Earlier today WWE released a statement on wanting WWE Superstars to end their individual relationships with third parties as the company looks to round-up where their roster is appearing outside of the company. You can catch up on all the reports, reactions, and more at the links here.
"Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E and Braun Strowman," WWE wrote in a statement. "It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved."
One of the still unknown parts to all of this is if talent can still use Cameo, Twitch, and other platforms under their real names. Some stars have already made the change on their respective channels, but in an update from F4WOnline that may not matter.
Wrestling Inc. exclusively broke the news about last Sunday's call with talent, which included ending third parties deals by October 2 — whether it was under their WWE name or real name.
In his report, Dave Meltzer wrote WWE Senior Director of Talent Relations Mark Carrano told talent the company owns the rights to their real names. If that were the case, a simple name change wouldn't be enough to allow talent to continue their deals. The report noted it wouldn't make much sense for WWE to own someone's real name, but the wording in their contracts might prevent them "from marketing themselves on platforms the company doesn't want while still under a WWE deal."
In the above statement, WWE made it clear they will build third party relationships on a company-wide basis, rather than individually. Meltzer called back to UFC doing something similar with its fighters, when they could no longer cultivate their own individual sponsorships. Instead, the company marketed itself exclusively to its own sponsors, which the fighters then received a portion of.
With the COVID-19 pandemic halting live events and bringing in lower merchandise pay, talent without bigger downside guarantees have looked for other ways to make up that money. Obviously, many of them are upset at WWE stepping in on projects that are outside of the company — which brings in the whole debate of WWE claiming its talent's status as independent contracts, yet still looking to lock down control of them.
It's also reportedly still unclear which platforms are and aren't allowed to be used going forward. Getting paid for podcast appearances is apparently allowed, but other forms of social media where they get paid is not.