Aussie WWE star at centre of 'body-shaming' controversy

Australian wrestler Peyton Royce has hit back at a renowned journalist over sexist and degrading comments.

Wrestling Observer Newsletter reporter Dave Meltzer has been forced to apologise for recent comments on the Sydney-born star’s appearance.

Royce and compatriot Billie Ray recently made their debut on Smackdown – one of the WWE’s flagship shows – after completing their apprenticeship in the lower-level show NXT.

In a radio discussion with co-host Bryan Alvarez, Meltzer suggested Royce looked ‘more attractive’ when she was ‘lighter’.

“I think Peyton Royce’s transformation to look more attractive … I don’t know, I don’t want to say. But I don’t think that …,” Meltzer began.

That they were more attractive in NXT?” Alvarez asked.

“I thought so, yes. To me, yes. I would say so. But that’s neither here nor there,” Meltzer answered.

“But she doesn’t stand out to me … when she was in NXT she did … she was a lot lighter.”

Alvarez made sure to justify the comments: “No one’s saying she’s unattractive, by the way, everybody.”

Royce was far from impressed by the comments, taking to Twitter with a furious response.

“So what would you have me do Dave … starve myself? This is how nightmares for young women start. The females in your life must be proud.”

And many of Royce’s colleagues backed her up, including Kay and WWE broadcaster Renee Young.

Meltzer then made a grovelling apology after the backlash.

“I’d like to apologise to you,” he wrote to Royce. “You are an exceedingly attractive woman. I do realise the lengths and pressures on women in the entertainment world to maintain unnatural looks at times and am glad you pointed this out.”

The 25-year-old received a tryout with WWE during their tour of Australia in August 2014, before signing in 2015.

After three years in NXT, Royce and Kay (dubbed The IIconics) debuted on SmackDown in April, defeating Asuka and Becky Lynch in their first match on the main roster.