Yesterday’s report about WWE issuing “violations” to talent when they mention outside businesses, people, brands or charities on their Twitter or Instagram accounts brought back the debate about WWE’s Twitch ban.
Turns out that’s fitting, because it’s actually all the same debate.
WWE explained to Wrestling Observer:
“The new policy, which they say is not dissimilar to policies they have had for the past several months, is that talent is banned from monetizing their Twitter and Instagram by working with third parties. The company had already had this policy with Twitch, Cameo and other social media channels but had not specifically included Twitter and Instagram.”
An example Dave Meltzer & Bryan Alvarez discussed on Observer Radio is that posting a picture in front of a car or restaurant wouldn’t be a violation, but accepting money from the car maker or restaurant owner for doing so would be.
So if you thought telling independent contractors they can’t make money off non-wrestling related endorsements and partnerships before was bullshit, you probably think this is bullshit, too! If you’re of the opinion talent wouldn’t be getting those opportunities without the WWE marketing machine and the company is therefore entitled to a cut, this policy is easily defensible using the same logic.
My big question is whether Wrestling Inc’s report that charities are included is correct. I’m a union member and pro-labor myself, but I’m open to arguments the wrestling business isn’t conducive to organizing - and empathetic about why many wrestlers are reticent to take a stand to do so. But if they’d suspend, for example, Sami Zayn from raising money to provide medical treatment to people in Syria because it might take money away from Susan G. Komen or something, that’s a long ethical bridge to cross.
Meltzer’s story confirms that whatever action WWE will take is done under their position that “the contractual ownership of the likeness of its performers includes all social media accounts regardless of whether they are listed under their stage names or real names.”
We’ll see if there’s any response from the roster, on the record or off, to this new edict. Don’t be shocked if the rumors last week that locker room morale was low is the extent of it, though.