Update: In a statement via Twitter Tuesday afternoon, WrestleCon announced its decision to remove Rick Steiner from the convention.

“Attention: Rick Steiner has been removed from Wrestlecon.

“When we allowed Rick Steiner to return to our Convention as a vendor guest of Tony Hunter Promotions, we did not adequately take into account the impact his past words from our last event still held in the LGBTQIA+ community. We initially allowed him to return because 1) We still feel that people deserve a second chance. 2) Rick did make an apology to all parties that chose to be present. 3) We lacked any type of code of conduct/harassment policy that clearly defined our expectations as a convention participant.

“After a thoughtful dialogue with Brian Bell from SB Nation’s Outsports and host of the LGBT In the Ring podcast on Monday morning, we agreed with [their] opinion it was necessary to have some type of public acknowledgment/apology from Rick Steiner, at an absolute minimum, to allow him to attend Detroit. Because we understand this issue required great urgency, we gave Rick Steiner 24 hours to make such a statement. Unfortunately, there is not currently and we do not expect to receive such a statement, and we have therefore made a decision to revoke our permission for him to attend.

“Additionally, we now have created a first draft of our Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment policy that will be posted on our website for everybody to see later today. We will continue to improve upon this code of conduct over time and with the cooperation of others. We understand and appreciate that there will be many differences of opinion among our participants and we want to create a safe and enjoyable space for everybody at our Conventions. At this time, we have partnered in solidarity with other Wrestling industry Convention leaders, notably Starrcast, Wrestlecade, and The Gathering (Charlotte Fanfest) who also agree to adopt and adhere to a similar code of conduct for their events.”

Original Story: Popular pro wrestling convention WrestleCon is running headlong into controversy, inviting WWE Hall of Fame member Rick Steiner to attend its upcoming convention in August just three months after his targeted, transphobic harassment of IMPACT Wrestling’s Gisele Shaw on the convention floor that resulted in him being banned from the event during WrestleMania week in April.

WrestleCon owner Michael Bochicchio announced the decision Sunday, stating that both Rick and Scott Steiner would appear, in cooperation with Tony Hunter Promotions, at the convention scheduled around WWE “SummerSlam” in Detroit next month.

The announcement came on the same day that Shaw and IMPACT Wrestling hosted the first Pride Night ever held by a nationally televised pro wrestling promotion, in the Canadian city of Windsor.

Bochicchio released a statement later that day, saying he doesn’t “condone the remarks Rick made at LA” before stating his belief that Steiner “learned a lot from his huge mistake.”

In an exclusive interview with Outsports Monday, Bochicchio is now making Steiner’s return to WrestleCon contingent on Steiner making a public statement regarding his transphobic harassment of Shaw at the Los Angeles event.

“It’s a very fair thing to ask Rick to make some sort of public statement,” and if that’s what you think is needed to move forward, I’ll encourage him to do that. Bochicchio told Outsports. “And if he fails to do that, well, I’ll reevaluate things. I think that’s a very fair request.”

“I’m going to ask him to address this publicly directly, because I don’t want to speak for Rick,” he added.

The “mistake” referenced by Bochicchio was Steiner publicly hurling transphobic comments toward Shaw as she was walking to a scheduled autograph signing at WrestleCon’s Los Angeles event during WrestleMania week.

Steiner continued his transphobic tirade when confronted by Shaw and directed homophobic slurs at another individual associated with IMPACT Wrestling who was with Shaw.

The incident occurred on International Trans Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to trans empowerment and highlighting discrimination against trans populations.

“I was shocked and could not believe that this was even happening,” Shaw said in a public statement at the time. “To have someone saying those comments who a lot of people look up to and consider their hero was quite shocking and disheartening.”

Ry Levey, director of the LGBTQ pro wrestling documentary “Out In The Ring,” also told Outsports that he witnessed Steiner continuing to use homophobic slurs in the lobby of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, which hosted the event, later that day.

“To hear that such a supremely talented and wonderful ambassador for wrestling like Gisele Shaw was targeted is alarming and not acceptable,” Levey said at the time.

WrestleCon banned Steiner from the remaining two days of the convention the next day.

“We aim to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQAI+ members of the wrestling community,” WrestleCon said in a statement.

“What Rick did was vile and very unfortunate and we handled it, and if I ever have another incident that I have to handle, I’ll do it just as swiftly,” Bochicchio said

Bochicchio stated that Steiner apologized “to members of the WrestleCon staff,” “many of his fellow wrestlers,” and “members of IMPACT Wrestling staff privately following the incident in a “private mediated event” held the morning after the incident. Shaw chose not to attend the meeting, a decision Bochicchio “100% understood, supported and still support to this day.”

“I saw a very vulnerable Rick Steiner, a very apologetic Rick Steiner, someone that realized he really messed up,” Bochicchio told Outsports. “I can’t say whether his heart has changed, but I did see a lot of remorse there. It wasn’t enough for me to want to bring him back on the floor, but it was something to tell me that he knew he really messed up and that what he did was wrong.”

Despite showing remorse privately, in the three months since the incident, Steiner has not apologized publicly or privately to Shaw or the LGBTQ community. There is no evidence that he has worked with any LGBTQ organization or community members to educate himself.

He has publicly shown zero remorse.

Bochicchio told Outsports that Steiner did record an apology video after the meeting, meant to be released to the public but ultimately didn’t do so despite Bochicchio’s encouragement.

The WrestleCon owner also noted that Steiner requested that Bochicchio release the video via WrestleCon’s Twitter account. Bochicchio declined to do so.

“I thought about it, but then I was thinking, like, if I put that on my Twitter, it almost looks like I’m showing support for Rick at that time and I didn’t think that was proper at the time,” Bochicchio said.

“I don’t know if they still have the video,” Bochicchio added. “I don’t know if it would be something that he wants to share.”

Bochicchio further explained why Steiner was being invited back to the event.

“I feel that Rick learned a lot from his huge mistake,” he said on Sunday. “I know it’s easier to cancel people when they make mistakes than to forgive and help educate. However, sometimes I think it’s important that we give people a second chance.”

Seeking education and engaging with LGBTQ organizations and communities to address personally held bigotry are good practices. Notable examples from pro wrestling of performers doing just that after previous instances of homophobia are AEW star Scorpio Sky and legendary Ring of Honor tag team Jay and Mark Briscoe.

But there is no public example of Steiner putting in that work, and Bochicchio didn’t cite any specific examples of Steiner doing such in his statement.

When asked by Outsports, Bochicchio stated that he hasn’t spoken to Steiner since the Los Angeles event in early April and clarified that his comment about Steiner learning from the incident stemmed solely from what he witnessed in the apology meeting in Los Angeles.

“What Rick did in the mediation is show me that he had remorse. I cannot change what is in his heart. I don’t know if what is in his heart has changed. But I also don’t think that it’s fair to ask me, as an organization like WrestleCon, to evaluate what’s in each and every person’s heart before we allow them in there.

“There’s a lot of wrestlers that come to this event, and you can see what they put on social media. They offend a lot of people and I still allow them an opportunity to have a table and do what they want. It doesn’t mean that I agree with anything we say, and I’m 100% opposed to everything Rick Steiner said. I support Gisele Shaw. I made that perfectly clear in Los Angeles … she’s a very brave woman.”

Bochicchio noted that the criticisms levied on social media after Sunday’s announcement have “made me reevaluate some of the thoughts I had.”

WrestleCon’s decision sparked heated criticism from both wrestlers and fans immediately after it was publicized on Twitter.

“An unhinged transphobic rant is not a ‘mistake,’” notable out trans wrestler Edith Surreal responded. “By inviting Rick to appear at your next event, you are contradicting literally everything in this statement. You can’t have it both ways.”

When asked if he understands why some fans and wrestlers have stated that they don’t believe WrestleCon is a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ people following the announcement of Steiner’s return, Bochicchio seemed to consider the criticism.

“I can see people’s opinion of that, and maybe I placed too much trust in myself that I feel I can provide a comfortable environment,” he said. “I do sincerely understand.”

“Twenty-four hours ago, I didn’t view it the way that I’m viewing it right now. From the feedback I got from our discussion, I think I might have taken a bit for granted being in the room with the apology, having seen the recorded apology,” Bochicchio added. “Obviously, I was in a different position than I think a lot of people that are out there on social media are in. And so, I want to acknowledge that I understand why a lot of people are in the position they’re in and they have the feelings that they do.”

Bochicchio further clarified that Steiner “will forever be on a zero-tolerance scale moving forward” if he attends future WrestleCon events and that he faces a permanent ban “if we are proven wrong.” He also stated that Steiner’s return doesn’t “imply that everyone gets one free strike.”

When asked if WrestleCon had a code of conduct or disciplinary structure in place, Bochicchio shared that he does speak with vendors, but that there is no written code of conduct or similar documentation publicly available.

Bochicchio said that the death of his wife after the Los Angeles event contributed to his lack of attention to the situation. “I think after LA, if I had enough time and I had my attention on it, I probably would have come out with a more clear policy about how I expect everybody to act when they attend these things,” Bochicchio told Outsports. “We’re generally a once-a-year event, and, you just think, ‘Do I really need to have a written policy on that to be inclusive and safe for everybody?’ You just assume that people know, but maybe we’re finding out that something like that is necessary.”

He also clarified his statement about Steiner potentially being allowed back not representing that all vendors and attendees get a “free first strike.”

“Rick no longer has the benefit of the doubt. Maybe someone else does, depending on the level of information that we would get,” Bochiccio said. “In a situation with Rick Steiner now, because of how fresh this is, I was planning to have someone from my organization near Rick Steiner at all times, and I don’t do that with everybody.”

Bochicchio also responded to those saying booking Steiner put “money over morals.”

“I have no financial gain. I could honestly care less whether Rick is there or not. It has no impact on me,” he told Outsports. “It’s very disappointing for me to hear all the negativity about the convention just being about Rick’s announcement because, in all fairness, other than we allowed someone to bring him, which, again, I know is on our shoulders, we don’t have any connection to Rick. He’s not our guest.”

When asked if the convention receives compensation from third-party vendors/bookers for securing vendor tables at WrestleCon, Bochicchio clarified via email that the convention does charge vendors for spots but didn’t charge Tony Hunter “since he was bringing such a large group of wrestlers” to the event and “taking his own risk supporting our event.”

“It’s typical when a vendor either brings a lot of wrestlers or brings a very high profile wrestler, you comp them the space in exchange for their large risk,” Bochicchio said. “It’s fair to say that we collect the $10 admission and do benefit from that … My statement was that Rick Steiner doesn’t add any real value to that admission revenue, in my opinion. That can certainly be up for debate.”

IMPACT Wrestling declined to comment when contacted by Outsports.

Listen to the full interview with Michael Bochicchio on the LGBT In The Ring podcast via your preferred podcast app.