A 2015 tweet from AJ Lee directed at Stephanie McMahon was mentioned during Wrestling Observer Radio. There were actually a couple messages concerning women’s wages in WWE. Dave Meltzer said Vince McMahon sat Stephanie McMahon down and told her that she had to let this one go because WWE can’t come off looking like a bad guy anymore.
It was also mentioned how WWE Superstars only make 8% of the house on live events and if that number is accurate it doesn’t amount to an awful lot split up among the workers on a show.
The idea was mentioned how WWE Superstars could very well use this moment where the company is making so much on television as an opportunity to finally unionize or at least hold up Vince McMahon with some serious and understandable demands.
“Could they [unionize]? The one good thing is that before I always thought that before you know the only way to do it would be before a really big show and WrestleMania, you’d have to go right before WrestleMania because the pressure would be on and go, ‘we’re not going to do WrestleMania’ because WrestleMania is such a big part of company income for a year. They could go, ‘we’re not going to do WrestleMania unless we get our road expenses, we get cost of living, we get paid on a percentage of the tv money as opposed to a percentage of the house show money.'”
“On the day of WrestleMania faced down like that WWE will probably have to — you know because WrestleMania is so important — to not have a WrestleMania [they would agree to the Superstars]. But of course, the flipside of this is all these wrestlers want their WrestleMania payoffs and they live for it so nobody would do it.”
Dave Meltzer mentioned how with this new climate of big dollars thanks to television contracts WWE Superstars have more leverage than they ever did before because every week is a big money situation for WWE now more than ever.
“Now it’s a very different thing because now you can do it any time of the year,” Meltzer continued as he analyzed the current situation with these new television contracts. It was noted WWE Superstars love their jobs and are living a dream but they could be worth way more than they’re actually taking home.
Every other professional sport where their athletes are paid on huge contracts with great benefits also went through a time when their athletes weren’t being paid nearly enough compared to their actual value. But they proved their worth to the organization and through unionizing it helped accomplish a much better situation for them.
It was noted how WWE still operates on the old idea of living “hand to mouth” where companies lived or died on each new town and the promo someone cut to bring a good crowd to a house show. With television contracts like this in play, WWE Superstars could have a real opportunity to make their case for increased personal value as well and it might end up paying off big if they did.
“It’s a different Vince,” Meltzer explained. “The old Vince, would he want to stomp them out and say ‘screw you’ and hire scabs or whatever — all of those things would be possible. This Vince at this stage, do you want the world to go: ‘Oh my god, you’re underpaying these guys!’ That’s not good publicity and they’re all into public relations at this point. That’s the business is public relations.”
“If these guys were to go on strike — and they’re not going to, but if they were and they said ‘we want our road expenses paid and we want our medical paid because we get hurt all the time. Number 1, the public would be behind them I believe because I think the public respects wrestlers more than they did in the past. Before they were just a bunch of fake atheletes. Now I think they realize there’s a special skill to this business.” It was noted with the public behind them it could very well work.
Of course, WWE can always hire indie guys to fill the spots left by the striking Superstars, “but how many weeks do you think until Fox is going to go, ‘settle this thing, Vince! We’re paying you $400 million a week for guys with lousey bodies that no one’s ever heard of that nobody wants to see.’ I mean they’re going to tell [Vince] to settle in two weeks flat maybe three at the most. The wrestlers have a lot more leverage than they think,” Meltzer concluded.
Therefore you never know if this new massive television deal could wind up helping the WWE Superstars after all. Although it might not be easy to rally the entire roster especially those with an old-school mindset, it could end up paying off in a big way for these Superstars who have created a value and irreplaceable aspect to their very identity which WWE relies on so heavily on a weekly basis. If anything, WWE doesn’t need the black eye from a public relations standpoint.