Controversy is rife over at Ring of Honor with the recent firing of reigning ROH Women’s Champion Kelly Klein. In a detailed story at Newsweek, Klein addressed the situation, which stems from a head injury she suffered in a match on October 26 during the company’s UK tour.
“There was [no doctor] there to check on me,” Klein said in the interview. “Nobody suggested a protocol. I wasn’t aware or briefed on a protocol.”
In a fortunate occurrence, the facility in the UK which housed the event did have medical personnel on hand. Klein believes that a wrestling company not having any medical staff is alarming as other major promotions such as WWE and AEW have medical staff on hand at all events and can handle procedures for dealing with injuries.
Klein finished the rest of the match and it was only when she returned to the backstage area after her match, laid down on the concrete floor of the women’s dressing room, and began speaking gibberish for an hour that her colleagues realized that Klein appeared to have sustained an injury.
Another instance of a concussion for Klein came in April 2018, and as with the recent head injury, Klein says “nothing happened” regarding the medical treatment she received from the company.
In a face-to-face meeting on November 7, Klein raised her concerns with chief operating officer Joe Koff, and allegedly was told the company does have a concussion policy – something Klein claims she has never seen. She said that if there was a concussion policy, then the talent were not aware of it.
Koff also told her that Ring of Honor management is always aware when talent is hurt. Klein responded, “No, you don’t, because nobody knew I had a concussion in New Orleans”, referring to her April 2018 concussion.
Klein, who was fired by the company through email as revealed by her husband BJ Whitmer, says Ring of Honor did not offer to arrange or pay for treatment for her recent concussion. The lack of documented policy making it unclear to talent who is responsible for arranging medical care and costs. It’s being reported that in some cases, but not all, wrestlers may be told they can invoice for the cost of appointments and procedures?but only after they have already paid out of their own pockets.
Earlier this month, former ROH staff member Joey Mercury tweeted out, with Klein’s permission, e-mails sent between Klein and Gilleland, revealing that she was making under $24,000 a year with the promotion in her 2019 ROH contract.
Regarding her annual pay, Klein says she is only able to afford costly neurologist appointments and rehabilitation because she benefits from her husband BJ Whitmer’s private health insurance.
“If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be able to take care of these appointments,” Klein said.
The ROH Women’s Champion has had her difficulties with Gilleland. While negotiating her contract for 2019 in December last year, the wrestler asked Gilleland for an annual pay of $24,000?an increase of $4,000?but was rebuffed.
Klein says that the rebuttal and lack of development of storylines for the women’s division on the weekly Ring of Honor television series, makes it “very evident they value the women less” than the male wrestlers.
“There is a lack of real value of the talent in management’s eyes in general,” Klein said. “And then with the women especially, I don’t feel that they value the women or what they’re doing or how hard they’re working.”
A Ring of Honor spokesperson told Newsweek that “a $20,000 contract is the most ever offered for the [women’s] division and is, in fact, more than what is paid to most male performers who work on a non-exclusive basis.”
Klein says she is not planning to wrestle for the rest of the year as she recovers from her concussion, but will continue fighting to get better working conditions.
“I imagine part of the thought process behind trying to shut me out of Ring of Honor was that maybe the issues would no longer apply to me,” Klein explained. “And I’d just drop it. But it’s not ever been about how things could benefit only me. I want my friends and colleagues to have a safe and fair work environment.
“I’m still going to ask them to do better. Taking away my job there does not change the issues. I want them to be accountable for creating an unsafe environment, and the only way I know how is to have enough eyes on it that the public will have to hold them accountable.”
You can read the full story at Newsweek by clicking here.