wrestling / News

David Starr Says Gabe Sapolsky Doesn’t Pay Wrestlers What They’re Worth, Sapolsky Fires Back

January 13, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Progress Chapter 88 David Starr

– David Starr got into it with EVOLVE’s Gabe Sapolsky on social media on Monday, calling him out for underpaying his talent which prompted a lengthy response. Starr initially got the dust-up going on Instagram last week when he pointed out that Sapolsky blocked him on Twitter and said it was “because I asked them/him to actually pay their workers and not expect free labor?”

That prompted a brief conversation on the Instagram post with Brian Cage, who agreed with Starr’s assessment. Starr said at one point, “Meanwhile the wwe talent they use aren’t required to get a fee from evolve AND they are collecting money from workers for the seminars. From what I understand he’s still cramming 4 people in hotel rooms, not feeding workers or providing them water, and doesn’t cover everyone’s trans.”

Starr’s comments went to Twitter on Monday, where he referenced a tweet by Sapolsky which referenced Cage’s leaving EVOLVE because he felt he wasn’t paid what he was worth and said, “Every dedicated and professional talent is worth more than they are paid. They should be paid $10K for every 5 minutes in the ring. If you can figure out how to pay that and stay in business please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to pay it.” Starr called out Sapolsky, writing over two tweets:

Couple things here:

-I like that Gabe is now discussing how capitalism is a cancer (under capitalism workers are, by definition, are never being paid what their actually worth)

-the asinine attitude as if it’s either $10k every 5 min or its free labor

Gabe is a carny.

Literally, it’s not that hard.

Just pay all of your workers for fuck’s sake.

Rather than commit to that, Gabe goes on a whinging spree about people being negative.

Gabriel, if your business is dependent on exploited labor to operate, then you don’t deserve to be in business.

Sapolsky then responded with an extended set of tweets (h/t to Fightful), which he later deleted, in which he levied accusations of unprofessional behavior and stiff working against Starr:

Max Barsky, AKA David Starr, emailed me relentlessly to be in EVOLVE a few years ago. I gave him a shot and he ignored booking instructions. This is among the other shots he had, which he failed at. I was on the fence about him, though. In addition, I’ve had numerous talents complain to me about Max Barsky, AKA David Starr, stiffing them, giving them concussions and then actually blaming them for these accidents. I watched his heralded match with WALTER where he selfishly no sold to get himself over. Why AEW isn’t interested in him I don’t know. Maybe they are. Add to this the embarrassing and offensive picture of Max Barsky taking a selfie crying at a Holocaust memorial and I was finished with him.

He wants headlines. He lies to get them. He stretches the truth. He exaggerates. He uses terms like “Fraud” about me when a simple Google search or seeing what Meltzer reported would show there is no basis. He plugs his shirt saying I “reportedly” told talent not to where it. We promote 2 shows a month in different markets. No indie does this. I negotiate all terms at the time of the booking. If I can’t meet a wrestler’s price, I understand and it’s business. I don’t expect any deals. If they can’t work for what we pay, I understand & it’s business.

We have a unique stage and I want to give as many people the opportunity as possible to be on it. So yes, there might be 1-3 spots we don’t pay for on a show. These are spots that are all over budget and otherwise wouldn’t exist. They do not take spots from paid wrestlers. I feel it is important to give these opportunities, but if public outrage is so much I’ll kill these spots. It’s all the same to me honestly. I just love giving talent opportunity, watching them grow and watching them make money. It is my passion. I’ve worked too long and hard and been through too many bad times to let Max Barsky grab headlines at my expense. I realize I’ve done everything I’m swore I wouldn’t hear but him starting this assault is too much.

So go stiff more people Max. Go do your carny stuff. Go lie more. You are a true politician. You are a fraud. Go tag WWE.

I’m sure some of you will twist my words around or whatever you do. I’ll just block you. I got shows this weekend and other stuff to worry about.

Finally, while I am ashamed at myself for even tweeting this thread and contributing to the negative Twitter culture, I’ll close by saying there’s a lot more to issues and things than the headline you read in a 180 character tweet. Try to get the real story.

After deleting that threat of tweets, Sapolsky posted another tweet (also since deleted)

I apologize for my unprofessional rant. I pride myself on staying above it. I am ashamed of it.

I also assure you that everyone on EVOLVE shows will be paid.

Thank you for your support over the years. I look forward to getting back to what I love and working shows.

Starr posted a final (for now) two-tweet response which read:


Mr Barsky here. I see you’re going with the idea that me calling out you, a carny promoter who insists people work for free or at very reduced wages, is what’s killing the business.

I’ll gladly have a public discussion w/ you when you actually pay all of your workers.

If you cared about talent you wouldn’t take advantage of them.

You have a guaranteed WWE salary.

You use your connections to justify paying workers risking their bodies for you to work for less money or no money.

You can see the relevant tweets that still exist below.