John Oliver recently took WWE to task for their treatment of talent during a segment on his HBO show last month. Former WWE superstar Ryback has long discussed his issues with how the company treats their talent. Wrestling Inc. President Raj Giri recently appeared on Ryback’s podcast, Conversation with the Big Guy, to discuss the many issues right now.
WWE can add time to a wrestler’s contract if they are out of action due to injury. Luke Harper recently had six months added to his contract due to missing time for a wrist injury. Ryback noted that it happened with him as well.
“They did it with me,” Ryback stated. “When I was out for my groin injuries, it was 10 or 11 weeks and they just added it in at the end of the deal. Most times you won’t hear about it. If talent renegotiates their deal in between the end and when they are injured, they won’t do it. That was no shock that they did that because they routinely do that.
“It’s just disappointing when they do that to a performer. Whether or not they are going to leave him at home, which they are probably going to do. Because chances are once you speak out like that, that is what they were going to do. My best piece of advice (to Luke) is speaking out about the company, he would get released quickly if he did that.”
WWE is reportedly content in keeping Harper off the road and television.
“I would imagine this, he is just going to collect his downside. He isn’t going to get any Pay-Per-View pay or any extra,” Ryback stated. “They have done this routinely with guys, they did it with me. I tried to work out some issues with WWE. I was hurt, and I knew I was hurt. I was telling the doctors, but they just keep you going week to week. Trying to reach out because I wanted my contract to expire and I wanted to do other things. I was told by Mark Cerrano, ‘You don’t want to do that. We are going to job you out, pull you off the TV and then fire you.’ They do that to lower your value in the fan’s eyes first, they pull you off the TV, so people forget about you and then when they fire you, you look like you were not good enough in the fan’s eyes. They have done this time and time again. Probably with Harper, I wouldn’t be surprised if a week or two prior to his contract expiring, they fire him. Just to say they fired him.”
Ryback noted that some changes are needed for the talent in the company.
“There needs to be some sort of structure or system in place to protect the wrestlers,” said Ryback. “The health insurance thing is very important, so I can understand it. WWE covers you in the ring for your injuries. The moment your contract is up, they don’t cover your injuries. I see these legends and they are jacked up. People say, ‘they should have been better with their money.’ One, they never made nearly as much money as people think. Two, there is a pre-existing condition with a lot of insurances, even with great insurance they can choose not to cover it for any rhyme or reason.”
WWE has been criticized in the past for not providing health insurance for the wrestlers. Despite WWE gearing up to make record revenue with their new television deals, there appears to be nothing changing in regards to benefits for talent.
“It would affect their bottom line,” Ryback said. “The reason their bottom line is so good is their messed-up business practices. Stockholders, shareholders need to just get used to a new bottom line. The bottom line you have seen is from messed up business practices.
“That falls on Vince as a human being, that just goes to show what type of human being he is. Talent fuels everything. Like the whole Be A Star thing, talent did that for free for them to promote this good guy image, to protect their bully tactics on everything else. Once you’re there, we all know this. But that’s what is going on and it is hard to imagine this because they put WWE on a pedestal.”
Ryback does believe that things would change in the company if Vince McMahon stepped down and Triple H took over.
“Hunter is obsessed with the internet and what internet fans think of him,” Ryback said. “The sole reason he would do it is to look like a God compared to Vince. I don’t care why he does it, but that would be the reason why he does it. If he cared so much, he would have spoken up by now, he would have done it by now.”
With AEW set to debut, Ryback feels that WWE needs to act quickly to change.
“They better get on the ball, because AEW has an opportunity to do everything right,” Ryback explained. “Talent will run for the hills to get away from WWE if they do it right in AEW.”
You can listen to the full interview below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.