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Candy Cartwright files lawsuit against Matt Riddle, WWE, EVOLVE


This story was updated at 10:20 PM Eastern.

Image: Anthony Vasquez / Chicago Sun-Times

Candy Cartwright is suing Matt Riddle, WWE, EVOLVE, and Gabe Sapolsky for $10 million per defendant in a sexual assault lawsuit.

In a press conference in Chicago Thursday, Cartweight (real name Samantha Tavel) and attorney John Chwarzynski of Hale & Monico discussed her side of the story that first emerged in mid-June during the #SpeakingOut movement.

While working for EVOLVE in May 2018, Cartwright said she and Riddle were in a van with three other wrestlers. After the others had fallen asleep while traveling, Riddle overtly propositioned her for sex. She refused, but said Riddle grabbed her throat and threatened her with "What if I just made you?" She said she eventually gave him oral sex to get out of the situation.

Chwarzynski said Thursday that incident was one of "a multitude of sexual assaults committed by Matt Riddle against my client, Candi Cartwright" from 2017 through January 2020. In April 2017, it alleges Riddle raped Cartwright after an EVOLVE show in Brooklyn, New York, while in a parked vehicle and that he bragged about it to Sapolsky and others. The suit says the EVOLVE co-founder "tacitly approved of this conduct" and allowed it to happen, even encouraging it.

The suit said Cartwright had bookings with both WWE and EVOLVE on January 31st, 2020, but that she refused to perform sexual acts on Riddle and had her bookings cancelled due to "issues with the talent." That was because Riddle allegedly told WWE and EVOLVE that because Cartwright wouldn't perform sexual acts on him, he didn't want her working for either group and that both complied.

At the press conference, Chwarzynski said he is going to send copies of the lawsuit to both the state attorney's office and the Summit (IL) Police Department where the incident allegedly took place as he wants them to open an investigation.

Riddle, who was called up to the WWE main roster days after the allegations went public, denied them on two occasions, the second in a video in which he admitted having an affair with Tavel but never sexually assaulted or abused her. When he first denied it, he said he and his lawyer were going to seek an injunction for cyberstalking but it's unclear whether that happened.

As of this writing, neither Riddle or his attorney have made a public statement.

The suit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, but in a statement to, a representative from WWE said they "have not been served with a lawsuit by Ms. Tavel. However, if served, we will vigorously defend ourselves and contest it.” Fightful got a quote from Sapolsky that said, "News to me."

At the press conference, Chwarzynski said, "WWE has painted a picture over the course of the years that female performers are to comply with certain rules. The WWE, since its inception, has hyper-sexualized female performers and they’ve profited from male aggression against these female performers.”

In reading through the lawsuit, there are errors, specifically that Riddle worked for WWE on/prior to May 2018 when he didn't sign a deal until that summer. There are also some questions regarding how WWE and EVOLVE's relationship is portrayed in the suit.