What’s real? What’s not? Not only is this a mystery in the ring (well, not really), but it’s an even bigger mystery behind the scenes. Over the years, the internet has run rampant with various storylines which have created several misconceptions on the life of a WWE wrestler behind the scenes, away from their on-screen gimmicks. This article will cover a variety of topics, from how much a wrestler really makes, to the traveling schedule, to life after pro wrestling. These are just a few of the things we will take a look at. One thing’s for sure and worth mentioning, the WWE product behind the scenes has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade. Bret Hart himself went on the record saying he was shocked with how professional everything was behind the scenes with Triple H and Stephanie in charge. Although fans are upset with the on-screen product, behind the scenes the company continues to grow in the right direction. Hopefully, this can carry over on television very soon! Here are 15 behind the scenes misconceptions fans have about a WWE Superstar. Enjoy!
15) Social Media Work
It’s no secret, the WWE has become a monster in the world of social media all over the world. Since taking up the position of Chief Branding Officer, Stephanie has thrived on promoting the company’s name on a larger scale. Now, with this being said, Stephanie is responsible for promoting the company as a whole and not each individual Superstar. Unlike what some fans believe, the wrestlers have their own responsibility to promote themselves on social media. The company encourages every wrestler to make an effort outside of the ring to PR themselves to the WWE Universe. So when you see a posting on Instagram or Twitter, it’s more than likely coming from the actual Superstar, and not the WWE or any type of social media person that works for the company. Social Media has become one of the company’s biggest priorities over the last 5 years. Watch a WWE telecast, you’ll be amazed at how many times the WWE mentions their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page during a 3 hour live show.
14) Merchandise Sales Matter
Financially, merchandise sales do make a difference. As stated in a WWE contract, bonuses are made in relation to how much merchandise a wrestler sells. With this being said, selling a lot of merchandise cannot propel you to the top, and we’ve seen numerous examples of this in the past. AJ Lee was the first female star to go public about this topic, claiming that despite having one of the best sales numbers in all of the company, the WWE did not boost her pay financially in comparison to a male Superstar, or give her extra on-screen time for that matter. AJ’s comments were actually met quite well by WWE officials, including Stephanie, who agreed with the statement. Since AJ’s departure the company has pushed the women’s division more so than ever. But, merchandise sales remain more of a bonus than anything.
13) Superstars Are Pushing for a Union
For the first time in a very long time, the topic of a wrestler’s union was brought up by Ryback. In his statement the WWE Superstar made a claim that all wrestlers should be paid the same for a sport that is pre-determined. Give credit to Ryback, as his statement is bold and does make sense; however to be honest, there are many more Superstars opposed to this than are actually on board. Since the company’s early beginnings, McMahon has kept the contracts the same labeling all of his employees as individual contractors. In addition, contract rewards are given in accordance to a wrestler’s card value and experience within the company. Knowing the WWE’s strict policies, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.
12) WWE Is At Fault For Injuries
Yes, the WWE does in fact pay for rehab, despite no union and treating its employees as independent contractors. This is why so many former WWE stars have a hard time figuring out the company’s contract policy, which does pay for rehabilitation. Although it compensates the wrestlers, contracts clearly state that the WWE is not at fault for injuries and that each wrestler is taking a risk when entering a ring. So suing the company is almost impossible unless a very rare case happens, like the Owen Hart incident, which saw his family get compensated with millions after defeating the WWE in court. Asides from that rare situation, you’re pretty much on your own if you suffer a serious injury.
11) Costumes and Props Are Made By The WWE
This is a big misconception wrestling fans have; the WWE is actually not responsible for costumes or props of a WWE Superstar. Each wrestler is responsible for their own gear, although the company does employe a tailor who modifies some of the wrestlers’ gear. As you might imagine, this can get very expensive for a Superstar, just ask Ric Flair who back in his NWA days, would wear a different thousand dollar suit each telecast (which was not paid by the company). The Nature Boy said he saw it as an investment to his character more than anything. Safe to say it was an investment well spent for the 16-time World Heavyweight Champion.
10) Experience Matters
Wrestling for years on the independent circuit does help more so today than ever before, but the company is still high on a Superstar’s look. Look at the current face of the company Roman Reigns, who had absolutely zero wrestling experience before singing his first deal with the company. John Cena is another example who had barely a year under his belt before joining OVW. As much as experience is important, the company stresses natural charisma and profitable look more so than anything else, still to this day. Whether that will ever change seems highly unlikely under Vince’s watch.
9) Wrestlers Make Millions
Superstars competing in the WWE are quite wealthy and make a good living, however only a select few manage to make millions per year. Experience also matters; a wrestler like Sheamus, who is working the under-card makes slightly over a million because of his time spent with the company. Some other top draws don’t make as much, though; take The New Day for example, who make a combined salary of $574,200. Mind blowing to think that Brock Lesnar makes $6 million despite working an extremely limited amount of dates per year. For the most part, the average wrestler makes around $300,000 per year.
8) Brutal Travel Schedule
To be clear, yes, the travel schedule is still pretty horrendous but it has gotten a lot better in the last couple years. The WWE normally books RAW and SmackDown nearby, allowing ground travel for the Superstars between shows, so flights are much less apparent than back in the day. The same goes for Live Events. The company normally books a show nearby as opposed to anywhere in the US, something which was more common years ago. Superstars are still on the road a minimum of 4 day a week (which is quite brutal), but the miles traveled have been reduced significantly over the years.
7) Superstars Don’t Have Creative Control
Although the WWE does have the final say, Superstars do have input when it comes to their gimmick. Most of the time, the company does listen to any special requests or recommendations a Superstar might have, especially when a wrestler is having a hard time with a gimmick. Take CM Punk, who was very involved with his character development during his time with the WWE. The Straight Edge Society was actually his idea and upbringing to the company. Eventually Punk left, because the WWE failed to listen to him creatively especially when it came to the WrestleMania main event where Punk requested to headline the show.
6) The WWE Finds Superstars Acting Roles Outside of the Company
No, the company does not go out of its way to find certain individuals acting gigs. The company does however book stars to appear on shows or events as promotional work for the company. It clearly states in a WWE contract that a wrestler is obliged to work whatever appearance the company has booked for them. As for acting or other gigs, Superstars are generally on their own. Wrestlers that are interested in acting find a talent agent to book them gigs or auditions. Before doing so however, they must get the WWE’s approved consent as the company is their main employer at the end of the day, as a WWE contract clearly states.
5) Appearances Determine How Much You Make
Just ask Brock Lesnar – appearances certainly do not determine how much you make. Draw value and experience are the biggest factors when it comes to salary. Early on, Superstars that work the most tend to make the least, while veterans like Big Show and draws like Lesnar, get the luxury of working less dates for more money. Just like any other job, you have to earn your stripes before making some serious money. Appearances certainly do not determine that, especially early on in a wrestler’s career.
4) Travel is Taken Care Of By The WWE
A big misconception amongst wrestling fans is how travel works with the WWE and its Superstars. The company does not (I repeat, does not) cover all travel accommodations. As a matter of fact, all the company covers is flights. All wrestlers are responsible for their own ground travelling as well as bookings of hotels. So basically once you’re off the plane, it’s up to you to find your own way around the city. Not as easy as you thought, is it?
3) Substance Abuse
Despite the perception of many fans, the company has actually done a tremendous job on implementing new policies pertaining to substance abuse. The environment and landscape of the company behind the scenes seems to be as good as it’s ever been. The company does random substance abuse testing on a regular basis, a policy they have taken very seriously in the last couple of years. Numerous Superstars have been suspended, including high profile names like Randy Orton. With every year that passes along, it seems like the company is becoming more professional.
2) Contract Details
Why are contract details never disclosed? The answer to this misconception is quite simple: the company has a clause in the contract to keep the agreement confidential. Since the early beginnings, the company has kept this clause in their contracts in order to keep the business on a down low and keep that behind the scenes. WCW did not take this approach during their time, and the company’s guaranteed contracts made wrestlers jump ship in the early 90s when it was made public. Eventually however, this strategy backfired and the company became a circus-like atmosphere that was losing millions per year.
1) Dark Life After Being a Pro Wrestler
This perception seems to stick nowadays; people generally believe that life after pro wrestling is dark and drug infused. This unfortunately was the case with many Superstars from the 90s, who used drugs quite regularly. Today however, things are changing, and wrestlers are not only drug-free, but also seem to have a head on their shoulders finding jobs in various field. The landscape is getting cleaned up slowly but surely, and wrestlers are more aware that backup plans are needed following their 15 seconds of fame.