Last night, in the conference call following NXT Takeover, Triple H (real name Paul Levesque) doubled down on WWE’s refusal to give fans an explanation for the return of Velveteen Dream (real name Patrick Clark) just months after Clark faced multiple accusations, some anonymous, of soliciting nude pictures from underage fans.
After avoiding a question on the same topic in the pre-show call, Levesque said this on the post-show call about Clark and the hashtag #FireVelveteen Dream:
“We’ve talked about this, we’ve said our piece on it, and I understand people’s positions on it and their feelings of something that they’re seeing with the accusations online. So, I feel like there’s nothing more that needs to be said on it again. That’s it.”
Josh Fuller, who posted screen caps of his conversations with Clark as part of pro wrestling’s #SpeakingOut movement back in June, revealed on his Twitter account that no one from WWE had contacted him during the purported “investigation.” Fuller also said he is in contact with other accusers, who originally posted claims about Clark on Reddit, and that WWE had not contacted any of them, either. Another accuser, Jacob Schmidt, posted on Twitter that he, too, had not spoken to anyone from WWE while the investigation was supposedly taking place:
Twitter user Matthew Jimenez also re-posted what he claims is a private online conversation with Clark in the spring:
It’s clear Levesque and WWE would like all of this to go away, as not only has Clark not been publicly disciplined, but he appears to be getting a major push from the company. However, given that #FireVelveteenDream pops up on Twitter and starts trending every couple of days, it doesn’t appear the fans are ready to let this one go. Nor should they.
It’s difficult for Levesque to make the claim that WWE has taken the allegations against Clark seriously when three of the alleged victims claim that no one from WWE reached out to take a statement from them or review the evidence they purport to have. And that’s where Triple H’s infamous “What’s Best for Business” catch-phrase runs into problems.
Certainly, there are fans calling for Clark’s immediate termination, as evidenced by the #FireVelveteenDream hashtag that pops up whenever Clark takes part in a match. But there is a large number of fans who simply don’t understand the disconnect between what they’ve seen from the accusers and Levesque’s “nothing to see here” dismissal. Moreover, anyone who has seen the online abuse the accusers have been suffering through after coming forward has to be uncomfortable with WWE’s silence, which only gives trolls tacit approval to keep up the harassment.
For its part, WWE is no doubt following the playbook for dozens of athletes who have been accused of sexual misconduct: Ignore it, allow fans to fight your battles for you, and eventually the critics, accusers, fans, and media will give up and go away. It may not be a strategy rife with integrity, but it works. Pro sports is littered with plenty of examples.
All of this could be put to rest if only WWE would reveal what went into the investigation of Clark and why the investigation didn’t include reaching out to the alleged victims, assuming there’s a legitimate reason. If the company has evidence that allegations are being fabricated, it owes it to Clark to make that evidence public. If not, it owes it to fans to explain why the accusations of three people don’t warrant a thorough investigation. But continuing to refuse to talk about the details of the investigation are causing undue strife on both sides.
Last week, fans began a petition on Change.org, urging WWE to fire Clark. To date, it has more than 2,200 signatures.
Refusing to talk about the investigation into Clark’s behavior, and its results, may not be what’s best for business for much longer.