WrestleCon has apologised to openly trans wrestler Gisele Shaw after she was bullied by retired WCW pro Rick Steiner.
On 31 March, the 34-year-old athlete revealed on social media that Steiner spewed hateful transphobic rhetoric towards her at the LA-based event.
“I was at an autograph signing event today at WrestleCon, and while I was walking to my table, I heard someone yelling, ‘you’re a man,’ ‘you’re a dude,’ you’re a piece of trash,’ ‘you are filth,’ ‘get the f**k away from here,'” she revealed.
“I kept my head down and kept walking as I did not want to acknowledge that hate. I spoke to another IMPACT Wrestling talent who was at the signing with me and mentioned the incident.”
Shaw went on to say that after reflecting on the incident, she walked around the event to find out who was responsible for the hateful behaviour – which ended up being Steiner.
“I was shocked and could not believe that this was even happening. To have someone saying those comments who a lot of people look up to and consider their hero was quite shocking and disheartening,” the IMPACT wrestling star added.
“Another disappointing part about this whole thing was that there were other wrestling legends who just sat there, turned their heads away, did not want to get involved, or stand up for what’s right because it involved ‘one of the boys.”
Shortly after she uploaded her heartbreaking statement, fans of Shaw took to social media to send their support.
One person tweeted: “I’m so sorry for this, Gisele. Rick Steiner should be ashamed of himself. I can’t understand what it means to be in your shoes, but I do know you’re very brave.”
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Another fan wrote: “I love you, Gisele. You are a beacon of light and hope in this wrestling world of ours. Sorry that you had that experience. Sending love.”
Shaw was also supported by some of her industry peers, including Joe Hendry and Sonya Deville.
“Absolutely unacceptable. I am so sorry … sending my love and support,” Deville tweeted.
Hendry added: “We will always have your back and support you!”
In response to the fan and industry backlash, WresteCon and IMPACT Wrestling issued statements condemning Steiner and his behaviour.
“WrestleCon regrets the events that took place at yesterday’s convention and apologizes to Gisele Shaw. We aim to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQAI+ members of the wrestling community,” the event officials tweeted on 1 April.
“The issue has been addressed, and we hope the remainder of the convention can be a positive experience for all.”
IMPACT echoed similar sentiments before thanking the “millions worldwide” who sent their support to Shaw.
“Particular thanks go to the organizing staff of Wrestlecon as well as the IMPACT roster and crew who all handled an ugly situation with the utmost professionalism,” the organisation added.
As of this writing, Steiner has yet to apologise for his transphobic comments.
WrestleCon regrets the events that took place at yesterday’s convention and apologizes to Gisele Shaw. We aim to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQAI+ members of the wrestling community. The issue has been addressed and we hope the remainder of the convention…
— WrestleCon – LA March 30-April 2 2023 (@wrestlecon) April 1, 2023
Thank you to the millions worldwide who have read Gisele’s statement and showed full support for her. Particular thanks go to the organizing staff of Wrestlecon as well as the IMPACT roster and crew who all handled an ugly situation with the utmost professionalism.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) April 1, 2023