Quoting this week’s edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Ringside News wrote on Friday morning that McMahon already saw agreements between superstars and outside companies as a problem “dating back months.” The report added that the WWE boss “wanted to put a stop to everything” as early as then, only for the COVID-19 crisis to escalate and force him to put his plans on hold.
“He had talked a few times about it and never pulled the trigger.”
As pointed out by Ringside News, the pandemic allowed a number of WWE wrestlers to take advantage of stay-at-home orders to “build their brands at a rapid rate” by growing their audience on platforms such as Twitch and using Cameo to send personalized messages to their fans. The outlet added that with fans also forced to stay home, they were likewise “more than receptive” as their favorite performers regularly uploaded content to their platforms of choice, particularly Twitch.
However, with McMahon announcing the ban on third-party engagements last week, superstars now have up until Friday, October 2, to stop appearing on outside platforms while using their WWE-owned names and gimmicks. Continuing to do so after the deadline could result in a number of consequences, including fines, suspensions, or even termination.
Since the new restrictions first made wrestling headlines, WWE has faced widespread criticism from several sources, including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who commented on the matter earlier this week in a series of Twitter posts. In those tweets, he implored McMahon to reconsider his stance and allow his workers to “make a living off their own names,” especially amid all the economic uncertainty driven by the coronavirus crisis. He also referred to the continued classification of WWE performers as independent contractors as being “ridiculous.”
You can view Yang’s tweets here.
As of now, reports have been varied in regard to the third-party activities that allegedly upset McMahon enough to revisit the plans he made before the pandemic. According to Sportskeeda’s Tom Colohue, the chairman had a “particular ire” for The Sweeetz — the Twitch gaming channel hosted by Baron Corbin, Tyler Breeze, and AEW star Shawn Spears. However, it was also alleged that Lana’s racy Bang Energy endorsements on her Instagram account were the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” for McMahon.