I’ve fallen out of regularly watching professional wrestling for a few months now. I grew disillusioned with the creative and business decisions of corporate wrestling, and was getting ready to return to dedicated viewership of my favorite indie promotion when COVID-19 hit, which canceled pretty much everything. My love of pro-wrestling had not waned, even though my consumption of it had.
Recently, on various social media platforms, many wrestlers have come forward to speak out about harassment and misconduct from their colleagues, using the hashtag #SpeakingOut. Many established wrestlers have been accused or implicated, and some have lost their jobs. It’s been hard to watch, as a fan, seeing ugly truths about performers I admired come to light. But I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the victims, to not only have had to endure this, but to come forward with their stories. I watched this all play out with increasing disgust, but feeling secure that my favorite indie promotion was above all that.
Except it wasn’t. Not at all. Allegations regarding the behavior of several wrestlers/trainers at Chikara-Pro broke my heart.
I’ve spoken in the past about my love for this promotion and how I greatly admired the man who ran it, from his style of in-ring storytelling to his approach to the creative process. I’d been to several Chikara-Pro shows and there was a special feel to them, an atmosphere that is only achieved when there’s a strong community behind a production. They crowned a non-binary mid-card champion. They had a woman as their grand champion (not “women’s champion,” but THE champion of the promotion). They spoke out against harassment and inappropriate behavior. Chikara-Pro felt like something special.
Then came the allegations. Then came the Chikara wrestlers who were just as shocked as I was, announcing their disassociation from the indie brand. Their sense of hurt and betrayal at a place they called home. Watching this all unfold “in real time” on social media struck me in an unexpectedly painful way. I found myself in mourning, not only for the company so many believed in but the community it represented… and ultimately betrayed.
Victims absolutely need to be listened to. Their stories need to be heard. Bad behavior can’t be swept under the rug and allowed to continue. As much as it hurt for me to watch the dissolution of a beloved promotion and the ideals it supposedly represented, the hurt experienced by its victims far exceeds anything I have ever known. My heart goes out to those who were forced to endure the pain of such predatory behavior.