WWE News WWE News: Former CEO Linda McMahon defends WWE classifying wrestlers as independent contractors in latest uninformed mainstream interview (w/VIDEO)
Jan 27, 2010 - 12:48:51 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon said in an interview on local TV in Connecticut this weekend that WWE classifies wrestlers as independent contractors because they are "performers in a soap opera" and "written in and out of scripts."
That response brings up two questions - (a) why aren't wrestlers protected by an independent group like TV actors and (b) why aren't WWE's "independent contractors" allowed to take bookings for other wrestling promotions, such as TNA, if they are "written in and out of scripts," which implies they aren't always booked on WWE's TV programming. The follow-up questions were not asked by NBC Connecticut's Tom Monahan in the interview on "Connecticut Newsmakers."
WWE subjects were brought up in the interview when McMahon was asked to address criticism of pro wrestling's history of health issues. McMahon pointed to the recent institution of the Wellness Policy after initially dodging the question to describe WWE's socially responsible programs as a publicly-traded company.
McMahon stuck to her trademark answer of focusing on WWE's current Wellness Policy, which was instituted well after the rash of early wrestler deaths in the industry and well after the McMahons made their fortune that is allowing McMahon to self-fund her Senate campaign. The transcript of the exchange is below.
NBC's Tom Monahan: "Linda, you've heard all the criticisms when you talk about WWE - the steroid use, some of the deaths, and so forth. How do you react to that? I guess what the assumption is is that you knew about this and you let it happen. How do you respond to that?"
Linda McMahon: "Now, Tom, you do know that WWE is a soap opera. It's fiction. It's episodic television." Linda then gave the official WWE sales pitch on being "very proud of the reach of that programming to utilize the power of the brand" to develop Smackdown Your Vote, Reading programs, Make a Wish connections, Tribute to the Troops, etc.
McMahon then went to the Wellness Policy defense. "The very key and core of WWE are the performers who are on the road and in the ring. WWE takes great efforts to protect the health and welfare of those through a Health & Wellness Policy, which includes annual physicals, cardio evaluations, Impact testing for concussions, - the same Impact testing that the NFL uses and continues to get updated - and there is a very comprehensive drug-testing policy that's a part of that. All of this is administered by third parties. ... Violations of drug policy are up to and including termination of contract. So, it's very serious and very comprehensive to protect these men and women."
Monahan: "Are these men and women independent contractors?"
McMahon: "Yes, they are. They're independent contractors - they're performers in a soap opera. They're written in and out of scripts. They're also - like other sports figures would be - they are independent contractors."
Monahan: "So, whatever they would have wanted to do bulk up - whether it be exercise or whatever - would be their decision?"
McMahon: "They're responsible for their own training regiment and nutrition. Yes."
Caldwell's Analysis: Unlike "sports figures," pro wrestlers aren't protected by a Player's Union or other labor organization that allows them to have some form of negotiating power. If there's one thing McMahon has proven to be talented at during this Senate campaign, it's answering an unsophisticated question with an unsophisticated answer. If the interviewer doesn't know enough about the subject to ask the proper follow-up questions, then McMahon isn't going to oblige by giving more information than is required. The last exchange in the interview was particularly comical, as the interviewer was trying to ask a question about wrestlers "making their own choice" to "bulk up" - implying steroid use - but he asked it in a trivial way almost looking to find out whether wrestlers are responsible for choosing work-out partners or wearing a fannypack to the gym. McMahon responded in-kind with an innocuous line about wrestlers deciding their own workout training and diet. The WWE portion of the interview picks up at the 5:30 mark below.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**