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WWE stars join Peyton Royce in denouncing criticism of her appearance by prominent wrestling voice

Earlier today, a tweet featuring a snippet of audio from the Aug. 9 edition of Wrestling Observer Radio found its way to SmackDown Superstar Peyton Royce’s timeline. The clip featured The Observer’s Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez discussing why they feel Royce and her IIconics partner Billie Kay have struggled to find their footing on the main roster. Meltzer’s reasoning eventually focused on Peyton’s look.

Meltzer: The IIconics got boring-ed out. They’re another one. I thought they had a cool act in NXT, and on the main roster? I don’t get a thing out of them. I don’t think their promos are particularly good, their wrestling isn’t good. I think they even like - I think Peyton Royce’s transformation to look more attractive. I don’t know, I don’t want to say. But I don’t think that...

Alvarez: She was more attractive in NXT?

Meltzer: I thought so, yes. To me, yes. I would say so. But that’s neither here nor there.

Alvarez: No one’s saying she’s unattractive, by the way, everybody.

Meltzer: I know, no $#!+. Yeah, I didn’t say it at all. But I don’t think, she doesn’t stand out to me - when she was in NXT she did...

Alvarez: You know, one thing I’ve noticed about NXT is...

Meltzer: She was... she was a lot lighter...

Royce responded, taking Meltzer to task for commenting on her weight specifically and his critique being an example of the kind of image shaming which negatively impacts women throughout society:

A defense raised for Meltzer in light of Peyton’s response is that Dave was attempting to diplomatically address plastic surgery she had done before being promoted from NXT, rather than being critical of a weight gain. Even with that in mind, however, his comments are still, at best, tone deaf in light of the strides wrestling has made in presenting women as entertainers and athletes instead of eye candy. Coming from someone who is both seen as wrestling’s most well-known critic/journalist and has his own critics due to his takes on women specifically and social issues in general, a backlash was coming regardless of if or how Royce got involved.

Once she did, however, her WWE family supported her and joined in condemning Meltzer:

That prompted a public apology from Meltzer. Unfortunately, that missed the mark in a few respects and did little to stem the tide of criticism:

Perhaps the most useful responses came from Tyler Breeze, who both calls Meltzer out for what he sees as the issues with all his comments and offers a way forward:

Will anyone listen, or learn, from today’s uproar? Meltzer says he will:

We’ll see if he does, and where we go as a community from here.

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