Vince McMahon’s recent edict to crack down on WWE wrestlers’ third party deals with services like Cameo or Twitch did not sit well with former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He’s just one of many people criticizing WWE over this decision.
In the above video, Yang spoke with Chris Van Vliet about WWE exploiting their wrestlers by classifying them as independent contractors, yet still trying to control everything they do outside of a WWE ring:
“It infuriated me because I know that the WWE has been trying to play it both ways for years. They’re saying on one hand, ‘Can’t do anything without our say so, we own you. But you’re an independent contractor, and we have nothing to do with your health, retirement, any of the benefits you’d get that would accrue to an employee.’
So to me, you have to make a choice at some point. If you’re gonna control all these aspects of a wrestler or performer’s waking life, then you should take some responsibility too for that person, bigger picture...They’re putting their lives on the line, or their health on the line, their family life on the line, all the time. They made Vince a billionaire, and then the fact that he’s still being so heavy-handed about their ability to make a simple buck on Cameo just struck me as so absurd, and ridiculous, and wrong...It’s past time that someone calls Vince out for this, particularly because if Joe [Biden] and Kamala [Harris] win, I may be in position to do something about it.”
Yang also isn’t here for WWE’s claim that they are managing their intellectual property the same way that Disney or Warner Bros. does:
“Disney doesn’t own Emma Watson. It’s not like Emma Watson shows up some place and Disney’s like, ‘Can’t sign those autographs.’ If they want to compare themselves, they should really rethink their values. In large part because, if you do look at someone like Emma Watson or Disney or Warner, guess what, they’re members of the Screen Actors Guild and they have tons of benefits. If you want to go that direction, Vince, then you’d have to completely change how you treat your workers...If you want to control their name and likeness, guess what, then they should be part of a union or professional association, they should have benefits up to their eyeballs, and then you can have a conversation with them about some of their activities.”
Finally, Yang calls out WWE for their greed:
“You can tell it has nothing to do with the bottom line anymore, because the McMahons have made so much money. They have enough money where they’re like investing in these football leagues and whatnot. The XFL failed again. So if you’re a wrestler breaking your back, and then the WWE is like, ‘Oh we can’t afford you, you’re fired.’ It’s like, ‘Well, you probably could’ve afforded me if you could afford to lose tens of millions on that debacle.’ The affordability argument does not apply to the WWE in a way that it applies to every other firm.”
“The company is worth $3.3 billion. If your company is worth $3.3 billion and you’re mistreating workers, I mean that’s just shameful. Really it’s shameful. There was a point in the distant past where you could have made a legitimate argument based upon cost, but now you can’t. Now it’s just plain fucking greed. We can all see it. Fans know. It’s one reason why a lot of people want there to be fair treatment of wrestlers and genuine competition in the market.”
What do you think of Yang’s arguments? Do you think he actually has a chance to elevate this conversation into the national spotlight at some point down the line?