A new rumor is making the rounds on the pro wrestling dirt sheets emanating simultaneously from PWInsider and Wrestling Inc. It claims that WWE is cracking down on wrestlers "engaging with third parties," giving them less than thirty days to drop such engagement or face fines, suspension, or termination. The corroborating reports both claim that an email was sent to talent with the new proclamation and deadline. Wrestling Inc., which claims Vince McMahon himself sent the email, posted the following quote:
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.
Wrestling Inc. also says that WWE claimed to own "the real names" of talent in addition to their ring names, insisting that talent stop engaging with these "third parties" under either one. The whole thing, if true, is a big mess. Both sites report that talent are confused over what exactly the new edict encompasses. Cameo? Twitch? YouTube? It's also unclear how WWE could even enforce such exclusivity given their insistence on calling their talent "independent contractors" while treating them in every way that matters like full-time employees. Well, other than by providing health insurance and other benefits, of course.
While WWE has always been hard-assed about the names and gimmicks of their wrestlers, which is why they love to give outside stars new names they can own the trademark to, this seems like a case of potentially going too far. It's a bizarre way for WWE to attempt to control their "intellectual property," since, in this case, the intellectual property in question are living human beings. And now WWE allegedly wants to "own" them? Uh…
The use of social media is a tool for both promotion and, in many cases, for wrestlers to make extra money. In the pandemic era, when those kinds of opportunities are limited, it becomes even more important. PWInsider reports that talent are considering "pushing back," though to do that, they first have to figure out what the hell WWE is talking about.