The following editorial was written by Tyler Treese and does not reflect the opinions of WrestleZone as a whole. We encourage you all to discuss Tyler’s thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post and follow him on Twitter @tylertreese.
Luke Harper is the latest professional wrestler to publicly request his release from WWE. This is becoming an all too common practice as underutilized talent, such as Tye Dillinger and Hideo Itami, have done the same in recent months. A year prior, former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville sat out the remainder of his deal. It’s a terrible public image for the company that so many wrestlers are publicly stating that they no longer want to be there. On top of that, they’ve been under scrutiny for not giving their wrestlers the same benefits as employees (although they do cover operations for their current talent). Instead, men and women are locked into exclusive deals despite being called independent contractors.
It’s important to note that these are only some of the stars that have gone public with their displeasure inside the company. There have been several notable reports of other talent, ranging from The Revival to former RAW Women’s Champion Sasha Banks, also requesting a release. However, either by being convinced that things would change or due to contractural obligation, they’re still around and haven’t gone public.
While this doesn’t paint a picture that everyone inside WWE is unhappy, and it’d be ridiculous to say so, it certainly shows that a portion of their employees aren’t. It especially rings true when top stars like Dean Ambrose are leaving instead of re-signing. I’ve already written extensively about the farce it is that WWE contracted talent is considered anything but an employee, so I won’t bemoan that point. However, it’s worth noting how ridiculous it looks when someone that has “independent” in their job classification can’t leave a job that they dislike and practice their trade elsewhere. For as much as WWE wants to act like their wrestlers aren’t employees, they sure do treat them that way in everything but benefits.
If WWE wants to avoid a public relations nightmare, they’ll continue doing what they did with Dillinger and Itami by granting Harper his release. Otherwise they won’t only look like a bad place to work, but one that is abusing the term “independent contractor.” After all, the mainstream spotlight is already on them.