The biggest and most recognized wrestling company in the world, by a considerable margin, it is safe to say that the WWE has more people looking at their product than any other company in the industry. That doesn’t mean that many of their viewers understand much of what goes on behind the scenes which inform the shows that we watch each week. That is what motivated us to put this list together, to educate the unaware of what seems to be happening backstage at most WWE shows.
When putting together this list we set out to inform our readers of some agreed upon facts about the goings on in WWE. Don’t worry, we won’t be including anything that is incredibly obvious, like the fact that wrestling is predetermined (gasp) but keep in mind when reading this that people’s knowledge bases are different. As a result, some readers may think that some of the things we list are common knowledge but let us tell you that not every wrestling fan follows the industry closely enough to have any idea what is happening. We’ve never actually been able to make our way behind the curtain ourselves, so we’ll be depending on accounts of those who have to populate this list. Additionally, where possible, we put a premium on facts that have been confirmed by many former WWE employees.
15 15. It’s A Tough Life
Becoming a WWE superstar is the dream of almost every indie wrestler and loads and loads of fans that never end up getting off their couch, but how many of them realize how hard the grind actually is. Wrestling multiple times every week of the year, aside from the occasional request for time off that some believe is a risky career move, you may have the money to buy a home but you’ll barely be there. Expected to show up at work if you’re ill, unless it is severe enough that it is clearly impossible, if you want to work for the WWE you might as well become used to the idea of sickness not mattering.
14 14. Championships Matter
Over the last several years there have been wrestlers like Road Dogg Jesse James, that have claimed that wins and losses don’t matter. A way of saying that since everyone knows wrestling is fake when a wrestler loses pivotal matches it doesn’t change the way fans see them, any actual fan would likely tell you it’s wrong. That said, we suspect that there are very few people in the business who would say that winning and losing championships don’t matter(except Vince Russo who thinks of them as props), especially when it comes to the first title win.
13 13. Pre-taped Audio Is Cooked
With Smackdown going live, the WWE doesn’t broadcast as many pre-taped shows as they used to but for those of you who watch Main Event or are longstanding fans, your ears have been deceived. What do we mean? Have you ever noticed that some wrestlers that get mixed to bad responses from the crowd on RAW suddenly come out to a much better response? There’s a reason for that. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you hear a lot of cheers or boos from the crowd but when you actually look at the people in the stands they don’t seem to be reacting? There’s a reason for that.
12 12. Most Wrestlers Aren’t Rich
Don’t get us wrong, the WWE’s top stars, like John Cena, Brock Lesnar or the former members of The Shield, take home healthy pay cheques but Heath Slater isn’t rolling in the money. We have never gotten our grubby hands on a real-life WWE contract and they are never going to willingly reveal this highly private information but there have been a number of leaks over the years. According to such reports, there are several WWE performers (especially among the women) that we see every week that are only guaranteed around $75,000 a year.
11 11. Commentators Tightly Controlled
Turns out, there is a pretty good reason that men like Michael Cole and JBL sometimes sound so incredibly unnatural and forced. Those headsets they’re wearing are far from decorative as Vince McMahon is usually screaming directions at them throughout the entire show. When we are forced to listen to the stilted and clearly forced laughter of grown men reacting to the latest incident of sophomoric humor, keep in mind they have a man in his seventies yelling at them to laugh harder. When they suddenly put on their serious announcer's voice and act like they’ve just seen something truly horrific, somebody is forcing their hand.
10 10. Wrestlers Get Held Back
For years and years, many people who represent the WWE, whether it be champs like John Cena, execs like Stephanie and Triple H or Vince himself, have claimed that they listen to their fans. What that is supposed to mean is that each week when fans cheer and boo, on top of the feedback the company gets online, it is supposed to help them decide who their stars will be. Sometimes that is true but a lot of the time it isn’t at all.
9 9. Ref’s Roles
Have you ever been watching wrestling with someone who isn’t a fan and they remarked how useless the ref must be, working a fake match. First off, wrestling isn’t fake it is predetermined. Secondly, wrestling refs have a whole lot of responsibility that aren’t immediately obvious. That is why all WWE referees wear earpieces these days, as they are constantly receiving information from the back. Used to inform the men and women who are working in the ring if they need to wrap up soon or stretch things out for whatever reason, the men in white and black are an instrument of communication.
8 8. Injuries All Too Real
The biggest skill a wrestler needs to become good at in order to enjoy a lengthy career is learning how to properly “take a bump”. That means they must perfect the ability to have moves performed upon them and be hurt as little as possible by it. Additionally, they need to become great at pretending like they’ve just suffered a terrible blow. So, it stands to reason that when we see a wrestler writhing in pain on the mat that he is just putting it on right? Maybe that isn’t as true as you think.
7 7. The Politics
So, you’ve done the impossible and been given your dream job as a wrestler in the WWE. You’ve just hit the easy street, right? Wrong. All you have to do is go into the ring and put on matches that get the crowd and more importantly your bosses to believe that you have what it takes to be a star right? We’re afraid things aren’t quite that simple. Turns out that almost everything you do can be used against you by anyone who happens to have the respect of Vinnie Mac.
6 6. Vince’s Quirks
If you’re a wrestling fan and you haven’t figured out that Vince McMahon is either a total weirdo or a robot from the future that had his programming corrupted, you haven’t been paying attention. Even still, the sheer quantity of the idiosyncrasies this man manages to live with is absolutely mind-boggling.
5 5. Main Eventers Wield Power
It should be clear to everyone with a passing interest in wrestling that the WWE lives under the thumb of Vince McMahon and that everything we see each week has been approved by him at some point. He’s not the only WWE power broker, though, as men like Kevin Dunn, long time WWE director and executive of television productions wields a lot of power. That is just one example of a WWE higher up other than Vince that has a huge effect on the company. The group that probably gets the least credit for the power they hold in the WWE is its main eventers.
4 4. Shaking Hands Imperative
We already covered Vince McMahon’s quirks but if that isn’t enough for you to deal with, the boys in the locker room have a number of rules that you must abide by. Chief among them is the extremely serious rule of shaking hands when you arrive at each location the WWE hits. Such an important act in the industry that WWE.com actually published an article titled “The art of the handshake: Wrestling’s most important unwritten rule”, not doing it can ruin you.
3 3. Heavily Scripted Promos
Ever wonder why almost all of the promos we hear today sound so generic and similar? That is because the majority of the words were written out, word for word, memorized and recited for the camera. A way of doing things that mostly started during the 2000s, prior to that, wrestlers were given talking points they were expected to hit and were expected to go out there and entertain. A system that seeks to limit the risks of a live microphone as much as possible, a lot of followers rightfully blame the practice for the lack of passion we often hear in promos today.
2 2. Wrestler’s Court
So, you’re a wrestler employed by the WWE and you get the honor of dressing in the locker room amongst the industry’s biggest stars, every day. What could be better right? Well, you’d better stay on your toes because if you rest on your laurels and offend someone, especially if they are a veteran or are more respected than you, you’re bound to be called in front of wrestler’s court.
1 1. Real Backstage Fights
The wrestling business is built on fighting. Pretend fighting in the ring. Pretend fighting in the back. Fighting verbally, otherwise known as arguing, all of these fights are put on for our benefits. There is another type of fighting the industry has been built on over the years that we never get to see, the real incidents in which wrestlers fight one another in the back.
If you’ve ever had a job in a professional environment, you’ll likely know that not everyone gets along. If you let your irritation get to you and got into a fist fight with the person in the next cubicle over, you’d probably be shown the door permanently. In the WWE however, that choice can be the very thing that makes your career progress to the next level. That is because Vince McMahon is a boss unlike any other and only respects people under his employ that refuse to be walked over. The best example we can think of is the result of the fight between Booker T. and Batista. An incident that came to a head after Big Dave made comments about the Smackdown roster; Booker took exception and from all accounts handily won the exchange. Afterwards, Booker suddenly won his first and only WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Trust us, that is just one example. In short, real fights happen backstage at WWE events and sometimes they have more effect than the choreographed ones we see.
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