If you’ve watched NXT within the last three years, chances are you’ve seen Izzy, Bayley’s No. 1 superfan, sitting front row at Full Sail University.
Almost showtime at MFW!!!! I love the feeling I get right before I’m about to go through the curtains! pic.twitter.com/CsAkQEuMOi
— Izzy (@ItsIzzyMania) July 14, 2018
And if you follow Wrestling Twitter, chances are you know that Izzy, who’s just 11 years old, is already training to be a wrestler.
— Izzy (@ItsIzzyMania) August 14, 2018
Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few people who believe that 11 is too young to start taking bumps inside a wrestling ring – and they have a valid point. After all, there’s a reason Diamond Dallas Page described the life of a pro wrestler as experiencing “four different car accidents a night.”
However, the fact of the matter is that while 11-year-old-girl practicing flying crossbodies might be strange for the world at large, it’s unfortunately not all that strange for the world of professional wrestling. There are dozens of pro wrestlers who began training at an age not much older than Izzy: TJP and Toni Storm both started training at age 13, while Andrade Cien Almas made his pro debut at that age; Rey Mysterio debuted at age 14; Ricochet began training at age 15, and the list goes on and on. In fact, in 2016 Stephanie McMahon told ESPN that her eldest daughter, Aurora, “has been trained by Natalya.” Aurora was just ten years old at the time.
But, the outrage over Izzy’s fledgling pro wrestling career hit critical mass over the weekend when she took a chokeslam from grown man wrestler Effy in a match for the Punk Pro Wrestling Internet Championship.
— Claire (@mediumcore) August 26, 2018
With that chokeslam, thus began “Izzygate.”
As previously stated, many people believe Izzy is too young to be wrestling at all. However, the chokeslam she suffered at the hands of Effy drew particular ire from wrestling Twitter, including several pro wrestlers.
Who chokeslams a kid?!
— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) August 29, 2018
I agree with Chelsea. Brain injuries are no joke, especially in kids. That Never should have happened. No kid that age should even be bumping IMO. The neck is not strong enough to support the head at that age. https://t.co/GIIrw2ZYEZ
— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) August 29, 2018
No way a 12 year old's brain should be subject to pro wrestling bumps. Especially a chokeslam. WTF is wrong the adults in that situation?
— Sean Waltman (@TheRealXPac) August 29, 2018
Even two of the wrestlers who have had a hand in training Izzy – Chelsea Green and Lince Dorado – condemned both the match and the chokeslam.
I don’t agree with Izzy taking bumps, let alone being chokeslammed. It’s unfortunate that others felt differently. It’s also unfortunate her first match wasn’t at the school she’s trained at, where she is protected. But, we live and we learn. I hope promoters take note. ♥️
— Chelsea Green (@ImChelseaGreen) August 29, 2018
I will not support this at all and I will leave it at that! As a parent and PROFESSIONAL wrestler I feel utterly embarrassed due to my “peers” actions! Not ok! pic.twitter.com/KLzFI9f1hd
— Lince Dorado (@LuchadorLD) August 27, 2018
Personally, as someone who has trained in the ring and experienced bumping firsthand, I agree that Izzy is too young to be taking bumps and wrestling, especially against grown men. It’s too dangerous, and there’s too much that could accidentally go wrong. To Effy’s credit, it looks like he did the best he could to protect Izzy, but the chokeslam spot – and, arguably, the match itself – never should have happened.
However, there’s another darker aspect to Izzygate: the fact that Izzy’s parents are exploiting their 11-year-old daughter’s dreams.
I don't care about Izzy wrestling. a lot of people in "da biz" started that young or even younger. my problem is her parents basically pimping her out for money.
— BIG MOUTH LOUD PACK (@killface_toast) August 29, 2018
I’m cool with Izzy taking a chokeslam I’m just extremely creeped out by how her parents profit off her
— captain magma☄️ (@JakesBadTweets) August 27, 2018
If Izzy, a 12 year old girl, is allowed to take a chokeslam in her first match. What's next? The wrestling fan in me says "bad idea", but the "youth development me" (with 25 years experience working with over 10,000 kids) says BAD PARENTS. Guaranteed.
— Matt Koon (@mattkoonmusic) August 29, 2018
Apparently her parents see a meal ticket in their future…. https://t.co/fcrg3EOJbF
— Jim Cornette (@TheJimCornette) August 29, 2018
Izzy’s parents are stage parents to the nth degree. The Twitter page of her father, Cody Starbuck, is nothing but an endless stream of tweets promoting Izzy. He was even using his cute kid to make money BEFORE NXT:
— Jenny Silagyi (@bonez216) July 28, 2018
Furthermore, he wants a slice of Izzy’s fame for himself:
I will be doing a meet and greet during Summer Slam Weekend at a New York City Hot Dog Stand….time and location TBA. Hope all my mutuals and fans come by to say Hi 👋 and take a pic!
— Cody Starbuck (@Cody_Starbuck) August 16, 2018
Full disclosure: I am not a parent, so I don’t have much room to criticize the Starbucks’ parenting. However, a blind man could see that Izzy’s parents are hoping to profit off of her, and most decent human beings would argue that that’s wrong.
If Izzy wants to be a wrestler, she has every right in the world to pursue that path. But she, her parents, and everyone else around her would do well to take a step back and remember that she’s just a kid; and, maybe for the time being, she should just be a fan, too.