With the live event business currently shut down, pro wrestlers have been finding supplemental income through various social media platforms. That doesn’t sit well with Vince McMahon.
According to a report by Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc, the WWE CEO is cracking down on its talent’s use of social media as a source of income. This includes a number of different platforms, primarily Twitch and Cameo.
“Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company. It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days, by Friday October 2. Continued violations will result in fines, suspension, or termination at WWE’s discretion,” McMahon wrote in a letter.
The move comes seemingly out of the blue, as WWE stars have flocked to various digital platforms over recent months. The WWE typically has a grueling travel schedule, but the company has been shooting shows entirely in Florida since the start events with live audiences were canceled earlier in the year. This has given talent more time at home at the expense of fewer opportunities to earn a paycheck by either wrestling or making event appearances while on the road.
Many WWE personalities both in and out of the ring have taken to Twitch as means of engaging fans and earning some extra income through subscribers, with the most successful thus far being former champion and current desk host Paige. Others have begun utilizing Cameo, a service where fans can request personalized messages from celebrities.
It is unclear what raised the ire of WWE executives, but either could have drawn the ire of company brass.
The details surrounding this decision are unclear and it remains uncertain what prompted it or how strict WWE is planning to be with the new directive. There are two prevailing theories right now, both of which would be a bad look for the WWE.
The first is that this is retaliation for WWE star AJ Styles revealing that he tested positive for COVID-19 during a Twitch stream. WWE has been paranoid about bad publicity regarding its lax health precautions and talent have discussed the backlash they have faced for discussing positive test results. WWE is likely concerned about the optics of dozens of performers being infected and wants to prevent possible bad press.
The other possibility is that WWE wants to shut down Cameo use due to it infringing on a similar service WWE is planning to roll out.
A key source of revenue for WWE on the road were deluxe ticket packages that included meetings with wrestlers. The WWE is reportedly looking to do a digital version of this which would allow fans to spend a few minutes chatting with wrestlers online at a steep cost. This is similar to Cameo’s services, but would allow WWE to skim some or most of the money being spent by fans in this way, rather than all of it going to the performer as is currently the case.
WWE talent is reportedly displeased with this development, but odds are that the company will not budge.