There were some people in WWE management that were very unhappy when the news got out about ROH signing a deal with Figures Toy Company to release a Kevin Steen action figure. As you could imagine, they are not thrilled with a non-WWE company being the first to release an action figure on someone who is under a WWE contract and one of the hottest new stars in the company. The other issue is that the look and character of Kevin Steen is basically the same as Kevin Owens.
The pressure is now on Paul “Triple H” Levesque and his department to make sure that something like this does not happen again. Also, there is pressure to get guys that have the potential to some day be big stars into the NXT system and signed to merchandising deals before they go to another company with national TV exposure like ROH or TNA.
There are several independent names that have signed merchandise deals with Figures Toy Company. Those deals are said to be for five-year. The Wrestling Observer newsletter reports that Kevin Steen (Owens) is one of those names so Figures Toy Company has the right to market Kevin Steen merchandise so essentially they would be able to take advantage of his exposure in WWE as one of their top stars. From my understanding, Figures Toy Company does not plan on releasing more Kevin Steen merchandise after the first run is out of stock so WWE may have averted a problem here. Also, Figures Toy Company does not have major distribution and most of their merchandise is being sold through their website. I don’t know if WWE realizes this or perhaps they are taking steps now in case Figures Toy Company strikes a big distribution deal in stores.
According to the Observer, the doctrine now is to get the word out to talent that names from ROH and TNA will not be signed to the main roster so basically, if you are a talent looking to eventually get to WWE then you should not sign with TNA (this is something that most top guys already know) and ROH (this is new). It was noted by a source in WWE that all of this came down because of the Figures Toy Company and Destination America deals getting announced around the same time and WWE had no knowledge of those deals before they were announced. Of course, there will always be exceptions to every rule and the doctrine may not apply to NXT since WWE might be interested in some of the TNA talents whose contracts will be expiring soon.
Due to the Figures Toy Company deal, WWE is trying to keep talent with potential away from ROH. Also, the feeling is that ROH and NXT are competing for the same customer base since NXT is now being treated as its own brand rather than a developmental territory.
In addition to all of this, word broke early on Wednesday on the Wrestling Observer website that there is a potential deal between WWE and WWN Live (EVOLVE and Shine wrestling’s parent company) with NXT. While Dave Meltzer did not say this, the belief is that the potential deal with EVOLVE and WWE would involve EVOLVE signing talents to exclusive deals that would include licensing and merchandising and when WWE came calling then WWE would not have to deal with existing deals like the ROH-Figures Toy Company deal. Basically, they don’t want to allow another company to market wrestlers that are on WWE TV. Part of the reason that WWE generally doesn’t want guys using their real names is because they want to be able to own the character and prevent talent from using their WWE character when they are gone from the company. Dwayne Johnson was not able to use “The Rock” name for a few years after he and Vince McMahon had a falling out in 2004. I believe a deal was worked out years later for WWE and Johnson to both have rights to the name.
Meltzer noted that no deal between WWN Live and WWE had been signed as of Wednesday morning.
WWN Live owner Gabe Sapolsky sent out a cryptic tweet that was later deleted that strongly hinted at the possible WWE deal. He also sent another tweet that could indicate that this deal may include WWN’s women’s promotion SHINE Wrestling. This could be huge for the women’s roster in WWE especially with Triple H wanting to put more focus on women that can wrestle.
Gabe EVOLVE SHINE
— Gabe Sapolsky (@BookItGabe) June 10, 2015