It might surprise those of you who regularly read the grammatical nightmares that are my ramblings, but I have a Master’s degree in Journalism. In another world where the industry wasn’t dying, and I had the enthusiasm to push towards getting a proper job, there is every chance I would be working as a journalist right now. I wouldn’t be very good at it, but if Boris Johnson can do it, I’m sure I would have managed.
That wasn’t just a pathetic humble brag (it wasn’t that hard), but a segue into talking about one of the hot button topics in wrestling at the moment. Kylie Rae and how much of a responsibility the wrestling media has to look into the circumstances around her departure from AEW and apparent retirement.
For those unaware of the story, Tony Khan announced after All Out (only after being questioned on the matter) that Rae had requested, and been granted, her AEW release. According to Khan, the entire situation was amicable, and they’d left on good terms. However, there are people on Twitter suggesting that is far from the case, and that they are aware of some behind the scenes gossip/information that suggests there is more to this than meets the eye.
Now, before we get into this, I want to make it clear that I am not a wrestling journalist. I am a wrestling fan who blabs about it on the internet because I love to write. My knowledge of Kylie Rae’s situation stretches as far as what has been said on Twitter while the only source I have within the world of wrestling is a friend involved with Kamikaze Pro who occasionally tells me whether wrestlers are dicks or not. The second I saw this Kylie Rae situation I suspected there was more to it than meets the eye but I’m fucked if I know what that is.
However, I do have a slight understanding of journalism (emphasis on the word slight), and the reaction to this entire thing has been fascinating to watch from afar. You see, wrestling fans don’t get journalism. They’re conditioned to WWE’s way of doing things which revolves around ignoring the vast bulk of the wrestling media to focus on mainstream sources. When AEW provided journalists with access, those journalists were accused of being in their pocket, which suggests every journalist who has ever covered a sports event, concert or film has been in the pocket of those running it because guess what? None of them paid to get into that shit. Books, music and nice dinners at fancy restaurants, they all come free when you’re writing some words about them afterwards.
The Kylie Rae situation took this one step further, though. Now, we are seeing something that might hint at unpleasant goings-on behind the scenes in AEW, something that has potentially driven a young woman to end her career. As I said, I don’t know if that’s the case, but if you are someone who claims to be a wrestling journalist, it is your job to try and find out if that is the case.
Twitter, though, Twitter seems to disagree. According to people on Twitter, we should leave well alone. You see, AEW has quietly hinted that this was a mental health issue. That Kylie is going through something and should be left alone. In the minds of certain wrestling fans, that means that any journalist who goes down this route is invading her privacy. That to seek out this story and try and uncover exactly what has gone on, is a heinous act which should be shouted out and put down. I say bullshit.
It all reminds me of a story that one of my lecturers told me. As a young journalist, they’d be sent to cover the death of someone in the community. Sadly, that meant going to talk to the grieving widow, a horrible situation for all involved, but a part of the job. During that conversation, the distraught woman revealed some shit that she shouldn’t have. Information about her husband that you would probably describe as juicy gossip and which would definitely be of interest to the local paper. However, my lecturer decided not to run it. A grieving widow had spoken too much, and with her husband’s death, that information had become gossip and nothing more.
The story behind Kylie Rae’s departure from AEW might be gossip. Maybe it is a mental health issue, or maybe something in her personal life has changed to the extent that she has fallen out of love with our world. It could be any number of things that we, as fans, do not deserve to know, and if that’s the case, the journalist who finds it out should do exactly what my lecturer did. They should file that information away and never tell anyone. Part of being a journalist is figuring out what the people need to know, and what is private to the individuals involved.
What they shouldn’t do is pretend that the story isn’t there. The role of journalism, and despite what some say it’s more important than ever in this modern world, is to hold people to account. If AEW has allowed something to happen that has ruined that woman’s career, it is up to the people who claim to be wrestling journalists to find it out and expose them. Will it be pleasant? Probably not, but then a lot of huge stories haven’t been, and that isn’t an excuse to ignore them, and neither is the worry that someone’s feelings might be hurt. My lack of willingness to chase a story is the real reason I turned away from being a journalist and would never call myself one, but there are a lot of people that do, and if the wrestling media want that title, they should live up to it.