The Wrestling Post – 03.22.13

March 22, 2013

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  This week we take a look back at a fight Dana White turned down, Wrestlemania is $70 and an interesting lawsuit involving the independent contractor/employee question.

Vince challenges Dana

One of the stories that was buried under the Nick Diaz press was Dana White revealing that Vince McMahon asked him to do a match with him at Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta.  Wrestlemania, the annual big event for the WWE usually pulls out all the stops including celebrity participation.  Instead of White, the WWE had the Jersey Shore’s “Snooki” participate in a match.  Previous celebrities included Donald Trump, Mike Tyson and host more.  White smartly turned down the offer from McMahon.

Payout Take:  Despite being different, the two organizations seem to always be connected. White seems to have respect for McMahon and perhaps vice versa.  While we may criticize White for many business decisions, declining the spectacle that it would have been was the correct choice.  Although it would have helped with UFC publicity, it would have made the two organizations synonymous which the UFC definitely does not want to do.

PPV model to go away but it will be $70 for Wrestlemania 29

WWE Chief Financial Officer George Barrios speaking to financial web site 4-traders.com indicated that the WWE’s pay per view model will eventually go away.  This seems to be based on the hopes of the launch of the WWE Network which still does not have distributors or a launch date.  Presently, the WWE plans to run its usual PPV events on the subscription based network with the exception of Wrestlemania in addition to running its events on regular PPV.  However, Barrios believes that those PPV fans will “migrate” to the WWE Network.  At some point, pay per view will eventually go away.

In the meantime, Wrestlemania 29 has been priced at $70 for the 4 hour event.  This is a rise of $5 from last year and is on par with the Pacquiao-Marquez IV fight in December.

Payout Take:

The WWE seems to have gone all in on the WWE Network as it appears that they are set on having a network which will do away with its PPVs.  Obviously, the “migration” of its fans is key to its success.  I tend to think that the WWE’s PPV business is just one revenue stream of its business now and that the statement should not be surprising.

As for the $70 for Wrestlemania, I would think that the UFC is looking at this and seeing how successful the event is in terms of buys to see if it could raise its price point in the future.  I think that this would be unlikely in the near future but something it could look at down the road.

Former TNA Wrestler Daphne settles injury lawsuit

An interesting lawsuit was settled at mediation earlier this month as Former TNA wrestler, Daphne, decided to settle her case with TNA instead of moving forward to trial.  If the former wrestler had moved to trial, the first issue that would have been decided was whether the wrestlers are independent contractors or employees.

Shannon Spruill, Daphne’s real name, sued TNA for medical bills exceeding $26,000 from an in-ring injury.  According to Spruill, she was promised that her bills would be paid by TNA but in the end, they were not.

Payout Take:

I will try to obtain a copy of the lawsuit (which I believe was filed in Tennessee state court) but the issue of independent contractor versus employee has come up again.  The independent contractor status is something that has been used in professional wrestling to the detriment of the wrestlers.  In MMA, most organizations, including the UFC, have its fighters as independent contractors and not employees.  The UFC does offer its fighters under contract insurance which would have helped Spruill here.  If Spruill and TNA had gone to trial on the issue of independent contractor/employee, it would have certainly raised some eyebrows if the court had decided she was an employee.  Moreover, it would have opened up a ton of discussion (i.e., lawsuits) within the industry.

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