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The WWE is a company where a wrestler can go from relative obscurity to bing one of the biggest celebrities on the planet, with names like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and John Cena proving that in spades. It's the drive that keeps middling and up-and-coming talent hustling within the organization, despite the uncertainty that comes along with the business. After all, there are benefits to appearing on television almost weekly, though one of those big benefits may be ending for talent very shortly, thanks to Vince McMahon.
In a recent letter sent to WWE employees, Vince McMahon declared that some big changes were happening in terms of how talent would be able to interact with fans. Namely, the talent was told that their presence on Cameo, Twitch, or maybe even YouTube could soon be at an end:
Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company. It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days (by Friday October 2). Continued violations will result in fines, suspension, or termination at WWE's discretion.
The move would effectively require all wrestlers within WWE to get rid of their Cameo, Twitch channel, and other third-party accounts, or face repercussions from the organization. In recent years, these outlets have provided an additional source of income for lesser talents, who have been able to supplement their income in ways not directly touched by WWE.
Unfortunately, with that territory comes a breaking of the fourth wall. Often on these channels, performers act more similar to their real-life personas to the public, an act that used to be seen as a great taboo in the birth of WWE. In an updated statement since the letter leaked to the public (via Cageside Seats), the company explained the reason for the decision a little more:
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.
There has been a question as to how the WWE can enforce this, considering most their performers are listed as independent contractors. If it's just an issue of wrestlers using their stage names on these platforms, that's one thing but, if WWE is asking performers who are already going by their real names (which was allegedly said during a company call according to Wrestling Inc.) it seems hard to enforce.
Anyone with a sizable following can do well financially on Twitch and Cameo, and it's possible some performers may not be so willing to lose that revenue, especially if they're unhappy with where their career is within the WWE. This new policy could also affect Xavier Woods, who has built a successful YouTube Channel Up Up Down Down over the past few years. It will be interesting to see what talents comply and whether the rules will be the same for some superstars as they are for others. Will superstars comply, or will WWE be convinced to soften its policy and compromise with its talent?
These are all questions that likely won't be answered on Monday Night Raw, but it airs on USA Monday, September 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET all the same. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on what's happening with television and movies throughout the rest of the year and beyond.