The WWE could be getting into a legal battle with CM Punk over royalties, but the court fight itself could have a much wider impact on the world of professional wrestling.
Attorneys for CM Punk reportedly sent WWE officials a 22-page letter over royalties from the WWE 2K15 video game, which uses the wrestler’s likeness. Insiders believe that the WWE cut off payments to CM Punk after he left the organization early this year, claiming that he breached his contract with the walkout.
But the roster for the upcoming video game was reportedly constructed before his January exit, with WWE officials arguing that he had already given his consent to appear. It is not yet known if the fight could head to court, or if the sides would work out some kind of agreement on their own.
The CM Punk lawsuit has the potential to change the way the WWE compensates wrestlers, especially after their departure from the organization. Back in February, when details about Punk’s departure were still light and there was hope he might come back for Wrestlemania XXX, former wrestling legend Stone Cold Steve Austin confirmed that wrestlers who walk away from the WWE lose out on royalties and other compensation.
Wrestilng Inc. noted:
“Austin noted that Punk walking away was similar to his situation when he walked out over a bad booking decision in 2002 [details]. Austin admitted that it was one of the worst decisions of his life, and he lost a lot of money over it. He advised Punk to at least finish out his contract so that he’s not in breach and can earn future royalties, and noted he didn’t make a dime when he walked away because he breached his contract. Austin said that the way to get back at the company is to go to WrestleMania and steal the show. Austin thinks that Punk will be back for WrestleMania XXX, and this shoot will turn into a work.”
If CM Punk were win his battle with the WWE, it could mean that wrestlers have the right to earn money for the use of their likeness, even if they leave the organization.