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Standing Together: The Benefits of Unionizing Wrestlers

With WWE putting it out there that they want to take over WWE Superstars’ Twitch and Cameo accounts, let’s talk about it. Paige and Zelina Vega have been tweeting about an interest in unionizing wrestlers. Others have tried, but it has never been accomplished. 

Now look, I have to say that I come from a strong union family and a strong union state. So I’m probably a little biased, but I don’t blame wrestling for wanting to start unionizing their profession.

Control Of The Professional Wrestlers’ Lives

Think about how much WWE controls their superstars’ lives. I know some of you are saying, “now Sam, you are exaggerating too much.” Actually, I’m not. WWE calls them independent contractors. They make it clear they are not employees of the WWE. They probably should unionize wrestlers. Yet, they can tell the superstars what to do. Do you know that WWE Superstars have to ask if they can cut their hair?

Cutting Their Hair

Baron Corbin tells a story about how he wanted to change his style. He debuted as the Lone Wolf with his wet, greasy hair that came past his shoulders. In my opinion, it was gross and looked awful. Baron decided he wanted to shave it off. It took about four months for WWE to decide on whether or not he could do it. 

Others have talked about their hair and the decisions about it. The latest and famous one is, of course, Bayley when she turned heel. She turned heel with her long brown hair. She had to get permission to dye and cut it shorter. It took Vince, I believe Bayley said, about two weeks to decide and run it through legal. Finally, Bayley got permission to cut it and dye it.  

Permission for Tattoos

Do you know that WWE superstars have to get permission to get tattoos? WWE controls where they can get them, when they can get them and what images they can have done. The famous story is of Paige and Charlotte, who got their tattoos around the same time—perhaps within a couple of months of each other. They both have sayings on their sides. Neither of them asked for permission. Some outfits were made that both had already been wearing that did not cover those tattoos and Vince went crazy. Charlotte’s outfits now come down far enough to cover the tattoo.

Another one is Bayley who has the Egyptian symbol, Ra, on the back of her neck. If you don’t pay attention to it or don’t look close then you probably have never noticed it when she isn’t wrestling. All of her wrestling outfits are made with a collar that goes around her neck and covers that tattoo, so you don’t see it. Rhea Ripley was told no more tattoos above the waist. She was told that she could get as many as she wanted on her legs as long as she agreed to wear pants. So yes, WWE controls their hair and their tattoos. They control their names. They can change their names so that WWE owns their name rights for merchandise purposes. 

Taking Their Twitch and Cameo Profits

Now WWE want to take their performers’ Twitch and Cameo profits that they make during their free time. The wrestlers are not at work when they are doing these. They’re not going to the Performance Center or Full Sail, or to the Amway Center to go on Twitch or tape Cameo messages. They are at home. They are doing what they want, like playing video games or just talking to fans. 

However, WWE wants to take it over and then give them a percentage back of the profits. If that isn’t bad enough, it’s going to be taken out of their downside guarantee. If professional wrestling would start unionizing wrestlers then maybe it would help them. Now a lot of you might say, “Well, I don’t understand these downside guarantees.” Hey, that’s ok. You can always google ‘Braun Strowman downside guarantee’…

Downside Guarantees

What happened with Braun Strowman was that he hit the number of his guarantee early because of his popularity. Due to WWE not being on the road, there were no live show audiences or much merchandise sales therefore, Braun wasn’t getting paid much or sometimes at all. See, a wrestler signs for a guaranteed amount of money and once you hit that amount then you only get paid through bonuses or merchandise sales or other things you have negotiated. Or you aren’t getting paid. 

Now, a good reason to have a downside guarantee is in case you get hurt or WWE decides they don’t want to use you for a little while like they did Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. They got paid to stay home. Or like Rey Mysterio. He signed a new contract right before he tore his triceps, so he is still getting paid.

What Wrestlers Are Responsible For?

Right now, as independent contractors, WWE employees are responsible for their own rental cars, flights, hotel rooms, and food when traveling. WWE doesn’t take care of any of that for them. Actually, most American wrestling promotions don’t. That’s why on podcasts or interviews you can hear a lot of indie wrestlers talking about sleeping 4 or 5 to a hotel room to split the costs. Many WWE wrestlers share rooms and rental cars to save money also.

I think many fans believe that WWE Superstars are living the baller lifestyle and are millionaires. Some are, but most aren’t. Fans need to realize that a lot of NXT and low tier wrestlers may be making $60,000-80,000 a year. I know a lot of you are thinking, “Well, Sam that’s really good money.” Yes, it is, but think if you were paying for flights, rental cars, hotels, and your own wrestling gear. Anytime you see Charlotte in a brand new robe, then she paid for it. WWE didn’t. They don’t pay for their gear. 

Some superstars are making $150,000-300,000, but most are not making millions like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey money. So I don’t blame them for wanting to start unionizing wrestlers and actually get some benefits. I hope most of you realize that these wrestlers don’t have insurance unless they pay for it themselves if they can qualify for it. That’s why it was a huge deal for AEW to talk about offering it to their wrestlers. 

Should Wrestling Be Unionizing Wrestlers?

I feel like the wrestlers need and deserve to unionize for their benefit. What do you think? Write me below in the comments and let me know why or why you don’t agree.

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Written by Samantha Sayre

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