Ring Of Honor Lets Go Of Its Women’s Champion As Leaked Emails Reveal Backstage Issues

Ring of Honor has suffered several blows to its public image recently and the way the promotion just let go of its current Women of Honor Champion, Kelly Klein, is unlikely to help things.

After the Young Bucks, Cody, Hangman Page, and SCU, some of their top stars, departed the company to start All Elite Wrestling and ROH’s portion of the ROH-NJPW G1 Supercard crossover show was poorly received by both fans and some talent, Ring of Honor was not looking strong. Attendance at live shows was down and ACH called the promotion out for poor treatment of black wrestlers. Problems within ROH were then dramatically brought to light by former producer and trainer Joey Mercury when, after quitting the company, he created the Twitter account @JOEYnRetrograde and started leaking texts, emails, and other communications and behind-the-scenes information.

Some of the most significant things Mercury pointed out, along with exposing ROH General Manager Greg Gilleland calling a New Japan wrestler a waste of money, were safety issues, both in dealing with fans and handling wrestler injuries, using the example of a recent concussion suffered by Kelly Klein.

He also leaked emails between Gilleland and Klein revealing that when she asked for a raise – of a pay increase to $24,000 a year – she was turned down because ROH would then have to pay all the women wrestlers that amount, which was described by Gilleland as “aligning the compensations for the division as it continues to grow.” (Shortly after this, Women of Honor was profiled in a news segment about its wrestlers “making their impact on a male dominated sport.”)

Klein tweeted in support of Mercury, calling him someone who tried to “work for the best interests of the product and protect the talent who work hard to make it happen,” but “eventually gave up trying to do that when it became clear that he didn’t have the support he needed to make those positive changes.” Despite the revelation of her issues with management, she still sounded positive about Ring of Honor as a company.

Yesterday, Klein was informed that her time in ROH would come to an end. The company’s decision not to renew her contract in 2020 came to light through Mercury’s twitter account when he posted the screenshot of an email from Joe Koff to Klein. In the email, Koff stated that Klein had “breached our existing agreement by sharing confidential documents and emails with another contractor, who used the material to defame and slander the company… You also used your social media presence to help this contractor’s twitter account gain traction… This was painful to watch.” Koff called this a “clear breach of your contract and ethical requirements.” Mercury gave his takeaway from the email in another tweet: “SHE GOT FIRED. While concussed. For referring to someone.”

At this point, Klein’s husband, former ROH wrestler and producer B.J. Whitmer, who currently works as a producer for AEW, got involved in the social media conversation. “Now that the cat is out of the bag,” he confirmed that Klein was fired “via email” while “still very much suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome.” Whitmer went on to respond to publications that said less than definitively that Klein had been fired.

Meanwhile, ROH gave a statement to Wrestle Zone saying that technically, they did not fire Klein, “but we did notify here that we would not be re-signing her when her current agreement expires. She is still under contract through the end of the year.”

Today, Klein commented on the situation on Twitter. She went into detail about how her recent concussion was dealt with and responded to people criticizing her for talking about her professional problems on social media (something that’s also been a hot topic in another wrestling company), saying “don’t know that I tried to bring up issues and make improvements for four years. Texts, emails, verbal conversations over the phone and in person. That didn’t work. Because it was quiet and could be ignored. So I tried something else.”

That “something else” resulted in the end of her time with Ring of Honor, but helped expose serious issues within the company, issues that multiple employees clearly felt couldn’t be solved through normal channels.