Entertainment

Croydon wrestler considered retirement after wrestling abuse scandal

A professional wrestler from Croydon has said revelations of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in British wrestling made him consider retirement.

Roy Johnson, 36, took part in the inaugural WWE UK Championship Tournament in Blackpool in 2017, and is currently the host of Progress Wrestling on the WWE Network.

The Speaking Out movement against abuse in British independent wrestling promotions began on Twitter in June 2020, and led to numerous allegations against professional wrestlers from across the globe. 

Johnson said: “When it happened I didn’t want to go back, but then as time has gone on I’ve found a passion for wrestling again. 

“A lot of people just don’t have the flavour or the taste for it anymore. With everything that’s happened in the last year, some people just have a bad taste in their mouth and people have just quietly walked away.

“Also, a lot of fans have been turned off, naturally, and they might not return to watch the wrestling.” 

The movement spread around the globe, with allegations made against wrestlers who represented some of the USA’s biggest wrestling promotions including WWE, AEW and Impact Wrestling. 

The former powerlifter believes that despite a combination of controversy and COVID-19, the UK independent wrestling scene will survive, although he is concerned about the state of British independent wrestling promotions.

He said: “It depends on what interest places like WWE have in British pro-wrestling, but I can imagine they’ll try to prop up certain independents.

“It’s been a great feeder system for them but promotions who were running regularly over the last few years won’t be back for a long time.

“It’s not that I think they won’t come back. I just don’t think they’ll be back for a while, but there will be promotions with money behind them.

“The British independent promotions are very, very important. If there is nowhere for British pro-wrestlers to work then there aren’t going to be British pro-wrestlers.

“The growth of British wrestlers in the US has a lot to do with how British wrestling has grown.”

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