Two former NXT talents publish letters accusing Bill DeMott of abuse while training

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Bill DeMott’s reputation as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center was once again called into question by former WWE developmental wrestler Ryan Collins, who is the latest to accuse DeMott of his abusive ways while training.

Collins’ shocking letter from 2013 was addressed to Canyon Ceman, the Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE.

The letter alleges that DeMott has no regard to the safety of the developmental wrestlers, calls some of them “faggots,” refers to one particular wrestler as “Joel Pedophile,” telling NXT’s Enzo Amore he hopes he dies, verbally abusing the talent, and much more.

Collins joins other former talents such as Austin Matelson, Kevin Matthews, and Ryan Nemeth, the brother of Dolph Ziggler, in accusing DeMott of his abusive behavior. Matelson also published a letter that he sent in 2013, just two weeks prior to Collins, addressed to Ceman, Dorothy Brill, the Senior Vice President, Human Resources, and Jane Geddes, Vice President of Talent Relations.

WWE has denied the allegations and said that a full investigation was launched after Matelson’s letter was received and none of the things he said were validated.

You can read the letter by Collins as well as the one from ​Austin Matelson below.

From: Austin Matelson (March 11, 2013)

I am composing this memo today because I have had a number of serious concerns about the actions and words of head coach Bill Demott during my employment as talent for WWE developmental. Many of these actions I have tried to ignore or hope that they would cease but because they have now put me in a dangerous situation not only for my career but for my personal health and safety I feel the need to speak out to someone of a higher authority. In this memo I will provide details on a series of incidents which underlie my concerns.

I would like to request that this remain in strict confidence as I am afraid that if Coach Demott were to know I spoke out he would find ways to punish me for it. In fact the entire process of writing a letter to human resources has been called a “faggots” way of dealing with problems by Coach Demott.

Physical Injury Due to Imprudent Coaching: The action that has led me to finally speak out happened Thursday February, 28th following our house show. I had taken an awkward hit to my knee in a match and was being examined by Brian Duncan. This hit aggravated a previous injury, one that should never have happened, that I had sustained during a practice drill orchestrated by Coach Demott after practice had already been completed. An MRI revealed a partial tear of my PCL and a strain on a ligament in the back of my knee. I have been told that I can work through it but it may aggravate here and there. This injury can be enduring as many of the superstars on the main roster wrestle their whole careers with it.

I should never have had any issues with this knee but on that particular practice day, after a 3 hour morning session had ‘ended’ at 11 AM, Demott put 280lbs Gary Jackson back in the ring at 11:30 and forced 8 of us to give him 10 takedowns each. After Gary had bumped 60 times in a matter of minutes, I entered the ring and was asked to give him 10 fireman takedowns. On the first one he collapsed from exhaustion while on my back, driving my knees into the mat where I sustained this injury.

The hit I took aggravated it and Coach Demott pulled trainer Brian Duncan and I into the training room and said without any knowledge of my actual injury, “This injury can’t keep flaring up. It doesn’t look good perception wise to us (the office) or for your career going forward.” This injury was treated after the match and I was cleared by Duncan at the time.

Based on Coach Demott’s statement I feel that I am in a position where I have to cover up any injuries I may have otherwise I will be punished or fired. The following week I was in severe discomfort but fearing repercussions I attempted to work through it. Coach Demott has not only instilled this fear in me but I have spoken to several other members of the roster who have been made to feel by Coach Demott that their current injuries are signs of weakness as men, and could potentially lead Coach Demott to advocate for their firing.

On two separate occasions Coach Demott forced me to perform dangerous moves without properly warming up. One incident followed my first evaluation where Canyon Ceman asked me to start working on my parkour and gymnastics moves. It was 7:30 am before practice and he saw me standing in the ring with Enzo Amore and said, “Do a takedown let go of him and do a back flip then go back to him.” The idea made no sense, I was not properly warmed up, and I nearly landed on my head on one attempt. Thesecond incident was before a live event he wanted Oliver Gray to test out his finisher on someone so he grabbed me and forced me to take a high bump on my neck without warming up. I had missed a week of practice because of a neck strain prior to this and Coach Demott was well aware of that.

I have also watched and participated in drills that were hazardous to our safety. He has made us do squats on the top rope including some students who had never been up that high in their careers. He made the beginners group perform monkey flips without a crash pad and the first six who participated landed on their heads and necks and were lucky not to have been seriously injured. The aforementioned drill in which Gary Jackson injured my knee also saw Memo Montenegro injury his neck and shoulder. He was on his 40th bump in 5 minutes and got dizzy before his 7th consecutive hip toss and landed on his head.

Unprofessional Work Environment: The issue of physical well-being is not my only concern. I am an educated individual who worked at Cal State Northridge with Professors and students. I know how one is suppose to conduct one’s self in a professional sense. I also understand that this is a unique business and the lines on proper behavior may be a bit blurred. Yet there is no question that Coach Demott, on a daily basis,not only makes unprofessional choices in words and actions, choices that go against many policies of this company, but choices that have created a culture of fear and negativity in this system. Showing up each day for training is mentally agonizing because of the comments we are all forced to hear. He routinely makes fun of anyone sitting out because of injury and also makes rude comments about people’s names and personal lives and has established a hostile work environment through verbal assaults. To wit:
• Demott constantly refers to Oliver Gray as Joel Pedophile which personally enrages me because I used to help a Psychology Professor in Los Angeles do lectures for sexually abused children. • When Dante Dash referred to his finishing move as the Davey boy, as it was utilized by the late Davey Smith who died tragically, Coach Demott makes the following comment, “The Davey Boy? What turning blue and dropping dead on the lawn?” • Coach Demott told student Enzo Amore that he hopes he dies. • Demott also told our entire morning class and Ricky Steamboat’s class to kill themselves just days after we tolled the ring bell 10 times for the late Mike Graham a former star FCW wrestler, who committed suicide. • Coach Demott routinely bullies Enzo verbally as well as physically. I have seen Enzo on several occasions be slapped in the face by Bill. During one practice he decided to show Enzo how doing a slam wrong could hurt someone, so he picked Enzo up and dropped him without warning directly on his head and neck. He then decided that each time a student slammed his 100lbs heavy bag with bad form that student had to slam one of his peers the same way. Demott found this drill amusing yet each student was put at serious injury risk. • Demott has grabbed an injured David Harwood by his neck pulled him to the office door and verbally chastised him for standing by the ring during practice when he wasn’t cleared, even though he was simply listening to a lecture by Ricky Steamboat. • Demott has kicked Memo Montenegro in the groin and laughed as he crumbled into a heap. Memo being a Mexican immigrant to the United States has a heavy accent, which Coach Demott constantly criticizes and makes fun of. • He routinely will attempt to bust students lip on the bottom rope when they stand to close to the ring. On several occasions he has punished students for mistakes in practice by making them bend forward putting their face near the ropes so that Coach Demott can bounce the rope off the bridge of their nose. • He routinely calls Gary Jackson a fat tub of goo, tells Osmund Cherry who is of African descent, to go back to Africa and most recently has made derogatory remarks about sexual preferences to Brandon Traven. • Coach Demott insinuated that Traven is gay and used the derogatory term “half a sissy” to make fun of him simply because he sat out practice and has had several injuries in the last couple months. This is not the first time he targeted Brandon either. In December I witnessed Coach Demott question Traven about a head injury in the trainer’s room. After Traven explained that a blow to the head in practice had made him dizzy Demott slapped him in the head and left the room. • I witnessed a similar incident a few months ago when Alexander Russev was recovering from neck surgery. Coach Demott saw Russev wearing a NY Jets shirt at practice and not liking that sports team proceeded to physically grab Russev by the collar and rip the shirt off him. Russev was not cleared for any contact at that point and clearly showed physical pain after the incident. Following this incident a group of students were discussing how this sort of thing happened before with an injured Briley Pierce. Briley had a broken leg and Coach Demott kicked him in his medical boot. This happened before I was under contract but it nonetheless seems to fit a pattern of negligent and abusive behavior that I have observed with Coach Demott and is worth investigating further. • According to Oliver Gray, he was once told that if he sat out practice to rest a very bad low back injury that CoachDemott would pull him from the NXT tapings and from attending the Royal Rumble, even though the trainer had requested that Oliver sit out just one practice.

I have been in this system under Coach Demott for 8 months now and was recently told that I am not improving at a rate that is acceptable. I have made concerted efforts in the past to practice more often and work on the parkour moves requested by Canyon Ceman. However Bill has routinely kicked me out of the building after practice including a day when WWE superstar Alex Riley asked me to work on some parkour moves with him. This along with his constant interrupting of practices just to put people down and make negative comments has all but killed any motivation I have to spend extra time around him.

It should be stated that I am not a vindictive person. I am open-minded and do not have a problem with off-color jokes or difficult practice drills. I was signed to this company after Steve Regal told me he saw tremendous improvement in my ring work between tryouts. I told Mr. Regal that I could only imagine how good I could become working 24/7 for this company. I have always been intrinsically motivated and will practice something until I perfect it. Yet I personally feel that coach Demott creates an environment that hinders my opportunities to improve. Coach Demott restricts our practices, instead opting for dangerous and unproductive drills, while constantly verbally assaulting our appearances, personalities, sexual preferences, injuries, and character it seems impossible for me to maximize my time in the ring. In fact even as recently as training on March 4th, guest trainer Lance Storm went out of his way to demonstrate moves to me that Coach Demott had kicked me out of the building for not doing correctly. When I asked him how to do them Coach Demott said, “That was shit Judas, get out of the building.”

Is this the type of work environment that the WWE desires? When can we set up a time to discuss this matter?

In closing I would be remiss if I did not clarify to you that this is solely a problem with Bill Demott and not a problem with the fine coaching staff that has been assembled around him. For example, Ricky Steamboat has been a terrific help to me and always provides me with positive reinforcement and quality examples to learn from. Terry Taylor has gone out of his way to pull me aside and give me helpful advice. Billy Gunn has been an amazingly refreshing force bringing knowledge and enthusiasm that has been extremely beneficial to the system. The changes that have recently occurred in the WWE have been excellent and I am excited for the future plans of WWE Developmental. It is because of these positive attributes that I am expressing my concerns to you. I want to be a part of a solution to the problems that I have listed, one that will lead to future success for the developmental system.


From: Ryan Collins (March 25, 2013)

I’m writing this letter today due to concerns I’ve had with the training. I’ve contemplated writing this for some time now. After seeing Harley Race this past week, and talking with him about my concerns for not only my training but my physical well being, he himself encouraged me to write a letter and not only that. He informed me to have anyone in the office to call him if they have any questions about any of the information I will be writing about.

My overall biggest concern is about my safety. Before we took off for Holiday break I suffered a minor head injury. The thing about head injuries is you can’t really tell how bad they are until you have proper time to rest. During the course of a practice, I got hit in the head during a drill. I felt very dizzy right away and stepped out of the ring. Practice was almost over that day and I told a few guys near me that I was dizzy. One suggested I might have just been dehydrated or in need of some food. I drank some water and ate a protein bar and I did feel a lot better as the day went. I decided to play the next day of training by ear and see how I felt. I stretched out and did a few rolls in the ring. After just a couple of rolls I felt very dizzy again and saw the trainer.

That day our usual trainer Brian Duncan was on the road. And a substitute trainer attended to me. As I was setting on the table, she examined my eyes and reaction time. Eventually Coach DeMott came in asking what happened. I told him the story of how everything happened, he then accused me of making things worse. Which is not uncommon as Coach DeMott gets angry and standoffish at any sign of injury. The main part of this story that angers me is that as he was leaving the trainers room, Coach DeMott slapped me on top of the head. This really angered me as I don’t believe he has right to put hands on anyone especially like that. I was lucky that my head injury wasn’t too serious. His negligence in this situation could have worsened my injury.

I have also grown very tired of how Coach DeMott has constantly bullied us. Whether by physically hitting us, or by calling us gay. He has on numerous occasions alluded to me being gay. His favorite phrase is “half a sissy” not to mention him calling me and others “faggots” Coach DeMott has also on several occasions grabbed the bottom rope while we are watching practice and pull it back to hit everyone in the face while they are paying attention to instruction. I personally don’t understand his destructive and bullying nature.

While talking with Harley this week about countless unproductive or straight up dangerous drills he encouraged this letter and told me to include that all parties who read it should call him to talk further. Harley agreed that we should not be subjective to physical, or verbal abuse. He was very angry about hearing the information I shared and more than anything didn’t understand why he has us doing unproductive drills to begin with, as opposed to having practice matches which we have only done on a few occasions.

In fact upon Harley hearing the story of Coach DeMott hitting me on the head after a head injury, Harley was very angered by this. In five years of training with Harley I never felt unsafe or in danger of suffering a career threatening injury much like I have here.

I have also witnessed Coach DeMott try to rip a t-shirt off Alexander Rusev, shortly after he had neck surgery.

He has on numerous occasions called Oliver Grey (Joel Pettyfer) Pedophile, smacked Enzo Amore (Eric Arndt) in the mouth. He has also told Enzo to kill himself on atleast one occassion that I heard with my own ears. Morale amongst us, is constantly low and is only getting worse. However on the flip side Steve Keirn, Ricky Steamboat, Terry Taylor and Billy Gunn have all been positive influences since joining this company.

The reason I haven’t said anything until now, is fear of either losing my job or how Coach DeMott will treat me moving forward. As he already treats me and some others very badly. I decided to go ahead and write as I feel now, nothing will change if I don’t speak up. And I hope I can count on your discretion on this matter.