wrestling / News

WWE Tells Talent Not to Engage With ‘Third Party’ Platforms, Note on Talents Using Real Names

September 4, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Vince McMahon WWE Money, Chelsea Green Image Credit: WWE

UPDATE: Fightful Select has updated their report to note that “multiple people” have contacted them and stated that Vince McMahon did not claim that he owned their real names.

ORIGINAL: WWE is reportedly putting their foot down about talent working with outside platforms, telling them that they can no longer “engage” with them. Wrestling Inc reports that WWE held a talent call on Sunday regarding the “reinvention of the product” and that during the call it was pointed out that WWE owns the talents’ real names and not just their character names. That was followed up with an email sent to talent on Thursday, reported by both Wrestling Inc and PWInsider, in which Vince McMahon wrote that it was imperative that WWE promotes and protects its brand in every conceivable way. The email stated:

“Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company. It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days (by Friday October 2). Continued violations will result in fines, suspension, or termination at WWE’s discretion.”

The email’s vague wording has reportedly led to a lot of concern within the talent regarding what is or is not allowed, with some believing that it’s a tacit order to shut down their personal streaming channels such as Twitch, YouTube, as well as services like Cameo.com. Talent have gone to using these platforms in order to connect with fans and earn extra money through the various platforms’ monetization systems. Talent told PWInsider that they are using the streams to make money during the pandemic as a way to offset revenue loss caused by WWE halting their live events, which has led to a loss of bonuses and merchandise royalties. While several of these talents are not big names being merchanised by the company, there are some like AJ Styles who are. There is a sentiment that WWE is hurting their ability to make outside money at a time when they aren’t making the kind of money they used to directly through WWE.

In addition, Fightful has confirmed the story and noted that many on the main roster had not heard the news and only glanced over the letter, while others are extremely angry about the situation. The site notes that one top name wasn’t upset and noted that Cameo cuts into the virtual meet and greet market, while another said that WWE is putting itself potentially in a difficult situation due to its infamous classification of talent as “independent contractors.”

There is the possibility that WWE is wanting such streaming ventures to go through the company so that they can control them, PWInsider notes that there is currently no word on whether WWE is looking to expand into such ventures. There has been a lot of discussion within WWE about talents pushing back against the edict if they are required to shut down their personal streaming channels, though there’s no word on whether that will actually happen. Talent simply doesn’t have any clear indication of what is and is not allowed.

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Twitch, WWE, Jeremy Thomas