Vince McMahon has banned WWE talent from “engaging with outside third parties.”
Wrestling Inc. is reporting that WWE held a call with the superstars last week where they were reminded that, in most cases, WWE owns their real names and their character names.
This was followed up by McMahon himself who wrote a letter on Thursday where he told the wrestlers that they have thirty days to stop engaging with third parties.
The move is said to be a way to protect the “brand” and wrestlers who violate this will be fined, suspended, or maybe even terminated.
“Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company,” McMahon’s letter is said to read.
“It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days (by Friday, October 2). Continued violations will result in fines, suspensions, or termination at WWE’s discretion,” the letter continues.
While the “third parties” are not really specified, it’s believed that these might be platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and Cameo.
Wrestling Inc. pointed out that the legality of what WWE is trying to do is in question as the WWE wrestlers are independent contractors and not employees.
Wrestlers are reportedly not that happy with the edict as the “vague” wording has them confused about what is and isn’t allowed. They are also unhappy with what looks to be an effort to shut down their personal streaming channels which is a source of additional revenue, especially given the lack of live events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news has also gained some mainstream attention, including from 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang. Yang has questioned the legality of the move and has stated that he is willing to take action to help WWE wrestlers.
“If I’m not the Secretary of Labor, I’m pretty confident I’ll have his or her number to talk about the ridiculous classification of WWE wrestlers as independent contractors while controlling their name and likeness for years,” wrote Yang.
Yang, who said he was a wrestling fan, then addressed McMahon directly stating that McMahon had treated the wrestlers shoddily for years by depriving them of healthcare and retirement benefits among other things.
“He should at least let them make a living off of their name,” he said about McMahon. He added that changes are long overdue and that he would be happy to help the next generation of WWE performers get “fair treatment”.