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New Japan Professional Wrestling has too many guys accused of abuse on their card


Will Ospreay makes his AEW debut back in June of 2022.

Will Ospreay makes his AEW debut again in June of 2022.
Screenshot: AEW/TBS

It wouldn’t be apt to match wrestling or wrestling corporations to main sports activities leagues in how they take care of these accused of home abuse or sexual assault, although the same old balloon-handed nature of it actually appears to be like comparable. There are particular, top-level sports activities leagues that might enact any variety of guidelines or protocols that may trigger us to by no means hear from these gamers once more. Wrestlers are unbiased contractors, and even when the largest corporations had been to clean their fingers of the worst, they might discover a residence someplace. It’s far more just like the leisure world, the place you possibly can at all times discover a stage or script (or Emmy, in case you’re Louis CK).

However very like sports activities, how the largest corporations deal with wrestlers accused of abuse and what they’ve been accused of or have completed is determined by how a lot they imply to them. That’s positively the place the 2 differing arenas run parallel. In case you’re Matt Riddle or Idea or Darby Allin, you’ll face no penalties in any respect and can stay on the high of your respective firm’s card. In case you’re Zachary Inexperienced or Patrick Clark or Jimmy Havoc, you get fired. Clearly, there are various ranges of proof or accusations to all of them, however their place on the roster or the corporate was a significant component as properly. (Riddle, Idea, Allin, Inexperienced, Clark, and Havoc have all denied the allegations in opposition to them).

The world’s third-biggest firm, New Japan Professional Wrestling, isn’t any completely different in that it’ll hold using wrestlers they assume are essential to them and their reserving. However the place they’re completely different is that whereas AEW or WWE will try to simply ignore the accusations that observe their expertise or fake they don’t exist (and dropping first names of sure expertise to make it even tougher to seek for), NJPW appears to at greatest smile and wink at what makes some followers very uncomfortable about sure wrestlers or, at worst, rub these followers’ nostril in the truth that they don’t care.

It began again within the speedy aftermath of #SpeakingOut, wrestling’s model of #TimesUp that outed a raft of wrestlers and their alleged abuses and assaults and misdeeds. Will Ospreay was one of many greatest names to be broadly talked about. Right here is a superb breakdown of every little thing Ospreay was accused of on Fanfyte by Emily Pratt, although Ospreay has denied the allegations in opposition to him. To sum up, whereas Ospreay wasn’t accused of abuse or assault himself, he was accused of getting wrestler Pollyana blacklisted as a result of she went public with accusations of assault from one other wrestler, one who was near Ospreay. Ospreay’s accused actions are one more instance of why so many are afraid to come back ahead about what they’ve suffered, as they danger a profession and fervour they’ve devoted their lives to. Ospreay has denied blacklisting Pollyana or some other wrongdoing.

Definitely Ospreay’s title was closely linked to #SpeakingOut, although most would have settled for him simply being decrease on the cardboard or solely quickly held off NJPW reveals for some time. As an alternative, Ospreay was vaulted to the highest of the cardboard throughout 2020s G1, forming and main his personal faction, which in NJPW basically makes you a staple member of the very most important a part of the roster. And that was cemented weeks later by Ospreay placing his finisher on his real-life girlfriend Bea Priestley throughout a post-match promo, who had solely not too long ago begun showing with Ospreay throughout his matches. Whereas neither Ospreay or Priestley had been strangers to intergender matches, and had the truth is wrestled one another, that’s not how this was introduced and NJPW didn’t have a ladies’s division in any respect a lot much less have intergender matches (it’s debuting an NJPW title for Stardom this fall, its sister all-female promotion owned by the identical firm, BushiRoad). This was a shock assault on a lady, meant to point out simply how “evil” former babyface Ospreay had grow to be. It was mainly “fridging” Priestley, which is a foul sufficient look by itself however actually worse within the speedy aftermath of the accusations in opposition to Ospreay.

Perhaps NJPW’s bookers, led by Gedo, thought enough time had passed since #SpeakingOut to double-down on this kind of abhorrent storytelling this summer. Though that would admit that they were aware or cared about it in the first place, which is doing a lot of work. Chase Owens has a fair number of accusations (he’s denied them) in his wake from #SpeakingOut, and yet he’s become a bigger and bigger part of NJPW’s shows the past year. He’s not nearly as high up in the card as Ospreay, but was a part of this year’s G1 while appearing in several other shows as a major cog in Bullet Club, still the company’s most well-known faction.

And again, it was bad enough having Owens around at all, or even guesting on commentary as he did for the English coverage of one show. But during his match with Taichi, who is always accompanied to the ring by “devotee” Miho Abe (trying to explain Taichi’s character would require a few thousand more words), Owens spent a good portion of the match demanding a kiss from Abe outside the ring and threatening her if she did not comply. What the fuck kind of look is that? Again, to have any wrestler do it at all is gross, but to have the tires to make it Owens? It almost feels like NJPW was making a special point of how much they don’t care,or even celebrate the perception of Owens.

This was hot on the heels of El Phantasmo, in the aftermath of one of his matches and walking off with Yujiro Takahashi’s valet Peiter after defeating him, had this at best awkward change throughout a promo. Whereas the promo might be all EL-P’s alternative and work, placing him subsequent to Pieter would have been the corporate’s alternative, and it’s simply extra fuel on the hearth.

Over the weekend, NJPW couldn’t appear to assist itself. In its American Wing, NJPW Robust, Chris Dickinson was a shock look. Dickinson has been accused by two ladies, one was fellow wrestler Christina von Eerie, of assault, and is presently following the Johnny Depp playbook of denying allegations made in opposition to him and suing the ladies who accused him for defamation. He additionally denies the allegations. He solely filed his lawsuit one month in the past. Once more, these tales are recent within the thoughts of the wrestling world, and NJPW appears solely too blissful to slather itself within the notoriety irrespective of how distasteful.

When you can’t excuse the corporate’s reserving of Ospreay a pair years in the past, you possibly can wearily sigh and admit defeat to “that’s simply how issues work for these on the high” as we’ve seen so many different locations. However contemplating it then concerned the ambush of Priestley, after which the following reserving of Owens and Dickinson, what precisely is occurring right here? Not solely does NJPW not care, which is hardly stunning, nevertheless it appears to need everybody to know that not solely does it not care about what follows its wrestlers, it doesn’t appear to care about accusations of of sexual assault and abuse in any respect, which is galling.

Deadspin reached out to NJPW for remark, however had not acquired a response on the time of publication.

Whereas one can’t “perceive” the usage of any of those, with Ospreay you possibly can see NJPW’s logic that regardless of no matter could shroud him, he’s massive enterprise with a number of basic matches on his resume that can draw eyes for an organization trying to develop its worldwide imprint on a regular basis, It’s a drained however acquainted story. However Owens and Dickinson, aren’t practically the celebs that Ospreay is. Why are they given such a platform? Not solely is NJPW uncaring about #SpeakingOut and the causes it serves, it needs to behave in full defiance of it as an alternative of simply ignorance. It’s most actually the improper sort of playbook. 

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