Several days ago, former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to social media and shared his thoughts about the new edict that’s being established in WWE, which was first reported by Wrestling Inc. that talent will have to stop using third parties (Twitch, Cameo etc.) within 30 days or face the potential of fines, suspensions or even termination.
Come on Vince – you’ve already deprived the folks breaking their backs for you of healthcare, security, recovery time, retirement benefits and fair treatment re: licenses and royalties. At least let them make a living off their own names. Many of them need it.
— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) September 5, 2020
Yang sat down with Chris Van Vliet for an exclusive interview to further discuss the topic at hand. Yang feels that it’s shameful and plain greedy that the WWE is worth billions of dollars and mistreats workers. He added that the affordability argument does not apply to the sports-entertainment company because of their investment and recent losses by way of the XFL.
“Well this story is dead real and I will say though that there are a lot of effective storylines that kind of melded reality with fiction, so to the extent that this ends up being part of a narrative, I’d be open to it because I think the fans know. The fans are smart. The fans understand what’s going on. It’s one reason why a lot of people support AEW is that they get this negative vibe from the WWE about the way the talent’s being treated and you can tell that… you can tell that has nothing to do with the bottom line anymore because the McMahons have made so much money. They have enough money where they’re investing in these football leagues and whatnot and then the XFL failed again. If you’re a wrestler, breaking your back and then the WWE is like, ‘Oh we can’t afford you, you’re fired.’ It’s like, ‘Well, you probably could have afforded me if you could afford to lose tens of millions on that debacle,’ and so the affordability argument does not apply to WWE in a way that it applies to every other firm. If you look at AEW, I have a feeling their economics are real. But the WWE does not have those constraints anymore because it’s a public company, the McMahons are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they spend it on all sorts of stuff.
And the company worth’s 3.3 billion and so if your company’s worth 3.3 billion and you’re mistreating workers, I mean that’s just shameful. Really it’s shameful. There was a point in the distant past where you could’ve made a legitimate argument based upon cost but now you can’t. Now it’s just plain f*cking greed… so we can all see it, fans know. So it’s one reason why a lot of people want there to be fair treatment of wrestlers and genuine competition in the market.”
Yang touched on WWE talents being classified as “independent contractors”. He rebutted against the argument that talents are the ones who signed the contract so they should be aware of what they signed off on. Yang feels that-that’s a reason why so many back All Elite Wrestling is so that they can create a competitive market so wrestlers don’t get exploited.
“Well one, I heard from a former who’s not happy about this particular clarification or this particular rule but the truth of it is that there’s a vastly uneven bargaining table at work where if you’re a performer and WWE says, ‘Hey, here’s this contract and we’re going to stick a bunch of things in it that you think are unfair, ridiculous and exploitative,’ at the end of the day you feel like you have no choice but to sign that deal because WWE holds the keys to the kingdom. They are the largest company, they’re the surest means to elevate your career and there hasn’t been a genuinely competitive market for years. It’s one reason why I, like many other fans naturally root for AEW to succeed and create a genuine competitive market so that wrestlers don’t get exploited. But the reality is that WWE is a quasi-monopoly and imagining that, ‘These wrestlers, oh, they know what they got into,’ it’s like, well, they really didn’t have a genuine chance to negotiate a bargain.”
At the beginning of the interview, Andrew Yang shared how he was first informed of WWE’s new edict. Yang mentioned that he has been on the side of MMA fighters who are involved in similar situations with Dana White and UFC. Yang reiterated that if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected to office this year, then he could be in position to change how WWE goes about treating their wrestlers in a contractual sense.
“I actually got a message from someone who’s a part of WWE, pointing out the story to me about how WWE was saying, ‘Hey, don’t go on Cameo or Twitch’ and it infuriated me because I know that the WWE has been trying to play it both ways for years where they’re saying, ‘Can’t do anything without our say-so. We own you, but you’re an independent contractor and we have nothing to do with your health, retirement, any of the benefits you get that would accrue to an employee.’ So to me, you have to make a choice at some point. If you’re gonna control all the aspects of a wrestler, performers waking life then you should take some responsibility too for that person. A bigger picture, maybe they have a kid, maybe they get maternity, paternity leave, maybe they get an off-season, maybe they get recovery time and I say this as someone who’s been a long time fan of the sport. I know you win, I may be in position to do something about it.”
Yang spoke highly of All Elite Wrestling during the interview and to get a recap of the 9/9 edition of Dynamite which featured the debut of Miro (Rusev), head over to POST Wrestling’s “podcasts” section.
If any of the quotes from this article are used, please credit Chris Van Vliet with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.