Talking Points – Is the WWE More Controlling than Any Other Corporation?

Damn you Vince for not pushing this kid to the top!!!

I was perusing the net today while working when I ran across something that talked briefly about interview with former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis.

You remember Maria, don’t you? Well if you don’t, here’s the most un-risqué picture I could find of her on a work computer:

She looks familiar...

The interview was with James Guttman from ClubWWI fame, and the piece contains snippets from said interview.  Click the hyperlink to read them if you like, but I really want to talk about ONE thing that stood out to me in those snippets.

Maria is asked about her stint in the WWE, and goes on to talk about the good and the bad when it came to working for the company.  Mr. Guttman points out that Maria was released from the WWE just as her stint on Celebrity Apprentice began, to which she responds with the following:

“It’s funny. It happened with me. It happened with Ashley. It happened with Stacy. Jericho has left again. It’s just one of those weird things that happened. I think that it’s because WWE thinks that we get a big head about it. It’s not necessarily that we get a big head about it, it’s just we start to learn. We start to learn what’s out there. OK. This or that is going on. I want to fix it. I want to put it in my contract. I want to be able to talk about it. As soon as you start doing that, it was like you lose all leverage.”

Prior to that snippet, Mr. Guttman inquires about her transitioning from a WWE fan to a WWE performer, to which she apparently doesn’t really answer the question but provides some valuable talking points:

“I was surprised by how unhappy people were. It’s the greatest company in the world, but there are so many people within that company that still struggle with their creative abilities not being used. I think you see that in so many people that come out of it. They have motorcycle shops or they have tattoo parlors or they are designers and want to do fashion. Maryse just came out and said she wants to do fashion. Torrie wants to do fashion. Trish has her own yoga studio and her own yoga line. So many of us just feel creatively stifled.

Thank you, Maria.

What struck me as intriguing about the bits of the interview I caught here was the notion that the WWE was “creatively stifling” for the obviously talented hordes of individuals that are fortunate enough to ink a deal with the company.  I’m not surprised by this, because usually people who are released from their contracts — whether by force or intention — often cite the WWE’s vice-like stranglehold on their lives.

The most recent notable case of this involves former WWE Diva Gail Kim, who asked for her release because she felt disrespected by the WWE.  As you remember, Kim notified WWE officials of her departure from the company ten minutes before the airing of a live episode of RAW…after which she promptly eliminated herself from a Divas Battle Royal.

In the interview listed above, Kim also sited that she was frustrated with the direction of the product, probably more so with the direction of the Divas division itself.

All things considered, the WWE is typically depicted by disgruntled employees as a dictatorship that steals souls and consumes fresh baby meat by the truckload on an hourly basis.  The way it seems, Hitler would’ve been jealous of the power Vince McMahon exerts over his defenseless independent contractors.

My question is: what large U.S. for profit corporation doesn’t do that?

Politics exist everywhere and are not unique to the WWE.  No matter what field we choose to make our livelihood in, there’s a fine and fancy dance we must all learn in order to advance in the ways we’d like to advance.  Some people choose to tip-toe around the matter, while others wear the soles of their shoes ragged as they tap dance to the tune played by their bosses.

What sticks in my craw is when individuals pretend as if this isn’t the norm and act as if that entire system is not engrained in our North American system of values and work ethic.

Large corporations don’t give a hoot whether or not you’re creative if they’re not paying you to be creative in the first place.  The way it works now, we’re all cogs in an intricate system and must function as such until we’re a) worn out beyond functional use or b) finely tuned to the point we can be relocated and operate elsewhere in a more productive fashion.

In the case of the WWE, wrestlers are hired to fulfill a particular role; if the WWE doesn’t provide that opportunity for you, then yes you will be creatively stifled.  That, my friends, is the beauty of the world wide internet and water cooler gossip among coworkers: if you KNOW the WWE won’t let you do side projects without their approval, and you desire to do side projects…DON’T WORK FOR THE WWE.

Don’t get me wrong; you could be one of the plucky individuals that rages against the machine and affects some sort of change…but I guarantee you that won’t happen unless you get enough people to follow your lead.  Seeing as everyone chooses to sell their souls to a given company (in this instance, the WWE), it’s obvious that it’d be extremely difficult to be “creatively free” in the WWE.

But again, that’s not just in the WWE; I would assume that’s in most major corporations in this company.  You think my boss would let me go cut a rap album in two months when I’m supposed to be behind my desk proofreading documents and typing up these memos?  Forget-about-it!

So here’s my question to you, lucky reader: do you think Maria’s comments, as poignant as they are, are warranted?  Or do you think that there’s a slight chance that a good number of people are simply whining about something that the rest of the country deals with on a regular basis?  Should the WWE receive so much flack for something most of us would lay down for in our own jobs?

Comment away below…and spread the word to others!

7 thoughts on “Talking Points – Is the WWE More Controlling than Any Other Corporation?”

  1. I was a bit surprised that you didn’t mention Orlando Jones here, but I’m not sure if that’s a matter of “creative stifling” or just knowing your audience. I don’t know, I can’t really co-sign or disagree with Maria’s point. Wasn’t it a Knockout champ that got noticed when she was working behind the counter as some random POS clothing store in Anywhere, USA?

    I digress. When you work for a company, you adhere to rules, and if that contract says nothing about doing things outside of the company then go ham. If it does, consider what you’re risking. Raging against the machine is great when it’ll manifest in more ratings (which, ironically enough, means you’re still working WITH the machine) but when you join the cult of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s empire then you have to deal with it.

    Was Maria big headed? Doubt it. Creatively stifled? What’s she doing now? I’m gonna check, one sec *one minute, thirty-four seconds later* Ah, she’s gonna be in the sequel to Manos, which is one of the worst films ever made. A CD and perfume. Yep, she’s doing what she wanna do. But when she was involved with the WWE still her name carried more weight in Celebrity Apprentice… I reckon. I don’t watch Donald Trump’s shows. He’s filthy.

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  2. Thanks for the response, broski! I did think about Orlando Jordan, but didn’t feel like reliving that mess any more than I’ve already done.

    I don’t believe Maria was bigheaded at all, but what seemed as a good talking point was the point that a good number of former employees cite this as one of the downfalls to working for the WWE. A lot of times people take that thought and run with it, but the WWE in that sense is not really different from any other large, soulless corporation. As such, the WWE is really no different than any other entity, which means that the problem exists in our society and NOT solely in the greasy little manipulative palms of VKM and his Death Star…I mean, his World Wrestling Entertainment.

    And you’ve got to think, a company that has you literally on the road for 265+ days leaves you little time to divulge your interests into anything non-WWE related. If you’re going to, it has to bring attention to their brand, their company, and on their time and dime. Anything that’s self promoting OR could possibly bring some bad/negative press to the WWE…then it’s a nay-no my damie (to quote Pootie Tang).

    Does it suck that the WWE has such a grip on a person’s life…yes; but again, how is that different from any other company? Maria’s comments hit close to home for us more so because we feel the exact same thing when we walk into our offices day in and day out. Her commentary is really a scathing look at how most folks today feel that big business doesn’t really look out for the interests of its workers. That’s always been the case, though, and an equally pressing question is “How much are we willing to do for the actual company?”

    Maria’s projects, or anyone else’s projects for that matter, probably had very little to do with the WWE and would’ve primarily been for her pleasure/leisure/what have you. She, and anyone else, could have done their “creative” stuff without the WWE at the risk of yielding a low return on a lofty investment. And if that’s EVER the case, then that person would be just as guilty of using the WWE for their own good as the WWE is of using a given star for their own purposes as well.

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  3. I agree with you sir. If they plan on partaking in a number of side projects, the WWE isn’t the place for them. Simple as that.

    Thing is, Vince effectively costs himself money by not allowing these guys to be creative. I look at guys like Rock, Austin, and Brock as examples. They were the top dogs. They were so popular that they could crossover into other things such as movies.

    Know why? Because Vince utilized them to their full potential and made them global box office draws. However, they left without Vince getting that return in his investment. They
    didn’t properly pass the torch to the next generation and left Vince without guys to take that mantle as the top guy.

    It was actually Vince that introduced Rock to the film industry.

    Now, Vinnie is afraid to allow these guys to get too big. For example, as I sat and watched Survivor Series, I noticed it was Rock and three other guys.. that’s it. Compared to Rock, those guys are jobbers/enhancers.

    Know why? Vince’s fears. Cena, Orton, and Punk should be megastars but they aren’t because Vince abruptly stopped it before they reached that level. Just look at the early return of CM Punk.

    Funny you mention Maria, a few weeks back, she questioned the burial of John Morrison and noted that Vince may fear losing Morrison to Hollywood as he does possess that Hollywood appeal.

    The WWE has botched every push Morrison has received and I firmly believe it’s because of Vince being afraid to allow him to become too big.

    And look at it now, Morrison is gone and the WWE is in desperate need of the familiar mid card babyface.

    In the end, it’s all about star power and global appeal. If Vince wants these guys to be what he wants them to be, he effectively costs himself money.

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    1. Thanks for your input, RiZE! Greatly appreciated! And thanks for the read and retweet as well.

      I’m very glad you brought your perspective here, because it leads to another interesting point as well: Vince’s fear of allowing his stars to grow bigger than the WWE.

      I’m not sure on all that accompanies Morrison’s treatment in the WWE, and I’m sure there’s more to it than what we as fans are privvy to. I also agree with you that Morrison does have a Hollywood appeal to him, and the physical prowess to do tons of stuff (now as far as his personality and talking skills go…yeaaaahhhh…).

      But look at Dwayne Johnson for example; to broaden his appeal, he dropped “The Rock” from everything. He all but disassociated himself with the WWE when his career reached some epic proportions; he refused to “wrestle” for the WWE and “returned” via satellite to make sure fans remembered who he was; and finally, finally when he did a bunch of flops in a row, he returned to the WWE to appeal to his loyal demographic where most fans questioned whether or not he was there for the fans or for his own benefit.

      You REALLY want five extra people muddling around the WWE like that at a given time?

      So I’m not here to be a WWE puppet, but I do like the exercise of looking at things from a particular perspective. There’s an article I had to read for my job that stated that folks around my age (in that 18 – 40 “young adult” demographic) will work about 7 different jobs before they finnaly settle in one position and spend the rest of their working life there. How beneficial is it in the long run for the WWE to continue to produce mega stars for Hollywood when Hollywood won’t produce mega stars for the WWE AND you have the propensity for the first few stars to turn their backs on the WWE and never look back? Stone Cold will go down as the BEST WWE performer because even in the midst of his outside projects, he CONSISTENTLY returns periodically to the WWE and gives his all for the fans that made him SCSA. Rock, as electrifying and entertaining as he is, took off like a rocket and never looked back at the WWE until…UNTIL that divorce from his wife, his movies started failing, and the realities of his 40s set in and he needed to re-up his fan approval. In fact, he was getting HEAVILY criticized for that when this whole thing with John Cena started.

      So you really expect Vince to allow Cena, Morrison, Miz, Orton, and Punk the freedom to do their own thing and possibly leave the WWE high and dry without anything until they need more money again? From that perspective, I admire that Cena has said emphatically that he’s all about the WWE. Everybody else and their own self-serving desires, in that sense, seems pretty one-sided that they expect the WWE to pay them truckloads of money plus allow them to do whatever they hell they want to promote themselves even though they wouldn’t have been able to do so WITHOUT the WWE’s notoriety.

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  4. Great read Ash and you raise a good question. Maria’s certainly not the only one but her argument, or parts of it, seem to be the common trend in the excuse department these days. I feel like this: once you read and sign that contract, you KNOW what you’re getting into. I’m pretty sure you find out real quick that WWE will own your life. If you want to do other things then leave. Lately I’ve felt like people just use the WWE as a stepping stone to get elsewhere, which really isn’t a bad thing, but don’t bitch about the company who made you who you are and helped you get that big modeling contract.

    Now in Ariel’s case, I understand her issues and Lashley’s wife Krystal. Those two women did @DivaDirt interviews. Krystal claimed Michael Hayes was racist while Ariel complained of harassment by other male co-workers. Those are legit reasons to complain. Gail Kim has worked for WWE before which is why I don’t understand how she could just NOT know how things were going to be.

    I’m like you though. The average American goes to work everyday and works for a royal dick of a boss or supervisor. Stone Cold Steve Austin lived the average working American’s dream by kicking his bosses ass on a weekly basis. We go to work and there are things we can do and things we can’t do. You shut up and deal with it.

    Basically, if she wants to give WWE a hard time for putting a cramp in her creative juices’ side, then by all means have at it, but don’t expect the rest of us to feel any kind of sympathy over it. The way I see it, WWE is a dream job. Some of us wouldn’t care one way or the other if we were able to start our own fashion line while working for the WWE because we’re already part of a dream job. If I’m on TV at least once a week before an average of four million people making enough money to live comfortably, forget the damn clothing line. I’ll get back to it once I retire.

    Again, great article Ash and it really gives you something to think about.

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    1. Thanks for the read and kind comments!! Seriously, I love your candor!

      And I’m thinking the same way you are on this matter; I don’t get the feeling that Maria was whining about the WWE’s control of their worker’s lives, but she did echo some sentiment that a lot of other stars do when they’re allowed the “freedom” to do so once they leave the WWE.

      If anything, we know Maria has the sense the good Lord gave her because she comments later in the piece that while she wouldn’t rule out going to TNA, she wasn’t in a particular rush to do it because she’s “a WWE girl.” She recognized that they “made her,” and even gave her publicity…something that she apparently feels like wouldn’t happen in Dixieland (ooooh…BURRRNNNN).

      There was a star that stated that EVERYONE wants to work for the WWE, and that anyone who says otherwise is either lying or delusional…please forgive me for not being able to name the star that said that. But given the company’s history, everyone is aware of the good and bad that comes with a WWE contract. But if you take away the glitz and fireworks that accompanies that contract, you see that the WWE is just as much of a heartless entity as any other heartless entity, and I myself can’t go along with the notion that it’s just them and no one else.

      One more note: it was speculated that Gail Kim left TNA because she felt as if she wasn’t being paid what she was worth given what she did for the KO Division. Along with that speculation was the speculation that she really didn’t want to leave TNA, but had to do what was best for her (interesting)…

      So after a 2nd unsuccessful stint in the WWE, all of a sudden she’s angry because she felt like she wasn’t being utilized properly, and she apparently told them “they can keep their money,” and then complained because they chose to enforce the contract she signed…

      Then she gets back to TNA and promptly does jack zilch with any real “intensity” that the WWE just didn’t recognize…

      **unimpressed cheetah**

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  5. Just some random/scattered thoughts on the topic…

    Maybe I just don’t get it.

    Why does McMahon owe anyone that works for him…anything? They are giving you a job (a DREAM JOB at that. No one is in WWE because they HAVE to be.) You’re an employee. You have a job to do. You make money for the company, and therefore you earn money for yourself.

    Has anyone here’s boss ever restructured months of their personal work schedule and the company’s work plan so that you can be the all-star slow-pitch softball champion in your community, BECAUSE you don’t feel like you’re achieving all your dreams while at work for him? Thought so…

    The WWE is a creative outlet in itself. If you are wrapped up in movie shoots, and fashion lines, and cooking demo’s – you aren’t focused on “Asses to Seats”

    Furthermore, Vince is in a weird situation that a lot of other industry mogul’s are not. Vince has an image to protect on multiple levels. Vince has to be concerned not only with his pocket, but with the on-camera persona’s of his talent, as well as the off-camera reputation of said talents which directly impacts the overall stamp of the WWE as a whole.

    Also, allowing WWE talents to do movies is a horrible idea to start with because you are banking on the built-in fan base of the WWE Universe to help support the film. However, they are all bleak at best, mostly because we have built-in ideas of what those stars should be – so it’s almost not believable to seem them portray a “fake FAKE” role. It’s like watching Will Ferell in a drama – doesn’t work.

    Also, why would Vince ever intentionally bury someone’s push? If it’s getting over – it’s making money. Trust me, THAT is the bottom line. Does Vince want to make sure someone is ready for the lime-light? Absolutely. He has to. How many times have we seen pushes, angles, or even careers be ruined in their stride because of a Superstar’s dumb actions outside of the ring?

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