As exclusively reported by Wrestling Inc. this past fall, WWE issued a new ‘third party edict’ that mandated all talent turn over their Twitch and Cameo accounts to the promotion.
Talking Tough host Rick Bassman spoke with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on this past week’s episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily to discuss the controversial edict. While many have pointed to the edict as a clear black and white issue, Bassman emphasized that it is more of grey area.
“Should they have gotten involved in Cameo? Yes and no,” Bassman said. “This is going to sound politically correct, but this is truly how I feel. I do believe this. I do believe that if The New Day, because you know, Big E was one of the first guys from WWE on Cameo. If he goes on there as The New Day, I absolutely believe WWE has a claim to that, because they created The New Day. They propagated it. It is their intellectual property. Sure, the guys play the parts, but we all know that those parts can be replaced. There can always be new New Day members. I don’t know if it would work the same way as the others but it’s definitely possible. That’s WWE’s territory. New Day is theirs. If those guys are on there as New Day, WWE absolutely has a claim to that. If a guy goes on as themself, or as an intellectual property they own, even if they are currently under contract to WWE, I believe that WWE does not have the right to infringe on their Cameo business if that person is on as themselves, or on as an intellectual property that they themselves own.”
WWE has been expanding their content for years now, launching exclusive programs on social platforms, YouTube, and podcast networks. As a podcaster himself, Bassman questioned why WWE has not gone further into audio content.
“You would think [there would be more WWE podcasts], especially with the world being down the way it is,” Bassman said. “They certainly leaped feet first into the Cameo world.”
Speaking further on Cameo, Bassman shared a story about how he got involved in the video message platform. According to Bassman, he is responsible for getting numerous people involved in Cameo, even though he had high doubts about the service at the beginning.
“Selfishly speaking, I kind of feel bad for me too because I make part of my living, albeit a small part, from Cameo,” Bassman said. “Martin Blencowe, who created Cameo a number of years ago, he reached out to me right at the very beginning when Cameo first launched and pitched me on bringing Rey Mysterio to the platform. There’s a website called IMDb, where if you want to find connection to a talent, if you’re a producer or a talent booker, you go to their site. I was booking guys for 30 years now, for movies, TV, commercials, appearances. That’s a part of what I’ve always done. I act as their agent, which guys like Jim Cornette gives me s–t about, but I really don’t care. I do a good job for the guys, and I make them a lot more than what they would make on their own. And after they would pay me my ten percent, they’re left with a lot more than if they had done the deal themselves.
“On IMDb, I’m still listed as Rey Mysterio’s contact, as Diamond Dallas Page’s, as a number of others. The list is long. And Martin reached out to me, the founder of Cameo, to bring Rey on their platform, and I’m like, ‘That’s a really dumb idea. No. I’m not even going to ask Rey to make videos for fans on a commission basis.’ It sounds like he’s pimping himself out. I’ll joke with Martin now a number of years later, I’ll say, ‘Dude, if only I had said yes, I would’ve been on the ground floor of your business, and who knows what the participation would’ve been. My bad.’ And he laughs about it, and I laugh about it. But still, I’ve put about 150 people on the Cameo platform. So I do get a small commission, not from the talent, but from Cameo for doing that. WWE taking over for the wrestlers definitely eroded my business in that world, but oh well.”
Since pandemic precautions went into effect last March, WWE has adapted multiple times to the new restrictions. From having Performance Center recruits in the crowds to constructing the virtual ThunderDome, WWE has consistently attempted to recreate the live atmosphere. Bassman gave props to WWE for what they’ve done on the business side, but did emphasize that the product is not what it used to be.
“They’re flexible, and good business people,” Bassman said. “They’ve managed to maintain their bottomline and their profitability. So yeah, from a personal standpoint I admire that. I’m sure their shareholders admire that. But creatively, and this is not an aside at WWE, personally I hate the empty arena thing. It’s not exciting at all to watch. If you don’t have legit live fan reactions, it’s all based on that. I don’t watch it because I don’t like the product. But on the flip side, I have to admire the flexibility and how they’ve managed to stay relevant. So hats off to them in that regard.”
Just a few weeks ago, WWE officially announced that WWE Champion Drew McIntyre had contracted COVID-19 and would not appear live on RAW. While a number of WWE talent have personally revealed they had coronavirus in the past year, this was the first time the company made a public announcement confirming a superstar was sick.
Bassman shared that some of his friends within the industry have expressed their doubts about COVID’s legitimacy, and ironically enough, those same people are the ones who got the most ill.
“You know, it’s funny. I have a couple of very close friends. You know, very close, long time personal friends from the business, who were absolutely some of the most vocal, maybe not vocal, but demonstrative people on social about posting about the ‘planned-demic,'” Bassman said. “‘This thing is a fake, it’s a farce, it’s bulls–t, it’s politics.’ The two people I’m thinking of got so sick from COVID that they were inches away from being hospitalized. It could’ve been a lot worse sure, but they changed their tunes, let’s put it that way. I live in Hawaii. It’s one of the first states that got shut down and shut down hard. But then the flip side is the cases here have been relatively few. So, you can make the argument of ‘Well you know what, let’s go outside without a mask on and let’s not practice social distancing. That’s my choice.’ I’m not saying me, personally, I’m talking as some unnamed, unfaced person. ‘That’s my choice so I’m going to do that, in defiance of whatever laws or ordinances that might be in place.’ If that’s what they decide to do, that’s okay, but I do personally have a problem the moment that person crosses into somebody else’s space that might have a different look at it. Because bottom line man, people have died. And a lot of people.”
Rick Bassman hosts the podcast Talking Tough which can be found on all major podcast platforms. You can follow him on Twitter @Rick_Bassman. Bassman’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.