Content warning: Sexual assault, harassment, stalking.
WWE Superstar Matt Riddle was one of several high-profile pro-wrestling figures accused of sexual misconduct during the #SpeakingOut movement earlier this year. Now, Riddle has voluntarily dismissed a restraining order petition against his accuser, whom he claims was stalking him.
According to David Bixenspan of Babyface v. Heel, court records indicated that the "questionable" petition filed by Riddle and his lawyer Daniel J. Rose against Samantha Tavel, was retracted earlier this month after being "soundly taken apart" by Tavel's attorney Allison Lovelady. Tavel, who has wrestled as Candy Cartwright, accused Riddle of sexually assaulting her during what appeared to be a consensual affair.
Available records in the case designated Riddle v. Tavel give Tavel's alleged misconduct as "Committed stalking, Previously threatened, harassed, stalked, cyberstalked, or physically abused the Petitioner, Threatened to harm Petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with Petitioner, Used, or threatened to use, against Petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives," and "Destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to Petitioner."
Riddle alleges that the two conducted an affair from 6 November 2017 to July 2019, at which point she texted him to write "that if I did not leave my wife for her that I would be sorry and she would ruin my career."
The petition requested Tavel be barred from the WWE Performance Center but listed no other addresses or locations, which her lawyer argued "was thus an illustration of the true intentions behind the petition". Riddle alleged in his petition that in February 2020 "Ms. Tavel showed up from New York to Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida where I was working and made a scene and had to be escorted out of the building."
There are a number of apparent inconsistencies in Riddle's petition, including failing to give a specific date for the alleged incident at Full Sail, and a tweet that supposedly doxed Riddle's wife not actually containing the information the petition claims it does. Lovelady's request for dismissal cited them as well as "deceptively redacted screenshots of messages from the Petitioner and his wife from Respondent" and sworn testimony from an associate as to what Tavel's tweets actually contained.
On 7 September, following Riddle's response to Lovelady's request for dismissal, Rose filed a voluntary dismissal of the petition, thereby dropping the case completely. Bixenspan writes "If they had proceeded to the hearing, a successful motion to dismiss on anti-SLAPP grounds could have resulted in Riddle having to pay legal fees and court costs to Tavel."
Anyone affected by domestic abuse and needing support in the United States can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Those in the United Kingdom can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline at 0808 2000 247. Those unable to speak safely should visit TheHotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 (US), or NationalDaHelpline.org.uk (UK).