FloSports kicked WWN off its streaming service amid a contentious legal battle, and now, new comments from promoter Gabe Sapolsky suggest that he may not want to continue promoting and booking the company’s shows.
In addition to defending FloSports’ lawsuit, WWN faced more issues last week when Sapolsky learned that an email he sent to EVOLVE talent was leaked to the public.
In a late-night phone call Sunday, he said that it “killed something” inside of him when he learned Friday that my podcast, Everything Evolves, received a copy of the email, which provided instructions for wrestlers performing on this past weekend’s EVOLVE shows. Further, Sapolsky maintains that the leak almost cost him his job as a consultant with WWE when Fightful.com published it Sunday afternoon.
The purpose of Sapolsky’s call was to discover which performer shared the email with people outside the company. When Everything Evolves refused to disclose how it obtained the email, Sapolsky asserted that the podcast’s hosts had “betrayed” EVOLVE wrestling.
“I’m pretty much done with this whole indie bullshit,” Sapolsky said shortly before concluding the call. “This almost cost me my NXT job that I’ve worked 23 years for.”
While Sapolsky did not expand on his statement about being done with independent wrestling, the rest of the phone call led me to believe that the leak truly made him wonder whether he wanted to continue to devote his time to WWN and EVOLVE. He seemed to think if he could identify and fire the original leaker, everything could go back to how it was before the leak.
Sapolsky may be concerned because the leaked email revealed details of EVOLVE’s relationship with WWE and the promotion’s rules for its wrestlers. The email instructed talent that EVOLVE is “about to enter a transition period” and that Sapolsky wanted “to use [EVOLVE’s September shows] to prepare for that.” The email further discussed Sapolsky’s desire that EVOLVE talent not develop habits they would have to break once they arrived at WWE or NXT. Sapolsky outlined “EVOLVE rules” reminiscent of rumored WWE rules regarding prohibitions on swearing, derogatory language, and wrestling moves believed to cause head injuries.
Sapolsky’s comments about nearly losing his WWE job combined with the content of the email makes clear WWE was unhappy with this information becoming public. For now, it’s unclear if that’s because WWE doesn’t want to publicize details of their close relationship with WWN, because Sapolsky mentioned comments from WWE official William Regal, or something else in the email.
Sapolsky’s email received particular interest due to its public release after news broke that FloSports, the streaming video company that until recently broadcast WWN events, filed a lawsuit against WWN. The complaint alleges that WWN inflated the company’s sales of internet pay-per-views and videos-on-demand in its negotiations with FloSports.
Everything Evolves first received the memo last Thursday evening. On Saturday, it contacted Sapolsky to confirm the email’s validity. Sapolsky did not outright confirm he wrote the memo or its contents, but he described it as “in house business” and immediately requested the identity of the person who leaked it. When Everything Evolves refused to provide that information, Sapolsky threatened to fire an EVOLVE talent at random.
After no conversation for over 24 hours, Sapolsky contacted Everything Evolves to express that the leak personally hurt him and that he was “just about done” with independent wrestling. In response to Sapolsky’s guesses at who might have leaked the email, Everything Evolves again refused to provide the requested information, and Sapolsky requested to speak on the phone.
In the first phone call, Sapolsky stated he sent out emails like the leaked one before every show he’s ever done over the last 15 years and that this was the first time anyone distributed it to people outside the company. He expressed his belief that, by refusing to identify the source of the email, Everything Evolves is “destroying the company you’re doing a podcast about.” In a subsequent conversation, Sapolsky repeated his earlier requests. The conversation ended when Sapolsky accused Everything Evolves of betraying him and EVOLVE.
EVOLVE is scheduled to have its next show on October 14th in Queens, New York, so the next three weeks are sure to be intriguing as WWN files its initial response to the FloSports lawsuit and we find out what Gabe Sapolsky’s involvement with the company will be.
It would be a shame to lose Sapolsky’s creative vision and eye for talent from the independent wrestling landscape, whether he goes full-time with WWE or decides to spend his time doing something else. But the world is different than it was when he created Ring of Honor in 2002. Sapolsky, too, will have to evolve.
Aaron Taube (@aptaube) contributed reporting to this article.