Neither of these are new issues between wrestlers and wrestling fans, nor are they unique to our beloved pastime. But both have reared their ugly heads in the pro wrestling community over the past several days, so here we go again...
Please don’t be an asshole to wrestlers online. Or when you see them out in the world, trying to get from one town to the next, eating or a meal, or just existing as human beings.
Earlier this month, Riho returned to AEW for her first 2023 matches with the company. That seemed to draw a torrent of online abuse her way, and she subsequently shut down her Twitter account. The 25 year old used her Instagram Story to let fans know she was okay, and to thank those who supported and/or stuck up for her.
In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer wrote the harassment appears to be part of a coordinated effort by an unknown parties. As an example, he noted that when a friend asked for messages that could be included in a card to cheer up Riho, the group flooded the effort with negative comments. The drive had to be cut short, and someone had to individually go through the submitted messages to weed out the hateful ones.
Fellow AEW star Eddie Kingston then deleted his Twitter in solidarity with his co-worker:
So, it would great if we could not tweet “evil shit” at performers just because we don’t like them.
Also, don’t do stuff like this...
So these creeps showed up to the airport to stalk wrestlers for autographs.— WrestleCringe (@WRESTLECringe) February 10, 2023
Ran into Rey Mysterio who was polite and agreed to one autograph.
And these entitled goofballs are upset he didn't sign everything they had. pic.twitter.com/GhtAc6eK8c
The original TikTok video seems to have been posted in an attempt to shame or otherwise cast Rey Mysterio in a bad light for not standing in the airport to sign all the merchandise these adults had on them when they tracked his flight. Fortunately, that spin was rejected by the masses. PWInsider says WWE has noticed an uptick in this kind of behavior, which includes people following female performers when they drive away from public places.
While it says there hasn’t been an official edict given to wrestlers about interacting with fans, Insider noted that several wrestlers turned down signing items over the past weekend (some did take selfies with fans who asked politely). Hopefully, the effort will lead to safer circumstances, with less confrontation. But if this tweet today (Mar. 20) from Rhea Ripley is any indication, we’re not there yet:
People need to respect that no means no!— RheaRipley_WWE (@RheaRipley_WWE) March 20, 2023
At airports do not follow me outside. Today has put me off completely! I will not sign ANYTHING that isn’t a personal photo of us anymore.
Hate me, I don’t care.
Disagree with me, try putting yourselves in our shoes for one bloody day.
So, it would also great if we could take “no” for an answer and not follow wrestlers around.
Doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, or a message that should need to be repeated. But we’ll probably be discussing this kind of bad behavior again in another few months. We just have to hope their isn’t another story like this one or this one in the interim.