NY State Senate Introduced Bill In March To Review Deregulating Pro Wrestling

New York is one of more than 20 states where pro wrestling, despite its now long-open status as preordained entertainment, is still regulated by a state athletic commission or a department of licensing and regulation. Though the state has not required wrestling licenses for wrestlers in roughly two decades, New York still regulates promoters, requiring them to put up a bond, carry insurance, and pay for a doctor, EMTs, and an ambulance on-site, which is cost-prohibitive for most independent promotions and why so many run across the Hudson River in New Jersey, instead.

However, that could change soon. State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy (D/WF. 63rd District) introduced a bill — S5953 — in March that has flown under the radar, but if it gains traction, could lead to the end of commission regulation. Officially, the bill "would direct the state athletic commission to review the need for regulation and licensing of professional wrestling," with a deadline of November 1 for the review.

Oversight Overstepping

Removing pro wrestling from New York State Athletic Commission oversight would require further action, but this could get the ball rolling on that process. The New York State Athletic Commission has repeatedly been called out for, among other things, misapplying boxing and mixed martial arts rules to pro wrestling, which is explicitly marked as distinct from "combative sports" under commission bylaws.

Most memorably, commission inspector Robert Orlando stopped an intergender match at a Tier 1 Wrestling show during SummerSlam weekend in 2016 before eventually being shown the error of his ways. Similarly, GCW's Hammerstein Ballroom debut last year was marked by Nick Wayne being unable to compete due to being under 18 and Orlando threatening to discipline the promotion for the post-show in-ring beer-drinking celebration, both of which were also boxing and MMA rules being improperly applied to pro wrestling. Orlando, specifically, has become so infamous in New York indie wrestling circles that area indie wrestler Bobby Orlando, best known for his work in Beyond Wrestling, was named after him.