Nick Wayne was pulled off the GCW Hammerstein show over a seemingly nonexistent rule
The New York State Athletic Commission trying to enforce nonexistent rules is becoming a pattern.
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Late Sunday night, one of the big stories coming out of Game Changer Wrestling’s The Wrld on GCW pay-per-view event from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City was that 16 year old Nick Wayne wasn’t able to wrestle. (He was replaced by Shane Mercer in the scramble match on the pre-show.) At 12:12 a.m. local time early Monday, right after fans had finished patronizing the gimmick tables and leaving the building, the son of the late Steve “Buddy Wayne” Finley tweeted this:
On Monday, POST Wrestling’s John Pollock confirmed with the New York State Athletic Commission that minors cannot appear on pro wrestling shows in the state. Wrestling Observer Live’s Mike Sempervive, meanwhile, noted on Tuesday that the commission received an anonymous email about the matter last Thursday morning, with Nick finding out he was off the card while in school that day. Seems simple enough, right? Well, about that…
The relevant section of the current boilerplate version of the New York State Athletic Commission’s Professional Wrestling Inspector Report Form, obtained by Babyface v. Heel, is field number seven. “All participants were over 18 years of age,” it begins, accompanied by checkboxes next to options of “YES” and “NO.” That’s followed by instructions saying “If NO, please describe findings on a separate attached sheet, and please advise the promoter that the participant should not perform.” Finally, entry #7 closes with a self-described “NOTE” providing the relevant citations to New York state code:
NY GBL 1015 (Quoted on the form as “No person under the age of eighteen years shall participate...”)
19 NYCRR 213.5[a] (It’s not quoted on the form, but the cited statute states that “a violation of article 41 of the General Business Law and any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.”)
However, there appears to be a reason that the quote after the first citation ends in an ellipsis: The full version of the relevant portion of the statute says that “No person under the age of eighteen years shall participate in any authorized professional combative sports.” (The rest of the section in question deals with the age of spectators at combative sporting events.) The actual wording is critical, as according to 19 CRR-NY 213.2 (emphasis mine), “Professional wrestling is not a combative sport.” This is also included in a PDF of commission rules available from the website for the New York Department of State (DocumentCloud mirror here), which NYSAC is a part of.
Whether or not this was ever an actual NYSAC rule for pro wrestling in the first place is unclear. Going by inspector reports that I’ve obtained in past NY Freedom of Information Law requests, there was no form to use for such reports until 2014, with the question about underage participants not including the "and please advise the promoter that the participant should not perform” instruction or the notes/statute citations. It looks like those were added after numerous changes were made in 2016 when the commission rules were overhauled after professional mixed martial arts events were legalized in the state. Of the various sites I’ve perused for NY statutes in writing this article, though, I couldn’t find any with older versions of the aforementioned definition list.
And yet, even though it seems pretty clear that there is no rule restricting the age of participants in professional wrestling exhibitions in New York, this weekend wasn’t even the first time it’s been an issue in the last few months. According to a “notice of inquiry” document sent to Xcite Wrestling on October 28, 2021 and obtained by Babyface v. Heel, the upstate-based promotion was cited* for allowing Brodie “Negative One” Huber to enter the ring and (very delicately) hit one of the Dark Order’s opponents at the 2CW reunion show (“Older. Fatter. Balder.”) that they promoted on October 1.
Technically, the primary issue raised by the NYSAC was that Xcite had “rented” their license to 2CW, which is against the rules, but is generally tolerated as long as promotional posters and the like put “[Licensed Promoter] Presents” before the name of the renting promotion and the show name. (None of the promotional images and the like I can find for the October 1 show have such a disclaimer, though the next 2CW show did.) But the same notice of inquiry also “demands a written statement from Xcite addressing”:
“The underage performer, appearing in the last bout of the Event. Such information shall include: full legal name of the performer, age of the performer, and a statement setting for the circumstances under which the performer was permitted to appear.”
“The circumstances under which the Event took place without appropriate matting in all areas of the venue in which wrestling took place.”
“The circumstances under which Xcite permitted performers to participate in the Event without first being examined by a physician.”
No citation is provided for any of the three above issues, though there was for the license rental issue. Of those other three issues raised by the commission, we’ve already coverage the 18+ issue in detail and the last two (213.7e and 213.8, respectively) are clearly outlined in the NYSAC rules.
An email to the NYSAC requesting an explanation for the actions taken with regards to Nick Wayne being scheduled to wrestle on Sunday and Brodie Huber’s involvement in the 2CW show on October 1 has not been answered as of this writing.
In addition, according to a source close to GCW, NYSAC Inspector Robert Orlando told the promotion during Sunday’s end-of-show beer-drinking celebration to expect a fine for the in-ring alcohol consumption. If Orlando’s name sounds familiar, that’s probably because he’s the inspector who incorrectly applied boxing rules to stop an intergender match at an August 2016 Tier 1 Wrestling show in Brooklyn. He’s also the inspector who, right in front of me, repeatedly threatened to stop the ladder match at GCW’s first New York show in 2018 because there were “too many ladders in the ring.”
But per 212.14, which comes before the wrestling rules in the NYSAC rules PDF, alcohol consumption is banned “either before or during a match.” And per the aforementioned NYSAC pro wrestling definitions list (emphasis in original), “All engagements of professional wrestling shall be referred to as exhibitions, and not as matches.” In other words, at least based on what’s actually written down in state law, not only is there no alcohol consumption rule for pro wrestling, but the combative sports rule being applied equally to pro wrestling still wouldn’t make Sunday’s beer bash a rule violation.
As of this writing, the NYSAC has not responded to questions in the aforementioned email about Orlando’s threat of a fine for the beer bash. As for Nick Wayne, it seems that he’s most likely be getting a match with his longtime favorite wrestler as a make-good at Joey Janela’s Spring Break in April, so everything’s working out just fine for him.