Devon Nicholson, who wrestles as Hannibal, won a decisive out-of-the-ring victory over Abdullah the Butcher on Tuesday — in an Ottawa courtroom.
The Ontario Superior Court judge Giovanna Toscano Roccamo ruled that Abdullah — real name Lawrence Robert Shreve — gave Nicholson hepatitis C during a match in 2007, and owes $2.3 million in damages and fees.
Reached after the verdict, Nicholson was relieved and vindicated, though recognizes that Shreve can appeal the ruling during the next 30 days.
“For the past four years, I’ve been called a liar by Mr. Shreve publicly, and obviously that really bothers me, because not only did he lie about saying that he didn’t cut me, but he lied about not having hepatitis C, which he did have and it wasn’t really able to come out publicly until now,” Nicholson told SLAM! Wrestling. “I’m happy that everyone finally knows basically that what I was saying was true. That’s the biggest relief to me for this, because it’s been a long, long journey trying to get justice for this over the last four years.”
In that 2007 match, Shreve cut open Nicholson with a concealed razor blade, and both wrestlers bled during the out of the ring brawl.
Shreve, who lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area, and is originally from Windsor, Ontario, did not take the stand during the court case.
It’s been an onerous four-year process, said Nicholson, who went through experimental treatment and is cured of hepatitis C.
“I’m definitely not glad the hepatitis C thing happened because it really was an awful nightmare, and there were many points in the whole situation where I had very negative thoughts going through my head, but I did pull through it and I’m glad that I at least stopped Abdullah the Butcher from wrestling — because as far as I’m aware, he never wrestled again after these allegations went public,” said Nicholson. “I learned a lot about myself. I think I became a more humble person out of it all, and I’ve learned to use my brain more. I was always a big, athletic person, so when I was going through the treatments, and lost all my weight, and had no energy, I guess I realized what it’s like to have a handicap for the first time in my life. I think overall, I became a better person out of this ordeal — but I do not want to be known as the ‘hepatitis C wrestler’ for the rest of my life.”
The trial only lasted a week.
“I felt the trial was very thorough and it involved a lot of expert testimony. I believe that the judgment was made based on a review of the facts of the case,” said Nicholson.
“My main memories of Shreve are from the mediation that occurred in 2012, but I’m not allowed to discuss that, what happened during that mediation — but it was quite something,” said Nicholson. “But I did get to sit with him face to face during that mediation, which felt pretty good, to speak to him face to face and tell him how I felt.”
In 2012, Nicholson settled a lawsuit with World Wrestling Entertainment, having been released in 2009 from a promised three-year contract when the company learned about the hepatitis C diagnosis.
The 31-year-old Nicholson only just started wrestling again, working indies in Ontario and Quebec. He had plans for a Ring of Honor tryout and even another tryout with WWE in July.
“What I really hope is when people will talk about me in the future, they’ll know me as a wrestler,” concluded Nicholson. “I still have a lot of goals to accomplish. I am only 31. And you can wrestle until you’re 45, but I’m actually in pretty fantastic shape right now.”