When a wrestler with a history of substance abuse problems gets arrested again it should naturally be a cause of concern for the company that employs him. Even more so when the incident involves spousal abuse.
Ring Of Honor CEO Joe Koff recently found himself in that position when TMZ.com reported that Matt Hardy and his wife Reby Sky were arrested in the early hours of New Year's Day for assault and battery after a fight in their hotel room that left Hardy bloody and scratched up and Sky sporting a fat lip and black eye.
Unfortunately, in a question he should have been much better prepared for, Koff, instead of expressing remorse over the incident, downplayed it in an almost absurd manner when the subject was inevitably brought up in an interview for Live Audio Wrestling on Feb. 16th:
"It did appear on TMZ and it did happen. Of course, it happened so much earlier than it was finally reported. You know, I gotta tell you something, John, there was really not a lot about it. I saw the stuff on TMZ and I saw a couple of Facebook comments about Matt wrestling in Philadelphia. I think it was really not a big deal. I don't have a position on that. I think that charges were dropped.
"You never want to get involved in domestic spats and domestic relationship and domestic disputes, but if a court of law or the judicial system could find no fault with it, I don't feel that's something we necessarily have to take a stance on. I'm not sherking that. I think the fact that C.M. Punk said he wasn't going to wrestle for WWE or when that story came out right around that same time, I think it kind of overshadowed it... I think had the outcome had been different from a judicial standpoint or a charge standpoint, I can't say, but really it was a domestic battle that got... You know, they're two wrestlers, they're probably two physical people."
The baffling comments quickly drew criticism with Jason Powell of prowrestling.net calling them "downright embarrassing".
"I want to take a moment to clarify my comments on the John Pollock radio show last week. When asked about the Matt Hardy domestic violence situation, I was probably not clear enough in stating my views. Both Sinclair Broadcast Group and I totally abhor and condemn any form of domestic violence in any situation. That has always been my view and anyone who knows me knows my position on that. I am a husband, a father and a grandfather. I believe in the quality of family life. If my statements on the radio show appeared to be insensitive I sincerely apologize. Domestic violence is a serious issue and I do not condone it any way."
Unfortunately, it's hard to take those words seriously when Hardy has not been reprimanded by ROH for the controversy, unlike Jay Briscoe who was forced to publicly apologize and donate his full pay for his next two appearances to the Partners Against Hate charity after making homophobic tweets. One wonders how they could handle the earlier situation so well, whilst getting this one so wrong.