WWE wrestlers are independent contractors, but are often at the mercy of the company as it relates to certain poilicies that affect their income.
In 2020, a report emerged that WWE was putting a stop to third-party platforms such as Twitch, Cameo and outside endorsements. Mojo Rawley remembered getting the word, and told Fightful how he felt about it.
"That was one of the most brutal messages I’ve ever gotten while I was with the company. That’s the thing, man. Outside of the wrestling world, people don’t understand how talented pro wrestlers are. Look, I played in the NFL before this. I had my MBA. I worked on Wall Street. Out of all these places I’ve been, I’ve never seen a more talented group of people across all skill sets than pro wrestlers. When you’re talking about social media, that’s your ticket to the outside world to find out what you can do and what you’re capable of. Especially for guys that aren’t being used regularly on TV. I know for me personally that was a way for me to build my brand and show people who I was outside of, if I was forced to hypothetically scribble my face with a blue marker and do something I didn’t think was very me. Not only that, it was a huge income stream for us," he said.
For Rawley, it wasn't as much the third party platforms as it was social endorsements.
"I know I was doing a lot of work on my social, a lot of the guys were, too. It was a way not only to get product, but cash. It was big business for everybody. So, taking that away was tough. Especially for guys that are just getting started ‘cause when you’re on those rookie deals, you’re paying your bills, but you’re not really saving for your future. Especially when you factor in all the expenses we have. So, it’s a way for you to grow your brand. For me, too, I always looked at it as, ‘Oh, if WWE sees me on my Instagram doing a deal with Under Armour, maybe it’ll alert some attention to make them aware of who they have and what they got.’ ‘Cause I remember there were times where I would do deals with companies that the WWE was trying to do deals with and couldn’t get those deals done. I’d get it myself. I’m not the only one that was able to do that. So, that was a big blow for everybody. We were not happy," Rawley recalled.
Approximately a dozen wrestlers spoke to Fightful about the situation, with none being thrilled about the news.Wrestlers are already adept at fan interaction, creativity and the like. Mojo expanded on his thoughts.
"I always look at it from a business perspective. You’re talking about a group of dynamic athletes who know how to successfully create a brand, how to market that brand to any demographic, how to command the attention of a crowd instantaneously, who can operate under hostile or changing environments and circumstances who know how to work a mic, who know how to present themselves. You chop it up in any way and what business can do that other than professional wrestling? I have buddies that I played with in the NFL making $50,000,000-$100,000,000 dollars and don’t know how to cut a promo. They’re getting brought in to do these huge, huge deals and this guy can barely speak the English language. Meanwhile you got these other guys, these pro wrestlers, who are like, ‘Hey, what point are you trying to get across? Okay, got it. Here we go,’ and just nail it on the first take above and beyond. It’s crazy, man."
You can see Mojo Rawley in Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins, which releases on July 23.