This week, a flood of accusations have come out against NXT trainer Bill DeMott from a number of people once tied in with WWE’s developmental system. There are a litany of allegations that could fill both sides of the old Berlin Wall, falling into generally two categories: physical abuse and verbal abuse. In one alarming instance, one former trainee, Kevin Matthews, alleges that DeMott smacked him on the head after it was known he’d sustained a concussion.
It’s one thing to call Devlin a bitter ex-employee with an ax to grind, but the contents of that two-year-old letter are very specific and detailed.
Other wrestlers, such as Joey Ryan, Ethan Carter III (Derrick Bateman in WWE) and Trent Baretta have spoken out in support of Devlin’s whistle-blowing. Ryan remains active on Twitter, re-tweeting and linking everything he can find on the matter, while Baretta tweeted Thursday, “This isn’t about who’s tough and who’s cool and who’s bitter and who’s not. It’s about a sh—y person doing sh—y things.”
WWE released a statement in response to Devlin’s revelations, saying they found no sign of wrongdoing on DeMott’s part following a thorough investigation. Dolph Ziggler’s younger brother Ryan Nemeth, who was with NXT at the time, claims he was never questioned in the alleged fact-finding.
Bob Holly, no stranger to claims of roughing up youngsters in wrestling, added that some former NXT prospects were participants in a wrestling seminar of his a couple months back. According to Holly, they personally corroborated these horror stories to him.
MVP, via Twitter, responded to Joey Ryan’s linking of Devlin’s account, noting, “Damn. That s–t is STILL going on?” Assuming MVP means the methods allegedly employed by DeMott as trainer and not the actual claims against him, that’s pretty scary, considering that MVP rose through the developmental ranks of WWE a full decade ago, during DeMott’s first company go-around.
Among the gathering of claims and the outcry on social media against DeMott, from wrestlers and fans alike, Chris Jericho made his voice heard. He would come to regret it.
In a since-deleted tweet, Jericho said the following:
“Hey @BillDeMott is a good friend & great trainer. If u can’t handle it then quit. My training at #HartBrothers camp was 10,000 times worse!”
Make no mistake, Chris Jericho is a pretty tough guy. Working through a fractured forearm at a major Smoky Mountain Wrestling event, while gushing blood, attests to this. Other incidents stand out, such as working through a ripening knot between his eyes during the 2003 Royal Rumble, sustained when Tommy Dreamer whacked him a little too hard with a kendo stick. Ask Jericho himself, and he could rattle off countless other times in which he’s gutted it out in extreme circumstances.
Nobody will question Jericho’s toughness. His thought process on the other hand is undergoing considerable scrutiny.
As evidenced by the tweet being deleted, Jericho either rethought his stance toward his friend, couldn’t handle the deluge of angry tweets toward him from outraged fans, or both. It wasn’t just fans, either. Carter tweeted shortly after Jericho’s remarks, “A Hart can stretch me any day. A know nothing dips–t slapping me when I’m concussed is different.”
Jericho details his training in his first book, A Lion’s Tale, in which he notes nothing more than the rigors of discipline-testing stretches and the grind of understanding wrestling fundamentals, mixed with Jericho’s own light-hearted take on the personalities he encountered. The only instance of anything resembling bullying is his claim that Keith Hart roughed him up after Jericho asked him a question he couldn’t answer. Aside from that, there’s nothing in there about Ed Langley, Jericho’s primary trainer, telling Lance Storm he hopes he dies, or kicking Jericho in the groin, nor did Jericho detail any of the trainees being referred to as a pedophile by Langley.
Storm himself is now a respected trainer, churning out NXT talents such as Emma, Tyler Breeze, and Sylvester LeFort at his Storm Wrestling Academy. Thus far, none of them, nor any other Storm alumnus, has accused Storm of doing any of the things Jericho’s friend DeMott is accused of committing. Storm and Jericho came from the same school, which means whatever grind Jericho was subjected to, so to was Storm. I’m sure it’d make the dirt sheets if Storm grabbed an injured trainee by their neck and berated them beyond purpose.
Even if DeMott is completely exonerated, Jericho’s word at this time wouldn’t trump anything the former students claim, unless he was there every single day to provide a concrete alibi. The entire ignorant tweet boiled down to two things: DeMott’s my friend, and it was hell when I trained. It was completely oblivious to anything that was claimed, which is to attempt to invalidate potential truths on the merit of ego and personal annoyance.
In A Lion’s Tale, along with the many hilarious anecdotes, Jericho rails against the old-timers, grouches, and outright assholes that, from time to time, made the business less fun for him as an idealistic youngster.
It’d be sad to think Jericho, at one time as hip to the wrestling room as anyone, has turned into one of those people he once made fun of.