WWE trainer Bill DeMott has resigned as head coach of WWE’s Performance Center, effective immediately. DeMott made the announcement via Twitter on Friday afternoon, amid allegations from several former WWE wrestlers claiming he propagated an atmosphere of abuse and harassment that included him freely using racist and homophobic slurs.
“I deny the recent allegations made about me, however, to avoid any embarrassment or damage to the WWE, I’ve decided to step down from my role effective immediately,” the tweet reads.
“We accepted Bill DeMott’s resignation,” WWE said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post. The company chose not to comment on the ongoing allegations.
The first wrestler to go public with allegations of extreme bullying from DeMott was Austin Matelson, who worked under the ring name Judas Devlin in NXT, the WWE developmental arm DeMott led. Matelson first leveled his allegations publicly on the “Vendetta Pro Radio 2K15” podcast earlier this week, and shortly thereafter, a letter he wrote to WWE executives complaining about DeMott in 2013 surfaced on the social media Web site Reddit.
“I am composing this memo today because I have had a number of serious concerns about the actions and words of head coach Bill Demott during my employment as talent for WWE developmental,” Matelson wrote in the letter. “Many of these actions I have tried to ignore or hope that they would cease but because they have now put me in a dangerous situation not only for my career but for my personal health and safety I feel the need to speak out to someone of a higher authority.”
The litany of allegations leveled by Matelson fall into two broad categories: 1) unnecessarily endangering wrestlers’ safety; and 2) physically and verbally wrestlers using racial and sexual slurs.
In one incident, Matelson claims he witnessed DeMott kicking a wrestler of Mexican descent in the groin and making fun of his accent. In another, Matelson says he’s heard DeMott repeatedly tell a black wrestler “to go back to Africa,” as well as criticize the sexual orientation of others.
WWE addressed those allegations after they became public earlier this week in a statement (via WhatCulture.com):
“WWE took the accusations made two years ago by Austin Matelson very seriously, conducted a full investigation and was unable to validate the claims. Regardless, WWE continues to reinforce policies and procedures to ensure a positive training environment.”
Ryan Nemeth, who wrestled for NXT under the ring name Briley Pierce and was named in Matelson’s letter as one of the victims of DeMott’s alleged abuse, disputes WWE’s claim that they conducted a “full investigation,” however. He said via Twitter that he was never once contacted over allegations claiming DeMott kicked him in his medical boot when he was recovering from a broken leg.
Several other wrestlers who have worked with DeMott, however, came forward with more allegations, following the lead of Matelson’s letter. Soon after “#FireBillDeMott” began to trend on Twitter with several people finding DeMott’s alleged tactics especially ironic given WWE’s association with its “B.A. STAR” alliance, which seeks to teach tolerance, encourage diversity and anti-bullying.
Shortly before DeMott announced his resignation on Friday, another damning story emerged on Reddit, which was verified by the site’s moderators. Written by a female wrestler who participated in the developmental program, the story alleges several instances of sexual harassment and the consequences of trying to report it. The woman writes:
“In developmental, Bill scared us so much that it made us ashamed and scared to speak up about anything. The few people who have come forward have alluded to some of what I want to talk about, but understand that this is a harder story to tell. … In all instances of complaining about sexual harassment…, women have been forced out of the company. After one of the talents’ dismissal, when we couldn’t figure out where she went, we were told (by DeMott), ‘If you go over my head, ask HER how well that works.’
“At any level, women who speak up for themselves are disposable.”