NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09: WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon speaks during the Beyond Sport United event at Barclays Center on August 9, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Stories of WWE bullying pour onto web; include ESPN anchor who defended company

World Wrestling Entertainment’s bullying culture, led by alleged management enforcer, former wrestler and TV announcer John Layfield, extends 20 years according to an article by Brandon Howard of Fightful.com, the popular MMA, boxing and wrestling website. 

Howard collected quotes from 16 former wrestlers and employees of WWE through video interviews, books and articles detailing Layfield’s behavior since he joined the company in 1995, to his role today as announcer.

Some of the quotes are sexually explicit and use foul language, and paint a picture of a company led by Vince McMahon, which allowed a hostile culture to continue that other wrestlers said doesn’t occur in contemporary companies other than WWE. 

The most surprising of quotes come from Layfield, who admits to his behavior in several instances, referring to it as hazing.

Another surprising admission came from Jonathan Coachman in a quote found by David Bixenspan of Deadspin, where the ESPN anchor said he was once left crying for 10 minutes after being ‘pranked’ by management into  thinking he was arrested. 

ESPN: SportsCenter drops WWE segment after accusations of favorable coverage

Coverage: WWE blasted with bullying accusations after announcer disappears from air

Layfield admits in one quote to enjoy his bullying, saying he sees it as a test of toughness and trust between wrestlers when asked if he hazed wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.

“Did I haze The  Miz? Hell yeah I did,” Layfield is quoted in the article. “A lot of people want to talk about me and did I haze people? Yes. Absolutely. I make no apologies whatsoever.” 

Deadspin unearthed an interview Coachman did with BackSportsPage.com in 2014 where he said he was set up by WWE’s top management - Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Jerry Briscoe and Paul “Triple H” Levesque - to believe  he was arrested for running an illegal football pool in the locker room. He said he was berated by McMahon for shaming the company for 45 minutes then driven off by police, before being  being returned to the arena.

“Greatest rip in the history of the business,” Coachman said. “And for about 10 minutes I literally walked to a place in the building and started crying.” 

One quote from Brian  “The Blue Meanie” Heffron said a tag match with Layfield and his partner Ron Simmons led to Heffron’s partner Duane Gill blacking out twice from the severity of the blows unchoreographed blows. 

Mike Bucci, who wrestled in WWE as Nova and Simon Dean said Layfield’s antics often occurred while he was drunk, and were excused as “seeing what he’s made of” when making life and work difficult for a WWE employee.

WWE and ESPN have come under fire over the last week. The controversy started over the unannounced absence of lead TV announcer Mauro Ranallo due to a bout of depression. Layfield blasted Ranallo for not being  on TV while on-air and during  a non-character segment on WWE’s streaming service. Ranallo’s absence timed with the publication of the book “Best Seat in the House” by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who detailed harassment he took from Layfield.

ESPN began a weekly segment with WWE wrestlers a year ago, but is now canceled as of this weekend after Coachman began blasting people on Twitter who called for ESPN to cover the pro wrestling company like it would any other story. 

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X