The wrestling world was abuzz yesterday afternoon after it was revealed that Vince McMahon had issued an edict towards his superstars banning them from “third-party deals.” This new rule seemingly includes everything from streaming on Twitch to creating Cameo videos to sponsorship deals on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. After controversy erupted on social media regarding this seeming overreach, WWE has issued a statement regarding their position on the matter.
Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes, and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E, and Braun Strowman. It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved.
This statement noticeably doesn’t extend to the real names of WWE performers. That is different than what Vince McMahon told performers in a letter this past week, stating that WWE owns both the real and stage names of its performers, who are still classified as independent contractors rather than employees.