As Raj exclusively reported first here on WrestlingInc today, WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon issued an edict this past week where WWE talents can no longer “engage with outside third parties.” The edict presumably goes for platforms like Cameo and Twitch.
WWE held a call with talent last Sunday and discussed the reinvention of the product. During the call WWE pointed to how the company owns the real names of talent, not just their character names. Vince then followed the call up by sending a letter to talent on Thursday. Vince reportedly wrote how it’s imperative that they protest and promote the brand in every possible way, and that talents have 30 days to stop engaging with third parties. Vince’s letter also said these actions are necessary as a part of WWE’s rebuilding process and going into the “next phase of growth” for the company.
“Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company,” Vince wrote in the letter. “It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days (by Friday October 2). Continued violations will result in fines, suspension, or termination at WWE’s discretion.”
In an update, PWInsider adds that the vague wording of the letter is worrying a lot of people in the company, concerned over what exactly is allowed and won’t be allowed. Some talents have already reacted negatively to the request, feeling it was in effect an order to shut down their personal streaming channels, even though there’s no confirmation that this is actually the case.
Some talent noted that they are using some of these platforms like Cameo and YouTube as a way to make additional revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic while WWE stopped touring with live events, which cuts out bonuses and merchandise earnings. PWInsider notes that while there are heavily-merchandised talents like AJ Styles who regularly streams his own content, some of the wrestlers who aren’t on the same level as Styles have used the third party platforms to build their own brands, interact with fans, and make some extra money under their real names, to try and help offset the loss of revenue that came with the pandemic.
It’s obvious that WWE is just trying to protect what they feel is their intellectual property, something all entertainment companies take seriously, there are grumblings among wrestlers about how they feel WWE is hurting their ability to make money outside of the company, at a time where their own WWE earnings are down due to the coronavirus. PWInsider noted that some wrestlers pushed the idea that losing freedom to promote themselves while working for WWE makes working somewhere else seem more enticing, at least as long as they allowed more freedom.
Over the last 24 hours there has been a lot of talk among talents who are thinking about pushing back against the latest edict from WWE officials, if they are actually required to shut down their personal streaming channels, which has not been confirmed as of this writing.
It’s believed that more on the edict will be explained to talent at this week’s TV tapings.
Stay tuned for updates.