In life Dynamite Kid was denied help by WWE. He was denied royalties, he was denied health care, and WWE even publicly denied the science of CTE and the health crisis of wrestlers in thwarting his claims. (Two of the other wrestlers that I represented that WWE sued at the same time are already dead: Ivan Koloff and Blackjack Mulligan.)
This morning the phone calls and emails came. Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) died, wasn’t he one of your clients? Wasn’t he involved in the lawsuit?
Yes he was.
In fact the WWE sued Dynamite Kid while he sat totally disabled with dementia in a Care Home outside Manchester, England to preemptively block him from getting any health benefits, telling the world wide Media through its Spokesman, Jerry McDevitt that before Mr. Kyros started trolling around the WWE was not aware of any wrestlers with Neurological problems. (See this typical WWE self serving incoherent statement made to the Associated Press here)
Read Dot Billington’s Affidavit to Federal Judge: “Tom is 58 years old, wheelchair bound and currently residing in the Dementia Ward …. Tom is totally disabled physically and neurologically… We have been married for over 20 years and I have seen him waste away from his injuries.”
This is now an all too familiar ritual, with each passing of a well-known professional wrestler, there is a period of social media eulogies, broad consensus amongst their peers that they contributed to wrestling and many tributes from fans to their professional career. This is fine, but it changes nothing about the WWE’s past abuses, exploitation and denial of the terrible plight of many former professional wrestlers such as Tom.
Indeed the WWE’s website exhorted: “Superstars past and present are taking to social media to pay tribute to The Dynamite Kid in the wake of his passing on his 60th birthday. Take a look at some of the most heartfelt messages from the competitors he both battled and inspired.” and the usual: “WWE is saddened to learn that Thomas Billington, known to his fans as Dynamite Kid, has passed away at age 60…. WWE extends its condolences to Billington’s family, friends and fans.”
The fact is that WWE cares nothing for its retired wrestlers. During my representation of him, the WWE sued Dynamite Kid to preemptively prevent him from making any claims against them for long term health issues arising from his career. The WWE continued to profit (and will continue to profit) from his career yet refused to pay him royalties or provide any health benefits or anything else while he was in his final years.
The message of the passing of Dynamite Kid to the millions he entertained is: WWE needs to help its former wrestlers. Don’t let this message be forgotten. God Bless Tom Billington, his friends and his family.