Impact Wrestling, the promotion owned by Leonard Asper’s Anthem Sports and Entertainment, has had a long, strange history across three sets of owners in 18 years. After being sold by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett to the Carter family’s Panda Energy a few months into its existence in 2002, the company has had a few constants, one of which is, strangely, its leadership not knowing how to properly use email. The latest such instance came this week, and while it was not the first time in company history that such a story became news, it’s the first under the current ownership.
The latest such story came from Wrestling Inc.’s Nick Hausman, who was reporting a story about the allegations made recently by former Impact referee Kris Levin, who claimed on Twitter that he was fired in seeming retaliation after giving a “confidential” interview during an “independent” investigation of sexual harassment allegations. (From seeing emails that were part of the investigation process, I have been able to confirm myself that, as alleged by Levin, the alleged independent human resources expert brought in was one who actually had a long history working for Leonard Asper.)
In the process of trying to get a statement from Anthem, Hausman was also added, seemingly by mistake, to an “FYI” email from an Anthem spokesperson to Ed Nordholm (CCO of Anthem and President of Impact), Frank Tanki (new General Manager of AXS TV) and Michelle Hall, the “independent” HR expert. This showed Hausman that Hall had an @anthemse.com email address in spite of Impact denying all of Levin’s allegations and that her LinkedIn doesn’t show her working for the company. (The emails I saw from the investigation also showed the same email address.) Many, if not most companies have ways for the I.T. department and company bosses to read company emails, even if using third party solutions like Google GOOGL’s G-Suite, so this development further calls into question how the investigation in question was independent.
The most famous previous Impact email gaffe, back in July 2014, was during the Carter during like most such gaffes were. It saw Vince Russo, then secretly working as a creative consultant, accidentally email notes for announcers Mike Tenay and Taz to PWInsider reporter Mike Johnson. (While the assumption has long been that Johnson was in Russo’s contact list and he clicked the wrong “Mike,” I don’t believe that’s ever been confirmed.) It would then be reported a few days later that the Russo deal was a secret because Spike TV, Impact’s domestic TV partner at the time, was strongly anti-Russo. Just one week later, multiple outlets would report that Spike had cancelled Impact. It’s unclear if this was the only reason for that call, but it was reportedly at least one of them.
Less than a year later, while Impact was on Destination America, a network in the Discovery Channel DISCA family, she reportedly made her own similar mistake. Specifically, when Discovery put out a press release about Impact’s ratings that did not include the “Live+3” ratings (which include DVR viewership for the next three days), then-Impact president Dixie Carter fired off an angry internal email that called Destination America/Discovery brass “dummies.” (Being upset about Discovery not publicizing ratings that are of little importance because of their uselessness to advertisers was on-brand for Carter.) Unfortunately for her, she accidentally copied multiple Discovery executives on the email, with Harvey Schlieff, then Destination America Group President for Discovery, even replying to say he was sorry she felt that way. Discovery cancelled Impact a week later.
Amazingly, there’s at least a fourth “Impact doesn’t know how to use email” story, from when the company was still firmly branded as TNA. In December 2008, lawyers for Charles “Konnan” Ashenoff filed an appendix of exhibits that was attached to a motion to compel discovery responses from TNA. The very last page, part of of a compilation of emails, shows a June 2007 email from Carter to Terry Taylor, who worked in talent relations for the company. The email, though, was not addressed to the Yahoo address that’s displayed for Taylor in other exhibits. Instead, Dixie emailed email@example.com; his name was displayed next to the address in a way that showed Carter had a contact entry saved for Taylor with that address.
One problem with that: Impact Wrestling/TNA Wrestling has never owned TNA.com. Ever. There’s even an copy of TNA.com for the day that the email was sent that’s cached on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Yet Carter had an email address for Taylor at that domain in her contacts, which means she was most likely constantly emailing into a void for an extended period of time, ignoring “MAILER DAEMON” error emails throughout.
How does that saying go? Second verse…err, thir…wait, fourth verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse.
David Bixenspan is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He writes the Babyface v. Heel subscription blog/newsletter and co-hosts the Between The Sheets podcast every Monday at BetweenTheSheetsPod.com/everywhere else that podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbix and view his portfolio at Clippings.me/davidbix.