Professional Wrestler Veronica Brazier On A Mission To Expose The Dark Underbelly Of The Sport & Help Victims Reclaim Their Power

By now you are probably very familiar with the stories of the numerous professional and amateur gymnasts who were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, and the subsequent court case surrounding the allegations. You have probably seen the groundbreaking “Athlete A” documentary on Netflix, and “At The Heart Of Gold” on HBO, showcasing the stories of some of these brave survivors. While there is (rightly so) a lot of focus on the gymnastics world, these stories force us to reckon with the notion that the issue of rampant sexual assault in the athletic world isn’t confined to just one particular sport.

And pretty soon we will get to see how the world of professional and amateur wrestling has been plagued by similar predatory behavior and coverups, through a new documentary being produced by professional wrester Veronica Brazier. This is following the explosive revelations that accompanies a hashtag #SpeakingOut, which has recently started to gain attention by mainstream media.

Veronica earned her way up the pro wrestling ladder by starting out at the Shawn Michael Academy. It wasn’t until she graduated and starting touring and wrestling in the professional world that she came face-to-face with the underbelly of the sport. Today as a mom, armed with years of experience and a voice that refuses to back down, Veronica is making her documentary following on the heels of the #MeToo movement and the success of the aforementioned gymnastics documentaries to raise awareness and protect youth from being victimized in the wrestling world.

Having launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds, Veronica is sharing the ‘Speaking Out’ documentary story and putting predators on notice. We got to speak with her about her mission, her film, and what goes on behind the scenes.

Tell us about your sports background and how you got involved in wrestling?

I was in ballet, karate, and gymnastics growing up but nothing ever really stood out to me. Then I found wrestling. It’s the first thing I’ve actually ever committed to. Then I went to Shawn Michaels wrestling academy here in San Antonio, Texas, and the rest is history.

When did you begin to see the ugly side of sports when it came to youth and girls especially? 

Not only was I having to learn how to wrestle, but I was also married to an abusive and extremely controlling man at the time who was in the Academy with me. Not too long after he got hurt and quit wrestling, I continued with our dream and turned it into mine. I went on my first road trip where another wrestler made a comment about my breasts and that’s the first time I experienced the ugly side of wrestling and how men treated females in this business. My second experience was a road trip on the way to the Ring Of Honor with my head trainer Rudy Gonzalez. One of the wrestlers in the van said the only way I would make it in this business is by giving blow jobs. I was the only female in the van and everybody laughed at me. Nobody defended me, not even my trainer. Recently, I found out from other female wrestlers that he used to tell the story in class to the new students and laugh about me all over again.

You are now producing a documentary called ‘Speaking Out’ which is focused on helping young athletes protect themselves from predators in professional sports. What made you want to make this film? 

My daughter also wants to be a professional wrestler when she grows up. Through the years I’ve taught her how to defend her self because I knew how ugly this sport is.

On the heels of the #MeToo movement that has taken a number of industries by storm, we have seen major stories like that of Larry Nassar who preyed on countless young women in Gymnastics. Were you shocked when you heard this story or were you relieved that it was all finally coming out?  

Recently my husband asked me, “why don’t you tell your story?” I’ve said stuff in the past and throughout the years, but people just called me a drunk, a drug-addict or a whore so, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. But my husband challenged me to speak out by asking me if I would like my daughter to go through what I had.

Can you tell us more about the situation in wrestling and what you experienced personally?  

When I first started training at Shawn Michaels academy, he and his lawyer pulled me aside and talk to me about sexual harassment. They said if anything happened to me I should let them know and they will not put that person in their school. Once Shawn got rid of the school, He left it to one of the biggest predators and bullies in all of independent wrestling. I put up with him for 18 years until I finally got fed up and ended our friendship when he started bullying my husband, who is also a wrestler. I always saw him bullying other people but just thought it was normal and dealt with it and kept quiet, like a good girl I was supposed to be. I’ve been married to my husband seven years now and it wasn’t until the #SpeakingOut movement started to gain steam this year that I told him how my trainer used to speak to me. I even told him how he tried to kiss me in front of everyone in the locker room at a Ring Of Honor show years back when I first broke into the business. I’ve always handled it myself and just blown it off like it’s the norm and there’s nothing I can do about it. I didn’t want to cause any fights because we were wrestling for his company at the time.

What do you think it is about these athletic environments that become so rife with predators? 

This is something happening all the way from the independent wrestling companies all the way to the top wrestling companies in world. And it needs to be stopped. It’s gone on for way too long. We are looking to not just change the future of our business for our children but children of previous victims as well!

What do you hope parents and young girls especially will learn from your documentary project once it is released? 

I didn’t realize how much guilt I have felt throughout the years by not saying anything and I feel this documentary will change not only change this for my daughter but for all the other females in this business.

I am aware of the Larry Nassar story and I totally feel the victims’ pain coming forward and telling their stories because my husband and I have been called liars and not good role models for this movement. Some people in the wrestling world have even gone as far as making up a stories about my husband to try and get us to stop talking. Seeing stories like Nassar and and how things have changed in gymnastics gives me hope. Nothing is going stop me or get in my way anymore! My head fees like it is going to explode from all the information I have, but if I keep talking I won’t have anything left for the documentary!

What is your message for those who find themselves in vulnerable situations as to how they can take back their power? 

If there’s anyone out there that is afraid to come forward please get in contact with me and I would love to put your story in the documentary. Don’t be afraid, times are changing and I’m here for you and to let your voice be heard. 

If you would like to get in touch with Veronica about her documentary and share your story, head to her crowdfunding campaign on Supportful where you can contact her directly. You can also donate to the #SpeakingOut documentary to help the voices of the victims be heard.

snapshot of Veronica’s crowdfunding campaign

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