Earlier this year, Stephanie McMahon sleepwalked into controversy by thanking Patricia Arquette via Twitter for having the courage to fight for wage equality and equal rights for American women during her Oscar acceptance speech:
As you should recall, disgruntled WWE Diva A.J. Lee was quick to point out Stephanie's hypocrisy, noting how WWE's female performers still receive a fraction of the wages and screen time of the majority of their male peers, despite having a proven track record of being merchandise sellers and ratings draws in their own right when used correctly.
The reaction, once A.J. had gone on her merry way and WWE had got all their ducks in a row, was to call up the athletic and talented Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks from NXT to spearhead a Divas Revolution where the women would get more time to ply their trade in the squared circle. Naturally, Stephanie McMahon, despite being a heel, took the onscreen credit for the innovation. The results so far have been mixed. Although there has been a general uptick in match quality, a botched finish between Charlotte and Naomi was viewed internally as a disaster and Nikki Bella vs. Sasha Banks couldn't hold fan attention in the penultimate segment on this week's Monday Night Raw, as the Minneapolis crowd by that point were desperate to see their hometown hero Brock Lesnar. Thus, the aspirations of the new Divas like Charlotte to one day headline WrestleMania still seem like nothing more than a pipe dream.
In NXT, the same cannot be said, as Bayley vs. Sasha Banks will co-main event NXT Takeover: Brooklyn on Saturday night, which has already sold out the Barclays Center arena (set up for 13,400 fans). For Bayley, who has yet to be called up to WWE, it's clearly the biggest match of her seven year career. For those wanting to know more about how she got there, I would recommend checking out my friend Joey O'Doherty's career retrospective column at the excellent VoicesOfWrestling.com. I expect Bayley to hit the ball out of the park with her performance on the show, so surely she can expect a financial bonus for her efforts?
Sadly, this is unlikely. In this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reported that talent under standard developmental contracts, which would surely include Bayley, are not bonused when they work house shows outside of Florida which draw much bigger than usual grosses. Unless that policy changes, the only performers that will see a slice of the expected $700,000 Brooklyn gate would be Kevin Owens and Sasha Banks, who are now both presumably under main roster contracts. The rationale for this protocol is that the NXT brand and WWE Performance Center are currently big money losers without paying the talent a percentage of the gate too, and that the developmental wrestlers are already being paid to learn their craft.
Although I understand the need for fiscal responsibility, it would be a sham to bill Bayley and Sasha Banks as "co main-eventers" if they don't receive main event level pay. On the surface, Bayley will likely be paid less than not just Kevin Owens, but also Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, as they are believed to be on a much bigger downside guarantees than her, and Jushin Liger, who would be expected to be given a nice payoff for his WWE debut. That would clearly be unfair and makes the McMahon family once again look like they are only big supporters of wage equality when it doesn't come out of their own back pockets.