Chad Lail (Jaxson Ryker) speaks about his 2020 tweet in support of Donald Trump.
Following WrestleMania 36, the group formerly known as The Forgotten Sons (Jaxson Ryker, Steve Maclin & Westin Blake) debuted on SmackDown. Their appearances on the show were halted in June of 2020 after Ryker sent out a tweet in support of then-President Donald Trump. Ryker’s tweet was sent out when protests were taking place in reaction to a police officer taking the life of George Floyd.
Ryker would not be seen on WWE programming until December of that year and he was released from the company this past November. He spoke about the tweet and the fallout from it on the ‘Wrestling for the Faith’ podcast. He does not feel there were any racial undertones or jabs thrown and said he was just expressing his appreciation for Trump.
Well, yeah, June 1st, 2020 and it says 7:52 PM. I had just moved into my new house in Mooresville, North Carolina and you know, we’ve all got our own views on who’s — anytime there’s a President or there’s a leader, that’s what makes America great, that’s why I served four years in the Marine Corps so I could, you know, tweet about my approval for a certain President. I wasn’t one of those who was trying to bash anybody else. I was simply putting out my support for a President that I thought was doing a good job for this country. Gas prices were down, unemployment was down, jobs were up, just so much going on with the economy was flourishing. You can do the studies and look at it and that was just my tweet to basically show my support, which the funny thing is-is prior to that, Lord, I mean even I was looking through some history of things. I mean I would tweet or Instagram certain things about Donald Trump but for some reason, that day and I believe you [co-host] touched on it before we started, things that were going on in America at the time. I tweeted my support for him before. So to me, there was nothing wrong with that tweet. There was no racial undertone, there was no jabs. There was nothing but me saying God bless America and thankful for the President of the United States that we had at the time, and like you said, I served four years in the Marine Corps from ‘02 to ‘06. Does that give me a right to be an idiot on social media and go out and say stupid stuff? Absolutely not. But [does it] give me a right to support a President that I voted for? I do believe it does and we’ve never talked about it, first time right here people are getting a chance to hear about it. I’m excited to kind of let it out but I can see if there is something wrong with that tweet but in my eyes, I said nothing wrong and so, that’s where I stand on it man…
Shortly after sending the tweet, Ryker received an abundance of notifications ranging from phone calls to text messages. He said his home address was leaked and there were threats made towards his family.
He felt there was an opportunity there for those who worked with him to speak to him personally about his tweet instead of publicly addressing him. Ryker added that everything concerning The Forgotten Sons was put on hold and when it came to his family, he thought about the possibility of someone or people showing up to his home so he stayed up most nights with his weapons loaded.
On to the tweet, here we are, tweet this. I may have been watching — I feel like I was watching SmackDown or something, I don’t remember. Not SmackDown, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m sitting on my couch and bro, within a matter of, I’m gonna fare to say 15 minutes, my phone starts to just blow up. I start to get random phone calls from random numbers and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And my wife goes, ‘What’s going on with your phone?’ I mean literally, it was like the end of the world had happened. Within a matter of an hour or so, I’m getting death threats, I’m getting cell phone calls. If I can number the amount of voicemails that came over my phone from that time, it happened for at least a good week. Well over 100 voicemails, people threatening my family, my address within a matter of an hour or so was tweeted out. I had a new address. People were saying they were gonna come burn down my house, people said they were gonna come murder my family. Dude, it was the most extreme thing I’d ever been through to the point of the old Chad back in my 20s wanted to come out and not only that, we’ll touch on this too; there was an opportunity for people — I’m not gonna ask for anybody to defend me but what I would say was folks that I worked with that I thought were my friends or thought were my companions were quick to turncoat. There were some tweets [that] went out from co-workers, not gonna name any names, don’t think it’s important. But there was tweets that went out from co-workers that fueled the fire that I was like, ‘What in the world?’ The majority of you guys know who I am as a person and for you to do this to make this look like this tweet was some kind of racial hate speech, bigot, whatever you wanna call it, that’s what really started to bother me so yeah man, my address tweeted out, people threatening my family. It was ridiculous. I mean people calling my phone. Like I said, random numbers so my cell — of course, it’s 2022 now, it’s very easy to access all this stuff and I was just blown away. Like I was sitting here on my couch and my wife, once she found out [about] the tweet, even she was like, ‘There was nothing wrong with that tweet. Like what is going on?’
Here I am, WWE SmackDown, we [Ryker, Steve Maclin & Westin Blake] had just gotten called up with The Forgotten Sons, hence the ‘Forgotten no more’ hashtag [in the tweet], you know, whatever line at the end, and dude, instantly, there was like a stop right on the storyline that we were in with The New Day. There was a complete halt on everything from basically our career there, I mean, for the foreseeable future so, yeah man. It was one of those things where — and I’ll talk about it. In my 20s, I would’ve been ready to — and I was mad dude. I’m a gun owner, so I, you know, I had ‘em loaded and ready. Didn’t sleep much that night, didn’t sleep much for a few days because I was like, ‘Dude, is somebody gonna really come to my house? Somebody gonna come knock on my door?’ I got a cousin that lives up the street that, you know, heard about it instantly. He would walk by my house throughout the night, little did I know just to keep an eye on things. Thank God nobody had come to my house or anything. Nothing stupid coming in my mailbox but it just blew me away dude. Here’s a guy who I could see if I had got on social media and dropped the n-bomb or started all this racial stuff but dude, it was basically a tweet saying — and I tweeted it before, my support for the President and it just got — it was like one of those times when the enemy, the devil used that bro. He used that to try to sidetrack me, to try to knock me off course.
The Black Lives Matter movement was started almost a decade ago in reaction to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, who fired his weapon at Martin and killed him, was acquitted of his charges which led to the formation of the movement. The movement was established to bring awareness to the treatment of Black people in America and highlights the racism, discrimination and inequality that African-Americans face in the country.
Ryker is of the belief that the Black Lives Matter movement dismantles families, among other personal thoughts and beliefs and here are his full comments:
So let me touch on that, let me touch on it real quick [Ryker’s Facebook post about the Black Lives Matter movement] before I forget, I get sidetracked so yes, what the attack [his comments] was the Black Lives Matter garbage. Now you and I can go down a list of things if we wanna talk for two hours about what that organization stands for. They stand for dismantling fathers, yes. Dismantling families.
It’s all anti-Biblical things where we look at God made man, God made woman to unite together to man being head of the house and you have spoken about this. That doesn’t mean we’re forceful, mean presence in the family, we’re living Christ. We love our bride like Christ loves the Church basically and that’s — if you read all of that, it’s all anti-Biblical stuff [Black Lives Matter mission statement]. It’s taking the fathers away, I mean it’s transgender stuff and look, guys, as you’re listening to this, we are approaching this with love as we always do, any subject. We’re not pointing fingers, we’re not saying, oh, this and that. We’re saying this is — we’re standing on Biblical truth when it comes to these things and these organizations don’t and when I mentioned — and I’ll sit here and say that-that Facebook post could have been worded completely different, you know, on my behalf. Now, the movie ‘12 Years a Slave’, if you haven’t seen it, I believe it was filmed in 2013 and a credible movie about a free Black man who was basically kidnapped, put into slavery for 12 years, beaten, I mean just, dude, the movie made me cry because look, racism is real. It happens this day in time. I mean it’s real. We have things we can do to prevent this so my meaning behind that was [Ryker laughed], you know, the things that these slaves went through, you can hear some people in today’s America talk about, ‘Oh, this is Nazi-America’ or, ‘This is slavery’ and no, no. We have to open our eyes and realize that was true slavery. Is there racism? Yeah. There’s racism between Black-white, white-Black, Chinese, who, whatever. It’s real, it’s legit and my meaning behind that was that — and [what] I would definitely word differently is my ‘buddha’ thing. I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I believe we should all coexist.’ No, ultimately, Christ is the peacemaker. He is the truth of life, the way, so I would take ‘buddha’ out, I’d take all these other quote-unquote religions out and I would say that Christ stands for loving your brother, uniting with your brother, whether that’s — no matter what color or anything. So that’s what really what that Facebook post was about so I can clear the air on that and say that [I] don’t believe I said anything wrong. The B.L.M. garbage, to me, what they stand for, basically a terrorist group, that’s garbage to me.
Ryker clarified that he is not apologizing for what he tweeted and if WWE asked him to, he would have politely said no. He mentioned that if he was in his 20s, he would have physically went after the co-workers who called him out. There were family members and friends of his who suggested that he take the tweet down or issue an apology.
One thing I’ll sit and say is I had family — and not out of a mean way or anything like that — had family and friends come up and go, ‘You know, maybe you should just take that tweet down and maybe you should issue an apology or something like that.’ You know, I had family members and I get it, they were worried about my family, worried about my job and all this stuff and dude, I stood my ground and I want people to know that this podcast is by no means an apology. It’s getting it out there, it’s letting people know where I stand and in my 20s dude, we mentioned this at the beginning of the show, I would’ve been fighting. I mean legit hunting people down, all these co-workers of mine, fist fights. But I chose to, bro — and I chose to take that time in June of 2020 and I sat in my office many times in tears, many times in anger and I just said, ‘God, what are you trying to teach me here?’ Like, God didn’t make this happen by any means, he didn’t bring this on me, the enemy did. The enemy tried to derail me because at that time, I was seeking God a little more and I just felt the Lord tell me, ‘Don’t go back to your 20s. I want you to seek me and I’m gonna bring –’ it’s like Romans 8:28 bro, ‘All things work together for the good of those’ so I did. I just seeked that from the Lord, I started diving into little youth stuff, diving into scripture and books and bro, over the past year-and-a-half, it’s been the most peaceful thing to take this that the enemy wanted to use for bad, the Lord is gonna help use it for good, you know what I mean?
Once Ryker’s tweet made the rounds, he was in contact with WWE’s then-Head of Talent Relations and was told to lay low and not tweet or reply to anyone or anything. Ryker questioned how he was not able to voice his beliefs but there were talents who could sport Black Lives Matter logos on their gear and can publicly be in support of pro-abortion views.
They [WWE higher-ups] told me to lay low. I — you know, Head of Talent Relations at the time, I would email him weekly, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ He would say, ‘Just lay low. Don’t tweet.’ They never, luckily, asked me to take the tweet down or issue and apology because I would’ve politely said no, you know? I really do stand firm on that. But I was just told to lay low, don’t tweet anything. You know, that’s the thing that was a little weird too because there’s certain talent who can, um, I’ll just say it. You know, who can go out on live TV and have [a] ‘B.L.M.’ logo on their trunks or certain talent who can tweet about pro-abortion views or all this stuff and I was just like, ‘Dude, what am I –’ so this is really where my stint with WWE, it’s like the spirit started working in me and going, ‘Maybe this isn’t for you. This company isn’t for you so we’re gonna bide our time here’ and that’s when I really started praying, ‘Lord, when it’s time for that door to close, let the thing shut’ and when it did back in November, you know, I was at peace about it. We talked about that. But yeah, I was just told to lay low, don’t tweet for a while, don’t reply to anybody which, you know, I never do that anyway. But you know, that’s really what they were telling me to do. There’s never, ‘Hey, we want you to issue an apology.’ Dude, I would’ve said, ‘No, I’m not gonna do that’ [Ryker laughed]. So that was the reaction from the office.
He is 39 years of age and has been a part of the wrestling business for over a decade. Ryker contemplated retirement but said his wife encouraged him to go have fun.
He added that he and his podcast co-host have some opportunities to wrestle and speak at Churches. Ryker becomes a free agent on February 16th.
No [I don’t have anything else to add]. I’m looking forward to just getting back on the road. I’m a free man soon, get a chance to get back on the indie scene, do what I love to do. It’s passed through my mind, ‘Is it time to retire? Is it time to give it up?’ And talked to my wife and she goes, ‘Just go out and have a good time man. Just out and have a good time.’ You [his co-host] and I have some opportunities together to wrestle and speak at Churches and the Lord’s gonna use it bro so I’m excited about what’s going on but, I’m thankful we got a chance to air this out today. I can speak on it and let people know my views on it.
Ryker, now going by ‘Gunner’, was last in action prior to Monday Night Raw in November where he lost to Cedric Alexander in singles competition. Gunner is scheduled to wrestle at Fortitude Wrestling Entertainment’s event in North Carolina on March 12th.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Wrestling for the Faith with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.