WWE limiting its superstars on 3rd party services.
You know those classic fairytales, where the man is working for the evil corporation that determines its every move, and the man works himself to the bone, only for the evil boss to not see him, and ultimately one mistake sees to that he is fired. In a world where everyone has social media, everyone reads whats going on, everyone has a camera and can become a journalist in a hot second. WWE seems determined to be that corporation, with the picture perfect evil rich dickhead at the helm.
I have followed and enjoyed WWE programming since 2005. at one point even crafted my own WWE and world heavyweight championships out of cardboard and an old gymbag. I was a fan. 15 years ago however. i focused on the activity in the ring, didn’t care that the outcomes were predetermined, because that doesn’t take away from the story i’m being told in the ring. However many years later, with an older, less naive, and perhaps a hint more cynical head on my shoulders, i have stopped watching WWE, and hardly keep up, i get the cliffnotes on occassion from providers such as Wrestletalk. but i don’t go out of my way to consume the product beyond that.
For 2 reasons. 1, they way they produce a show these days doesn’t and can’t hit home with me. And let me explain as best as i can how it works to my understanding.
You have a pool of writers, that come from different entities, that may understand narrative, that may have bachelors degrees in writing good story. But they don’t understand wrestling, but will just write around that. These people have the least grateful and second hardest job in the company beyond the wrestling. as they have to write and produce about 8 hours of Live content every week. Their audience however isn’t the one at home watching. Its the rich 75 year old owner of the company that is going to be barking orders at everyone on any given monday, wednesday, friday and PPV night. Thats the only audience they have to please. And that audience, wants drama, it wants comedy, poo humour, it wants the wrestlers to read scripts verbatim, and beyond that doesn’t give a fuck because they have the money to do what they want with this machine they have built, whose whims determine whether you are given a shot, or fired at any given point. Also a great friend of that cartoon character that was voted into power about 4 years ago.
That rich bastards idea of wrestling, is not my taste of wrestling anymore. I like people to use their personality rather than someone else’s idea of their personality. I like the thought of them wrestling, not so much the thought of them speaking, while that comes into it too as a convention, but thats the part that gets most attention in WWE. They have established this thing where they want to be soap opera with car crashes. But its written on a week to week basis, rather than thought out and crafted well in advance, which makes it see through, it makes for a non authentic television experience to what this sport /brand of entertainment has been built on for more than 70 years. that doesn’t appeal to me, the average consumer with the income and normally the interest that their demo would appeal to.
Thats the first reason. The second reason, and what really sparked the inspiration to write this, is the politics and methods by which the company is a whole is run. First part of that, and the most vital part to this:
WWE Wrestlers are not employees. They are independent contractors, which according to US laws, means that they are exempt from benefits like health insurance, pensions, dental. All the standard things that a normal employee gets by law, they don’t get that, they are responsible for everything that doesn’t happen in the ring. and in a company the size of WWE’s with several billions to their name and profitable years that keep going upward, this is unacceptable.
Being an independent contractor, also means that by the same US laws, you and the company you work for are conducting business together for mutual benefit. You get to use their platform to build your brand, and they get to use your services to keep their machine going. HOWEVER, as an independent contractor, you also have leniency in terms of your schedule, when you work, what you do, and crucially, as an independent contractor, you can walk out on your deal and conduct business elsewhere.
That is, so long as you don’t work with WWE. WWE deals entail exclusivity, they micromanage your every move, what you say, what you do in the ring, where you do appearances, what you say on social media, and the latest addition, what platforms you spend your spare-time. Ultimately with the independent contractor status though, these contracts are flawed from the first sentence below the logo on the paper its written. But you, the lowly wrestler that signed the deal, you want to walk out because you and the company you work with aren’t mutually benefitting on your success. what are you going to do? Leave the massive worldwide conglomerate with their legal department that could sue you for every penny on grounds they logically shouldn’t have according to the procedure you are hired on, and still win, whether in the boardroom or in the legal costs they project you to. Meanwhile you as a performer has also been putting your body through car crashes on a weekly basis, at times 3-4 times per week for this company, you are worse for wear, you might not be in physical condition to work at 50, no shape to play with kids or grandkids. And you don’t have the health insurance through the company to help cover the expenses for getting you back in shape, so money flies out the window at surgeries, painkillers and ultimately, you doing your job for this company can worst case get you addicted to painkillers, broken down physically, and ruined financially. Thats of course if things like CTE, concussions, cardiac arrests, blood clots, or botched spots don’t get to you first.
So this most recent whim from McMahon, that WWE talent is not allowed to spend their time on platforms like Twitch and Cameo, earning money directly by themselves while having fun that doesn’t involve them throwing themselves at the ground. Lets dive into that with all the context i just provided.
WWE put out a statement on this, saying that they are looking to establish partnerships with these platforms that ultimately would earn them more than the talent could on their own, directly with the platform. This is corporate speak for “Hey we want in on this money too, we will get a bigger amount than you, and disperse it out in a way so you earn a little while we earn a lot on your likeness” And another way for WWE to micromanage what the talent says and does in all ventures of the online sphere.
To which i say, why can’t the talent have any venue anywhere to show their own personality, why can’t independent contractors be independent contractors, and make or break their own career on the talent that got their services hired in the first place, and why can’t the company World Wrestling Entertainment be the best example in the world, of Wrestling. The action in the ring that they spend too much time overproducing and promoting, but ultimately don’t focus on in the end.
I felt like putting that out.