WWE Hall of Fame pro wrestler Rick Steiner has been banned from the remaining days of pro wrestling convention WrestleCon after directing transphobic and homophobic slurs at IMPACT Wrestling star Gisele Shaw during the convention.
Shaw brought the situation to light in a Twitter post Friday evening, stating that she heard someone who she would later identify as Steiner begin yelling transphobic comments at her as she was walking to a scheduled autograph signing.
“I was shocked and could not believe that this was even happening,” Shaw said. “To have someone saying those comments who a lot of people look up to and consider their hero was quite shocking and disheartening.”
Steiner continued directing hate speech at Shaw when she confronted him. Shaw stated that Steiner also began directing homophobic slurs at another individual associated with IMPACT Wrestling.
“Today is International Trans Day of Visibility and I am standing up for myself and for other people who go through the exact same situation on a daily basis,” Shaw tweeted. “I want everyone to know what kind of a deplorable person Rick Steiner is and that this cannot be tolerated.”
Ry Levey, director of LGBTQ pro wrestling documentary “Out In The Ring,” told Outsports that he witnessed Steiner continuing to use homophobic slurs in the lobby of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, where WrestleCon is being held this year, Friday afternoon.
“To hear that such a supremely talented and wonderful ambassador for wrestling like Gisele Shaw was targeted is alarming and not acceptable,” Levey said.
A source with knowledge of the incident told Outsports Saturday morning that WrestleCon organizers decided to ban Steiner from the remaining two days of the convention, which regularly runs during WrestleMania weekend.
WrestleCon’s Michael Bochicchio confirmed the decision to PWInsider, saying that the convention was trying to facilitate a meeting between Steiner and Shaw. No meeting has happened as of press time.
Bochicchio stated that Steiner left the convention before officials could speak with him about the incident and shared that Steiner’s appearance at the convention was booked by a third-party vendor rather that the convention itself.
“WrestleCon regrets the events that took place at yesterday’s convention and apologizes to Gisele Shaw,” read a statement from the convention’s official Twitter account. “We aim to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQAI+ members of the wrestling community. The issue has been addressed and we hope the remainder of the convention can be a positive experience for all.”
WrestleCon regrets the events that took place at yesterday’s convention and apologizes to Gisele Shaw. We aim to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQAI+ members of the wrestling community. The issue has been addressed and we hope the remainder of the convention…— WrestleCon - LA March 30-April 2 2023 (@wrestlecon) April 1, 2023
Pro wrestlers from IMPACT and other major promotions showed public support for Shaw while also pointing to Steiner’s long history of bullying people during his pro wrestling career. “Just know that you are supported,” tweeted IMPACT Hall of Fame member Gail Kim. “I’m so let down by this behavior.”
“Rick Steiner has always been a bully and has gotten away with so much because he is a ‘Steiner.’” commented All Elite Wrestling’s Chris Jericho.
IMPACT Wrestling released a statement as well.
“IMPACT Wrestling stands in full support of Gisele Shaw and the LGBTQ+ community. We are saddened by the incident Friday afternoon at Wrestlecon in Los Angeles and hope everyone can learn and be better from it,” the company’s statement read. “Thank you to the millions worldwide who have read Gisele’s statement and showed full support for her. Particular thanks go to the organizing staff of Wrestlecon as well as the IMPACT roster and crew who all handled an ugly situation with the utmost professionalism.”
Steiner has not commented publicly on the incident as of press time. Outsports reached out to the Cherokee County School District in suburban Atlanta, GA, where Steiner serves as Vice Chair of the county’s School Board under his real name, Robert Rechsteiner, for comment. The District did not respond prior to press time.