Always read a contract before signing one, even if it’s for an app on your phone. You never know, but the creators of that app may want your contact list, images, and other features on your phone, but you won’t know unless you read the fine print. We doubt the WWE wants transparency when it comes to their contracts in the public’s eye but due to WWE’s SEC Filings, legal proceedings, and other means, we can read through the mundane language and find out some really strange tidbits.
Before we get into the list, imagine you grew up as a fan of the WWE. You train to become a Superstar, make the sacrifices that come with that dream, work the indie circuit, and by the grace of the heavens, get a phone call to come audition for the WWE. You make the cut and now have a contract right in front of your face. Personally, we at The Sportster would sign the contract without even reading it, however, it’s always best to review the literature.
You may be shocked or surprised about what the WWE offers and more noticeably, what they don’t offer. The WWE has every right to put what they want in a contract, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to shine a light on it. Enjoy.
15 No Sense - Popularity Doesn't Matter When It Comes To Women
You can be the most popular wrestler in the world but that doesn’t determine what kind of bonus or perks you may receive. You would think there would be a tier based incentives in regards to merchandise sells but that just isn’t the case in the WWE. AJ Lee comes to mind when discussing this issue.
After leaving the company, she claimed her high sales in merchandise didn’t affect her bonus or perks in her favor. Also, a wrestler such as Charlotte is rumored to be making the most at 300K, which is insanely lower compared to what the men are making. Why? The answer is Vince McMahon. Everything is up to his sole discretion.
14 No Sense - WWE Has The Ability To Take Your Money From Independent Projects
Say what? That’s right, the WWE could take a percentage of a wrestler’s earnings if he or she chooses to participate in an independent project. The WWE wants their stars to transcend into pop culture so more eyes are on their product, however, they also have a clause in their contract that if any wrestler makes a certain around of money, they get a piece of the apple pie. The basic catch in the language of the contract explains a wrestler must reimburse the WWE for administrative costs.
An exception to this rule would be if the WWE’s costs aren’t less than 10% of payments earned by the wrestler. It’s incredible that the WWE has some control in their talent’s independent projects. We’ve also heard many stories about them telling wrestlers (CM Punk) not to pursue certain independent projects as well.
13 Get You Fired - Inappropriate Language Towards Fans
Although wrestling has a lot of adult content like fighting and titillating outfits women wear, they still are considered a family-friendly product. How the wrestlers interact with the fans is a huge component in the WWE. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Pay-Per-View or live event, if there’s 50,000 fans there or 500, the WWE cares about what the wrestlers say while performing.
One big example of saying the wrong thing is the story of Brad Maddox. No not his story about loving others, his story about how he got fired. There had to be other reasons why he was fired but the main reason was that he called the audience “cocky pr***s” during a promo. Maddox would be fired and wouldn’t become relevant again in the WWE Universe until his leaked tape came out.
12 No Sense - Must Pay For Their Own Wardrobe Props
All the flashy colors, outfits, and props in the WWE are bought by the talents themselves. You would think a billion dollar company would have enough cash to pay for their talent’s outfits and props but that just isn’t the case. We guess being frugal isn’t a major component on the business side of the WWE.
Xavier Wood’s Francesca Two, Dean Ambrose’s plant, and Chris Jericho’s list are all props that fans love, so imagine all the props that could have been but a wrestler was too broke or cheap to buy one. With their own movie studio, you would think the WWE would be able to give these wrestlers some free props. You know why Mick Foley kept the same Mr. Socko? It’s because he was too cheap to buy a new sock, true story.
11 No Sense - Winners Make More In Pre-Determined Matches
Remember that big guy named Ryback? He left the WWE a while ago and left a scathing message on Tumblr as to why. It reads, “How in a sport which is pre-determined from a company standpoint winners are paid so much more than the losers. The winners cannot win unless the losers go out there and agree to lose to them.” If you didn’t know wrestling was fixed, we’re sorry we have to be the ones to break it to you.
Whether you love Ryback or hate him, he makes a great point. If the match is pre-determined and the wrestler is supposed to lose the match, why is he or she still not receiving the same bonus or perk as their colleague? It does take two to tango.
10 Get You Fired - Breaking Kayfabe
The WWE is about entertainment. It’s a show and Vince McMahon takes this very seriously. Although kayfabe is pretty much dead, McMahon is old school and still cares about it. There have been several times a wrestler was punished or even fired for breaking kayfabe during a segment. If you can remember, Titus O’Neil was suspended for joking around with Mr. McMahon at the end of a segment on Raw.
He was fired but if we remember years ago, Paul London was basically released for cracking a smile during McMahon's death segment. London was supposed to keep a straight face as McMahon walked by him during the segment where McMahon gets blown up in a limousine. Caught for laughing, London would pack his bags and leave just for showing his own emotion.
9 No Sense - Pay For Your Own Lodging And Ground Travels
When a professional sports team travels to another location to play an opposing team, they have to stay in a hotel for a night or two. Do you think the players had to pay for the hotel, food, and everything else that comes with it? Do you think the players had to play for the flight or bus to travel to a destination? No, they don’t, and a lot of these players are multi-millionaires. When it comes to the WWE, as a wrestler, you have to pay for your own lodging and ground travel.
The WCW got a lot of things wrong but they also got a lot of things right, such as paying for hotel expenditures. Now, there are exceptions, such as airfare and tour buses outside the United States and Canada being covered. Also, if you’re a hot shot like Brock Lesnar, you can negotiate to have certain perks with lodging and traveling.
8 No Sense - Royalties With WWE Network
This is still one huge mess that makes no sense because the company is in uncharted waters. Former WWE Superstar, Rene Dupree, made a great argument and even filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that wrestlers haven’t been paid royalties for content being shown on the WWE Network. The WWE Network was created in 2014, but it still shows hours upon hours of content from the past.
Back in the day, it was easier for the company to pay royalties but with the complexities of streaming, royalties are in a whole new ball game. Dupree’s contract in 2003 specifically stated he would be paid for his likeness on technology not yet created, however, how the WWE pays royalties for the streaming service is still a mystery.
7 Get You Fired - Stealing Company Owned Material And Selling It
Stealing is just flat out wrong. It’s one of the oldest rules on the earth but that hasn’t stopped people from participating in the action every day. Do you remember Earl Hebner? He was an epic referee, still is, but he did a very stupid thing back in 2005. The WWE would announce that Hebner had stolen WWE merchandise and tried selling it from a store he partially owned in St. Louis.
It was an embarrassing situation and eventually, Earl’s ownership would be bought out. Not only would Earl would be fired but his twin brother Dave would be released a day later due to having a connection with the events. The moral of this story is, don’t steal, but If you do, make sure Vince McMahon can’t screw you in the end.
6 No Sense - Cannot Sue For Negligence
Time and time again, we have seen real injuries happen to wrestlers in the squared circle. As one of the most physical occupations in the universe, injuries are bound to happen in the WWE Universe. Say the injury wasn’t the fault of the wrestler. For hypothetical purposes, a stage crew member left an object out by the ring and somehow that object would be the cause of an injury. You would think the wrestler who was injured has the right to sue, but that just isn’t the case.
The WWE is off the hook with any injuries or negligence on their part. Negligence is a broad term and negligence can lead to a lot of nasty injuries. It’s complete nonsense that wrestlers can’t sue if the reason was negligence on someone else’s part in the company.
5 No Sense - Not Paid For Media Days
How many times have you seen a wrestler promote the WWE product on a show? Whether it’s radio, television, podcast, or some other form of media, the WWE does not pay you for media days. We’ve seen countless wrestlers on a show the morning before or after a show and we’ve wondered how much money they got for going on. They got a big "nothing-burger".
Triple H’s contract became public years ago and in its language, it states “Wrestlers agrees to cooperate and assist without any additional payment in the publicizing, advertising and promoting of scheduled events, including without limitation, appearing at and participating in a reasonable number of joint and/or separate press conferences, interviews, and other publicity or exploitation appearances or activities.”
4 Get You Fired - Talking With The Enemy
If you been following the news in the wrestling industry then you know that the WWE fired writer Jimmy Jacobs for taking a selfie with members of the Bullet Club outside a Raw show recently. Not only did he take the selfie but posted it on Twitter with the hashtags “BCInvasion and “bulletclub. Once the WWE found out, which wasn’t long, he was quickly axed for it.
We’re not defending Jacobs, when you're promoting the competition, then you deserve to be fired. That’s like you working at Puma but decide to tell everyone that Nike is better while on the job. He isn’t the only case, if you remember Highlander Robbie, he was caught at a GFW/TNA taping years ago and was seen on television. The WWE would fire him once they found out.
3 No Sense - Not Liable For Loss Of Life
When Owen Hart passed away in 1999 at “Over the Edge” it was a massive blow to the entire wrestling industry and community. Hart and his family were still screwed by Mr. McMahon for a few years and even though his death clearly could have been prevented with proper training, the WWE never had to official fess up that his death was on their hands.
Instead, the company gave Hart’s family $18 million years later after litigation. In the contract, under the bold text, the language says the WWE can’t be held liable for a wrestler’s death. If McMahon wanted you to have a wrestling match under water and you agree to it and drown, then he isn’t going to be in any trouble for it.
2 No Sense - Independent Contractors
John Cena is an independent wrestler. Let that sink in for a moment. Apparently, it’s easier for the WWE to fire and dictate the amount of money they give a talent if they’re listed as an independent contractor. Ever wonder why there is no union in wrestling? Well, because every wrestler is considered independent and no one can organize anything without being fired.
Just ask Governor Jesse Ventura, the guy has some crazy conspiracies but the one thing he was right about was trying to organize a union in the 1980s. He was interviewed by Howard Stern years ago and talked about the hypocrisy of the independent contractor loophole. Former wrestlers Raven, Kanyon, and Mike Sanders tried to sue the WWE for this exact language but failed.
1 Get You Fired - Not Going To Rehab
What does Umaga and Carlito Colon have in common? Both were released by the WWE for violating the WWE Wellness Program and not going to rehab. You can even add Kurt Angle's name to that list. Drug and alcohol abuse is a troubling aspect of the wrestling industry. Although there have been tremendous strides to clean up, we still get some horror stories about our favorite wrestlers being consumed by drugs.
Umaga passed away due to his addictions, fortunately, Carlito has not. It’s sad to think if Umaga did go to rehab and clean up his act, he could still be wrestling in front of thousands today. If Umaga isn’t a warning sign for future wrestlers, we have no idea what is. If the WWE is willing to pay for a wrestler’s rehab and they decline, we have no problems with them releasing that wrestler.