Pro wrestler and former WCW Tag Team Champion “Buff” Bagwell is certainly not one who is afraid of any media attention. While he was well known in WCW, WWE loyals best know him from what is called one of the worst matches in WWE Raw history. In 2001, when Vince McMahon purchased WCW, a number of talents were hired on to become members of the WWE roster. In a showcase of the defunct WCW, the Creative team decided to book the main event to be a match between former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Booker T, and Buff Bagwell.
Maybe it was the jitters of entering a WWE ring, but the two combatants were never able to click in the ring, and the end result was a disaster. Booker T was, fortunately, able to rebound from the situation and win the United States, Intercontinental, Tag Team, and World Heavyweight Championship throughout his tenure after this incident. Bagwell, on the other hand, was released from the company.
Bagwell has been very vocal about WWE releasing him for the past 15 years, still not fully understanding why he was not given another opportunity to bounce back from the very bad first impression. Now, he is going a step further in his contentious relationship with WWE, as a lawsuit has now been filed against the company for royalties not paid to him from his appearances on the WWE Network.
In a recent interview with the Pancakes and Powerslams Show, Bagwell went into a great level of detail of why he decided to sue the company.
“I was sitting at home one day, and — keep in mind, I was called up about the concussion lawsuit going on, you know how the boys are, there’s a lot of trash in this business; a lot of it — I remember me and Lex [Luger] talking about it like come on man, really? No one made me do anything, it was a scam, reaching out for things. It’s ridiculous. Well, I’ve probably over the years had three or four or five of those kind of phone calls, where somebody saw a loophole, trying to get everybody together to go after Vince, and everytime I’m like, you gotta be kidding me. One day I get a call, about a year ago, probably, from a lawyer, super great guy, his name is Matthew Peterson, and he talks to me for a minute and says, ‘I’m doing a thing where I’m checking on independent contracts; I know a lot about WCW’. He made me give him my resume over the phone. And it was a good one. I liked the way he spoke, I liked the way he talked, he said, ‘basically, what I do is I look at your contract, and I see if you felt like you’ve been mistreated at all; and if you do, we look at some openings and see how you feel about that.’ I said, I’ll send you a copy of my contract today so you can look at it and see what you think! So, I sent him my contract, and I realize that in a class action lawsuit, there’s a bunch of people always. Well, there aren’t a whole lot of people who worked for the WCW, WWF, and WWE, and I fall in that real small group of names that did that.”
The lawsuit, filed on August 9, 2016, is a class action lawsuit, in which Bagwell is included, was issued as a result of being unpaid royalties from the WWE Network. The total claims that Bagwell is alleging is in excess of five million dollars, and the filing gives details from the particular section, 7.5(c)(i) of the WCW contract, regarding his royalty pay.
“WCW shall allocate 5 [percent] of the Net Receipts paid to WCW with respect to the direct sale by WCW of WCW Pay-Per-Views to a talent royalty pool. Thereafter, WCW shall pro-rate payment to Plaintiff and all other talent appearing in such WCW Pay-Per-Views in the same proportion as was the compensation paid to Plaintiff for his appearances in the pay-per-views to the total amount paid to all talent for their appearances on the pay-per-views.”
Section 7.5(d) is where Bagwell may have the biggest argument, as it deals with royalties from video appearances since WWE bought the rights to WCW in 2001.
WCW shall allocate 5 [percent] of the Net Receipts paid to WCW with respect to the direct sale by Plaintiff of all other WCW Video Products other than those set forth in 7.5 (c)(i) and (c)(ii) above, to a talent royalty pool, from which WCW shall pay Plaintiff and all other talent appearing in such WCW Video Products pro-rata among Plaintiff and all other talent so featured.”
In the interview, Bagwell explained that he had been called multiple times for class action lawsuits, and thought that the people involved were just trying to scam WWE for money. He added, regarding the concussion lawsuit, that WWE does not force anyone to perform a certain way, which is why he does not understand the basis of those type of lawsuits.
However, regarding royalties, he feels that it is a different subject. He strongly believes that it is simply a matter of rightfully receiving funds owed to him due to using his brand.
“So, maybe that’s why I thought this one was intriguing at first. I said that the only thing I’m upset about, is every single week, I hear somebody say, ‘you were on WWE, the nWo part is on now, and you beat up Scotty Riggs’. The first time I heard that, no big deal, didn’t think anything about it. All of a sudden, I’m hearing 2 Cold Scorpio, Scotty Riggs, Nasty Boys. So me and this lawyer started talking, and he sees that they didn’t — through their wording — fire me. They released me. I realized that I wasn’t getting any checks anymore. Every once in a while I would get a 100 dollar check, a 200 dollar check here and there, but nothing was ever WWE Network. It was always some kind of nWo tape that I was on, or t-shirts. And the last thing I got from them, and that’s what got me on this, was probably 5,6,7 years ago; and it was probably a hundred bucks. All of a sudden, I’m hearing the Network, Network, Network, and I’m always on it. And little kids come up to me and say, ‘Yeah I saw you! My daddy watched you on TV!’ So, me and the lawyer started talking, and sure enough, he finds a loophole where they owe me a breakdown that they have to pay me a certain amount of money quarterly. And that’s all it basically boils down to.”
Cases like these usually are not very successful. Most recently, former WWE Tag Team Champion Rene Dupree filed a similar lawsuit regarding royalties owed to him, but it did not go very far. A compilation of Bagwell’s WCW contract, coupled with his time with WWE, seems to be the basis of his case. However, since he was in the WWE for a total of nine weeks, the significant amount desired may be substantially decreased, if he actually receives anything at all from this lawsuit.
[Featured Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]