Pro wrestling is a niche fanbase. We as fans aren’t the greatest bunch of people as we have discovered time and time again, there are bad eggs everywhere, even in the world of make believe combat sports. There is very little crossover opportunity for professional wrestlers in sports, while some have been successful in Hollywood. The Rock, John Cena and Batista have all made that jump. This jump wouldn’t have been possible if any of the three had controversial statements. Crossover stars usually cross from WWE into Hollywood, but there is one very notable crossover star who made the jump from her chosen sport to professional wrestling: Ronda Rousey.
On May 24th of 2022, 18 year old Salvador Ramos went on a killing spree at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and 2 teachers. The shooting has left the world shell shocked once again as children lost their lives in school. Pro Wrestlers have come out in support and mourning for those that lost their lives due to this tragic event. Regardless of how you feel about gun control or politics, everyone can agree that these shootings are a disturbing highlight of the worst of humanity.
One event that immediately comes to mind following this shooting is of course, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On December 12th, 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza killed 27 people. Before leaving for the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother before heading for the school, shooting and killing 20 children aged 6-7 years old and 6 teachers. Lanza would then turn his weapon on himself, committing suicide as first responders approached the school.
In the case of both shootings, WWE in particular have paid tribute to the lives that were lost, with WWE holding a 26 bell toll ceremony prior to the TLC PPV in December of 2012 as a mark of respect for the lives lost at Sandy Hook.
It was reported at the time that WWE were wary of promoting a violent show to children, but no public criticism was directed towards pro wrestling as a possible reason for the shooting. WWE have yet to comment officially on the Uvalde shooting but many stars including Cody Rhodes and AEW’s CM Punk have posted tweets honouring the dead and condemning the shooting. However, not all wrestlers are respectful to the dead.
When it comes to school shootings, there is a lot of conspiracy theories out there. Fortunately, with the internet nowadays it is easy to verify that these theories are outlandish, disgusting and outright disrespectful to the children who lost their lives in a place of learning. There are several wrestlers who have come out in the past and tried to claim that there was a greater plot to the killings other than an angry young man with a fully automatic weapon.
The most famous example of this is former UFC and current SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey transitioned to pro wrestling from MMA in January of 2018, when she appeared at the Royal Rumble and announced she had signed for the promotion. Ronda is no stranger to controversy and at times faced criticism for things she has said and while there are some arrogant comments from Rousey, her response to Sandy Hook is by far the most troubling.
In January 2013, just one month after the Sandy Hook shooting, Rousey posted a conspiracy video regarding the shooting, referencing it as “very interesting”. The video is not viewable on Youtube anymore but that video turned out to be a 30 minute clip suggesting that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT was a government conspiracy. Following backlash, Rousey would delete the video and Rousey’s manager claimed she didn’t mean to cause offence. Following uploading this video, Ronda would respond to a fan and showed no shame in believing the video’s contents.
It has been known for a long time that Rousey is a Sandy Hook denier and it lead to many to call for her to be released from the UFC at the time. Both the UFC and Ronda refused to comment on the matter while Rousey’s manager would release the following statement:
“Ronda’s the kind of person that doesn’t take everything at face value, and doesn’t have 100 percent faith in all the news that’s put out there by the mainstream press,”Darvin Harvey, Ronda Rousey’s Manager in 2013
Of course, this is no excuse for the mockery of an event as tragic as a school shooting where twenty children and six teachers were killed. It is also disrespectful to the mother of the shooter, who as mentioned previously, was the first victim of Adam Lanza prior to the killings. In the almost decade since, there has been no apology from Rousey and UFC president Dana White at the time labelled those unhappy with Rousey as “pussies.” Rousey is currently the Smackdown women’s champion at a time where 19 families are once again mourning the deaths of children and this is a problematic scenario. It has been widely forgotten about by many fans, in particular pro wrestling fans who have either not heard of this or choose to ignore it. This is one of the biggest female sports stars, period, and bar a few comments here and there – it is hard to find any outlet who holds Rousey accountable for spreading this disgusting conspiracy.
While Rousey is the most prominent star to promote this theory, she is not the only one. Two other talents who are known solely for their pro wrestling careers have also floated Sandy Hook conspiracy theories.
Brian Kendrick has recently been embroiled in controversy over his own conspiracy theories. These theories were exposed when Kendrick was scheduled to appear in AEW, but this was quickly changed once the audio and video footage of Kendrick discussing and believing these theories. While many rightfully referenced his theories regarding 9/11 and the Holocaust in the aftermath, there were also comments from the former WWE superstar regarding Sandy Hook. Kendrick would claim that Sandy Hook was a government conspiracy “suppose to help lead to our guns being removed.”
However, unlike Rousey, Kendrick has apologised for his statements and behaviour, not that that makes it ok.
Finally, Bo Dallas floated the same controversial conspiracy theory on an episode of Talk Is Jericho, that Kendrick pedalled, repeating the same line regarding it being a conspiracy by the US government to take guns from the population. Dallas tried to make an excuse before pedalling his theories (including the fact that lizard people stole excerpts from the bible), stating that it was ‘funnier’ to live a life believing conspiracy theories. Similarly to Rousey, Bo Dallas chose to ignore the outrage against him and eventually it became an afterthought.
We as wrestling fans are particularly susceptible to believing conspiracy theories – one only has to look on social media over the last week regarding MJF’s contract status with AEW. While there have been reports from several respected journalists stating the contrary – many wrestlers and fans have believed it to be a “work”. There are people out there who genuinely believe that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged event that never occurred, or was planned by the US government and it is not only disrespectful to those who lost their lives, but the families of the dead also. It is also incredibly asinine to believe that a government that makes as much money as the US do because of guns, would want to stage an event to create stricter laws.
During Real Crime’s documentary Sandy Hook: Surviving The Horror, it is touched on briefly regarding the wild conspiracy theories that people throw out there. These families face insane ridicule from people like Rousey, Kendrick and Dallas, all while having to mourn their dead loved ones. One mother in the documentary was asked about it and stated:
“Good for them. Good for fucking them that they will never have to live with the pain we live through every single day.”
*While reading hateful comments* “Some people think I’m an actor or special ops.” “Mine just says LIAR.”
As mentioned previously, the reason this editorial is being written is because these kind of conspiracy theories are dangerous and can have a traumatic response from the families involved. Promoting these theories, even if you just think its “fun”, is inexcusable. To put it into perspective, Alex Jones, host of Info Wars, was proven to be liable for spreading such theories in a a defamation suit brought by the families of children lost at Sandy Hook. The fact that neither Rousey or Dallas have publicly apologised for spreading these theories – with Rousey even double downing when met with controversy – is incredible when you look at the people who have been cancelled over the years for far less. We as fans need to hold these people accountable for their actions as they promote such hatred and outright disgusting claims.
If you don’t feel that way after reading the information provided, think of how you would feel if your son, daughter, cousin, sister, brother or any child in your life that means something to you was not only brutally murdered, but people accuse you of being in on it and a paid actor. Imagine the fury and pain that would cause. Now, imagine how you would feel that over a decade later, another shooting that is almost as deadly is being labelled the same way by wild conspiracies. If you see people pedalling any such conspiracy theories, report them and expose the comments.
All in all, I would say that the fact Ronda Rousey has not apologised, double downed, and then proceeded to ignore any critics of her actions shows her lack of compassion and frankly, should be more well known not only by wrestling fans – but MMA fans also. Remember that these are children’s lives that these people are disrespecting. They spit in the face of the families who mourn their dead. Hopefully, the reaction to these three stars’ comments will make sure that no wrestler decides to pedal the same conspiracy theories regarding the Uvalde shooting that occurred nearly a decade after Sandy Hook. Just remember – it costs you nothing to respect the dead.