A Shoot Incident In RevPro Led To A Wrestler’s Release And The End Of A Referee’s Career

At Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Summer Sizzler event on August 30, British Tag Team Champions Sha Samuels and Josh Bodom faced Aussie Open for the right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships at NJPW’s Royal Quest the following night. Aussie Open won, but not quite in the way the teams had planned, which triggered a shoot attack that has now ended the career of a referee and at least severely damaged that of a wrestler.

According to those involved, Aussie Open were always supposed to win the match, but about five minutes later. However, referee Aaren Wilde counted to three when one of the RevPro tag champs didn’t kick out of a pin earlier than the planned ending. Samuels responded by bodyslamming Wilde, something that had not been planned beforehand or discussed with the referee, and claiming he had been screwed, a la Bret Hart in Montreal. What couldn’t be seen on RevPro’s footage of the match, though, was that the post-match attack continued outside the ring, where Josh Bodom attacked the referee in a way that looked much more like someone being beaten up in real life than a bodyslam.

It took about a week and a series of tweets from Wilde for the serious fallout from this match to begin. Wilde tweeted that “Last weekend at RevPro I was attacked after the Royal Quest tag match. This was not part of the show, it was not planned. I was grabbed and slammed to the mat by Sha and then something happened on the outside. I honesty don’t know what, that part was a blur.” He said that “As a result, I have sustained a much-more-serious-than-originally-thought neck and shoulder injury that means I am no longer able to referee,” and clarified that the intended winners of the match still won and that this was the first botched ending in his career as a pro wrestling referee. He also requested donations via PayPal since the injury left him unable to referee for football/soccer, his main source of income.

Wilde’s statements were quickly met with criticism and skepticism from some members of the wrestling business, including David Starr through the We The Independent (indie wrestler collective/t-shirt brand) account. He responded to claims that his injury occurred because he was poorly trained by stating that “Never once in 3+ years of refereeing have I been injured in a ref bump. As it was always agreed prior with all parties as pro wrestling is a performance where the referee is not in physical involvement. Sizzler was not an agreed physical involvement. I hope this clarifies.”

At this point, RevPro promoter Andy Quildan gave his input with the tweets above in which he misspelled Wilde’s name twice. He said he had first heard about the incident via Wilde’s tweets (Quildan was at Summer Sizzler and got involved, McMahon-style, in the main event) and ultimately sided with the wrestlers, saying “Footage from our live edit only shows the slam. Having reviewed it, I can say with confidence that there was no intent to cause any injury. Regardless I’m sure everyone will draw their own conclusions but I can assure that I will make sure this matter is dealt with swiftly.”

Everyone’s tone changed quickly when a fan video surfaced of the part of the attack that happened outside the ring, the part RevPro’s cameras didn’t capture and that Wilde said was “a blur.” The video, which was posted on September 8, currently has almost 400,000 views.

At this point, Samuels quit the screwjob bit and was repentant. In a Twitter thread, he said he had slammed the referee because he was “thinking on my feet” as a performer after “a mistake happened during our match” and that he “was only concerned about the integrity of the match.” He maintained that he believed he had done nothing wrong at the time, and continued:

He concluded the thread by posting a slowed-down clip of his attack on Wilde to show he “protected him,” or executed the move safely as he would with another wrestler in a planned spot in a match.

A few hours after the video was posted that showed Bodom shoot beating up Wilde, RevPro finally released an official statement about the incident. The company maintained that they did not know about the severity of the incident before Wilde’s tweets. They would strip Samuels and Bodom of the RevPro tag team championships. They believed Samuels’ version of events and he would “undertake an internal disciplinary and will be on zero tolerance should any future incidents occur.” Bodom, however, would face more serious consequences:

Unfortunately, Bodom’s actions do not match up with his recollection of events. This has left us with no option but to indefinitely sever ties with him. His actions should not and will not be tolerated and we hope that this sends a clear message of that fact. We hope that Josh will be able to reflect upon these actions and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow as a human being moving forward.

So far, Bodom has responded to this incident much differently than Samuels. He was criticized by many of his peers, including David Starr (who, like Quildan, changed his tune after seeing the fan video) and Pete Dunne, and called the latter “a p*ssy” before deleting his Twitter account (like key figures in last week’s big BritWres drama.) Bodom also took parting shots at the industry, at least the British portion of it, on his Instagram story, saying “Bye Britwres, Ya Pedos” and posting what looks like a real screencap of a message from Quildan in which the promoter said, “Hey josh… this ref is kicking up a sh*t storm on the twitter. I have your back on it don’t worry…”

At this point, it seems like the dust has settled. Sha Samuels’ wrestling career will continue, Aaren Wilde’s referee career may be over. It seems like Bodom’s wrestling career should be over as well, but given how wrestling’s sketchiest figures seem to always be able to find second and third lives in this industry, that’s hardly a given. RevPro will continue to run shows as usual, now with wrestling fans having caught a glimpse of the messy boys’ club and communication issues behind the scenes.

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