Are the WWE Network and Vince McMahon ripping off wrestlers’ paychecks with a change in WWE PPV bonuses? That’s the rumor going around, but is the effect on the average WWE wrestler not that much?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Mick Foley says Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon should hide since their in-ring personalities may be sending the wrong message to investors. There was even a rumor that some WWE officials were saying that Vince should pull the plug on the WWE Network in order to stop the financial bleeding. But Vince McMahon’s net worth is so high that even after losing hundreds of millions in personal wealth based upon the current WWE stock value he does not have to worry.
When the WWE Networking streaming platform was first launched, the issue of WWE wrestlers’ pay being effected seemed to be obvious. You would hope that if they are successful over the long term and reach their goal of two million subscribers by 2015 that brand names like Daniel Bryan would be financially rewarded for their efforts. After all, the business is essentially built upon a foundation of their pain.
But while some people seem to think not only is WWE creatively out of touch with the fans, others think it’s possible management is out of touch with the concept of rewarding loyal employees:
“Vince seems very out of touch with what his audience wants from Raw. Until the support got deafening and was actively ruining shows, they weren’t going to pull the trigger on Daniel Bryan, even though it was the most obvious thing to do (that I can remember) in a long time. CM Punk walked out and many talents are rumored to be unhappy. The PPV bonuses are gone and replaced with exactly nothing at this time, and likely won’t be in the foreseeable future, meaning there appears to be disarray in many corners of WWE.”
While the exact terms of WWE contracts are not typically disclosed, the WWE Network has publicly spoken about the issue of wrestler pay in the past:
“WWE has more than 625 full-time employees and 120 performers who are independent contractors, the same as actors or actresses on television dramas, soaps or comedies. They do not have corporate responsibilities or duties. WWE’s main roster talent work and travel four and a half days a week with annual compensation ranging from $250,000 to millions. WWE pays for all in-ring related injuries and any associated rehabilitation.”
Most wrestlers probably make closer to $250k to $500k at max. The usual WWE contract is supposedly one to five years and includes a base salary and perks (medical, financial management assistance, etc.). Years ago the payroll for 2004 to 2006 was leaked online and it was revealed that Triple H’s base salary was the highest at over $2 million, and is probably much higher nowadays. The biggest stars also benefit from merchandising and promotions.
The real question mark is PPV bonuses. It used to be that once the WWE knew how much they had sold then wrestlers would receive a check that was a percentage of the overall income. Chris Jericho once revealed that these bonuses could be as high as six figures for a single match an event like WrestleMania. The reason that some people believe that wrestlers might be getting ripped off is because the WWE Network needs one million subscribers just to break even. Thus it’s assumed if there is not a profit then wrestlers are not receiving a cut except for the normal bonuses associated with PPV ticket purchases.
To give you an idea how big this could be, check out the PPV buy numbers from 2013:
In the end, it’s all speculation since we don’t know the exact terms of the newer WWE contracts. If the WWE Network reaches two million subscribers then that essentially means they have two million potential PPV viewers. So let’s compare the worst performing WWE PPV event of last year to this possibility. WrestleMania costs $59.95 while all the others are $44.95. That means Battleground 2013 brought in $5,124,300. But let’s say by time Battleground 2015 rolls they’re making $19,900,000 each month. That’s huge, and, assuming the WWE Network is not monetized further via ads, this should mean WWE wrestlers’ payroll would hopefully go up overall.
Do you think Vince McMahon would rip off his wrestlers with the WWE Network?