Last night, Bully Ray issued a statement on allegations from fan Josh Ketch about a series of interactions between Ketch and Ring of Honor talent which have resulted in the company “conducting an internal review”.
After Ketch added a claim that the “security” who took him backstage for a surprise meeting with Bully Ray was actually ROH head booker Hunter Johnson, the women involved in the initial incident with Ketch in the ring and ringside at Portland, Oregon’s Viking Pavilion commented on Twitter:
Typical Narcissistic sociopath behaviour. Act like an absolute maniac & verbally/sexually harass talent on shows & then act like you’re a victim so you can cry for attention on Twitter.— Lauren/Angelina Love (@ActualALove) June 4, 2019
Fans don’t act the way you did. I looked directly in your eyes. You had evil intent in them.
Stop with the lies & scratching for attention dude. Man up. Own your behavior & take responsibility. You were extremely inappropriate verbally attacking & sexually harassing talent on a level that is not acceptable in any environment PERIOD. 2 shows in a row. Be cool & drop it.— Mandy León (@MandyLeonxo) June 4, 2019
Verbal sexual assault on women is inappropriate and you know it. You were the loudest one in the arena both nights when we came out, salivating at the chance to spew your lewd & disgusting comments & cover it up by saying “I was booing the heels” FOH with that mess.— ✨Velvet Sky✨ (@VelVelHoller) June 4, 2019
It was actually Brian Johnson who came out to get you and he looks nothing like Hunter. But you still reaching for that attention. Acting like a victim when you’re the one who engaged us with your filth.— ✨Velvet Sky✨ (@VelVelHoller) June 4, 2019
Ketch has tweeted what he says is his final statement on the matter, which includes admitting he’s not sure Hunter Johnson (aka Delirious) was involved in escorting him from his seat.
What’s amazing to this writer is how both Bully’s statement and Velvet’s clarification casually acknowledge what is the most inappropriate element of the entire story - that ROH talent/management took it upon themselves to pull a fan from his seat, bring him backstage, and meet with him without a third party present.
While it’s shocking no one has produced cell phone footage of Ketch’s behavior across two nights worth of shows (the State of the Art tour was in Portland Sat., June 1 and Sun., June 2, and Ketch was evidently in the audience for both), even if that were produced, we’d still probably never get a completely accurate picture of what went on in the arena. Ketch, his friends, and others with beef against Bully, Velvet or ROH would back one version. Bully, Velvet, their allies on the roster and fans who want their approval would back another.
Of the things Ketch has admitted to saying, only the line about Sky and Ray’s personal life seems totally out of bounds. But even if that was just the tip of the iceberg on what he was shouting at The Allure, actual security should have been left to handle the situation. Warn him, in full view of the fans around him, that what he was doing was unacceptable. If he’d already been warned or his behavior was so out of line it was determined they could skip a warning, he should have been removed from the arena entirely by security who explained to him why he was being booted.
Having talent (and even if Sky is correct and Brian Johnson is the person who took Ketch backstage, he’s listed as a roster member on the ROH website) pose as security to force a one-on-one private meeting to deliver the warning is a recipe for disaster.
What if Ray had assaulted Ketch? What if Ketch assaulted Ray? What if either just claimed the other attacked them, and we’re left with a he said/he said of physical abuse instead of one about verbal abuse? What if some of the other “boys in the back” got wind of Bully’s plan and decided to rough up Ketch while he was sequestered backstage? What if a bunch of (possibly drunk) fans decided to head backstage to look for their friend?
There’s a reason licensed and bonded security companies handle these things at concerts and sporting events. It’s to protect the safety of fans and performers at the event, but it’s also to offer professional and safe resolutions for conflicts like the one Ketch had with Leon, Love, and Sky. The “we’ll take care of it ourselves” approach Ray went with makes all the (admittedly unlikely) nightmare scenarios possible. The point is, ROH is fortunate this PR flap is the worst thing they’re dealing with this week. And that’s without even getting into Bully’s personal relationship with Sky and how that could have led him to respond emotionally to the entire situation.
We’ll see what Sinclair’s internal review comes up with. But for the sake of ROH and its fans, it will hopefully include a clear procedure for how future situations between audience members and talent will be resolved. The roster shouldn’t believe they need to take care of these things themselves, and ticket buyers shouldn’t be worried they’ll get taken backstage by wrestlers if they somehow offend a performer.