On June 17, 2020, pro-wrestler David Starr was accused of sexual assault by a former girlfriend. Those accusations began a movement in professional wrestling under the hashtag #SpeakingOut that lead to numerous other wrestlers and fans telling their stories of abuse in the wrestling industry. The Southern California wrestling scene has not been exempt from these allegations, most notably NWA Vice President David Lagana, Joey Ryan, and Suede Thompson being named.
The allegations against David Lagana, who previously worked for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and WWE, were made by Liz Savage, a former independent wrestler who frequently wrestled in Southern California. In a Twitter post, Savage stated she had moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and began living with David Lagana, who had promised her work through the NWA Hollywood promotion. Savage said she shared a bed with Lagana, but they never had a sexual relationship. SoCalUncensored.com has been able to confirm that Savage and Lagana did live together at that time, and the apartment had only the single bed.
Savage then alleges that she woke up one night to discover Lagana’s hand down her pants in her underwear while he was touching himself. Afraid, she tossed herself around, pretending to be asleep to stop it. She then claims he kicked her out of their place later that week.
The NWA, which Lagana was the main force behind and handled most of the duties, issued the following statement today:
Pursuant to allegations made by pro wrestler Liz Savage on her Twitter account, 6/18/2020, NWA VP David Lagana has resigned his position, effective immediately. As well all production of NWA content is temporarily halted, pending a restructuring of executive management positions.
This isn’t the first time that Lagana has been accused of sexual misconduct. In the book Ring of Hell by Matthew Randazzo V, numerous accusations of misconduct by Lagana during his time in WWE are detailed. Dan Madigan even states that sexual harassment was the reason Lagana was ultimately fired from WWE.
David Lagana has not released any statement on the allegations as of press time.
Joey Ryan, who wrestles for Impact and promotes Bar Wrestling, has been accused of misconduct by Corrine Mink, who worked for the independent promotion WrestlePro in New Jersey. In a Twitter post, Mink stated she picked up Joey Ryan from the airport and that he had groped her thigh and chest while she was driving. She then said he tried to get her to go to his hotel room and kissed her to convince her to do so.
She stated she informed the promoter for WrestlePro, and he apologized and promised never to book Joey Ryan again, but then booked him a year and a half later.
In a follow-up Tweet, Mink clarifies that she was way more devastated by the actions of WrestlePro than Joey Ryan, and she was too scared to say the company’s name before.
No dates were mentioned for the incident, but Joey Ryan appeared on a WrestlePro event on March 5, 2016, and then next appeared for the promotion on March 11, 2017.
Joey Ryan has not made any public statements in regards to the allegations as of press time. Impact Wrestling’s parent company Anthem released the following statement to SoCalUncensored.com:
It is a core value of the Anthem organization that we conduct our business with respect and integrity, providing a safe and secure work environment for our employees and performers.
We are following carefully the various allegations being made through social media, and are reviewing all incidents involving Impact Wrestling talent and personnel to determine an appropriate course of action.
Suede Thompson, who has wrestled frequently in Southern California, notably for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Ground Zero, and AWS, was accused of abuse by Sandra Moone, another independent wrestler who has made several Southern California appearances as well.
Moone posted on Twitter that she was approached by Suede Thompson when she was 17 years old to be her mentor and train her. He then began offering gifts, assisting with her with getting bookings, and taking her on road trips.
She went on to state that Thompson attempted to turn their friendship into an intimate relationship and began to make sexual advances and sent nudes. Moone stated that “He would harass me when I would talk to my friends or train without him. I was scared to train hoping that he would not be there.”
Former independent wrestler Allie Parker responded that she “had been telling people for years about him” and that she was “scared for her life at one point” but no one would listen. SoCalUncensored.com has been told numerous stories about Suede Thompson over the years as well, but no one was willing to go on the record about him.
Over the past few weeks, wrestlers in the Las Vegas area began to speak out more about him, and FSW, the leading independent promotion, had a meeting with their wrestlers in regards to conduct.
Suede Thompson has deleted all of his social media and issued no comments.
In addition to the above accusations, others have come out and shared their stories of abuse, notably 2019 Southern California Women’s Wrestler of the Year Heather Monroe.
She posted the following story on Twitter regarding an abusive relationship she was in:
During my relationship with my ex he abused me mentally, and towards the end of things put his hands on me numerous times. He has a lot of issues, and I used that as an excuse to stay with him for 2 years longer than I should have.
He would call me a slut for doing customs. He would say I only got as far as I did because promoters wanted to sleep with me. I would feel bad about telling him good news in my career because he would resent me for gaining more success than him and throw it in my face when I was drunk. He would threaten to kill himself if I tried to break up with him or if I would just leave the house to get away from him. This was just the tip of the iceberg with the emotional abuse.
Towards the end of our relationship he would spit on me, push me, and threaten to “beat the shit out of me.” I got to the point where I started to record our fights on a mic app I downloaded because I was so worried he might kill me. I woke up one night asleep in the guest room because I was trying to end things. He was standing over me and put his hands around my neck to choke me. Luckily I was lying down and was able to kick him off of me and push him out the door and lock it. This wasn’t the first time he tried to choke me.
I don’t have the “proof” people might want anymore. I had a lot of recordings and voicemails of him yelling incoherent things at me because he called me 20x in a row. I deleted them because I wanted to move past it. When we broke up I was a new woman, and while I knew things were bad when I was in it, it was even more obvious once I was out of it.
I didn’t speak up sooner because I never wanted him to be able to use me as an excuse for his failure.
While SoCalUncensored.com is aware of Monroe’s abuser’s identity, we are not stating it out of respect to Heather Monroe since she chose not to name them.
This story is likely to evolve and get bigger as more allegations continue to come out.
So far two Southern California based wrestling promotions, FIST Combat and Ground Zero, have released statements regarding the allegations of abuse in the wrestling industry
FIST Combat released the following statement:
Yo aspiring wrestlers in SoCal and beyond. FIST Combat doesn’t stand for womanizing, sexism, racism or any of that other bullshit. We choose who we work with and who works for us bc we’re not locked into working with anyone bc of contracts or prior obligations.
Although we are considered by many to be a comedic wrestling promotion who pushes the lines with our comedy and need to be provocative, we do not stand for this garbage treatment of wrestlers, staff, or audience.
If anyone has had a negative experience with us we have been an open door policy for discussion. We have handled several situations once they’ve come to light and we promise nothing will change that. If any wrestlers, audience, or staff has experienced anything of this nature, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE to bring that forward as it will be dealt with and never swept under the rug.
Ground Zero’s statement follows:
We would like to extend our support to the brave victims that are #SpeakingOut on abuse in the wrestling industry.
After learning about credible accusations made towards performers who’ve appeared on our events, we’ve decided to cut ties with these performers.
If you or someone you know needs help, the number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-4673.