Feature: Steve Anderson on Litigious, Whiney Wrestlers


In the spring of 1990, I received my first freelance check. It was for a cartoon in PWIâ<80><99>s Wrestling â<80><99>90 that featured Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon and the Ultimate Warrior. I got $40 for my efforts.

A few more assignments came my way that year and when 1991 dawned and tax time approached, I received my 1099 form showing my freelance income.

I was an independent contractor. I knew I was an independent contractor when I started. There are positives and negatives, but I knew what I was getting into. To this day, I am still an independent contractor. I know how things work, what I need to claim and what I need to write off.

Raven, Mike Sanders and Chris Kanyon, years after their WWE tenures, are suing the promotion. According to an article in Law.com:

â<80><9c>In the case, filed in July, three wrestlers claim they function as full-time employees (the company even determines their hairstyles) but are classified as independent contractors — a status that costs them benefits and deprives the IRS of taxes, the complaint claims.â<80>

The first part is right. There are no benefits for independent contractors. However, you can write off a good portion of any health insurance costs. And, pardon me if I am wrong, but if you are injured in a WWE ring, you will be taken care of. The part of depriving the IRS of taxes? Please. Independent contractors foot their tax bill and also pay double Social Security taxes, a portion they can write off as well.

This litigious trifecta is clearly are short in the olâ<80><99> checkbook. They were experienced wrestlers when they joined WWE. They got into the business knowing full well that they would not be employees, but independent contractors. From the smalltime, scumbag promoter doing indy shows to the WWE, that is how it works. Promoters want you exclusively, but pay you without deducting anything. Thatâ<80><99>s how it has always worked. Good or bad, that is how the wrestling business runs.

Yeah, theyâ<80><99>re taking on the big bad corporation. And I donâ<80><99>t have an ounce of sympathy for them.

They made big money in this business. They got the pay-per-view bonuses. Yeah, taxes werenâ<80><99>t taken out, but how many of you reading would like a check for $25,000 with the caveat that you had to take care of Uncle Sam yourself. Yes, they had to cover their road expenses, which is just another word for tax write-off. A good financial planner or the H&R Block guy down the street could help them figure things out.

Instead, years later, they are singing the blues and crying rivers of tears, citing involuntary hairstyles and unfair treatment by making more money then they could ever imagine, but without the benefits of being an employee.

Look, in a perfect world, wrestlers would be employees with salaries, benefits and retirement plans. However, if it ever became a reality, all wrestling promotions would immediately close down. Can you imagine the health insurance rates for guys who fly around the ring night after night? That is if you can find a health insurance company that would even provide benefits to a large group of pro wrestlers.

But that is not the case. Wrestlers are independent contractors. Youâ<80><99>ll notice that those who want wrestlers to be employees do not talk about the cost and/or they donâ<80><99>t have a clue about the expense involved.

Poor Raven, Sanders, and Kanyon. You got to live the lifestyle, make the money and travel the world. You got the fame, but the fortune was not doled out to your liking. It only took you several years to figure it out and take umbrage.

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