A hot topic among the internet wrestling community is the recent attacks of former WWE developmental wrestler Kevin Matthews towards his former trainer, Bill DeMott. Matthews is ready to dish plenty and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
His most recent attack involved posting a picture of one developmental trainee giving a bare “stinkface” (where a wrestler backs up their butt into an opponent’s face while they are sitting against a corner buckle) to a fellow student. The trainee giving the stinkface is completely nude while the rest of the class and trainers watch in alleged amusement.
Throughout this all a lot of questions and arguments have come about. In some areas great debates have taken place while in others it has been quite one-sided. Let’s take a look at some of these hot topics.
Argument #1: Forced or not, was the practice of condoning a “stinkface” in training acceptable?
The answer is simply no. The counter arguments stand some ground as “ribs” are a common practice in the wrestling world in order for coworkers to bond and as light-heart initiations. Pro wrestlers have to deal with a lot of traveling, training and many other factors that take a physical and mental toll so the need for ribs within reason have always been acceptable. No less when the ribs of previous generations were quite extreme in comparison and well tolerated without objection.
The evolution of human rights has lead to stronger stances towards such behaviors. This issue is of greater concern nowadays with the working sectors, schools, communities and the WWE itself no less taking strong stances against bullying.
Sure, it is very likely that these two men were not bullied and apparently the practice was an alternative choice for anyone who did not want to partake in training. However, the act itself is easily deemed as public humiliation and an act that would not fly in any other corporate structure.
Argument #2: Was Matthews in the right or wrong in posting this photo?
My stance is “no” although it’s debatable based on if Matthews had any sort of private consent from the two individuals in the picture. These two individuals are now (possibly) humiliated due to Matthews’ well publicized tweet.
Questions to ask. Do you think the posting of the photo is helping to prevent future practices of similar nature? Was that the intent of the posting or was it more to do with personal vendetta?
Argument #3: Should this all have been kept kayfabe/private?
Another topic of discussion is the failure for kayfabe. Nowadays, kayfabe is gone for the most part with many insiders blaming the internet era of wrestling for doing more harm than good. That in itself is a whole other discussion but at the heart of the issue is if Matthews broke any kind of “code” amongst the boys (and girls).
My personal stance is that it should have been kept private or any attacks should have solely focused on DeMott without others being brought into this. With that said, we can not truly know the internal events that took place between DeMott and Matthews.
Is it possible that Matthews’ intention is to protect his sport and peers?
Argument #4: Should DeMott be fired?
The answer is yes but it all depends on the WWE’s stance on such activities. While I would slap DeMott with a small suspension to send a message internally and meet the needs of public outcry, the WWE has shareholders and a PR department.
The WWE is not a small-time wrestling school or a local community sports league. Everything they do internally and externally is well viewed by the public eye.
Argument #5: With modern era research providing optimal training methods, is extreme training still acceptable?
In my opinion, you need hard asses and you definitely need to test newcomers at different levels to protect the sport’s credibility. But it all depends on how extreme the training was or what the purpose of such training is. Is it to toughen the trainees? Is it to weed out the care-free in order to give more attention to the passionate? Is it to test individuals to see if they can perform at 100% when fatigued? They are a televised product with high standards afterall. Or is it to see if a fatigued wrestler can protect their opponents’ health when physically or mentally challenged? These and many other questions play key factors in determining a stance.
For what it’s worth, I have conducted fairly challenging wrestling classes for the students that I train at my wrestling school (Squared Circle Training, Toronto) and believe my practices to be beneficial without any true harm. I’m also certain that the level of intensity in my classes can’t even come close to those of WWE development and with guys like DeMott.
I also trained in Mexico where the classes were 10 times as difficult as mine. Despite being physically and mentally challenged with the practices that were meant to do nothing more than exhaust one before actual wrestling drills, I had no complaints. I welcomed the challenge and did see multiple benefits to the drills.
What is your take on all the controversy?