Prominent Wrestling Journalist Dave Meltzer Accused Of Publishing Stories Based On False Information

Update 1/17/23: On Monday, January 16, Dave Meltzer issued a statement on "Wrestling Observer Radio" addressing the fact that he was given false information about the Dragongate promotion. "I did not know that I was being hoaxed, and I was being hoaxed," Meltzer said. "I feel horrible about it, obviously. It's not a minor thing to me, obviously, it's a big, big thing to me, and I'd better never let this happen again."


Last Friday, the hosts of "Open the Voice Gate," a podcast devoted to Japan's Dragongate promotion and part of the "Voices of Wrestling" network, published, in detail, thorough debunkings of a story that had been reported on by Dave Meltzer in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter since May 2022. Hosts Case Lowe (in his "Definitive Guide to 2022 Dragongate" article) and Mike Spears (in a Twitter thread) laid out in detail how, based on similar emails received by "Voices of Wrestling Flagship Podcast" host Joe Lanza and a separate, unnamed wrestling reporter, as well as their own follow-ups, it appears that Meltzer had been taken in by a hoaxer claiming to be then-Dragongate wrestler Kaito Ishida. Additional reporting by Wrestling Inc. both corroborates and expands on what Lowe and Spears published.


The emails from the person claiming to be Ishida, one of which was published in Lowe's article, detailed alleged upheaval within Dragongate, thanks largely to veteran Japanese wrestler Nosawa Rongai becoming the promotion's new booker — something that, by all other accounts, was never true. The first immediate red flag comes in the last paragraph of the email, where the emailer requests that the recipient not contact them on social media because the Dragongate office has their login information. It's not clear if Meltzer made more of an effort to authenticate the email (which came from a disposable "" email address, the kind commonly used by spam accounts), but according to Spears, at least one reporter who got the email followed up and got a picture of a "company ID" that was proven to not exist in Dragongate. Regardless, the emailer's tips were reported near-verbatim in the May 30 edition of the Observer, and Meltzer seemingly continued to rely on the same source for the next several months.

Dragongate announcer: Meltzer ignored attempts to correct the record

Dragongate English commentary team member Jae Church told Wrestling Inc. he was one of many who repeatedly tried to set Meltzer straight on this story, which continued to drag out for several months with Meltzer seemingly relying on the same fraudulent source — to no response. However, on November 2, after months of ignoring the denials, Meltzer emailed Church, who shared a screenshot of the exchange with Wrestling Inc. Saying he had received "a weird report that I wanted to check out," Meltzer told Church that the "report" indicated that Nosawa had retired, presumably as a wrestler, but that he and Ultimo Dragon would be jointly running the creative end of Dragongate going forward.


That Nosawa had announced an impending in-ring retirement, with his last match being on the February 21 Pro Wrestling NOAH show at the Tokyo Dome, was already public knowledge. As for how that impacted Dragongate, Church insisted to Meltzer that Nosawa still had nothing to do with the promotion (past occasional appearances as a wrestler), but did not hear back. Despite this, in the next Observer, cover dated November 7, Meltzer ran with what appears to be reporting from the same questionable source as before.

"There are a number of major things going on regarding Nosawa Rongai, who was part of creative both [in Dragongate] and with Pro Wrestling NOAH," he wrote. "Nosawa told Dragon Gate and NOAH that he felt overburdened booking two promotions and also being an active wrestler in both companies."


Reached for comment, Meltzer was hesitant to discuss explicit sourcing details on the record, but conceded that he did rely at least in part on the emails in question.

Hoaxer: 'some of the wrestlers have reached out to Mr. Meltzer of international media'

In addition to Meltzer and Lanza, who are mentioned in Lowe's article, Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp received a similar email from "Ishida" on May 26, with the same information that the others got. According to screenshots shared with Wrestling Inc. by Sapp, he quickly responded, calling the emailer's bluff by explaining that he had just messaged "Ishida" on Twitter to confirm his identity. "Ishida" responded by reiterating the claim that "his" social media accounts were not secure, but simultaneously confirmed that they were a Meltzer source in that response.


"There is no need now because some of the wrestlers have reached out to Mr. Meltzer of international media and Mr. Okamoto of Tokyo Sports and told me that they have agreed to write about it in this week," wrote the person claiming to be Ishida. "But anyways thank you for your concern and trying to help us."

Tokyo Sports does not appear to have run with the story, which is in line with their history as an outlet that is used to advance in-ring storylines. And when the actual Ishida left Dragongate two months later, the Tokyo Sports article covering the story — which was not bylined to any specific reporter — attributed his departure to a knee injury.

As for Sapp, he responded to the email that said Meltzer and Okamoto would be covering the Nosawa story by asking if there was any way that "Ishida" could verify his identity over email, which should not have been difficult.


"I wouldn't run with the story without verifying that was the wrestler (send a photo with a paper with the email address written on it, identification, you know knowing the identity)," wrote Mike Spears in his Twitter thread. "English, although taught at schools, I knew wasn't THAT common in [Dragongate]."

Not Meltzer's Only Red Flag in Recent Years

This is not the first recent instance in which a spurious Meltzer story should've been checked better. Perhaps the most egregious, given the subject matter, would be his handling of the fallout from Candy Cartwright's June 2020 rape allegation against Matt Riddle. In a claim that eventually fell apart, the Riddle camp accused Cartwright of stalking him, to the point of being removed by security from an "NXT" taping at Full Sail University. As with the rest of his stalking claim, Riddle provided no proof when he tried getting a restraining order, a petition he withdrew after Cartwright's lawyer accused him of fabricating the little evidence he presented.


In the petition, Riddle claimed that the alleged Full Sail incident happened in "February 2020." Days after the story about that case broke, Meltzer wrote in the Observer dated September 21, 2020 that the supposed incident's date "was actually believed to be December 19, 2019," a Thursday, at a time when "NXT" TV shoots at Full Sail occurred on Wednesdays, and after the last such shoot of the year. The following week, Meltzer wrote that the alleged incident "is now said to have been on October 2, 2019." Cartwright's sole tweet that day, at 11:36 am ET, was location-tagged as being in Ronkonkoma, New York, and though that's not entirely dispositive, several hours of travel would've been required, and a source close to Cartwright says she's never communicated with Meltzer for any reason, regardless. Reached for comment, Meltzer didn't deny not contacting Cartwright, but told Wrestling Inc. that "there were a few people on the Riddle story who told me that but would have all come from those would be considered Riddle's side."


Full Sail Security Incident Claim Originated With A Hoaxer

The Full Sail claim seemingly originated from a Twitter user, one claiming to be a former "NXT" volunteer, who tweeted about it the day that Cartwright first accused Riddle in June 2020. However, what's believed to be the user's LinkedIn page — his name, location, and job match, and it was deleted after he was contacted — shows that he finished working as an "NXT" volunteer in February 2017, 18 months before Riddle signed with WWE. In addition, in October 2017, he tweeted about "when I volunteered with NXT," using the past tense. Reached by Wrestling Inc., the user claimed to not remember the tweets, then declined comment and deleted all of the posts that were mentioned to him.


A few weeks after the former "NXT" volunteer's initial tweets, Riddle's then-wife repeated the false claim about the purported security incident in a reply to a fan who was arguing with her then-husband. Her stated reasoning for Cartwright throwing a fit — that WWE "wouldn't allow her to be an extra" — refers to something that was months away from happening at the time of the October 2019 taping where the Riddle camp would eventually assert that the "incident" took place.