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How Should WWE Handle Superstars Asking for Release on Social Media?

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2019

Sin Cara.
Sin Cara.Credit: WWE.com

We live in a world where some people share every thought they have on social media. It has become second nature for them to grab their phone and tweet or Instagram anything they find the least bit interesting.

For WWE Superstars, they have to be careful of what they choose to put on their social media accounts because everything they do is being watched by management to make sure they are not making the company look bad.

Over the past year, it has become more and more common for Superstars looking to leave the company to let everyone know they have requested their release from WWE on social media. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Let's take a look at this from every angle and figure out how WWE should handle things when a Superstar publicly requests to quit the company.

                          

Independent Contractors

WWE Superstars are classified as independent contractors. They are signed to a contract, but in technical terms, they are not employees of WWE.

The laws and regulations surrounding independent contractors are vague and confusing. In most cases, both parties are allowed to end the agreement at any point if one side is not fulfilling its end of the deal.

Contractors are usually allowed to take on more clients and work for multiple entities unless some kind of exclusivity deal is part of the original contract.

Not only do WWE Superstars not have the ability to work for other promotions whenever they have time, but they are also not allowed to end the contract if they feel unsatisfied with the direction of their career.

The only way around this is retirement. AJ Mendez, formerly AJ Lee in WWE, retired from in-ring competition in order to leave the company. If she wanted to wrestle for All Elite Wrestling or Shimmer, she would open herself up to a lawsuit from WWE.

WWE allows exceptions on occasion like when it sends wrestlers to appear at Evolve shows or allowing The Colons to work for WWC in Puerto Rico, but management only allows things like this when it won't affect the company's bottom line in a negative way.

Sin Cara @SinCaraWWE

🙏🏼 https://t.co/i1HFQ9bVzi

Being classified as independent contractors also means Superstars are responsible for their own insurance and other non-wrestling expenses such as travel and lodging. Contractors and their employers are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and all laws relating to it, which means things like unemployment insurance do not exist for them.

Back in 2010, WWE was investigated for potentially misclassifying wrestlers as independent contractors, according to Brian Lockhart of the Connecticut Post. Nothing ever came of the investigation since WWE has continued to operate the same way since then. 

In 2012, WWE posted a response to several accusations on its website regarding these practices. One thing addressed was how the company covers all costs related to injuries in the ring and rehabilitation. 

The response also noted how WWE complies with all state athletic commissions and federal regulations regarding the use and employment of wrestlers as contractors.

However, the post says nothing about what a Superstar can do if they would like to leave the company and continue to wrestle elsewhere.

                               

What Happens When a Superstar Publicly Requests a Release?

“The Chairman” Shawn Spears @Perfec10n

https://t.co/ksixchnkb9

In years past, the only way we would hear if someone requested their release was either someone with a source would report it online or WWE would wish them the best in their future endeavors once the agreement was terminated.

When a Superstar requests their release, they are likely told the company will need time to consider it. It's hard to say how long they have to wait for an answer but they probably don't get it the same day.

This is why we are seeing so many people post messages stating they have requested their release before knowing if they will be let out of their contract. 

KENTA @KENTAG2S

Thanks again. See you soon as KENTA #GO2SLEEP #GAMEOVER #BUSAIKUKNEE https://t.co/cCQRj2GsMK

Before AEW had a weekly show on Wednesday nights, WWE was more willing to let people leave if they were unhappy. Goldust was able to depart, Hideo Itami was granted his release and Jon Moxley was given a hero's sendoff with a special event dedicated to The Shield for his last match on WWE Network.

Shawn Spears was one of the first to post about requesting his release on Twitter on February 19. WWE granted it, and he has been working for AEW in recent months.

However, Luke Harper, Sin Cara and Mike Kanellis have made similar statements in 2019 and have not been released. 

Then there's Super ACH, formerly known as Jordan Myles in NXT. He was the winner of the NXT Breakout Tournament this year and seemed poised for a big push when the black-and-gold brand debuted on USA.

Before Myles could ever appear on national television, WWE planned on releasing a shirt for the young Superstar. The design unintentionally invoked racist imagery and once the company received complaints, the product was removed before any units had shipped. 

Myles took to Twitter and slammed WWE several times before he was let out of his contract. Marc Middleton has a full breakdown of everything that happened on WrestlingInc.com.

                                   

How Should WWE Handle Public Requests for Release?

Miracle @RealMikeBennett

🙏🏻 https://t.co/wdYtexyTBf

A situation like this is a double-edged sword. If WWE grants a release to everyone who tweets about wanting one, it sets a dangerous precedent. If the company does not grant the release, it makes WWE look petty.

Management does not want to lose Superstars to the competition, but it also doesn't want to look like a horrible place to work. 

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here. The only solution if someone requests their release on social media is to take it on a case-by-case basis.

Ideally, WWE would want to make it so people do not want to leave, but when you employ well over 100 wrestlers, certain people will always feel they are being underused because there is only so much room at the top.

. @LukeHarperWWE

https://t.co/J5DvmKaHd7

Management could always tell the roster that taking these matters to social media will hurt their chances of being allowed to leave, but the company risks looking bad if people found out about a policy like this. 

According to Darren Wood of WrestlingInc.com, Triple H addressed this issue during the most recent pre-TakeOver conference call. He said it was unprofessional to take these matters to social media and talents who have a problem need to speak to management, not Twitter. 

Until WWE makes a concrete decision about how to handle this issue, it should release the people who are unhappy. None of those asking to leave are main event players so it's not as if any of them showing up in AEW would cause millions of fans to change the channel. 

Harper, Sin Cara and Kanellis are all talented performers, but none of them have been a part of a storyline for months. Releasing them would allow WWE to save a little money it could put back into the developmental system to continue grooming the next crop of Superstars.


What do you think? Should WWE release anyone who wants to leave or should people be forced to finish their contracts?