Richard Borger runs Face 2 Face Wrestling Academy in Atlanta which is one of the best training facilities in the country. He talked about having to shut down the school amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Well I do international business so I knew it was coming back in January. I was already prepped for it and I had announced that we were gonna stop running house shows a month ahead of time. I believe when we were doing the Barbados show, I made the announcement back then," said Borger.
"People were telling me I was stupid and didn't know what I was talking about. But in hindsight, people are going, 'Maybe we shouldn't have said that.' It's an instant shutdown and nobody is gonna open up except of course WWE. But as far as independents, I honestly don't project anything until 2021."
Borger has advocated for years for wrestlers to unionize and he was asked if the wrestlers could do a better job of creating representation for themselves.
"I'm about to piss a lot of people off but over the last year I've been in the process of working with a couple of attorneys as far as starting a union. We've been throwing some ideas around and I think right now is the perfect time to do it. You have so many people out there who are basically free and not gonna go anywhere. So, I think a unionization for pro wrestlers is the way to go and I think it protects them across the board," stated Borger.
"You're not gonna see insurances like everyone keeps thinking. But if you get great representation together then you can at least streamline pay across the board and put protects in there to keep guys like WWE from being able to cut guys, and that's just it. There's nothing a worker can do to WWE as WWE controls everything in the industry."
In accordance with WWE controlling everything, Borger brought up when Zack Ryder created great internet content and how WWE bought it up and then buried it. In regards to Ryder and others recently being released, Borger said that most guys don't take care of themselves into the future.
"These guys a year ago were looking at WWE throwing insane money at them, doubling up their contracts or even more. In the past years, the saying was 'Just take the money.' Look at Gallows and Anderson for example, but now everyone is out of a job. Now, they've taken the money and can you really feel sorry for the fact these guys are making $6, $7, $800,000 a year? They're gonna get paid for the next 90 days but realistically from a business standpoint, they're not hurting to bad.
"We're looking at probably the end of the year so they'll still be out there. The only thing we're having now is over-saturation of the market with these guys. Now with ROH, Impact, New Japan and so forth know that WWE is not gonna pick them back up at that amount of money, their valuation on the indies for these guys to get re-signed is way below what it was before AEW jumped in the picture."
Borger was then asked what it would take to form a union for wrestlers.
"Numbers. Let's say you had 20 people released. If you can pull 15 of those 20 in that have value at getting re-signed, then you've got potential," said Borger. "Basically, you're not fully unionizing as you're going into a representation agreement with a unionization into the future. As you bring more people into the fold, then it starts turning into more of a union."
He noted that there wouldn't be union fees at first like a regular union but it would be more to make sure performers aren't signing WWE-styled contracts.
"There are attorneys chomping at the bit just to get on board and that's the key thing – just getting the numbers there. Right now I'm at probably 27 or 28 guys and girls that are willing to join. But the magic for us is 50-60," stated Borger. "I don't even think it's gonna take having a big name involved. But you're not gonna have somebody come in like Hulk Hogan and kill it all like he did with the Jesse Ventura era when Jesse was trying to do it.
"Right now, it's not just WWE as you've got AEW, ROH and all of these other groups. Their contracts are not like WWE so you're just protecting the guys against something like WWE's contracts and still keeping them in line with what the other guys are doing because the other contracts aren't insanely out of place."
Borger brought up WWE-styled contracts and he revealed what he would like to see changed with those deals.
"For me, the main thing is ensuring they can't cut guys like they do now. They've got an upside and a downside. On the downside of the contract – let's use a guy making $400,000 – then they've got the merch on top of that and then you can make this additional [bonus]. Well, if WWE chooses and they pay you on the merch, they can go back if they decide they want to and just take what they've paid you out of merch and out of the TV bonuses they give you and not pay you for a while just to get you back down to that average on what your low end is. If they're going to give you upsides for making TV, making PPVs, merch sales, then that's a bonus that should not be retractable. That's a big deal," said Borger.
"Then I think a little bit more freedom with the talent being able to go in and work on things that are outside of WWE. If they've got a sponsor that wants to come in and work with them, why can't they work with them? WWE has to get a cut in on their contract. So, there's nothing being done that WWE is not getting a piece of and I think WWE is the only one doing it. So, I think that's another thing that needs to be cut out or there at least needs to be some leeway on it."
You can learn more about Richard's Face 2 Face Wrestling Academy by clicking HERE. Richard's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.