Equity and RevPro collude to stick two fingers up to the voices of the Speaking Out movement

posted in: acting | 0

Content warning: assault of sexual nature

Oh hi again. Yes, I know, I’ve not been here much lately, but I have something important to say that needs to be heard.

My acting work recently has been mainly limited to playing the hapless Stickman McTaggart in EWW. It’s a role I love, in an industry I love.

Good evening. I’m Stickman McTaggart.

Two years ago, I was contemplating which training school to go to. I made the decision to train with Stu and Tarn at EWW after they blew the lid on a series of sexual assault allegations within the British wrestling industry. Their commitment to creating a safe training environment and to kicking the offenders out of the industry was what drew to me to them as opposed to other organisations.

Over this time, I’ve become a very minor figure within the British wrestling scene. Despite not being anyone of significance, what has been obvious to me is that certain people within the industry are known to be persistent offenders. Unfortunately, despite Stu and Tarn’s best efforts to let people know who they were (start at episode 19), get them prosecuted, and weed them out of the industry, certain promotions kept booking these people. Some promoters were even named as perpetrators themselves.

Despite the number of (mainly female) performers coming forward and talking to the police, very few (if any) people were prosecuted. This sent the first message to the remaining predators that they were safe for now.

Part of the reason for a lack of convictions was collusion between known offenders to cover for each other. Another part was the difficulty in prosecuting such cases.

Jump forward to the start of the pandemic, and a wave of experiences appeared on Twitter, many with supporting evidence. This became known as the Speaking Out movement, and extended across the ocean, empowering American performers who had been through similar experiences to make their voices heard too. Lo and behold, many of the same names appeared once more – sometimes on both sides of the Atlantic. Cue another “outcry” from promoters in the British wrestling industry, and lots of companies promising to tidy up their act.

One of those companies was RevPro, based in Portsmouth. A training school that produced a number of big-name British wrestling stars, as well as more than one of the performers named as perpetrators in the accusations earlier this year. Make of that what you will.

Within days of promising to clean up their act, RevPro then announced a recorded show (mid-pandemic) featuring more than one of the accused. At least one of these names had a long history with demonstrable involvement in covering up accusations and making life very difficult for the victim after the event.

Meanwhile, at EWW, we solidified our commitment to safeguarding by launching a series of policies, and a code of conduct:

Imagine my surprise then, when today Equity announced that they had “agreed a code of conduct with RevPro” on all of their social media networks.

Now forgive me, but choosing to make your first big announcement within the wrestling industry with a company at the centre of the accusations doesn’t fill me with much confidence.

After the Speaking Out movement, where dozens of wrestlers (mainly female) came forward with stories of sexual abuse, harrassment, and inappropriate behaviour, RevPro said all the right things, and said they were tidying up their act.

Within days, RevPro re-employed a number of the accused – some at the very top of the card.

There was significant evidence behind these claims, but as is often the case in sexual assault and harassment cases, many were not able to prosecute, for various reasons. One victim has even been accused of making defamatory accusations and is having to crowdfund £12k to fight the charges brought against her, which are trying to force her to retract her accusations.

While I welcome a commitment to improvement in safeguarding standards, this announcement is a kick to the face of people who spoke out during the movement. This stinks of collusion towards a great bit of press for both RevPro and Equity, but unless there has been a significant change at the top of RevPro, I refuse to believe that this is anything other than hot air. Given their current booking preferences, there is no evidence that anything has changed.

While RevPro are far from the only problematic wrestling company in the UK, they are arguably the worse choice to collude with at the present moment.

My question is this – how can Equity collude with an organisation that continues to have someone of significant influence on their card that makes a large number of performers feel unsafe? What is your message to the voices of the Speaking Out movement when your first action is to side with a company that continues to support perpetrators? After two years of collusion and cover-up by promoters and the boys club within the industry, this again sends a very dangerous second message to the perpetrators that they will not suffer as a result of their actions.

If we see certain individuals booked on one more card for RevPro, that will immediately show that Equity are powerless here.

Equity have shown poor judgement by jumping into bed with the first wrestling organisation able to offer an attention-grabbing headline. Equity, in their defence, may point to the fact that a lot of the accusations didn’t lead to prosecutions, but that is the frustration behind the whole situation. That is the reason for the existence of the movement, and indeed the reason that we need safeguarding measures in the industry. Equity have shown themselves not to understand the sensitivities of the British wrestling scene, and in doing so, have undermined their very own commitment to safeguarding. A simple piece of due diligence could have prevented all of this.

To say I’m disgusted is an understatement.

NB: Critics will rightly point out the vagueness of my comments, and lack of specifics in the detail. Brighter minds will realise that as I was not present at any of the situations mentioned, it would be unwise for me to talk about detail, or indeed even name the individuals involved. Please do not mistake this for a lack of evidence. There is/was plenty of evidence made available on social media, and there are individuals within the industry that have collated much of it and passed it on to the relevant authorities. For me to share details could potentially compromise ongoing prosecutions. Additionally, I do not wish to cause additional trauma to the victims by reliving the events.