In the wake of a significant amount of attention being paid to an internal memo which leaked yesterday (Sept. 4), WWE today issued a statement clarifying their position with regards to wrestlers using services like Cameo and Twitch under their company-trademarked character names:
“Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E and Braun Strowman. It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved.”
It does make it easier to understand their stance; much more than the various reports we’ve seen in the last 24 hours did. Absent seeing the language of individual performers’ contracts, however, it’s hard to know what other questions to ask - let alone answer them.
While this does limit the discussion to “stage names” (after initial but since retracted reports indicated the company wanted to control legal names as well), it’s not clear if wrestlers streaming on outside platforms under their own names would be punished for discussing WWE storylines, or internal business, as AJ Styles often does on his gaming streams.
Even once those questions are answered, it will ultimately be up to individual performers to decide if the best-in-industry compensation WWE offers is worth the restrictions it places on them.