and "too-sweeting" together. AEW booked Velez initially knowing she was part of his coterie, and they booked Nova knowing she was romantically involved with Rance. If you think they're the only offenders, you'd be mistaken. WWE signed one of Rance's fiercest defenders online, Santana Garrett, even after everything was already out in the open. Couple that with Ricochet and Kacy Catanzaro continuing to work out at and with Team Vision, and the entire upper crust of the industry in America is complicit.

So, if you want a microcosm of how things in wrestling work, you shouldn't be surprised that last year's Speaking Out didn't do much of anything to change the culture. The first thing that should have happened was Rance and his gym to be blackballed from wrestling and everyone who knew and enabled him to be thrown out with him if they didn't jump ship. They couldn't even get the convicted child molester who was tangibly connected to the unsolved disappearance of a woman all the way outta here. You can't even get people to disavow Teddy Hart, Samantha Fiddler's ex at the time of her disappearance, with regularity. John Wayne Murdoch appears to be one of the few who won't stand for Hart's bullshit, because he, bloodied from his match that night, went out and chased Hart from the venue of ICW New York's Mania Weekend show. Game Changer Wrestling, conversely, had no problems with Hart attending their Mania Weekend blitz, and wrestlers like Chris Dickinson had no qualms posing for pictures with him as long as they could post mealy-mouthed bullshit cop-outs on Twitter afterwards in an attempt to have it both ways.

It's so hard to be a fan of professional wrestling sometimes because while every other industry in the world is not so dissimilar from it in how they harbor and aid monsters among their midst, they haven't been ghettoized to the point where they can be a haven for so many predators while making it company line to support them. Wrestling could and probably should be much larger than it is, but Vince McMahon made it impossible for it to be palatable by setting such a grotesque and demeaning tone even before he had any idea made prevalent during the Attitude Era. He made it insular so only he could make money off it, and you can see the consequences of that action not just through the barebones, capitalistic way he does business, cutting wrestlers after posting record profits on the same exact day two years in a row. He's done so by fooling the public that wrestling is for scumbags and reprobates, and if the fans are all lowlifes, the performers and promoters can be too.

Lest anyone forget, McMahon himself has credible rape accusations against him, and he also notoriously harbored predators who victimized the company's "ring boys." On top of his role in covering up Jimmy Snuka's alleged murder of Nancy Argentino in 1983, his hiring of amateur riggers to perform a slipshod stunt that several professionals advised him not to go through with leading to the death of Owen Hart, and his utter refusal to fire people for cause after they have been accused of sexual misconduct or domestic violence, from Steve Austin all the way through piddling little nits in NXT UK, the thought that moral justice was possible in this industry has all but been obliterated. No one cares because the market leader doesn't care, and the market leader doesn't care because law enforcement doesn't. If there were any danger in having so much murky shit associated with the company, then do you think anyone would have stood for it? In retrospect, McMahon skating during the infamous early-'90s steroid trials was the worst possible thing that could have happened to wrestling because it was the last time anyone in the industry could have faced any real repercussions for their actions in destroying its reputation.

And so that circles back to Velez, who wasn't fired because she was homophobic or insensitive to mental health or even an accessory to the most notorious pedophile in professional wrestling since Mel Phillips. She was fired for being "difficult," which is all anyone ever gets fired for in wrestling. In this case, she was fired for just cause, because you shouldn't be able to shoot on someone in the middle of a ring, but it's so convenient that every single person who gets shut out of bookings, whether it be Low Ki or Sexy Star, gets that cold shoulder because they are "difficult." If you make things happen for anyone, no matter how low on the totem pole, they'll forgive you if you force yourself on someone without consent or batter the shit out of your otherwise defenseless partner. Velez has no value to anyone in AEW, so she's gone. Why isn't Darby Allin, who has multiple allegations of emotional and mental abuse, still there? It's because he offers something to Tony Khan. It's fucking gross, but it's never going to change as long the people who are in charge continue to be in charge.

If pro wrestling wants to be taken seriously, the least people in the industry can do is throw Chasyn Rance out with the garbage, no matter how much weed he can sell them or how readily he can provide them a ring or how cheaply he can provide a place to train. Pro wrestling, however, doesn't want to be taken seriously, so that's not going to happen. You can either make peace with that fact and resign yourself to watching scumbags whom you find entertaining when they're in character, or you can get off the train and find something else that is better at hiding the scumbags in their midst. Both are valid options, but until the system is scrubbed from the top down, it's not changing. I'm not saying you should stop fighting or speaking out. I'm just saying it's going to take a lot more work than what's being done now to get to a good place.