During the latest episode of the 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed Vince McMahon threatening to punish talent for engaging with some third-party platforms, which Wrestling Inc. first exclusively reported last week. Bischoff argued that while he saw both sides of the situation, he sided more with the company. He noted that it doesn’t makes sense for WWE not to make money off of something that their characters are profiting from.
“I see both sides of it,” Bischoff said. “I understand it, WWE invests massive amounts of money into their characters, into their intellectual property and the value and the assets that are created as such is what drives WWE. It’s the blood that bumps through their heart and you have to protect that. I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
Bischoff discussed the repercussions WWE and other wrestling companies could face if this issue isn’t properly addressed. He noted that talent being told to stop using third-party streaming platforms could result in talent unionizing.
“It can backfire,” Bischoff said. “Any wrestling company out there has a distinct advantage when producing television in that there are no unions. To be able to classify talent as independent contractors is a big advantage in the industry across the board, not just for WWE. I saw people on social media commenting saying, ‘wrestlers need a union.’ Be careful what you wish for because that s–t can come back to kill you. I would encourage talent to really think long and hard about whether or not they want to be unionized.
“I think what WWE has done in putting the hammer down on these third party appearances is drawing attention to the independent contractor status of the roster. That’s the one real vulnerability in the industry, if someone makes a move to unionize or challenge the independent contractor status in a way that forces wrestling companies to classify talent as employees, that’s going to have a massive impact on the industry. Not necessarily a good one, so be careful what you wish for.”
As previously reported, WWE reportedly addressed some of the rules and stated that talent can keep their Twitch and YouTube accounts, but would need to use their real names and not their WWE ring names. Bischoff mentioned how some talent use the WWE likeness as a part of their Twitch accounts and other third party organizations that WWE does not work with. Bischoff said it makes no sense for WWE to allow talent to use their likeness when the company does not have a relationship with those organizations.
“That WWE logo doesn’t belong to the talent,” Bischoff said. “That’s not their investment. That’s not a publicly held corporation that the talent has equity in, that’s WWE property. So if you’re using that to promote yourself in a way that doesn’t benefit the WWE, or somebody is going to go on Twitch or some third-party platform and say something that’s going to embarrass the company or expose them in a way that’s out of their control. I’d have a hard time with that if I was Vince McMahon, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it at all, I would work to accommodate them, just don’t use my intellectual property to promote it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.