After receiving backlash for their edict regarding talent working with third party platforms, WWE backtracked a bit in recent days. Talent will still be able to maintain their Twitch and YouTube accounts but they have to do so under their real names and not their WWE monikers.
Appearing on “Ryback TV Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report With Raj Giri,” Ryback read a portion of his WWE contract at the 3:10 mark of the video above which listed just some of the things WWE has ownership over. This included the talent’s ring name, real name, likeness, signature, props, gestures and routines. Ryback says WWE talent are essentially being manipulated to sign contracts like this, and the company is the only one who benefits from it.
“That’s the thing ? this is the problem right there. It’s not even about being fair. These are human lives you’re talking about and that’s where things need to change,” said Ryback. “I’m dealing with it now with the Ryback trademark. We’re going into the trademark attorney’s office and we’re gonna be deciding this in the next 20 months. This is gonna be tied up, and it’s gonna cost me God knows how much in attorney’s fees and a lot of time in getting back the Ryback trademark so they can not use it or profit it in any way, or expose it, or do anything to hurt my brand further than what they’ve already done. It’s crazy.”
Ryback says that WWE asked him to sign over all of his social media channels as well as his website and podcast while he was still under contract. He was done wrestling with them, but WWE still wanted ownership of him before the contract expired.
“The talent and the people [in WWE], if they even try to stick up for themselves, they’re done. They can’t. A lot of them don’t even want to affiliate or talk with me now because there’s heat with that,” revealed Ryback. “There’s people that speak up and tell the truth because this is how they make they’re living. This is why I was so hell-bent on being able to create a living outside of that screwed up world?
“If I’m a talent there and I have Cameo, I’m using my real name. I’m not letting them stop me from making any money. The problem is what’s gonna happen creatively ? eventually you’ll be fired, but not right away. They’ll hold onto you for a year or two and then they’ll release you so you can’t connect the dots.”
Ryback then brought up a long-standing issue he’s had with WWE where they generate revenue from their YouTube channel which features WWE Superstars, but none of the talent receives kickbacks.
“So, we’re gonna trust you guys to pay us for other things? No, this is solely a play for WWE and not about the talent, which is a problem from the very beginning. Fans don’t understand that the span of a wrestler is not the longest career,” stated Ryback.
Raj then brought up that Andrew Yang, who could have a potential job as the Secretary of Labor if Joe Biden becomes president, said if he gets that job then he’ll go after WWE for classifying its talent as independent contractors instead of employees.
“It’s only gonna be a matter of time before things start changing. It’s always baffled me that Vince has held onto this as long as he has with the era we’re in of everything being exposed. It’s inevitable that things are gonna get turned, and I’m so happy Andrew’s doing what he’s doing because it’s been a long time coming of somebody with actual power that can make this possible,” said Ryback.
Towards the end of his WWE tenure, Ryback had his attorney make changes with WWE’s offer regarding ownership of IP. He said WWE cut off communication at that point, as they have no intention of being fair when it comes to profitability.
“Why? I’m never wrestling there ever again, so why do you need my name that you didn’t create? Why? The contract is over. I’m legally the trademark and I have everything connected to it. Why? It goes back to this manipulation,” said Ryback. “There’s a good way to make money and a bad way, that’s the problem. It’s gonna come back and bite them in the ass. This is for the betterment of wrestlers and pro wrestling moving forward, and I think AEW is gonna play a huge role in improving things further with the way everything’s going.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Ryback TV Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report With Raj Giri with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.