FOR many years, people have aligned wrestling with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). However, as a long-time fan, I cannot ignore the problems the company is currently facing. It is no big secret that for a long time, wrestling matches have been predetermined. Creative teams have been hired to create story-lines that will entice the audience into watching (check out The Wraps exclusive article on the inside of Raw and Smackdown Creative team). Fans have come to terms with this and have, in fact, embraced it.
At times, it has given us some of the most mesmerizing televisions such as Daniel Bryan’s 2014 road to Wrestlmania. But the matter doesn’t just end here. Segments on their TV shows are drawn up and the wrestlers are given a script to follow while addressing the audience. WWE has often come under heavy fire from fans who have grown tired of the heavily scripted nature of its programming.
Moreover, the wrestlers are unfairly framed as independent contractors. An independent contractor is a person who you hire for a limited time. They are not your employees and so are allowed to work for other clients. Despite legally referring to them as independent contractors, their contracts have a clause stating that they must work exclusively for the WWE. Furthermore, according to the US Supreme Court, the employer-employer relationship and that of an independent contractor can be distinguished by the extent to which their services are integral to the employer’s business.
Furthermore, they have been shrouded in controversy all the way back to the steroid scandal of the 1990s (where current company CEO Vince McMahon was charged with distributing steroids to his wrestlers) to today with its dealings with Saudi Arabia, where the company put on a Pay-Per-View there despite Jamal Khasoggi’s murder These events have heavily stained the reputation of the promotion.
Credit to them, the WWE has been able to successfully conduct its business. In 2018, the promotion announced a revenue of $903.2 million (an increase from the $801 million in 2017). Moreover the company regularly fills up huge arenas such as the MetLife Stadium which can accommodate tens of thousands of people. Despite companies such as New Japan Pro-Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling making some headway, they are still a far-cry away from being seen as legitimate competition to the WWE.
In conclusion, I must say that, if the WWE does ever close its doors, it will be no time soon. The company has had a longevity unlike any other. It has endured numerous ups and downs throughout its run and has come up on top every time and, from the looks of things, will continue to do so.
By Usman Safwat Ghayur
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019