It should come as no surprise that the top guys in WWE are treated a bit differently than everyone else. It should come as no surprise because the same is true of nearly every other business in the world. The most popular, the most productive, and the most valuable are always afforded a few special privileges. Now, most of the time, these privileges are obvious. They get more money, more opportunities, more vacation time, and more…well, more of most everything other employees want. Sometimes, the privileges they get to enjoy are not always spoken of out loud.
There are many such privileges in WWE. Actually, they’re more than privileges. They’re rules that the biggest stars in the company live by. The thing about these rules is that nobody in WWE is in a hurry to write them down or even make them public. Instead, they tend to reveal themselves through the actions of the company and the actions of those who live by them. Whether they’re official or not, there’s little doubt that they do in fact exist. No, it’s not fair, but then again nothing is. These are the 15 unfair rules that WWE has for their favorite wrestlers.
15. Some Wrestlers Get To Break In-Ring Rules
The extent of this privilege is up for debate, but it seems to exist in some form or another. Basically, there are certain things a wrestler can or can’t do in the ring. Certain moves like piledrivers are strictly forbidden while actions like “blading” must be approved by WWE well in advance. It’s quite possible that WWE works under a “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” policy, but it seems that the only wrestlers who ever even test the limits of the WWE’s rules are superstars.
Whether it be guys like Ric Flair and Bret Hart violating the “no blood” rules back in the day or John Cena and CM Punk pulling off the forbidden piledriver, there’s a long history of WWE stars getting away with this kind of thing.
14. They Get To Know Well In Advance When They’re Going to Be Fired
This is a bizarre perk that has only recently surfaced when some high-profile contracts were released. As you may know, WWE wrestlers are treated like independent contractors. They’re outside talent rather than traditional employees. This allows WWE to get away with denying them some benefits. However, there are a few unusual courtesies WWE extends to their top independent workers. For instance, it seems that some top WWE guys have it written into their contract that they must be notified in advance when they are to be released. How far in advance? Well, it varies from person to person, but a copy of Brock Lesnar’s contract seemed to reveal that he is to receive at least a six-month notice before WWE’s decision to terminate them.
13. Stars Travel In Style
A WWE wrestler’s life on the road is often stated as the reason that so many people who join the company get burnt out. The constant travel is probably a headache, but the real pain is the fact that WWE wrestlers are expected to pay all of their travel expenses. Needless to say, that can put a dent in even the most generous of salaries. Not every wrestler is held to the same travel standards, though.
As you probably know, some stars – John Cena being one of the most famous examples – get to travel around in a bus equipped with quite a few modern luxuries. Other veteran performers are allowed to book first class accommodations if they wish to and some even get rides in the WWE jet.
12. They Get a Bigger Chunk of Merchandise Money
Years ago, a manager for the Rolling Stones said that the band doesn’t really make that much money off touring. That is to say that they don’t get a huge cut of your ticket purchases. What they do get, though, is a very generous cut of the merchandise. WWE works similarly. Well…it does for some. The exact nature of WWE’s merchandise rules aren’t known, but it’s widely suspected that stars at least get a bigger piece of the merchandising pie. In some cases, they might be the only ones getting a portion of merchandise at all. For instance, only certain wrestlers are paid for the usage of their likenesses in the WWE 2K series. It was recently revealed that none of WWE’s cruiserweight stars are paid for their appearance.
11. Some Stars Are Immune to the Wellness Policy
WWE works off a kind of modified three-strike drug usage policy. Ideally, the third time you get caught violating the substance abuse policy is the time that you’re fired. However, a wrestler can be fired earlier if they commit a particularly flagrant violation. There are some stars that get a fourth chance, though. Randy Orton violated the Wellness Policy at least four times and WWE allowed one violation to basically expire in exchange for Orton going through some rehab programs.
That’s the most famous case of a star receiving special treatment, but it’s long been suspected that others like John Cena, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar may not be held to the same policies as others, if they’re even tested with the rest of the stars at all.
10. Big Names Get To Determine Who Can Do What Moves
Breaking the rules is a nice little perk, but it’s nothing compared to the ability to set the rules in the first place. There’s a long-standing pro wrestling tradition which states that wrestlers shouldn’t pull off a signature move of another performer before that wrestler has gone on. That just makes sense when you’re trying to book a variety show. However, there are some wrestlers that seem to be able to influence which moves are considered to be their signature abilities. For instance, remember that “Boo/Yay” punch thing made famous by The Rock and Hulk Hogan? Well, at some point it was decided that exchange is a signature move of John Cena. As such, he’s the only one that is allowed to pull it off. There are a number of “unwritten” similar rules that seem to exist.
9. Plenty of Opportunities for Bonuses
We covered merchandise already, but that’s far from the only way that WWE stars can make a little extra money off their work. Anyone who has ever worked a performance-based job is familiar with the basic concept of a bonus. If you sell more or accomplish more, then you get a little extra. There’s a similar system in WWE for the company’s stars. The funny thing is that the exact nature of bonus terms is very much up for debate. A star could theoretically receive a bonus for everything from attendance boots to a bump in TV ratings or WWE Network subscriber numbers. As you may have figured out,it’s a little hard to accurately attribute such things to the performance of a few individuals. Nevertheless, they get the extra.
8. Stars Get To Choose Who They Work With (From Wrestlers to Writers)
They say you don’t get to choose your family. Unless you’re the boss, you really don’t get to choose the people you work with either. That’s not quite the case in WWE. If you’re a top star in the company, you have a lot of say regarding who, exactly, you get to work with. As you might imagine, that includes your in-ring opponent. If you don’t like working with a certain guy, you can avoid it for as long as possible. What some fans don’t know is that this perk extends to out-of-ring personnel.
7. Some Wrestlers Choose Which Wrestlers Get Fired
Getting to choose your co-workers is great and all, but that’s hardly the only staffing decision that stars in WWE get to make. Theoretically, any wrestler can get another wrestler fired. They can report them for some kind of rules violation or something like that. However, it seems that only stars have the luxury of deciding the careers of other performers based largely on their own desires. John Cena and Randy Orton are two guys that are often associated with this. In their defense, they usually use it to remove dangerous workers like Mr. Kennedy.
Sometimes, however, it’s been suggested that wrestlers get fired or bumped down the ladder simply because they failed to abide by some arbitrary part of protocol. It’s hard to say how many careers were derailed because the right hand didn’t get shook.
6. They Choose When They Lose
It should first be noted that this perk doesn’t seem to be as common as it once was. Guys like Hulk Hogan were basically able to approve the final script for every show and ensure that everything was done to make them look as strong as possible. That said, there’s little doubt that this still exists in some form. The biggest difference between now and then may just be how stars use this luxury.
A guy like John Cena has always had a good mind for knowing when it’s more beneficial to everyone to win or lose. That isn’t to say there isn’t room for abuse, though. It’s long been said that someone like Brock Lesnar has a lot of sway regarding who he fights and how it goes.
5. Stars Don’t Have to Stick to the Script
Theoretically, any wrestler can go off script. All they have to do is say whatever they want on a live microphone. As you may imagine, though, that will likely lead to them getting fired. However, what happens if you’re a guy like The Undertaker, John Cena, or The Rock and you decide to just go out and say what you want? Recent history suggests that nothing of real consequence will happen.
The Rock is probably the most famous recent user of this perk. WWE most certainly didn’t tell him to call CM Punk during a show or make those comments about Lana backstage. The funny thing about this perk is that it used to be offered to most every star. Now, however, it’s a luxury afforded to only the biggest of names.
4. Certain Wrestlers Can Get Paid Time Off
Even though WWE wrestlers are contracted workers, they still get paid via a salary-like system. Most wrestlers expect to make a certain amount of money each year. That number can be higher based on performance incentives, but it can also be lower based on time missed. Yes, it’s possible for wrestlers to be docked pay if they miss too much time with injuries or other matters. While it’s not clear how this is worded in every contract, it is clear that not everyone is subject to this rule. Guys like John Cena still draw a full salary – plus perks – even though they only work a part-time schedule. So far as anyone can tell from the outside looking in, it seems WWE just chooses when they wish to enforce this rule.
3. The Unofficial WWE Retirement Plan
This is one of the most accepted and understandable perks in WWE, but it’s a perk nonetheless. As you may know, WWE doesn’t have an official retirement plan. That has been the rough basis of a recent class-action lawsuit involving many past WWE performers. What WWE does have, however, is a kind of corporate relocation system for preferred employees. See, some WWE employees are actually signed to a long-term contract. The exact length varies, but certain stars have been offered 20+ year deals in the past. The nature of this agreement essentially dictates that that employee can still work for the company in some capacity for that period of time if they wish to do so. Basically, stars have the option to be set-up for life.
2. Not Everyone Gets Fired For Taking Pictures With The Competition
You may have heard that a certain former wrestler turned WWE writer was fired for taking a photo with certain indie stars who were staging a “takeover” outside of Raw. Pretty much everyone agrees that the decision to fire that writer was in poor taste. That’s an even more popular opinion among those that realize this writer was far from the only person to do such a thing. Actually, not too long ago, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn appeared in a YouTube video featuring the same wrestlers that the writer got fired for taking a picture with. Meanwhile, guys like John Cena share photos of competing brands and wrestlers all the time. There’s a real double standard at play here that’s downright silly when you get down to it.
1. Some Stars Have to Give WWE A Cut of Everything
Hey, not every rule that WWE’s stars have to live by is necessarily a perk. When you sign a deal with WWE, you are signing a deal with the largest professional wrestling company in the world. It’s technically possible to make more money elsewhere, but it’s not easy and it’s not as safe. However, you are also accepting certain WWE standards which will cut into your bottom line. For instance, WWE controls certain rights to their stars as intellectual properties. What that means is they can get a cut out of many of the things that certain stars do outside of the ring. WWE’s logic is that these guys wouldn’t have gotten these opportunities were it not for the fame they acquired during their time in the company. John Cena and The Rock are two famous examples of this.
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