Tessa Blanchard becoming the first woman to win the Impact World Championship last weekend was supposed to be an inspiring, empowering, and badass moment – and it was to some people. But for many of those paying attention to behind-the-scenes wrestling news and/or the wrestling community on Twitter, the moment was tarnished, along with Blanchard’s reputation, by some serious allegations against her made the day before. Since then, Blanchard has issued a statement on what happened, while other wrestlers have given more details about their sides of the story.
The drama began when Blanchard tweeted “Hey women, try supporting one another. Cool things happen” the day before Impact’s Hard to Kill PPV and was met with a deluge of quote-tweets from other women wrestlers accusing her of very unsupportive behavior. The most damning of these allegations came from NWA World Women’s Champion Allysin Kay (aka Sienna), who commented “Remember when you spat in a black woman’s face and called her the N-word in Japan? Was that you ‘supporting women’? The AUDACITY of this tweet.”
Yes true!!! And thank you and @chigusa8888 for gave me the opportunity to back to Japan. After the incident evreything was a totaly nightmares. But remember in bad times you have to be tolerant. https://t.co/mc056rkAnD
— La Black Rose from Puerto Rico (@LaAbusadoradePR) January 12, 2020
Kay’s tweet was supported by other wrestlers, including Renee Michelle, AEW’s Shanna, and former Impact wrestler Rebel. The person on the other side of the alleged incident, Puerto Rican wrestler La Rose Negra, later tweeted thanking the wrestlers who were supporting her and confirming Kay’s statement. Negra also responded to a tweet saying she should have knocked Blanchard out, saying “Yes, I did at the right moment when she spit my face just for respect…. and then my career in Japan for one of the best company was done…..”
To sum up: Negra’s side of the story, as put together from her tweets, is that while they were both working in Stardom in 2017, Blanchard spat at her and called her the n-word and Negra knocked her out in response. This incident ended Negra’s career in Stardom, so Michelle hooked her up with another joshi promotion, Chigusa Nagoya’s Marvelous. (At the time, Stardom said publicly that Negra left her stint with the promotion “due to family circumstances.”)
Two days after the initial Twitter drama, La Rosa Negra spoke about the incident in a video on the lucha libre-focused YouTube channel Contralona. She says (in Spanish, with English subtitles) multiple times that she behaves respectfully wherever she works and that she tries not to speak poorly of other wrestlers. She adds that she wants to “clear things up” in the video and that “female wrestlers know what really happened and why I didn’t say anything.”
In regards to the Twitter blow-up, she says:
When I saw those tweets, I was shocked and impressed because, since 2017, people have been pushing me to speak about something that isn’t necessary. I don’t like to talk about my personal life. I keep myself private. Reading all those fellow wrestlers tweets that supported me and reading their names… It surprised me…
She also talks about how she dealt with the incident, explaining:
I don’t expect to receive any apologies. It’s not necessary. I erased what happened. I gave it to God. I took it out of myself. It saddens me that racism, envy, and bad things exist in sports. It is always there. As adults, when something bad happens, we can resolve things talking. There’s always a solution. Mine was to forget what happened on that April 2017 in Japan.
I think this is a good experience for me because now I know that I had a lot of backup. It is impressive. I didn’t know so many people knew about the situation until the Twitter thing. I feel fulfilled… I feel good and I know I achieved what I wanted.
She closes the video by thanking all the women who supported her and saying:
This is a tough business for all of us, female wrestlers. In Puerto Rico, the U.S. Japan, all the countries I’ve been… female wrestling is in second place. But I know we put pro wrestling on top… And you have to show everywhere you go that we really are supporting each other.
Negra also retweeted a post from Ringside Society that says “she forgave [Blanchard] for the incident” when she saw her at Wrestle Con last year.
I hope everyone will take a moment to read this. pic.twitter.com/gRPUlCYd6a
— Tessa Blanchard (@Tess_Blanchard) January 17, 2020
Last night, Tessa Blanchard gave her own response to the allegation she used a racial slur. In contrast to the accounts of Kay, Negra, and others, Blanchard denies that she used the n-word. Here’s her full statement:
Over the last week I have been accused of calling a fellow wrestler a racial slur. To read this allegation has been personally upsetting. To be clear, I absolutely did not use that. That word is not in my vocabulary. That word is not in my heart. Racism is not in my heart.
Yet I know many people have to deal with racism in a way I sill never have to. Racism is an awful part of American history and it is equally awful that it’s still a part of our society today. While I did not do what was claimed, I stand ready to use my platform to support the fight against racism however I can.
Since the tweets that started all this, Allysin Kay has also made posts showing that she had permission to share La Rose Negra’s story and explaining why she did so when she did. In a series of tweets, Kay said:
It’s never the “right time” to come forward. It will always be difficult. There are always reasons not to. But there is no statute of limitations on someone’s pain. So many people bury their secrets for years out of fear; some forever. I encourage you to not stay silent forever.
People have tried to deal w/ Tessa behind the scenes for years & she hasn’t changed. Denying things even happened shows you haven’t grown. So it was time for that ass to get exposed. I guarantee you she will treat everyone w/ respect now, bc people are watching that much closer.
She will go down in history regardless, but it’s up to her whether she wants it to be for her talent, or if she wants to be the next Moolah.