Mike Bennett On Upsetting Vince McMahon With Public Release Request: "That Was The Point"

On a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast, "Miracle" Mike Bennett sat down with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman and opened up about asking for his WWE release, along with the back and forth he had with WWE management. Bennett requested his release on Twitter, and he revealed that WWE management were not happy, but he talked about what he was doing behind the scenes before going to Twitter.

"They were not happy, but I had known that it would piss them off, and that was the point because I was mad because I had gone to them constantly," Bennett said. "And this is what, I think, a lot of wrestling fans don't understand is that me asking for my release was just a last desperation effort. I had done all I could do behind the scenes.

"I had talked to Vince. I had talked to head of talent relations. I had asked for my release privately backstage. Twice I had asked for it backstage privately to which I was denied. My wife never asked for her release, which drives me nuts. My wife was fine staying there. She was like, 'I'm good. I'll do what they want me to do.' She was good, and so like, it was always just me.

"I wanted to be done, and I had discussions with her. I was like, 'if I ask for my release, are you okay with that?' And she was OK, and so like this was a boiling point of building up to the point where I finally, I had reached out to them."

Bennett continued saying that he had contacted the head of talent relations to ask for his release for a third time. He said that he was ignored all day which led to him publicly asking for his release.

"And the day I asked for my release, I had finally got to the point where I had texted head of talent relations," Bennett said. "This was the third time I asked him for my release, and I think something came up that really, I was like, 'alright, I'm done.' And I said, 'look, I'm done. I don't want to work here anymore.' I said, 'I don't want to discuss this because I've talked to you twice about it. You guys have denied it to me.' I said, 'I don't want to be here anymore. I'm not enjoying it.' I said, 'let me go. Let me go for two years. Maybe I can come back.' I was trying be very professional about it, and then, they ignored me.

"They ignored me all day. They didn't respond to my text. They didn't say, 'hey, let me call you.' They said nothing to me. They ignored me for almost eight hours, and then finally I went, 'that's not right.' You're talent relations. Your job is to talk to the talent, and they ignored me all day. So finally I said, 'alright, I'm going to put it publicly because that will get their attention,' and so I did and, was it the right way to go? I don't know, but I had to take a stand for myself and that got their attention.

Bennett said he wanted to stand up for himself because it only took a public request for him to get WWE's attention. He admitted that he needed to go, and he needed to be free to do what he wanted.

"And I said, OK, now finally you're paying attention to me because I did it the right way. I was the company guy," Bennett pointed out. "I did everything they asked me to do, and they still ignored me and they treated me like that. And eventually, you get to the point where you're like, 'well, you can keep kicking dirt on me, or I'm going to stand up and fight for myself, and as a man and as a dad and as a husband, I was like, I'm not going to sit there and let you just berate me and not treat me with respect.' And so that was kind of the final straw because I know.

"I know when you say stuff like that, it doesn't hold the company in a good light, and talent relations called me, and they said Vince is pissed. My reaction was, 'good'. That was my thought. I went good. Maybe he'll listen to me now, but it is what it is, and again, I did it. Things happened. I hold no ill will. It just needed to be done. I needed to be free. I needed to go do what I wanted."

Hausman pointed out that WWE talent are officially independent contractors, and he asked Bennett if WWE talent can just quit. Bennett said no and that it has to be approved after asking. He also commented on his previous comment about not wanting his release to happen during a pandemic. He pointed out that he asked for his release last October, and he was released in April of this year when he could not find work in a different promotion.

"No, you can ask. You should be able to as independent contractors," Bennett pointed out. They have to approve it. They have to say, 'yes, we're letting you out of your contract,' which is so ass backwards to me and doesn't make sense. It was one thing that really bothered me when we got released in April because people were coming at me because in one of the first interviews I did, I was like, 'it kind of sucks to be released in the middle of a pandemic.' And people were like, well you asked for it blah blah blah, and I was like, I asked for it back in October when I had places to go and there were companies to work for. And they told me no, and then they released me when I couldn't go work other places.

Bennett also commented on the fan reaction that criticized his comments but not WWE's actions. He spoke on his wife Maria's criticism of WWE releasing her two months after childbirth.

"And what bothered me is so you guys are OK that they can hold me to a contract then, but their argument was always, 'well, you asked for your release'," Bennett stated. "And I said, yeah, but you're not mad at WWE for not releasing me when I ask for it, but you're OK that they released me when I can't go and find a place to work. I was like, your anger is aimed in the wrong direction here.

"Your anger is aimed at the little people when you should be mad at the major corporation that is basically saying, 'oh, all these guys that we fired can't go and work somewhere, and we don't give a crap about it.' Not only that but we're going to fire a woman whose two months into her maternity leave, and people are just like, 'well, your husband asked for his release, so you deserve to be released too.' I always was like, your anger is aimed in the wrong direction and that always bothered me that they could release me whenever they wanted, but I asked for my release three different times and they could just say nope. Nope. Sorry, and everyone's just OK with it. I'm like, that doesn't seem right to me especially if we're independent contractors."

Many have called for WWE to reclassify their talent from independent contractors to employees including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Bennett was asked if promotions like WWE and AEW should reclassify their talent as employees, and Bennett said that if a business wants to classify their workers as independent contractors, then they should be treated as such.

"So I think it's just how you go about your business," Bennett noted. "So if you want guys to be independent contractors, that's fine but treat them as such. Do not put restrictions on them. Do not put the same restrictions on them as you would put on employees because that doesn't make sense to me. If you're an independent contractor, you're an independent contractor.

"You can go and make money elsewhere regardless of what industry that's in. I have no problem if companies want to dictate and tell guys, 'be here at this time. This is what you're doing. This is how you're doing it, and we don't want you making money anywhere else.' Fine, but label them as such which is an employee.

"If you want the tax breaks or whatever that comes with independent contractors, that's fine but treat them as such. Don't tell them that they have to do this, this and this, and they can't go make money elsewhere."

Bennett continued saying that he has not had a problem with wrestling companies labeling their workers as independent contractors. He criticized WWE for exploiting their workers by not giving them benefits like health insurance. He reiterated Yang's comments from a few weeks ago where he called WWE's business practices greedy.

"I think that's just the easiest way to go about it because I mean, a lot of wrestling companies need to label guys as independent contractors because they're trying to survive, and I understand that," Bennett said. "And a lot of us get into the industry knowing that, but when it comes to WWE, when you have that much money and you have that much control over guys, it's not going to hurt you to give them health insurance.

"It's not going to hurt you to give them benefits. It's not going to hurt you to classify them as employees, and it's like Andrew Yang said, it comes down to greed. That's really what it comes down to. At the end of the day, it's all about greed when it comes to WWE which is sad because you have guys and girls there that would literally do anything for that company because they love wrestling so much, and it just gets exploited. Exploited for one person making more billions. Like how many billions can you have?

"These guys are trying to feed their families, and these guys want to be set for the rest of their life, meanwhile someone's trying to make another billion dollars because two billion isn't enough. At a certain point, we need to look at these people and say, a little human decency comes into play here. It's OK when guys are breaking their backs for you."

Mike Bennett recently faced Cheeseburger at Warrior Wrestling's Stadium Series Night 3. The event can be found on FITE.tv. You can follow Mike on Twitter @RealMikeBennett.

Bennett's full interview 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.