My colleague Geno Mrosko had a good round-up of the circumstances behind Alberto Del Rio's firing, asking difficult questions over whether WWE is investigating the alleged racial remarks that are believed led to Alberto's unprofessional conduct, i.e., an altercation with another WWE employee.
More details have just emerged on the situation from Dave Meltzer's latest Wrestling Observer Radio show. Here's the latest information on the incident:
- The story is starting to attract some mainstream attention, as a Washington Post sports writer blogged about Del Rio being fired for slapping a co-worker over a racist joke.
- Meltzer reiterated the story going around that Cody Barbierri, Manager of Social Media Live Events at WWE, didn't clean off his plate at catering and when told to do so he joked "well, that's Del Rio's job" whilst Alberto wasn't around. Somehow Del Rio found out about the cheap jibe, which led to a confrontation with Barbierri, who Del Rio slapped when Barbierri tried to laugh off what had happened.
- Meltzer claimed that Alberto Del Rio really whacked Barbierri and likened the force of his slap to the infamous slapping "Dr. D" David Schultz gave 20/20 reporter John Stossel for having the temerity to ask him whether professional wrestling was fake in 1984. Stossel suffered pain and buzzing in his ears for several weeks after the incident and eventually sued the World Wrestling Federation over the assault, which led to him getting an out of court settlement of $425,000.
- Meltzer argued that WWE had no choice but to fire Alberto Del Rio as a consequence.
- Regarding whether Barbierri would be given a punishment for racially provoking the attack by Del Rio, Meltzer said: "I expect there will be, but the only thing is, you know, it's a weird legal situation, because the company's hands are tied. If the company didn't do anything to Del Rio, then they would be open to a lawsuit and I think that that's the whole thing and I think it's one of those things where will this guy sue us for an unsafe work environment if we punish him.... It's in the hands of legal people. It's a weird situation." Thus, it doesn't sound like WWE are unfairly protecting Barbierri, but are treading very carefully due to the potential consequences of punishing him and are leaving the decision of how they handle this messy predicament to their lawyers, which seems like the smart play in this case.
- Meltzer rightly points out that the correct way to deal with such spats in a publicly traded corporation is to make an official complaint to Human Resources, which he believes would have got Barbierri in trouble "without a doubt", likely being suspended or even fired.
We'll keep updating this story as it develops, Cagesiders.