We all have that one show or film that we love so much, we find ourselves in a situation where we can see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil about it. As a matter of fact, when you come across news or a rumor that someone is suing your all-time favorite show, the first thing that comes to your mind is “what is wrong with them?” Such is the beauty of fanaticism. No one can speak evil about your favorite show and live to tell a second tale about it – okay, we’re kidding, let them live, it’s never that serious!
Apparently there are a number of superstars who have, in the course of their lifetime, sued the WWE for all sorts of different reasons. Yes, we know you are probably wishing you had that metal chair to smack over their heads and perform a DDT on them.
Anyway, in showbiz, lawsuits are the order of the day. Someone is always unhappy about something, and someone is always getting short-changed in one way or the other. Read on as we give you a rundown of a number of superstars who went on to sue the WWE.
10. Charles Austin
Charles Austin sued the WWE in a suit that earned him $26.7 million. This was all part of a move that did not go according to plan. Austin was involved in a Rockers tag team match which was held at the USF Sun Dome in 1990. During this game, Marty Jannetty planned to play his signature move, the Rocker Dropper to finish off Austin, who was at that time playing alongside Lanny Poffo. Instead of lying flat on the mat, Austin tucked his head, and as a result ended up with a broken neck. He subsequently sued Shawn Michaels, Jannetty and Titan Sports.
9. Doug Somers
Douglas Dane Somerson, popularly known as Doug Somers, went to court to bar the company from using old footage of him in their shows, advertisements or any other affiliated events, unless the company was going to pay him royalties for it. This was similar to the case that had prevailed earlier in 1994 when Jesse Ventura sued the WWF for royalties. It is worth noting that Somers never really was a WWE employee, but since the company acquired an AWA tape from the library, they had gotten away with too much in terms of royalties, citing Linda and Vince McMahon.
8. Nicole Bass
Once a pro wrestling valet and former NPC body building champion, Nicole Bass filed a lawsuit against her former employers. The first time she filed a motion for relief, the case was pushed aside without the WWE even giving their response to it. Following such developments, she went on to push for justice through the US Court of Appeals. Bass was filing a suit against the company for sexual harassment. To be precise, she was seeking compensation for assault by Steve Lombardi, who allegedly assaulted her while on a flight to England. The case contained several inconsistencies on her part, with lots of people, including Triple H, coming out to testify against her.
7. Raven/Kanyon/Mike Sanders
The classification of employee categories is something that people take seriously. Apparently even wrestlers have an issue with the job group that they are placed in, and for obvious reasons, benefits are also very important to them. In 2009, Raven sued the company for labeling him and three other employees as independent contractors. This did not go down well with them because in this category, there were some important benefits that they were never going to get. One of these was health insurance. You can only imagine not being able to get your employer to take responsibility for damages incurred while working for them – and they never won that suit!
6. Billy Jack Haynes
When you are a professional wrestler, it is nearly impossible to avoid suffering at least some form on concussion throughout your career. This is more of an occupational hazard than anything else. To be precise, the suit Billy Jack Haynes filed against his employer accused them of not investing any effort into preventing concussions, and never taking time to teach the employees anything about them. Sadly, in spite of all this, the company benefitted greatly from the promotion of violence which lead to injuries like head trauma. He also faulted the company for the independent contractor tag on employees.
5. Larry Zbyszko
Popularly referred to as the Living Legend, this was all about a name tag. The Living Legend was a name tag that Zbyszko used on stage, and when the WWF used it on Chris Jericho he went to court, claiming that it infringed on his common law trademark. Being indifferent to the matter, the company never complied with his motive. As a matter of fact, the ever defiant Vince McMahon further referred to Chris Jericho as the Living Legend in a televised broadcast. This irked Larry, and he went on to file a lawsuit against the company. The outcome of his suit, was him joining the WWE Hall of Fame.
4. Jesse “The Body Governor” Ventura
Royalties; it seems a lot of wrestlers have a big challenge with royalties, especially after parting ways with their employers. It is either that, or the WWE is just big on reaping what it never sowed. One of the most notable things about this case was the fact that it set a precedence to be used by other wrestlers later on in their careers. Ventura was able to collect more than $800,000 from this suit. Other than that, upon the loss of this suit, the WWE proceeded to alter the nature of their contracts with wrestlers, without which the WWE that we know today might never have come to be.
3. Ricky Steamboat
Richard Blood is his real name, though you probably know him as Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. One of the most notable things about his lawsuit was that it dragged on and on for so long that it became a real bore. One would wonder why he was suing his employers anyway. Perhaps it was because he never won the title. Or maybe it was because of his Intercontinental Title loss to Honky Tonk Man. As had been the case back in 1994 with a lot of wrestlers, this was all about the VHS sales cash that be believed he was owed a part of.
Demolition was a wrestling tag team which was a hit between the 1980s and 1990s. They went on to become three-time Tag Team Champions for the then WWF. In the 1990s, Bill Eadie, one of the members of the group, sued the company for infringement of their rights. In his lawsuit, he claimed the company infringed on their rights to the use of the Demolition name tag. As luck would have it, this case was not going anywhere and he lost. Credible reports indicate that there is however a deal in place with Smash and Jakks Pacific to bring forth a Demolition Legends action figure.
One of the first ever WWE Divas, Sable was quite a spectacular figure in wrestling back in the day. She debuted on the scene as a valet for Triple H, and later on became quite a phenomenon both in and out of the ring. In 1999 she would file a $110 million lawsuit against the WWF, citing sexual harassment and most importantly working conditions which in her opinion were unsafe. Her suit came after she refused to go topless as had been instructed by her employers. Vince McMahon filed a counter suit while hers was still ongoing, for control over the name Sable, and they agreed to settle out of court.