“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."
[From the Preface]” ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I went to McDonalds to get some dinner tonight and when I left the house to pick up my meal, I thought the worst wrestling news I would find out about for the day was the release of the AOP. However, I would be proven wrong because after clogging my arteries a little more with a double cheeseburger and fries, I would log into my Twitter and also Fightful to discover that the WWE is instructing their contracted talent to "no longer engage with third parties.” One could safely assume that those “third parties” are along the lines of Twitch, Cameo and other such sites.
It could be an overreaction to assume that the WWE is doing this to hold down their talent, which the brass behind the scenes all already earned their Masters in, or the overreaction could be the reality. We all know that we live in uncertain times right now, especially with the coronavirus wreaking havoc on business of all kinds, which the WWE isn’t exempt from. The WWE has excluded fans, whether or their own or due to state requirements, from events such as Raw, Smackdown, NXT and pay-per-views, while their house show business is dead and buried for the foreseeable future.
However, while the WWE’s bottom line is certainly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, so are the independent contractors employed by the company. Most WWE wrestlers are lucky if they get to wrestle on TV once a week, some have disappeared entirely from the programming, so finding ways to make a few extra bucks to provide for one’s family doesn’t seem like a big deal, unless those people finding ways to make that money are contracted to the WWE.
The hidden disaster to this whole situation is that while the WWE stars with Twitch or Cameo or other similar services most definitely use them to make some extra dough, a lot of those stars, both inside and outside of the WWE auspices, also use them to interact with their fans. The move by the WWE to ban their talents from Twitch and such could and probably has already started causing damage to the relationship between the company, the talent and the fans who give their hard earned money to support them all.
Vince McMahon himself, in the story from Fightful, stated that the reason this move is being made is because the WWE is ready to "enter the next phase of growth,” but how can growth happen when the promotion is actively doing what they can to push their fans away. WWE Raw ratings are sagging towards all time lows, while the same can be said for WWE Smackdown and NXT is losing to AEW Dynamite on a weekly basis, so how does this move help a company that is seemingly sliding downward with each passing week?
As of this writing, not a lot of contracted WWE stars have commented on the move made by their employer, but former WWE Divas Champion and former Smackdown GM Paige tweeted the following a short time after the news became public:
Nope.— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) September 4, 2020
Paige has even taken the additional step of changing her Twitch page to reflect her real name, no longer using her WWE alias:
Paige has changed her Twitch account from OfficialPaigeWWE to SarayaOfficial. pic.twitter.com/RTSQqsgM6J— Gary Cassidy (@WrestlingGary) September 4, 2020
While very few, if any, WWE stars have spoken publicly about the mandate, many others from the world of wrestling have done so.
“When we're afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides, fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators' repression.”
― Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis
One of the biggest, if not the biggest question becomes this: what will the contract WWE stars do under this new mandate?
The simple answer would be for all the superstars to follow the directives for their 70+ year old leader who lost touch with society a long time ago. However, much like the former WWE stars of yonder, a lot of them could learn the hugely valuable lesson that there is money to be made and life to be lived outside of the WWE.
While I am not going to get another WWE vs. AEW debate going right now, there is a point to be made about how each company handles the way their talent is treated.
WWE can easily be called the most restrictive of the two, which back in the day when such things as Twitch, Youtube, Cameo and the such didn’t exist, didn’t seem to matter much. However, there are a lot more ways for a wrestler to make money in 2020 than even a decade ago and that trend will most likely go up with each passing day. AEW , for example, gives their contracted talent far more freedom, whether its letting talents wrestle outside of the AEW auspices for other promotions or running events on the Chris Jericho sponsored cruise or any other example, there is far more freedom for AEW stars than their WWE counterparts.
That could be a reason why a lot of former or soon to be former WWE stars flock to AEW or stay independent after leaving the company, more freedom and potentially more money than working the WWE schedule can be beneficial in the long term.
This issue is far from over, whether it’s the WWE’s contracted talents actions outside of their control or any other way the company can stifle their talents, more situations like this Twitch/Youtube/Cameo ban are going to come up and continue on until one of two things happen: 1/ The talent complies and follows orders like the victims of past dictatorships or 2/ The talent stands up for themselves, says no and realizes something a lot of other former WWE stars have learned and that is that there is freedom and life after the WWE.
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
In the end, maybe it’s Fightful’s very own Jimmy Van who said it best:
Note to WWE talent: if ol’ Vince doesn’t want you using your *WWE owned* name/likeness/IP, keep doing what you’re doing under your real name. Thanks.— Jimmy Van (@jimmyvan74) September 5, 2020