Indie wrestler David Starr talked about these promotions' decisions to keep going when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast yesterday.
"It's a shame. But it's more egregious WWE is doing it because they never had to run these tapings or do these gatherings. They have plenty of footage they could be airing meanwhile AEW doesn't have much footage," said Starr. "So, I understand that. But there's really no excuse at this point. AEW comes out looking bad if they keep running and WWE shuts down."
Many believe that promotions who are still running events are exploiting their performers by having them still work. Starr was asked about these promotions not stopping because the local or state governments haven't explicitly told them to stop running shows.
"It's capitalism; that's what it is. Of course, they're not going to do anything without the government coming in and forcing their hands. It really comes down to the government doing what it should be doing to begin with. We should have a mandatory lockdown for a minimum of three weeks and we'll probably need more after that," stated Starr.
Starr is in the UK and says their national lockdown is appropriate. He also added that there needs to be a rent and bills freeze since most of the economy is essentially frozen.
"All of this stuff needs to be stopped. We need to be given a UBI to go out and get food. Or if you're able to get unemployment, great. This all just needs to stop right now," said Starr. "I don't see how there's anything else to do and as long as that doesn't happen, people like Vince McMahon will continue to do what they're doing and risk people's lives."
With the current situation, now would be as good a time as any for pro wrestlers to be a part of a union. Starr was asked how different this period would be if wrestlers had a union.
"Well, they would have more leverage to speak up for their health and safety. They would be able to be unified to just hold out on work if it's not safe for them," Starr said before adding that while wrestler participation is labeled voluntarily, it still feels like things are being held over their heads.
"A union would allow them to negotiate and give them more leverage. There's plenty of other things that a union would benefit, especially on the corporate wrestling level. On the indie level if there was a union and we were all paying dues, maybe we would have a strike fund or a wellness fund – some kind of pot that we could all go into for a time like this. An injury fund that we could use paid for by our union. There's a million things you could have discussions with amongst your co-workers on how you could fight to get things that benefit you. It could be massively beneficial."
There's peer pressure in a wrestling locker room and that could influence talent deciding whether or not to perform. You don't want to say "no" and get singled out, even if you don't feel comfortable, and Starr discussed that.
"When you boil it down to an individual choice like that, it's easy to get singled out. I know some people get annoyed by the term toxic masculinity and there's plenty of merits to it. But that kind of nails it and this is case in point," said Starr.
"If it is down to individuals and they decide it isn't safe…every man listening to this understands what we're talking about. You get bullied and picked on especially in an environment with alpha males. But don't leave it down to the individual; come together as a collective."
He then questioned what exact benefits or bonuses that wrestlers receive for putting their health in danger by performing.
"Are they getting any bonuses? Are they getting any hazard pay for having to do all of this? Are they getting any extra incentive to do this," asked Starr. "Because they're losing out on money on merch from live events. Then they're traveling constantly back and forth because they're not all stationed in Florida."
Follow David Starr on Twitter @TheProductDS. Starr'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.