WWE to Take Over Its Stars Twitch Accounts in Four Weeks
Professional wrestling is an exciting business, and more than just this writer had dreams of joining the scene in some capacity. However, the WWE comes with its share of cruxes and negatives. One of these being, that while you’re technically an independent contractor, you can’t take bookings outside of the WWE. As part of this rule, it’s been revealed that the WWE will be taking over its stars’ Twitch accounts in four weeks. AJ Styles and others will still be able to stream there, but at what cost?
At What Cost, Freedom?
From what we’ve seen, the wrestlers will get a percentage of the proceeds from the stream. All WWE superstars have until today (Friday, Oct. 2nd) to sever all unauthorized business relationships. What does that include? In particular, sites like Cameo, where the wrestlers could do personalized shoutouts for their fans at a premium rate.
This news initially broke back in September, when the organization made it clear that all WWE wrestlers could not engage in outside sources of revenue – Twitch, Cameo, YouTube, et cetera. Anything that they were doing that wasn’t a part of the WWE, it wasn’t going to fly. Shortly thereafter, it was “clarified” that the talent could use their own names on these platforms, but would still have to make these channels known.
Now the WWE is just going to flat take control over their stars’ Twitch accounts. To what end, though? The reason many wrestlers have sought out these outside sources of income has two major aspects: the first, to make more money for people who are not likely getting paid what they’re worth. It’s also a terrific way to build a fanbase and interact with people who watch your exploits on TV every week. It’s honestly a win-win for all parties involved.
Of course, the wrestlers who continue to stream will receive a portion of the proceeds from the stream. But this will count against their downside guarantee. In wrestling, the “downside guarantee” is the money the wrestler makes, regardless of what happens in the world. Regardless of being on TV, being a champion, or in this case, the coronavirus pandemic.
You also have to consider that for most of the WWE wrestlers, they still have to pay for travel, lodging, et cetera. Only the biggest names get that sort of thing taken care of. If they’re injured, in many cases we imagine, they’ll have to take care of that sort of thing on their own. If a wrestler has to fly, the fed covers it, but other than that? You’re on your own. While their downside guarantee might sound really great from the outset, you also have to consider they’re not employees. Taxes are handled differently as an independent contractor. That money gets eaten up very fast.
To us, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be worth it, financially speaking to stream when this edict really goes through. Unless the talent can find another way to take donations that the WWE won’t notice – but we have a feeling there will be someone from the fed lurking, watching for impropriety. It seems like a distasful thing to do to people who, in a very real, literal sense, break their backs to make someone else a living.
Do Short Term Gains Outweigh the Long Term Costs?
This sort of decision is not common across the board, though. Tony Khan, owner of All Elite Wrestling has gone on record saying that he’s absolutely fine with his stars outsourcing extra revenue (such as Twitch and Cameo). That probably means as long as they aren’t leaking company information or something like that. This news has gotten all the way to Capitol Hill. Andrew Yang, who was formerly a Democratic Presidential campaign has gone on record to criticize this sort of edict.
In fact, Yang said in an interview with Chris Van Vliet that this move from Vince McMahon is “pure f***ing greed”. Yang has been very open about how he feels some of Vince’s decisions have been disgraceful in terms of proper treatment of his talent that work so hard for him. He also recently spoke to Wrestling Inc. about the situation:
“A lot of it is that wrestlers are afraid to speak out, and I’ve had wrestlers past and present reach out to me and say that Vince has been getting away with exploitation of wrestlers calling them independent contractors while controlling their activities for years and years,” Yang said. “A lot of it is just that they are a quasi-monopoly, and wrestlers fear that if they do try and unionize or organize in any way that Vince doesn’t like, that it will never work again.”
To give you an idea of how ridiculous this situation is, the WWE has also tried to say they own the real-life names of the wrestlers that work under them, to try and control just about everything possible. This taking of Twitch accounts on the WWE’s part is just going to drive a further wedge between the McMahon family and their wrestlers. After all, contracts run out eventually, and there are other places they can go.
There are also talks of fines, suspensions, and firings if the wrestlers don’t toe the line as well! Do you watch any WWE wrestlers Twitch accounts? Would you still watch if the WWE took over and tried to sterilize and change the streams out of loyalty, or is that a bridge too far? Feel free to let us know what you think about it!