Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The WWE Wrestlers Union Will It Ever Happen?
One of spin-offs out of the C.M Punk interview and Vince McMahon interview is this idea of a union in pro wrestling. It may seem like a new topic but it really is a topic that dates back to the 80’s and Jessie Ventura. In the 80’s Ventura attempted to start a union but Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan killed it. Therefore, this isn’t really a new topic. It has just been brought to light again based on all Punk had to say in terms of the business of the WWE and health and medical issues for talent like Punk.
WWE has coined this term of independent contractor for their wrestling talents. How really independent are they though let’s face it they really are not independent. It also is a way to be without the responsibility for caring for their wrestlers medical expenses. They control what talent is able to do and not do which also flies in the face of being independent contractors. Any performer that leaves the company is not a free agent so to speak unless they sacrifice money owed to them.
No one of rational thinking can deny the need for a union in pro wrestling as the talent is in bad need of it. Not even in terms of financial concerns but more to what the core of why unions were formed in the first place. To protect the job security and health of these employees that creates the revenue that drives this company. The WWE doesn’t have a product without their talent.
The sad reality is the same rational thinking people hold out little hope of this ever happening. It becomes to hard to get these group of individuals that are competing for real estate and cash within the WWE to come together and be united for the cause. The pay differences make it very difficult to imagine it happening. It would take the top stars and the top star in John Cena being a part of any such attempt. What exactly would be the motivation for a Cena to do so? He is disliked by a large portion of the audience for being a corporate puppet. It seems hard to imagine this happening in any degree.
If there was some public out cry from outside interests to create such a union in the company. That seems highly unlikely when you consider that wrestlers were literally dropping dead at an alarming rate in the 90’s. This came with little public out cry in society as a whole. Even the circus that became the tragic situation involving Chris Benoit taking his own life and his family did not really have a significant impact on wrestling. It did bring to light the idea of concussions being a serious issue in pro wrestling in the aftermath. In light of the C.M Punk interview, you question really how much progress was made in that regard. Is it more of a case of a public relations move that really a lack any real teeth to it. Much like Punk suggested about the WWE’s wellness policy as relates to drug use and steroids.
WWE lives in a magical bubble that they are not held to same standards as professional sports. Vince McMahon reminded us all in case we forgot he doesn’t even consider the product he produces as pro wrestling it is one of the other terms he coined sports entertainment. It is treated in a different light and sadly, as much as fans love it the society we live in does not treat pro wrestling with the respect it has earned.
Despite WWE’s efforts to become this corporate empire wrestling still is not judged in the light that even the UFC is by society. You only need to look at the T.V deal in which the WWE claimed they were hoping to double or even triple their rights fees falling far short of that. Keep in mind the NBA recently signed a 25 billion dollar T.V deal. Even lesser sports like MLS soccer and NASCAR have signed much more significant T.V deals. Add in how TNA had to go on a network that many had never heard of until signing with them with a deal for far less than they had with Spike-TV. Destination America was to say the least it is not the most ideal destination for them. Wrestling is unfortunately not treated the same as over live event programming that is in high demand in the television industry right now.
Advertising is also something that has always been a challenge to get the same type of advertisers that you can see in pro sports and even in comparison to UFC.
This is all evidence that wrestling operates in its own strange world in which Vince McMahon for more or less holds a monopoly on the wrestling business. It is not say companies like TNA, ROH, and NJPW are not ways for wrestlers to earn a decent living. WWE is just on a different level in terms of money you can earn and exposure you are given that can not be matched.
It is unfortunate this is the harsh reality of things in terms of wrestling. I don’t consider myself someone who is a pro union person but I recognize the glaring need for one in this unique world that is pro wrestling. I value the performers that take real risks for my entertainment and enjoyment. I am at the end of the day a supporter of them and want what is for lack of a better term what is best for the boys (and girls) that bring the product to life.
For people that truly love wrestling there has been many things to reflect on in light of the podcasts that have dominated the wrestling news in recent days. It makes you consider all aspects of wrestling moving forward into for its future.
WWE once had a faction called The Union but will the real thing ever exist in WWE? It seems highly unlikely even though the need for one is evident.