To this day, the WWE does their very best to not leak information pertaining to the contracts of its talent. For years and years now, the company has had an obsession in keeping this aspect of the business behind closed doors, and far away from the public eye. Thanks to social media though, this aspect is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, as contract terms are now finally starting to leak out. Wrestler salaries are also becoming disclosed to the public.
With all this information it’s quite obvious that a WWE contract includes some obvious pros, as well as some serious cons. This article will take a look at some of the best parts, which include travel expenses and medical treatment; and the worst parts, which include ground travel and some performers making ridiculous amounts of money because of their experience and not based on their talent or card status with the company.
This article will go behind the scenes and discuss the good and the bad that comes with signing a deal with Vince’s empire. Here are seven of the best and seven of the worst things about a WWE contract. Enjoy!
14) Best: Bonuses, Bonuses and More Bonuses
What makes a WWE contract so unique is the fact that it is loaded with bonus potentials, ranging from performance rate to merchandise sales. In the past, this factor has made it almost impossible to track exactly how much a wrestler makes; not only is the base a factor but ultimately bonuses pile up increasing the wrestler’s yearly wages. Back in the WCW days, Hogan made most of his money off of merchandise and PPV sales. Now to be clear, those times have changed but a wrestler can still make a serious amount of extra cash with a good merchandise sales record. Take AJ Lee for example, during her run with the company Lee found it ridiculous what a low base she was making despite killing it in the bonus department for the selling of her merchandise. Selling merchandise is also another way for the company to determine how over a certain Superstar is, and this can also lead to a pay increase. Bonuses are a strong and beneficial aspect of a WWE contract.
13) Worst: Independent Contractors
This is a factor that still remains the biggest inconsistency in a WWE contract, and has bothered so many former WWE Superstars (many have actually tried to sue the company over this claim in a WWE contract). So basically, as an independent contractor you don’t get any benefits and are working “independently”. This is where things get confusing, because despite this term the WWE does actually pay for various benefits such as health insurance and air travel expenses, so the term is rather misleading. Countless Superstars in the past, from Jesse Ventura to Raven, have attempted to change this policy. Ventura went as far as trying to set up his own wrestler’s union, but this eventually caused his release from the company. Years later, the WWE still doesn’t seem to budge from this contract stipulation.
12) Best: Air Travel
As we just discussed, despite being regarded as independent contractors, the WWE does in fact provide some great benefits for its talent, which include air travel expenses. So the wrestlers do in fact have the luxury of flying back and forth with all the expenses paid for by the WWE. This is certainly a great part of being a WWE star, as despite all the travel, at least it is being paid for, not to mention going back home after your weekly schedule is up. Air travel is a huge expense the company pays for, although this is really all they take care of, as you will see in the next point.
11) Worst: Ground Travel
As great as it is to get your air travel expensed, the same can’t be said for ground travel and everything else that it entails. Once you’re off the plane, what so many wrestling fans don’t realize is that wrestlers are pretty much on their own. So, ground travel, hotel bookings and food is essentially all paid for by the Superstar, not the WWE. This factor seems to be forgotten, as only a select few have all expenses and accommodations paid for (like Brock Lesnar who seems to have hit the jackpot with all the terms in his lucrative deal with the company). This factor in a WWE contract just goes to show that the life of a WWE star isn’t as easy and glamorous as it seems, especially for the new talent that is just starting off with the company. Experience is huge when performing for the company on and off the screen.
10) Best: Medical Expenses
Along with travel, medical treatment is also expensed by the company. Rehab is also fully taken care of by the WWE. The company’s treatment of its injured stars is at an all time high, especially now with the Performance Center which includes softer mats for injured and inexperienced wrestlers, along with a fully stocked weight training room and an additional rehab room. This has helped so many wrestlers return rather quickly. Recently, Cesaro, Seth Rollins and John Cena were all able to return months in advance because of the tremendous treatment they received. This remains one of the top benefits of a WWE contract.
9) Worst: Not Responsible For Career Threatening Injuries
The WWE makes it very clear (in bold letters in its contract) that a wrestler cannot proceed to take legal action against the company in the result of a serious injury. The Superstar must agree to full responsibly of their own well being when stepping foot in a WWE ring. So basically, you are taking a risk every time you enter the ring. Countless wrestlers have tried to sue in the past, particularly over concussions, but still all these claims have been met to no avail. The only situation which got the WWE in hot water was the Owen Hart death, which saw the company give up $18 million for a wrongful death.
8) Best: The Performance Center
For a young Superstar, there is no better time than right now to be a wrestler for the WWE, particularly because of the unveiling of the groundbreaking Performance Center. For the first time ever, the company has created a state of the art facility that benefits its future stars like never before. The center contains numerous rings and mats, along with a brilliant gym facility. The Center also has offices and conference rooms. The center is certainly revolutionary and looks to only get better as the years go by. This is a huge luxury to use, especially for new and emerging stars trying to perfect their craft as best as possible.
7) Worst: WWE Owns Your Rights
How many times have we seen Vince McMahon tell a wrestler “I own you”? Well, it turns out that Vince wasn’t lying and he actually does own the rights to every wrestler he signs. According to a WWE contract, the company owns the rights to put your content up on the WWE Network, as well as on Raw and SmackDown. Creatively, the WWE also owns the rights to anything from your name, attire and which storylines you are involved in. So, if you’re a wrestler from the independent circuit, the company can choose to change your name and identity, something they would do often back in the day. Today the company is much more easy going, as you can see with the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe keeping their names and gimmicks similar to what they were on the independent scene.
6) Best: Booking Outside of The Company
A cool agreement made in a WWE contract is the right to get exposure elsewhere outside of the company. Of course, this must be done in consent of the WWE and is usually set up by the company. This can lead to some great opportunities and exposure outside of the wrestling business. Look at The Rock, who became one of the biggest global attractions in Hollywood today. All this came about because of the WWE’s proactive style in finding exposure for The Rock outside of the company on various programs, which included some stints on SNL, which landed Rocky some serious exposure. The company can seriously help turn their Superstars into a global attraction. With signed consent, of course!
5) Worst: Can Still Profit Off You Once You’re Gone
That’s right, following a release the company has 90 days to sell your merchandise. This is why you see crazy sales on items of released talent, as the company scrambles to try and sell as many units as possible at a cheap cost. The company has gone as low as $4.99 on shirts that were worth $40 (regular price). I can just imagine the headache the company endured when trying to get rid of all the Hogan merchandise they had following his return to WWE television during Tough Enough. Ouch.
4) Best: Release Policy
The last section of a WWE contract contains information about the dreaded release policy. Releases can go down in three different ways according to the section; one, the decision is made by a wrestler to leave, and this usually gives them a 90 day notice (in some cases like Cody Rhodes or Wade Barrett, the 90 days is cut down). Others like Brock Lesnar, must receive a six month notice before being released. The company also has a section dealing with odd cases like a wrestler death. Releases are usually handled with class by both parties.
3) Worst: Exclusivity Of A Contract
This contract term has resulted in many battles in the past, sometimes even leading to battles in court. Brock Lesnar has struggled with this issue many times before, as the company basically tries to lock you down when you’re under contract, prohibiting you from working elsewhere. Doing anything without WWE consent is a breach in contract according to the company. Everything must run by them first. Veteran wrestler CM Punk, didn’t really care, as he would often do podcasts without even asking the company for its consent. Today, the WWE is very strict with this telling its talent there are certain podcasts they cannot do, particularly for wrestlers that are outside of the company. At times, it seems like a steel cage match between a wrestler and the WWE on what you can do outside of the company.
2) Best: Contract Consistency and Confidentiality
One thing we must give credit to the WWE for is how remarkably consistent the contract terms have stayed over the last 25 years. The contract structure remains quite similar almost three decades later. In addition, Superstars love the confidentiality part of the deals. The company wants to keep this aspect behind closed doors away from the public eye. Unlike other pro sports leagues, don’t expect this to change anytime soon especially with Vince in charge.
1) Worst: Experience Over Talent
This factor really upsets a lot of wrestling fans. How the likes of Mark Henry, Kane and Big Show are out-earning Kevin Owens, The New Day and Sami Zayn, is absolutely unbelievable to think about. In fact, one of those wrestlers alone makes the combined salary of The New Day altogether…. ouch. We understand; yes, loyalty and experience are valuable commodities, but contract terms for Superstars that aren’t even on television is quite ridiculous, and is money that can certainly be put to better use. This remains a massive flaw in regards to a WWE contract.