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As If Calling Its Wrestlers ‘Independent Contractors’ Wasn’t Enough, WWE Is Now Going to Hijack Their Twitch Accounts

Seth Rollins celebrates his victory over John Cena at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City.

Seth Rollins celebrates his victory over John Cena on the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Heart of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York Metropolis.
Photograph: JP Yim (Getty Pictures)

Encouraging wrestlers to develop their own brand after which coming again to say, “Oh hey, sorry, it’s worthwhile to give us your Twitch account now,” simply appears flawed. Nonetheless, that’s precisely what WWE is doing to its wrestlers, who discovered this week that the corporate can be taking up their Twitch accounts in 4 weeks, in response to WrestlingINC.

The Twitch takeover is said to an edict issued by WWE CEO Vince McMahon at the start of September. Per WrestlingINC, the edict said that expertise may now not “interact with exterior third events” and that wrestlers had 30 days to terminate third-party actions. In a letter to wrestlers at the moment, McMahon mentioned that some people that have been engaged with third events have been “utilizing your identify and likeness in methods which might be detrimental” to the corporate.

Wrestlers that didn’t do as instructed and engaged in “continued violations” would face fines, suspension and termination, McMahon mentioned.

Though it was apparently not instantly clear that the edict would have an effect on wrestlers’ Twitch and YouTube accounts, WWE later mentioned that its expertise may preserve accounts on these platforms beneath their actual names, WrestlingINC reported. Nonetheless, they might nonetheless want to tell WWE of those accounts.

This week, wrestlers discovered what would occur to their Twitch accounts. In just a few brief weeks, these accounts will grow to be the property of WWE, which can personal them and provides expertise a share of the income. This share counts in opposition to their draw back ensures, or the cash they’re assured to make.

In interviews with PWInsider, a number of wrestlers, talking anonymously, mentioned that they might now must stream and seem on Twitch as a part of their WWE reserving contract. Some expressed frustration that beneath the brand new rule, they might be shedding revenue that has helped assist them, as they’ll by no means make the identical amount of cash from Twitch after WWE takes over the accounts. Others questioned if they might get any reduce from Twitch in any respect.

If this didn’t appear flawed sufficient already, simply wait: The WWE considers its wrestlers unbiased contractors.

Sure, you learn that accurately, it simply took away its unbiased contractors’ Twitch accounts. Twitch income that earlier than went on to wrestlers will now go on to WWE, which can generously give wrestlers a portion of that income. When you have been left open-mouthed, you’re not the one one.

One of many loudest high-profile critics of the WWE’s Twitch takeover has been former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who’s a longtime wrestling fan. In September, Yang informed YouTuber Chris Van Vliet that the WWE had been making an attempt to play it each methods for years, controlling every kind of points of wrestlers’ lives however then not providing them the advantages that include being an worker, comparable to healthcare or retirement.

Yang informed Van Vliet that it’s previous time somebody calls out McMahon over this remedy of wrestlers and that if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the election in November, he (Yang) might be able to do one thing about it.

“This might be infuriating to me if I had hung out increase my social media channels solely to have WWE take them over from their ‘unbiased contractors.’ Persons are offended and rightfully so,” Yang tweeted on Friday. “Listening to from expertise that WWE is forcing performers to signal new contracts that embrace Twitch. Streaming on twitch will grow to be a piece obligation and if expertise doesn’t stream they’ll forego earnings, be suspended or face penalties. Doesn’t sound like unbiased contractors.”

Gizmodo reached out to WWE to ask whether or not it had a response to the backlash about its Twitch resolution. WWE identified that this announcement wasn’t new and was made in September. It additionally despatched Gizmodo the assertion it made about its new third-party partnerships rule in early final month.

“Very similar to Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes and invests in its mental property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Large E and Braun Strowman. It’s the management and exploitation of those characters that permits WWE to drive income, which in flip allows the corporate to compensate performers on the highest ranges within the sports activities leisure trade,” WWE mentioned.

“However the contractual language, it’s crucial for the success of our firm to guard our best property and set up partnerships with third events on a companywide foundation, reasonably than on the particular person stage, which consequently will present extra worth for all concerned.”

As famous by PWInsider, it is sensible that WWE would wish to management one other income stream within the covid-19 period, which implies no dwell occasions or VIP signings. Nonetheless, did it actually must go on the lookout for cash by taking away its unbiased contractors’ Twitch accounts? If that’s a pillar of the corporate’s enterprise technique, okay, effective, however come clean with what which means and classify wrestlers as workers.


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Jody Serrano