Charlotte Flair’s home address. Baron Corbin’s phone number. Becky Lynch’s license plate number. They’re all available online, and provided by the state of Florida.
Earlier this month, I reviewed court records from Orange County, Florida. These records are available to the public and accessible online. Though I am an attorney, I did not use any specialized knowledge to access this information. All I needed was a few hours and an internet connection.
My review uncovered over twenty-five court cases involving current and former NXT wrestlers. The majority of cases are traffic violations, like speeding or failing to renew a registration.
From 2009 through 2017, the following current and former NXT wrestlers received traffic tickets or citations of some kind: Akam, Alex Riley, Aiden English, Alistair Black, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bobby Roode, Bronson Matthews, Charlotte Flair, Enzo Amore, Jason Jordan, Hideo Itami, Nikki Cross, No Way Jose, Riddick Moss, Sawyer Fulton, and Tye Dillinger.
Other cases were more lurid. Court documents indicate that Baron Corbin was criminally charged for bringing a handgun into Orlando International Airport in 2015, and that, in 2016, Liv Morgan was criminally charged for leaving the scene of a car accident before police arrived. There were also civil suits against Rezar and Paige, for failure to pay rent or make car payments respectively.
Now let’s be clear about what these things mean.
For those unfamiliar, a person charged with a crime in the United States is innocent until proven guilty. Court records show that, in at least one case, Tye Dillinger went to court and the ticket was dropped, Also, neither Corbin nor Morgan were taken to a criminal trial, after completing a diversionary program and paying a fine. Further, the lawsuit allegations only tell one side of the story. Rezar’s landlord claimed he owed little more than one month rent, which could be easily explained by a misunderstanding about auto-debit, a lost check or any other reason we, the upstanding salt of the earth, miss a bill even though we have the money.
But the veracity of the allegations is not the point.
The purpose of my inquiry was not to dig dirt on these wrestlers. Rather, I was interested Orange County’s public disclosure of NXT wrestlers’ personal information, and what I found might give many NXT wrestlers pause.
In each traffic ticket case, Orange County published the wrestler’s home address, and the make, model and license plate number of their car. In all but one, Orange County published the wrestler’s driver’s license number. In some cases, Orange County even published the wrestler’s personal telephone numbers. The civil cases contain even more personal information like Rezar’s apartment lease or Paige’s auto finance agreement.
It is a trove of personal information, available to anyone within walking distance of a public library computer terminal.
Celebrities are sued and arrested every day, yet their home phone number is not automatically publicly available. These circumstances beg the question, who do the talent have protecting their personal interests? Many of these wrestlers are young or living far from home, without a familiar support structure in a high-stress environment. Who is there to help these “rookies” acclimate themselves to a life where fame is one phone call away?
Without a wrestler’s union, there won’t be something like the NBA Players Union’s Rookie Transition Program, or a similar program put together by the NFL and NFL Players Association, to help these wrestlers adjust to their new lives. And if they are sued or have to negotiate with a government prosecutor, no union attorney walks them into court like every fireman or dock worker hoping to beat a DWI. In an industry notoriously hostile to unions, these potential future celebrities, with very specific representational needs, are left to fend for themselves in a legal Lord of the Flies.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that many of these wrestlers are on their own. After all, what talent agent or private attorney is scrambling to represent a young wrestler who makes the same as an Orlando librarian? In most of these traffic cases, it appears the wrestlers just mailed in a fine without ever appearing in court or talking to a lawyer. Criminal court calendars for both the Corbin and Morgan show they appeared in court without a lawyer at least once. (Yes, you have a right to an attorney in a criminal case, but you can waive that attorney’s appearance for a court date.) Heck, Liv Morgan’s court file includes a handwritten note Morgan wrote to the judge asking to be excused from court because she is “a professional wrestler for the WWE” and was going on an overseas tour!
Perhaps Liv thought the judge wanted an autograph and was too polite to ask?
Some of this personal identifying information is likely stale. People change cars and phone numbers. People leave their Winter Park apartment and film it for Total Divas. Yet it was less than two years ago that a mentally ill man was shot by police when he showed up at the WWE Performance Center looking for AJ Lee. Based on evidence like this, it is hardly a leap to consider the next incident could occur in an Orange County apartment complex.
Anyone could become a stalking victim, but these wrestlers are public figures.
Becky Lynch, Maryse, Tamina, AJ Lee, Mickie James, Renee Young and Dean Ambrose are all reported victims of stalking, and there are undoubtedly many more. Such is the risk of WWE celebrity, and NXT’s liminal stardom may even enhance that. You never know who the instant celebrity will be, and presumably every single NXT wrestler hopes it will be them. So they work on promos, ringwork and costuming, without attention to celebrity’s satellite concerns.
It’s possible an NXT talent unaware of this exposure will read this commentary, consider the effects of these government interactions and endeavor to protect themselves and their privacy. Others may have someone in their life booking photo shoots or making gear, and they may do nothing because they confuse personal support with professional representation. Still others will ignore this warning altogether and to them, I wish nothing but the best.
Peter James (@33xWorldChamp) is an attorney and author in New York City. Nothing in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice. Supporting documents available upon request.