An attendee at Wednesday’s edition of All Elite Wrestling’s flagship TV show, AEW Dynamite, was removed during the broadcast after displaying a transphobic sign targeted at former AEW Women’s World champion Nyla Rose.
The incident occurred roughly midway through the two-hour program at the beginning of Rose’s TBS Championship tournament semifinal match against Ruby Soho. As Rose made her way to the ring, a man sitting ringside held up a sign reading: “Nyla Rose is this guy’s dad.” The sign had an arrow pointing to the person sitting next to him.
Rose, to her credit, didn’t miss a beat, giving the man the middle finger as she entered the ring. The act of defiance drew praise from many online, including Rose’s wife and gear maker Kel.
“My wife is the strongest person I know,” Kel wrote on Twitter alongside a screenshot of Rose flipping off the sign holder.
Kel brought the ringside attendee to security’s attention as the show continued, and he was eventually removed from the building near the end of the show despite apparently trying to disguise himself by removing his hoodie following Rose’s match.
Hey @AEW have you ejected this transphobe yet? Has he been banned from all future events for bringing a transphobic sign and holding it up in front a trans woman during a live televised event? Is @tntdrama aware? Has @warnerbros been notified? #AEWDynamite pic.twitter.com/pcHVMqUzTA— (@patcheschance) December 23, 2021
Wednesday’s incident is the second occurrence in as many weeks where blatant anti-LGBTQ hate speech was targeted toward an AEW-contracted wrestler during AEW Dynamite’s live broadcast. An attendee yelled a homophobic slur toward out pro wrestler Anthony Bowens during his match on the Dec. 8 episode of AEW Dynamite. The comment was loud enough to be caught clearly on the live mic.
These incidents of homophobic and transphobic behavior at recent AEW events have caused some to question the company’s practices as they pertain to vetting the contents of homemade signs, a staple at pro wrestling events, and enforcing protocols on audience behavior at live events.
AEW displays a fan code of conduct prior to live events. It implores those in attendance to “treat all fans and staff with respect and courtesy” and refrain from “foul, harassing or abusive language towards other fans or staff.”
According to AEW, violating those measures is punishable by “ejection without refund and potential loss of the ability to attend future events.”
A number of independent wrestling promotions have adopted similar codes of conduct that are delivered before events and explicitly highlight homophobia and transphobia as hate speech. AEW’s code of conduct does not include those terms.
The silence of AEW officials, including AEW founder and Jacksonville Jaguars official Tony Khan, following both the Rose and Bowens incidents, has drawn criticism.
“I’m aware the situation was handled last night but Tony Khan needs to do a better job condemning the bigotry,” pro wrestling Twitch streamer and The Sportster columnist Alex Pagan tweeted. “This consistent behavior at his shows is almost reaching double digits. You should not only stand up for your talent but also the fans who are maybe affected by this.”
AEW did not respond to a request for comment from Outsports regarding Wednesday’s incident, the company’s handling of it and its protocols for reviewing homemade signs at events as of press time. The company also did not respond to questions regarding the signholder’s ability to attend AEW events in the future.
Despite the hateful nature of Wednesday night’s events, a massive outpouring of love and appreciation for Rose from fans and other pro wrestling figures, LGBTQ or otherwise, drowned out the hate.
Fixed this asshole's transphobic sign to be accurate— RevaShark The Herald Angels Sing (@RevaSharkbait) December 23, 2021
Imagine picking a fight with THE Nyla Rose?????? #AEW pic.twitter.com/cK60MERiG1
Nyla Rose flips off the rude transphobe, wrestles a fantastic match and goes back home to her loving wife, sick Twitch stream and wrestling fame... that's the energy we need in this world✨ https://t.co/Oi1xKEoUse— Meikyu Dynamic! ️⚧️ (@meikyudynamic) December 23, 2021
Just want to remind y’all that Nyla Rose is one of the best wrestlers in the biz, and will be talked about for decades to come as one of the most important signings & Champions in wrestling history. She massively contributed to paving the way for trans representation in prowres. https://t.co/aEgj9D16AR— Trans Graps (@TransGraps) December 23, 2021
Rose and Kel thanked fans for the uplifting messages via Twitter.
“Thanks everyone,” Rose said. “Some of y’all are pretty cool.
Kell added: “You are part of the reason it’s bearable. We know we are loved and supported. These assholes can hate us all they want to. They are pathetic and jealous that against all odds, Nyla is winning.
“All we have to do is keep holding them accountable and call them out. They fight back because they are pissed that they are finally being called out on their bullshit. There is nothing they could say to me or Nyla that we haven’t heard 1000 times already.”