Independent wrestler David Starr made his reputation primarily through his in-ring skills but gained exposure earlier this year after delivering a promo. Starr’s speech promoting his ROH World Championship match in Israel brought up contentious political issues (most notably the practices of Sinclair Broadcasting, ROH’s parent company, and the Isreali-Palestinian conflict) and was subsequently taken down from social media, reportedly at the request of Sinclair, in what Starr didn’t hesitate to call an act of censorship. Since then, Starr has continued to incorporate political statements into his act, including during a promo at wXw’s WrestleMania weekend show in which he echoed anti-WWE talking points brought up by John Oliver while calling out his rival, Walter.
This past weekend, Starr wrestled in and won the WWE-aligned Progress Wrestling‘s Super Strong Style tournament, beating wrestlers including NXT UK’s Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks on his journey to earn a championship match against Progress Wrestling World Champion, Walter. Before the show, he revealed in an interview with WrestleTalk that he had been approached by representatives from WWE but had turned them down for one of the same reasons he moved to the UK:
I’ve been contacted by them before and I’ve turned it down a couple of times. The thing that doesn’t hit home with the European audience is the health care thing. Because [you’re] very fortunate to just go to the hospital. That’s one of the reasons I moved to the UK. Being a professional wrestler, it’s hard to afford healthcare, the things you need.
An answer to a question about his wXw promo included Starr further explaining his issues with WWE as a company:
I just want wrestlers to realize the power we have and understand that we don’t have to accept whatever is given to us. We have our own terms and our own conditions and I want wrestlers to understand that it’s cool to say “no”, it’s fine. Don’t give in just because it’s got three letters and it seems like it would be cool. Just think about yourself and don’t cave into a corporate power just because they tell you, “look at all this exposure you get’. Well, how about you treat us right? How about a billion dollar corporation that is able to provide healthcare to its wrestlers. Clearly, they don’t care.
Starr being politically outspoken is part of his wrestling character, but he brings up valid reasons to choose one work situation over another. The topic of healthcare for wrestlers clearly isn’t going away, though it’s so far unclear if any company – or maybe some kind of new wrestler’s guild – will alter the status quo.