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.

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.

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.


With that chokeslam, thus began “Izzygate.”

Izzygate, Explained

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.


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.

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.

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:


Furthermore, he wants a slice of Izzy’s fame for himself:


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.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: