Powerbomb TV is embroiled in controversy after firing co-founder Adam Lash, who took issue with the company airing an event featuring Michael Elgin.
Elgin, you may remember, has been out of favor with most in the wrestling world after a series of messages emerged that saw him trash a sexual assault victim's claims, as well as insulting his then-tag team partner Jeff Cobb. Elgin repeatedly attempted to discredit the woman after having a relationship of his own with her as well.
Powerbomb TV is set to run an IWA-Mid South event that features Elgin on the card, which Lash took issue with publicly on Twitter earlier this week. According to Lash, he'd been making attempts for a month prior to get the Powerbomb service to cancel their stream of the event as soon as IWA Mid-South announced that Elgin would be a part of the show.
On Tuesday, Powerbomb TV blocked Lash on Twitter, and changed their passwords. This didn't prevent Lash from staying logged into the accounts and retweeting several items of his choosing. Powerbomb also sent him an e-mail notifying him of his firing, which he published for the world to see.
The reason given for the firing was that Powerbomb acts simply as a streaming service, with no input on the content the individual companies choose to provide on the events and that Lash's behavior was "repeatedly unprofessional." With Lash taking exception to Elgin's booking, Powerbomb indicated that it wasn't their call, instead IWA Mid South's.
Powerbomb also released a statement of their own on Twitter:
Effective immediately, we have decided to part ways with Adam Lash. The agreements we have with our content providers are non-exclusive and hands-off without interference from Powerbomb.tv. To address the questions being sent our way, our decision to terminate our relationship with Adam Lash was entirely due to his repeated unprofessional behavior on social media towards employees, owners and performers. Not one isolated incident.
Powerbomb was a bit of a sweetheart in the wrestling streaming world after the announcement that FloSlam would cease operations. The service offered special deals for those that had existing memberships with FloSlam and gained much positive publicity for it. Responses to these set of tweets featured many opting to cancel their service with the provider.
Lash would later claim that he's being denied compensation and ownership for the last 18 months of work he provided to Powerbomb. He'd later provide details of Powerbomb's pay structure, and accuses that Powerbomb TV is fearful that Smark Mark Video would kill their partnership with the service if they upset IWA Mid-South and booker/owner Ian Rotten along the way. Lash challenged the idea that promotions have carte blanche for content that is aired on the service. He also said that Powerbomb TV's Gerard Duling didn't understand why many were upset with Elgin.
Lash alleges that he argued back and forth with the idea of not streaming any of Michael Elgin's matches, even though they'd come to terms with IWA Mid-South to run two of their events per month. After an internal discussion, Lash briefly gave in against his better judgment until additional accounts appeared online attacking Elgin's accuser. Instead, Lash pitched the idea of the service taking an intermission during his match, which was turned down. Instead an idea was presented to have a sign up code provided to contribute to charity for those who watched him, which Lash says would have defeated the purpose of not wanting Elgin on the service.
Fightful contacted Elgin's accuser, Molly, for a comment on the matter. She seemed equally disappointed that New Japan Pro Wrestling hadn't terminated their relationship with Elgin.
I'm disappointed in Powerbomb. I'm disappointed in NJPW. IWA booked Elgin BECAUSE of this situation. Ian Rotten was proud of supporting Elgin, calling me a ring rat who needed to know my place.
IWA has stated that it's being streamed. They've promoted it is as such. Powerbombtv hasn't denied this, even though it's not listed on their page.
In streaming this Powerbomb is giving him a platform. A wider reach. That idea is terrifying. It's when we start giving him leeway that people start to forget, he gets more bookings, he is exposed to more fans, more opportunities to abuse other women, regain power. Powerbomb is a small business. They answer to their subscribers, they're responsible to them. Part of that means keeping him off their live stream.
Why are they different to NJPW? It's not different in that one is less bad for putting his face on their screen. It's different in that NJPW actually has a contract with Elgin. They're a massive company who makes enough money that losing some US subscribers isn't going to be an issue. That doesn't mean we shouldn't fight. But focusing attention on an attainable goal until that's achieved, often makes the bigger goal more attainable. I know that sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but I'm tired and cranky. Also, they fired Adam Lash, instead of addressing the actual issue of streaming Elgin. That's an attempt at silencing if I've ever seen one.
The 31-year old former ROH Champion in Elgin appeared last weekend at NJPW's New Beginning in Osaka shows.
This is far from the first time IWA-Mid South has faced criticism, as Jim Cornette has publicly lambasted them for years as the catalyst of Kentucky's strict and often strange regulation of pro wrestling in Kentucky. IWA refused to comment on the matter, instead putting over their upcoming event.
We have no comment on what is going on between Powerbomb TV and Adam Lash as that is their business. Our business is the put on the best content that we can for them to provide to their customers and we feel that having someone of the quality of wrestler that Michael Elgin is on our show taking on a true legend in the business and Manny Fernandez is what's best for our fans.
Adam Lash also issued the following statement to Fightful.com
When I co-founded Powerbomb.tv it was meant to be the antithesis of every other streaming, distribution and production company involved in professional wrestling at the time. It was meant to be a company that had a conscience and above all did the right thing. It was these principles that guided the company, helping to establish a good reputation amongst both people in the professional wrestling business and, most importantly, the fans themselves. We didn't have the money backing that FloSports, WWN Live, or the rest of our competitors had, but we had the passion for independent wrestling and a genuine desire to help it grow.
In November of 2017 we began our deal with Smart Mark Video. As part of that deal we began getting IWA Mid-South content. IWA had by that point earned a pretty bad reputation, and with good reason. Still, owner Ian Rotten had a young crop of talent that I felt deserved a spotlight. As live streaming became more and more important to our business model the idea to stream IWA events became a topic of discussion. This was before the Michael Elgin situation unfolded, mind you. I felt, because we would be putting more eyes on IWA than had been on them in the last decade, and believing that I had the backing of Smart Mark Video owner Mike Burns, that we'd be able to make Ian behave while giving talent the exposure they deserved. Unfortunately, on all accounts, I was wrong.
By the time the Michael Elgin situation had blown up we'd already hammered out a deal with IWA, using Mike Burns and Smart Mark Video as the middle man. At no point did any of us involved with Powerbomb.tv speak to Ian Rotten directly. The only communication we had with anyone involved with IWA was Nick "Maniwa" Glenn and IWA's video editor. Despite what Gerard Durling and Powerbomb.tv claims, we never signed any contract with Ian Rotten or IWA.
As everyone else canceled Elgin from their events, IWA announced him for an upcoming event. Gerard and I spoke, and we agreed that we would stream IWA as planned, but that we would NOT stream any event featuring Michael Elgin. In hindsight it's not something I am proud of, and I wish I'd used my power to put an end to the deal right then and there, but I thought that if we could at least avoid streaming and legitimizing Elgin, we could give the talent the spotlight they deserved, as we'd originally intended. I accept all criticism anyone has for this decision, I'm not perfect and have made many mistakes.
Gerard, the co-founder of Powerbomb.tv, began go back and forth on whether or not we should stream Michael Elgin throughout January and early February. For weeks leading up to today's events we'd argued over it. While i cannot confirm this, I believe that it was Mike Burns who was putting into Gerard's head that we should stream Elgin. Again, to show how imperfect I am, I too at one point gave up and consented to Elgin being allowed on the stream as long as we didn't advertise him at all. I was sick of arguing and explaining over and over to Gerard and Burns why we could not stream him. I couldn't understand why we were even still arguing over it. I just wanted to move on and focus on something positive. Without going into too much detail, I've been dealing with several health issues as well as being forced from my home, and the stress of it all was just getting too much for me to handle. Again, not my proudest moment. I deserve any and all criticism for this moment of weakness.
Less than 24 hours later though a concerted, funded campaign began to hit Twitter, Youtube, and Tumblr attacking the woman at the heart of the Michael Elgin situation. I again insisted to Gerard and Burns that we could not, under any circumstances, stream Michael Elgin. His role and the initial treatment of the alleged victim was bad enough, but a funded campaign to attack and harass them was enough to give me my second wind on the issue. To a lesser extent, his threat of physical violence towards myself also played a role in this, as he had told others he was going to assault me because I was a vocal supporter on Twitter of the the alleged victim. Again Gerard agreed with me that we could not and would not stream Michael Elgin. Indeed a day before IWA's first live stream, when IWA began to advertise a mystery opponent, and Gerard and I were concerned that it was Elgin, Gerard even said that he would call and have the building pull the internet that we had paid and had installed at the venue if the mystery opponent was Elgin. We were both relieved to find out that Elgin was in Japan and was not the mystery opponent.
One final issue came up before the first live stream. IWA had already started to advertise that Michael Elgin would be on the second date that we'd planned to stream on. Gerard and I, at this point still being on the same page, agreed we wouldn't stream that event and would stream a different event instead, as we'd asked IWA to be able to stream two events a month. This was relayed to Mike Burns, who was supposed to relay it to Ian Rotten because, again, no one from Powerbomb.tv was in direct contact with Ian Rotten. Imagine our surprise then as IWA announced, during the first live stream, that we'd be streaming the February 15th event featuring Michael Elgin.
The day after the arguments began again about whether we would stream Michael Elgin or not. And the arguments continued up until Friday, February 9th. I did everything I could to try and prevent Elgin from appearing on a live Powerbomb.tv stream, even compromising that we'd stream the event and either take an intermission during his match or have the match go on after the stream was over. All told, over the last month, I probably spent nearly 20 hours arguing against streaming Michael Elgin. I used every argument I could make; I argued the moral reasons, I argued the business reasons, and in desperation I even tried to argue that we shouldn't be the first person to stream Elgin post scandal even if he eventually salvaged his image. I wrote emails, I exchanged text messages, I made phone calls. And yes, I offered a compromise of streaming the event minus the Elgin match itself. All of my suggestions were shot down, ultimately, and on Friday, February 9th in an email to a couple of our mutual friends and myself Gerard stated we'd "probably" be streaming Elgin on the 15th. Attempts to speak to Gerard after that email were ignored, my calls were sent to voice mail and my texts were not responded to. It is at that point I took the issue public and over the weekend took to Twitter.
I believed, with all my heart, that all of the good will and the positive community we'd built would be severely hurt if we streamed Michael Elgin. I tweeted out, on my personal account, a plea for fans to tell my partners that they didn't want to support a company that legitimized Michael Elgin, that brought him back in from the cold. While my partners continued to ignore my texts or calls, I continued my plea in hopes that we'd avert what I believed to be a terrible mistake. During all this, on Saturday, I went to the ER due to chest pains, after having gone to the ER earlier in the week after experiencing them while shoveling snow. I was kept in the hospital from Saturday until late Monday, when I checked myself out against doctors advice. My doctors believed that the stress I'd been dealing with, between my health issues, my housing issues, and now these issues, was causing my already high blood pressure to sky rocket.
I woke up Tuesday, today, to emails telling me that all Powerbomb.tv passwords had been changed, that I'd been removed as an admin on the Powerbomb.tv Facebook page, and even the passwords for personal accounts of mine that were used for Powerbomb.tv stuff had been changed. The Powerbomb.tv Twiter account had blocked me, Gerard had blocked me on all social media, Mike Burns had blocked me on all social media, and they'd blocked my number. I tweeted about what was going down, and then received an email telling me that they'd severed ties with me. As co-founder and co-owner, I was locked out of the company I helped found, and was offered no compensation for the year that I'd put into the company. All because I took a stand against streaming Michael Elgin. Regardless of what they claim, that's what it boiled down to. Years of friendship, and a promising, amazing company, all thrown down the drain because Gerard and Burns were too cowardly to take a stand.
Gerard and company have told people that they are contractually obligated to stream the event on Thursday featuring Michael Elgin. That is not true, there was no contract between IWA or Ian Rotten and Powerbomb.tv, at least not before February 9th. Contractual obligations were never a part of the discussion, and indeed, Ian was okay with us not streaming the event as long as he was paid for the event regardless. In addition, Paul Couture, Powerbomb.tv's developer, has lied to people on Twitter saying that as long as they don't watch any IWA content that IWA will receive no compenstation. Again, this is a lie: IWA is compensated through the deal Powerbomb.tv made with Smart Mark Video, they are paid regardless of how much their content is watched. In addition, IWA is paid a flat fee for the live stream itself, regardless of whether or not a subscriber watches it. Paul made these lies without acknowledging that he is the developer of Powerbomb.tv.
There is much more I can say and indeed, I am not perfect in all this. I will take any blame where it is due. I am an opinionated, passionate person. I am not the easiest person to deal with, I admit. I also compromised myself more than I want to admit, I am not perfect, and I will have to come to grips with that personally. I put my heart into that company though. From the actual name, to the ethos that we operated under, that was my vision and my heart. Powerbomb.tv was my love letter to independent wrestling, to the fans that I will always identify with, and professional wrestling as a whole. It breaks my heart that it lost it's way. It breaks my heart that my friends, people who called me their family, betrayed me. I did what I believed was the right thing. I accept that many will disagree my actions and respect their opinion. Right now though, I've checked myself back into the hospital and am going to take care of myself, and that is my main concern. All those who have supported me, it means the world to me. I love you all and I love and believe in the best parts of independent wrestling, even if independent wrestling doesn't believe in me. Thank you.
On Wednesday evening, Powerbomb issued a press release on their official website, addressing the firing of Lash.
Powerbomb.tv has been forced to part ways with Adam Lash due to recent behavior on Social Media that was considered detrimental to the company and the partner promotions that utilize the service.
Powerbomb.tv was founded to create a simple, cost-effective solution for fans of independent professional wrestling worldwide to access content from as wide a variety of promotions as possible. Fans have the ability to see live matches they otherwise would not be able to attend as well as an extensive library of past matches. In less than a year more than 1,100 hours of independent wrestling content from more than 70 promotions has been added to the service as well as regular live streams each month. This achievement has been in no small part due to the freedom Powerbomb.tv allows to promotions on their platform. Independent Wrestling is by definition an entertainment platform which requires independence for the promoters and talent involved.
In September and October 2017, Mr. Lash repeatedly made comments on social media of a derogatory nature about talent involved in independent professional wrestling that prevented several promotions from choosing to do business with Powerbomb.tv. Due to this behavior and the damage it caused the company, Powerbomb.tv informed Mr. Lash that, should he continue to conduct himself on social media in such a detrimental way, it would be forced to terminate its association with him.
Mr. Lash agreed to change his conduct on social media and acknowledged that any future behavior that was intentionally damaging to talent, promotions, or the company itself would be grounds to terminate his relationship with Powerbomb.tv. In addition, several promotions demanded that this agreement as to Mr. Lash’s behavior be specifically written into their contracts with Powerbomb.tv, contracts with which Mr. Lash agreed. As a result of Mr. Lash’s behavior and his refusal to desist starting on Friday, February 9th, 2018 and continuing until his removal from the company on Tuesday, February 13th, 2018, Powerbomb.tv was forced to terminate its relationship with Mr. Lash in accordance with the agreement made in October 2017. The necessity for promotions to know when signing with Powerbomb.tv that the company will meet its business obligations to them without creating additional roadblocks is paramount to the continued success of both Powerbomb.tv and its partners.
Following his removal from the company, Mr. Lash has chosen to take to social media to repeatedly denigrate the company and its shareholders and investors, encourage users and followers to demand the company break their contracts with partner promotions, and harass the promotions with which he has personal issues. Furthermore, Mr. Lash has posted private internal communications, private personal messages between himself and members of the company and its associates, used his access to the company’s social media accounts to send defamatory posts, and made false allegations regarding his ownership role in the company and his compensation. These allegations are demonstrably false, seeking to defame Powerbomb.tv, its stakeholders, and investors.
In summary, Mr. Lash has been removed from Powerbomb.tv due to longstanding issues that began in the fall of 2017. No company could continue to conduct business with someone openly calling for users to harass both partners as well as the management of that company. Powerbomb.tv will address any claims regarding the compensation of our partners and associates in the appropriate legal forum and has been advised not to comment further on such matters publicly.
Fightful has reached out to Powerbomb TV, Smart Mark Video and Elgin who have not replied to our requests for comment. Fightful has learned that Elgin, real name Aaron Frobel filed a suit against accuser "Mo" in the state of Missouri on February 9.