Former AEW Editor Opens Up About ‘Bullying and Gaslighting’

Former AEW video editor Louie Benson wrote a lengthy statement on Twitter about his time working for the company:

Things were very off from the time I started with AEW by way of Comeback Studios. Shortly after I was hired, I was told that Cody, the EVP, didn’t like me and thought I was a “stalker fan” based on an interaction I had with him at All In. This didn’t make sense to me because every other time I had met him, he seemed friendly, even initiating physical contact with me. But I was told over and over again, “If Cody asks, we’ll fire you.” I became terrified of the man because I had left home and moved 8 hours away from friends and family for this job and I was told my job was in the hands of a guy who already didn’t like me.

Cody apparently requested that I not be present when he was in our building which led to me either being made to leave or stuck hidden in a room when he came around, having to ask if I could come out to use the restroom.

I was also told not to talk to any talent, not even friends I had made before either of us worked there. This led to really awkward interactions early on when I tried to avoid making eye contact with people I’d had friendly interactions with before or not responding when someone would attempt to talk to me.

I didn’t receive credit for work I had done in the Road to series because “Cody only wants [these two people] to have credit.” When I brought up that other people had credits, I was told, “The only reason we credited everyone else was because they were being babies about it.”

I wasn’t allowed to post on social media about my job. I couldn’t even update my Linkedln. I was the only employee this applied to as my coworkers would advertise weekly that they worked for AEW or would post pictures on set or with members of the roster.

After being told for months that Cody didn’t want to even be in the same building as me, he showed up randomly on a weekend while I was working and I literally came face to face with him. He greeted me like nothing was wrong and gave me an aggressive high five after complimenting my All In shirt.

I barely squeaked out the word, “Hi” as I walked past him to my office where I sat at my desk and hyperventilated because I was terrified that I was going to lose my job because I just so happened to be in the building at the same time.

I had finally received a credit in the first Countdown special as a “production assistant” which they were hesitant to give me, but I had finally received recognition, was tagged in a Facebook post by my boss and had multiple people tagging me to ask if it was my name they saw. I put out a single post thanking people for their support and hoping to make them proud.

Throughout the next week, I find out that Cody allegedly screenshotted my tweet and sent it to my boss with a thumbs down emoji. I’m told that I have to delete all my social media or be fired. In the meeting, I asked my direct boss if he had read the tweet. Not in a snarky or hateful way. The response was my other boss shouting “DON’T f***ING TALK TO HIM LIKE THAT!” at me. This led to my 6’5, Hall of Farner boss getting in my face, intimidating me into deleting my social media in front of him, saying “Do it. Now!” And he knew I would do it because I wanted the job. And he would remind me constantly that “AEW doesn’t want you. You would NEVER be hired without me.” or that this person or that person doesn’t like you so we can’t let you be seen by them.

I went without Twitter for months, and had friends attempting to find me to see if I was okay because I had disappeared. During this time, I was mocked by my bosses because I pointed out that forcing me to delete social media was illegal, that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work there anymore, or even saying they should make me start over from zero on Twitter.

I’m not sure Cody was even aware that I had edited anything for his company. Apparently QT Marshall had suggested I edit something when the normal editors were all busy and he said “Really? You’re suggesting Louie to me?” Even though I had edited a few packages he was in and several episodes of his wife’s cooking show.

Side bar about QT. He was always very kind to me, and there were plenty of times I felt like he was my only ally in the whole organization. I have nothing but good things to say about QT.

Finally, in February, Cody made positive remarks to my face, saying that I had gone through hell and pushed through and I was the man now, going as far as to say “I like Louie now.” It was nice, but out of nowhere because I’d only had about 45 seconds worth of interaction with him over the past 8 months. I don’t know if this was an attempt to apologize for how I was treated. Heck, I don’t know if he KNOWS how I was treated. He never actually said he was sorry, but I at least felt like I had a monkey off my back.

Things got weird when covid reared its head. Work slowed down. My main job had been working on web shows. Dark, Control Center, etc. I would sit behind the camera, and follow the script with the talent, sometimes advising on pronunciations or deliveries. In other projects I’ve worked on, this is called a producer. I even had talent calling me as such. Tony Schiavone, somebody I greatly admire, gave me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received, “You’re full of shit, but you’re a hell of a producer.”

But I was warned that I shouldn’t refer to myself as producing or being a producer, because my boss hadn’t said that I was a producer. It didn’t matter that I was doing the work, or that said boss wasn’t in the room for 80% of the shoots, because he hadn’t decreed it, it wasn’t so.

They stopped shooting Control Center and Top 5 in our studio due to the pandemic so a lot of my work was eliminated. I was relegated to pretty much no AEW work, just videos that probably needed to be done so do them and we might put them out eventually. The last thing I edited to completion were the Librarian sketches. Admittedly I was demoralized and my work suffered from it, sending out edits that I was embarrassed by. I wanted to see if I could contribute in other ways so I tried to accompany a shooter on what I thought was a minor shoot (shooting footage of a debuting talent training) and was denied because they didn’t know if it was what the boss wanted. The boss accused me of “just wanting to be seen”.

For some reason, anytime I wanted to do anything they accused me of having some ulterior motive. When I put out my thank you tweet, they said I just wanted people to know that I work for AEW, which again, is laughable because the lead editor posted (and still posts) regularly about how they work for AEW or edited this or that, but one where I tried to show humility was seen as bragging. But I digress.

It started coming to a head for me around this time. My girlfriend and I had to move out of our apartment and into our new apartment on a specific date. It was bad timing. We were working from home at the time, so I requested 3 days off in total to move. A day to pack our stuff, moving day, and a day to unpack. These were the first days I had asked off all year except for the day before Thanksgiving to drive home. When the days off were approved, it was in an email that was done in a very shamey way, saying that my days off were mine to use as I please, but I should only need 1 day off to move and I was just being lazy by taking 3 days off and I should have chosen a weekend (I didn’t have this option).

When we returned to the office, they didn’t tell me that the person I shared an office had stayed home because he thought he had covid (he eventually tested positive). That night my girlfriend had also been informed that her supervisor had covid and she was having symptoms. So she had a doctor’s appointment and they said we should both quarantine for 10 days and get tested. I requested 7 days off from work to quarantine and texted “I can work from home, I don’t care.” They never sent any work but a coworker did check up on us intermittently.

The day I returned from quarantine they sent me home immediately, telling me to take another covid test, and when I got home they asked me to do a meeting which was between me, my boss and 2 coworkers for some reason for them to tell me that I didn’t offer hard enough to work from home during quarantine. See, I offered, but because I said “I’ll work from home, I don’t care.” it meant that I ACTUALLY didn’t care and that by staying home on doctors orders I was “just not wanting to work” and I didn’t HAVE to quarantine for 10 days because it wasn’t MY doctor who gave the order. Oh, and the coworker who called me was just trying to get me to offer to work from home again. The first time I offered wasn’t good enough, I guess?

They told me to “come up with a plan to keep my job” and they told me they wanted me to “impress them” by working 60 hours a week (for no extra pay) and also learn more skills relevant to the job but learn those outside of the 60 hours. He went on to chastise me again, in front of coworkers, for taking 3 days off to move. He then went on to brag that there were people who worked for him for years that he never gave a raise to because they only worked 40 hours a week, basically punishing people for having families and wanting lives outside of work. But he had given several raises to other coworkers that year because they would work until they were physically ill or would have a partner be mad at them for working so many hours. He said “Listen to me and you’ll make money.” Full disclosure: I was only working 36-38 hours a week at this point which was following the schedule I was given when I first started, which was 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch in between. I pointed out that when I still had the web shows, I worked 50-60 hours, and I was happy to put in the time if I had something to work on, but I wouldn’t do it just because they wanted me to, especially if they just wanted me to “find something to work on”.

So that was that, I decided it wasn’t worth it anymore and didn’t fight for my job.

You hear so much that AEW is a family atmosphere, but clearly that experience isn’t given to everyone.

And the people who work there just normalize this behavior. I would constantly reach out to friends, former bosses, etc. to ask “Is this normal?” because there were times that I believed that maybe I was the crazy one. Months after I was gone, I had casually made reference to a friend in the company about one of my coworkers leaving. He left before I did, so I figured it was old news by this point. Apparently it wasn’t and it caused some friction, so I got texts from 3 different people from a company I hadn’t been employed by in 2 months, STILL trying to control me by telling me not to talk to talent. And I actually got accused of being desperate to be “in” by a person who reminds social media constantly that they work for AEW.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I was the best employee ever or that I edited anything groundbreaking that I didn’t receive credit for. I definitely had flaws, like getting distracted and talking too much, or editing at a slower pace than the lead editor. And I’m not going to act like I only had negative experiences. I met some amazing people and had some great experiences along the way.