Though wrestling is in their name, WWE doesn't see themselves as being in that business.
On November 3, 2021, Sugar Dunkerton (Suge D) filled in as a special guest on Not The List & Ya Boy (included below). The independent wrestling star, who appeared frequently on AEW programming between March and July 2020, commented on WWE's corporate maneuverings and shared what a WWE agent told him while he was doing extra work for the company.
"WWE is in a very, very unique situation in their rebuild. WWE, now more than ever, handles itself like a corporation corporation," he began by saying. "We knew that, but especially behind the scenes, when we looked at how they're trimming the fat, how they're trying to get the dollar amount to look a certain way when they do investor calls, all this and all that. Here's the biggest thing that I'm noticing right now, and a lot of it is in relation to NXT. I think that they're in a position now where it's like, 'Okay, we got all this money coming in, we have these things going on.' -- I remember going to do extra work for them one day, and now more than ever, one of the things that one of the agents said makes more sense to me looking at this era WWE right now; 'We are not a wrestling company. We just happen to be an entertainment company that has a ring in the center of it.'"
Continuing on, Suge D made note of Bray Wyatt and said that he believes WWE is operating in the same way that a movie studio would. He added the following:
"So the way that they're looking at it, it's almost like okay, if that's the case, and these rumors are true, this franchise that we got over here with Bray, too much of a headache, we got a machine, we know what works. We've made money off of people before, we will make it with somebody else. It's almost like a movie studio now. It's like, okay, if an actor is getting tough to deal with and we had a lot of money off of this franchise, screw it, we'll recast the actor or we'll come up with something new."
He concluded by highlighting NXT and their focus on homegrown talents rather than ready-made indie stars as an example of WWE's corporate practices, arguing that they're indebting new stars to them so that they're less likely to leave. Furthermore, WWE is using their roster to diversify their own portfolios.
"The other thing that's tripping me out too is, whereas if you look at how NXT is set up nowadays, because they're trying to focus more on homegrown, less on bringing in the indie indie guys," he began by saying. "This is the one thing if you're talking in corporate-speak that you need to think of. A lot of the indie guys were already coming in as successes, proven money makers, get to keep their name or they sold a name. Worse comes to worse, they could go back to that name when they go back to the indies. So these are guys that when you pitch them angles they don't like, stories that don't make sense, things of that nature, they're going to speak up. They're used to speaking up and they know they got options if something don't work out. It's like, okay, well, you want to do this? I did that, I got some checks off for you, I got some screen time, let me go see what these other companies are talking about. Let me go overseas for a while, etc, etc. Right?"
"What really made me think hard about this was them saying that they wanted that percentage of any outside endeavors that they do. Because WWE, if you're treating yourself not as a wrestling promotion, but like an entertainment company, like a record label, it's almost like a 360 deal. We've made you, as they say, so we deserve a cut off of all these other endeavors that you're getting involved in. So if you make all these new homegrown stars, the Tony D'Angelo's, the Xyon Quinn's, the Von Wagner's, all this other stuff like that. If you home grow them and make them and the WWE system is all they really know, or they had very little indie success that you bought them in early before they made it a career, when you blow them up and you make them an item and you say, hey, I want 30% of your Twitch, they're not gonna argue because it's like WWE gave me everything."
"So it's hard as a wrestling fan that's been watching WWE, they've been around forever. All this other stuff like that. It is what it is. But their movements are very, very, very, very business-related now. They want money. They're not here to make wrestlers anymore. They're here to make stars that can go to TV, that can go to movies, that can go to commercials, that could do reality bookings, music, all that other stuff and they get a cut off all of that. They're diversifying the portfolio, but they're using their roster to do it. So that's why you're starting to see the indie guys or the guys that are like, Well, what's going on? I feel like that's why they're starting to taper out."
On October 15, Suge D added another belt to his collection as he defeated Myron Reed to become the new Paradigm Pro Wrestling Champion. Last month he also had two successful title defences, defeating Victor Benjamin to retain the PWX Pure Title and No Way to retain the NGW Eastern States Title.