On the most recent episode of “The Jim Cornette Experience”, Cornette delved deeper into the John Oliver piece on the WWE’s treatment of their talent. Here’s what Cornette had to say:
From the dawn of time, wrestlers have been independent contractors. They fit the definition of the term and were treated as such. Good or bad, every promotion in history did this. That no longer applies to the modern day WWE. The closest another promotion has come to WWE was WCW for two years in the ’90s. They started making enough money and became big enough, but if they did that, they would have gone out of business quicker. But WWE is going to make two billion dollars next year, they made almost a billion dollars this year. There is no part of the independent contractor statute written by the IRS that the modern WWE wrestler now fits. They are told where to go and what to do, they are under exclusive contracts, they can’t work anywhere else, they have to dress as they are told, they use the name they’re told, they finish their matches as they’re told. There is no reason other than saving the company a ton of money that WWE shouldn’t be deemed employees and have their road expenses and insurance paid for.
Should a guy who works WWE for a year get a lifelong pension? No, that’s ridiculous. It doesn’t happen that way in the real world either. There’s only one company at this level that does this. Just because you’re a 30-year veteran that worked for WWE for a year and a half, they don’t owe you for the rest of your life. But, while you’re working for them, there’s no excuse. Wrestlers should have their road expenses paid. Anything, just like any other professional sport. They should have health insurance, not just for in-ring injuries but for themselves and their family.
Where a lot of guys have gone wrong with their lawsuits is that they’ve sought out ambulance chasers. The independent contractor statute is where WWE is the most venerable. If a good lawyer paired with someone who had a legitimate grievance, something would be done about it. WWE providing addiction and rehab for wrestlers is completely PR. Vince is a Republican, he’s a suave debonair version of Donald Trump. Just because he’s a billionaire, he thinks anyone else can be a billionaire if they work as hard as him. Nobody works as hard as Vince, but that’s just bullshit.
I can see Vince looking at a former wrestler and saying “Well, he didn’t have to do drugs and alcohol.” Yeah, but he had to do steroids because of the way that Vince hired people in the 1980s. And yeah, they didn’t have to take painkillers, but the business is so exposed that wrestlers have to do five times the amount of damage to their bodies to get half the pop they used to, so they gotta do painkillers.
When I blew my knee the night before my tuxedo match with Paul E Dangerously at The Great American Bash, I was not going to miss that match. I tore the cartilage jumping off the ring, so I went throughout the locker room looking for a pain pill. I ended up with two mismatched pain pills out of the whole locker room. That was in 1989. If I had asked for cocaine, I’d have to have turned some down. Now, you go into a locker room, there’s not a speck of cocaine but I guarantee that you can still find a lot of pain pills. It stopped being simulated controlled combat, it started to be a stunt show where everyone is popping on the moves. Everyone’s still human, what do you think they’re going to take?
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Credit: The Jim Cornette Experience. H/T Wrestlezone.