Contracts can be a tricky conundrum, just watch South Park’s “HUMANCENTiPAD” episode and you’ll get the drift, even if it is an outlandish comedy show. We doubt WWE wants the transparency when it comes to their contracts in the public’s eyem but due to WWE’s SEC Filings, legal proceedings, and other means, we can read through the boring language and come away with the pros and cons of a WWE contract.
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 comes 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 TheSportster 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.
We understand the WWE is all about what’s best for business, but we hope it doesn’t happen at the expense of a wrestler. You might love the WWE and after reading this, hate them with a passion, or you’ve been in the loop about certain issues in regards to the policy making at the WWE Headquarters and this only further cements your judgement of the company.
Here are 15 terrible aspects of a WWE Contract. Enjoy.
15 Experience Over Talent
With contract terms going public more so today than ever before, it's quite puzzling to understand how certain Superstars are making more than others, despite having such a limited role on television. To this very day, the likes of Kane, Big Show and Goldust seem to be out earning some of the WWE's biggest stars, which includes The New Day and Sami Zayn, just to name a few. Despite their obvious draw value, their terms don't seem to be rewarded because of an experience factor which the company takes a little bit too seriously. We certainly hope contract terms are changed in the future and those that deserve to be rewarded get compensated as such. This remains one of the most inconsistent and worst parts of a WWE contract. Hence the reason why forming a union has been stressed by a countless number of former WWE stars.
14 Bonuses Don't Matter In Terms Of Card Value
One of the strongest perks pertaining to a WWE contract is the bonus incentives, particularly with strong merchandise sales. Some former stars have taken some low salaries and transformed them into a more than healthy living. Unfortunately, despite merchandise sales and obvious popularity, the WWE really doesn't seem to care how well your merchandise does. AJ Lee was a strong example of this, as she made some bold statements after leaving the company, claiming her merchandise was one of the best sellers on the entire roster but the company some how still failed to acknowledge this by giving the women limited time on episodes of Raw. Since making the statement, things have changed for the better and the women's division is finally getting more time to show off their stuff. Superstars can only hope that the company starts taking merchandise sales more seriously and not just taking it as the writing of an additional check.
13 Event Payoffs Are Not Set in Stone
You would think wrestlers can negotiate how much money they can earn from Pay-Per-View perks but that’s not the case. Vince McMahon and the powers at be can pay the wrestler what they think is fair at their sole discretion. That means Dean Ambrose can work the last match of a Pay-Per-View and get paid less in perks to a wrestler Vince favors on the preliminary card. Chris Jericho speaks of this in his book, “Undisputed,” in which he complained to the company about being paid 1/5 of what Triple H received at WrestleMania X8.
12 A Heavy Work Schedule
Unless your Brock Lesnar, if you want to be a WWE Superstar, prepare to be on the road for most of the year. Between live events, special events, Pay-Per-Views, and WWE’s weekly television shows, the average wrestler spends over 300 days away from their family and friends. That’s only a total of 65 days off from work and it may get cut down due to traveling, media appearances, and other indie projects. With a brand split and exclusive rosters coming back to the WWE, we hope these wrestlers get a little more time off for all their hard work.
11 WWE Can Take Money From Independent Projects
The WWE wants their Superstars to go out and be successful in independent projects, but it’s not because they’re very nice. If a wrestler makes a movie, writes a book, or creates the next great app, that wrestler will be hearing from the WWE. If any wrestler makes a certain amount of money from an independent contract, the WWE will ask that wrestler to fork over some of their earnings. In the language, which is common for every contract, a wrestler must reimburse the WWE for administrative costs. The exception to the rule would be if WWE’s costs aren’t less than 10% of payments earned by the wrestler.
10 WWE Can Sell Merch After a Release
What’s the biggest f*** you an employer can do to an ex-employee? The answer is, still make money off their likeness. As fans, we’ve seen countless wrestlers come and go throughout the decades. There are countless reasons as to why they don’t stay with the company. They might not work well with a co-worker, they could do something stupid which would get them fired, or their contract expired and didn’t get re-signed. The WWE still has the rights to sell their likeness for the next 90 days. It’s covered under the Sell Off Period of the contract and is a standard piece of language for any wrestler who signs with the WWE.
9 Wrestlers Must Pay for Their Own Wardrobe and Props
Who doesn’t love New Day’s Francesca two or some of the fancy attires our favorite wrestlers wear? You would think the WWE would reimburse or pay for these props and wardrobes, but that’s not best for business. As a multi-million dollar company, WWE can pay for a prop or two for a wrestler or give them the right clothes for their gimmick, but that just isn’t the case. Each wrestler has to pay for their own wardrobes and props. No wonder Luke Harper wears a dirty t-shirt and jeans. Seriously, is it just us or does WWE seem too frugal?
8 Winners Make More Money in Pre-Determined Matches
WWE’s Ryback made some controversial statements in regards to his contract several days after his last match at Payback in May. He expressed his grievances about his situation in the WWE by posting a message on his Tumblr account. Ryback spoke of wrestlers earning more money winning a match compared to the loser. “How in a sport which is pre-determined from a company standpoint winners are paid so much more than the losers,” said Ryback in his post. “The winners cannot win unless the losers go out there and agree to lose to them.” Of course, the most popular wrestlers that bring in fans should get paid more, however, it’s a shame if one wrestler earns more than the other simply because someone booked that wrestler to win, even though he could be worse than the wrestler who lost.
7 Wrestlers Must Pay for Their Own Lodging and Travel Arrangements
When the WCW was at its peak, they would pay for hotel expenditures. Just as we covered with the wardrobes, the WWE does not cover lodging or travel arrangements other than airfare and tour buses outside the United States and Canada. A few wrestlers have created wiggle room with these terms. Both Brock Lesnar and Triple H have perks to their travel arrangements which include first class travel, however, the majority of the roster must pay for their own room and board and travel arrangements. Now we know why everyone wants to participate in the WWE Network show, Ride Along, because we know they won’t have to pay for renting a car.
6 Royalties and the WWE Network
Former WWE Superstar Rene Dupree filed a class-action lawsuit again the company this year, alleging that he and others haven’t been paid in royalties for content being shown on the WWE Network. Even though the WWE Network was created in 2014 and Dupree signed his contract in 2003, the language specifically states the WWE will pay for his likeness on technology not yet created. Dupree signed a contract in 2011 that prohibited from suing for reasons such as this, but how many other former and wrestlers still under contract haven’t seen royalties? We doubt the WWE has worked out a set plan when it comes to royalties and the WWE Network, so don’t be surprised if other wrestlers lose out on money as well.
5 Wrestlers Must Pay for Their Own Training
One of the greatest achievements the WWE has made this decade is the Performance Center located in Florida. It’s where the novices that the WWE signs and our favorite NXT wrestlers workout, train and practice their craft. However, if you’re on the main roster, you would have to find your own way to train, as well as pay for it out of your own pocket. There are no freebies in this company. This is the reason why John Cena always lifts weights while Seth Rollins does CrossFit. Each wrestler trains in their own way and they also must pay for their own nutritionists as well.
4 A Wrestler Cannot Sue WWE for Negligence or Injuries
Wrestling is one of the most physical occupations in the entire world. The amount of ways something can go wrong are endless. Every year, the injury bug hits the industry, especially the WWE. Not even a month ago, WWE was without John Cena, Seth Rollins, and Randy Orton. We’ve seen former wrestlers of the WWE go on to sue the company due to injuries they sustained. Last year, former employee’s Russ McCullough (Big Russ McCullough), Ryan Sakoda and Matt Wiese (Luther Reigns) sued the WWE. They alleged that the WWE knowingly put them in harm’s way, concealed medical evidence and, in doing so, received traumatic brain injuries. What kills their case, and they should’ve known this when they signed the contract, is that they take on full responsibility for all the injuries they sustained while working for the WWE.
3 3. WWE is Not Liable if a Wrestler Dies in the Ring
Even in death, you can get screwed by Mr. McMahon. A piece of the contract that is highlighted in bold states the company is not liable if the wrestler dies, even if there is negligence on their part. Hypothetically, Vince could tell you to climb Mount Everest in a speedo. If you don’t agree, he can fire you, if you do agree and become frozen to death, your family would have a hard time suing the company. We’ve learned that this language doesn’t always work. Owen Hart died performing at a PPV in 1999 when he fell from the rafters and landed in the ring. The litigation took a long time, but Hart’s family was rewarded $18 million for the tragedy.
2 Wrestlers Are Considered Independent Contractors
It’s a major reason why there is no wrestling union in the WWE or in the entire industry for that matter. Governor Jesse Ventura spoke of the hypocrisy when interviewed by radio host Howard Stern years ago, asking how wrestlers can be independent contractors if their contract makes them exclusively signed to the WWE? Other wrestlers have tried suing the WWE because of this language as well. They include Raven, Kaynon, and Mike Sanders, who alleged wrestlers should be treated like employees, but failed to win the case. So next time someone asks you who your favorite indie wrestler is, give them a curveball and say John Cena.
1 Wrestlers Aren't Paid for Media Days
We’ve seen many wrestlers promote the company outside the ring. It could be a radio show, a podcast, television appearances, or an interview for a publication. Did you know that these wrestlers aren’t paid for the hours that put in on media days? Triple H's contract was made public and in the language it states, “WRESTLER 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.” No wonder some of these wrestlers look like they don’t want to be at a media event.
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