I bet all the other WWE mid-card stars were glad that JTG spoke up and became a martyr, so they didn't have too. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
Ten days ago, JTG's private frustrations over pay bubbled to the surface on Twitter, so fed up at being taken advantage of by WWE. The straws that broke the camel's back were a measly $2,000 payoff for all the WrestleMania week activities he was a part of and an unusually low $500 payoff for a recent house show in Brazil. His discontent has likely been brewing for quite some time, as WWE management has significantly cut the proportion of revenue from house shows paid to talent over the past year.
This was far from being an isolated case of unhappiness, as many of the boys shared JTG's feelings, but didn't have his balls to make them public. Indeed, Dave Meltzer reported in last week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter that when WWE's mid-card talent didn't receive record bonuses for the publicly touted record breaking WrestleMania 28, they started whispering about forming a union, which would be a nightmarish situation for the whole McMahon family:
One person told us there was serious union talk after the Mania payoffs but for a ton of reasons, I don't see wrestlers unionizing because the top guys aren't going to join in and the bottom guys aren't going to risk losing their job without another place to work for similar money in the business.... The only thing positive about timing, and this is something at least some talent discussed, is the Linda McMahon senate run, as if the wrestlers were in a fight with management over being unionized after the primary and before the general election, the publicity would hurt McMahon in a strong union state. But at the end of the day, I don't see the solidarity and there are far too many guys scared for their jobs to make waves.
Yeah, without the big guns on board like John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk, this would be impossible to pull off and they would be much more likely to stooge out the ringleaders to Vince McMahon than show solidarity. Just like Hulk Hogan did in the run up to WrestleMania II in 1986 with his then friend Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and who on earth thinks Cena is any less of a corporate kiss ass than Hogan was? So a wrestling union remains a pipe dream and it always will be.
But even though the risk of unionisation is so slim, it's a scary enough prospect for the McMahons to want to nip such talk savagely in the bud. Find out how WWE used the carrot and stick approach to do exactly that after the jump.
As Dave Meltzer discussed in this week's Observer there were two concessions to placate talent. The first was the announcement that there had been an error with the payoffs for WWE's debut in Brazil and that this would be rectified shortly:
Just days after last week's Observer came out, everyone who worked the Brazil show got a text message stating: "There was an accounting error on the Brazil checks that we have rectified. You will be receiving a new check asap...." The 5/24 show in Sao Paulo ... did 5,000 and $240,000. In the JTG story from last week it was noted that he got a $500 payoff for the show and they are used to significantly more as that's the kind of payoff you get for one of those Smackdown shows that does $100,000 or less.... This text coming almost immediately after the complaints were voiced seemed telling, and JTG became very popular among the undercard wrestlers because it was seen as a guy at the lowest rung who stood up to management and everyone on the show looks to be getting more money as a result.
The second was the holding of a backstage talent meeting before Raw to "prove" that they took the complaints seriously and also to take the opportunity to clear the air about how talent should behave on company approved social media accounts:
There was a one hour talent meeting before Raw but nothing happened of note. Nobody really spoke up after all the stuff that was said behind the scenes last week. Talent was told to just have common sense in all dealings, particularly not to do anything stupid as it relates to social media. They were outright told that any kind of xenophobic comments or racial remarks will not be tolerated and pushed that they are PG programming. The idea is that anything anyone says that wouldn't be in good taste to say to small children should not be said. They didn't use those words exactly but that was the message.
Keeping their mouths shut was a wise move, as WWE's true feelings on the matter were shown by the public pillorying JTG handled on Raw, so anyone who voiced dissent then and there would have ended up in the doghouse too.
Yes, the vicious beating by Ryback and the subsequent wisecrack by Michael Cole about his Twitter account, was designed to send a message to him and the whole locker room that such kvetching and whining on social media wouldn't be tolerated:
JTG got a very public reaction on Raw with not just the Ryback squash, but Vince, through Cole, mocking his tweets when it was over, as after he was squashed in stiff fashion, Cole made a remark about tweeting about that.
I doubt JTG will get fired like Brian "A. W." Jossie, as he's so popular with the boys at the moment, but he'll be stuck in his position as a jobber to the stars and consequently won't see his pay checks improve much anytime soon.