This weekend, HBO’s Last Week Tonight took aim at WWE’s treatment of their wrestlers. In particular, that WWE wrestlers are classified as “independent contractors” and the lack of health care provided for wrestlers took center stage.
The piece focussed on WWE which perhaps begs the question on how similar issues are handled in other promotions. Promotions such as Impact, MLW, and Ring of Honor all currently list their talent as independent contractors as well.
All Elite Wrestling has stated they plan to take care of their talent. Even this new promotion has stopped short of saying they would be providing health insurance or other full-time employee benefits to their wrestlers. In the case of some wrestlers who have also been hired as office employees (SCU, the Bucks etc.), they will receive healthcare benefits but in terms of the actual roster, it does not appear they will be receiving health insurance.
Here is a collection of what they have said regarding AEW wrestlers have said about how they will be treating their talent.
Cody Told ESPN in January That A Union Would Kill Pro-Wrestling
A union in pro wrestling — and that’s this thing that people say all of the time, and they don’t realize it — a union in pro wrestling would put pro wrestling out of business.
But, with that said, we should be actively working towards some sort of body, and this is outside of what I’m talking about with AEW and as me in the executive role, but we should actively be working to have the happiest talent you can possibly have. Whether that starts as a talent feedback system, or a players’ league, or some sort of body where there’s a complete, transparent communication between those in the office and those in the locker room.
Comments Made To Anonymous Source Based Websites:
Comments were made recently on Wrestling Observer radio recently which could lead one to believe Dave Meltzer has spoken to members of the AEW management team. One could assume if these comments are not correct they would be refuted by AEW executives sometime soon. These comments should not be taken as fact, however.
“I know from talking to people in AEW on this,” Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio recently. “I asked about this thing and the reaction pretty much was ‘we looked into it, we looked into the cost and the cost is real high and the company is already going to be losing a tonne of money starting up’.”
So the question then becomes, if AEW becomes profitable, will they move forward with health insurance for wrestlers?
Cody had the following to say on AEW taking care of wrestlers hurt while competing for the promotion:
“A lot of concerns that guys will have is what happens if I get hurt in the ring? Because that’s the one thing WWE covers and we can confirm anyone that gets hurt in an AEW ring will be 100 percent taken care of by AEW,” Cody said.
While Cody said AEW talent injured in an AEW ring will be taken care of, this statement stops short of saying they will be covered by health insurance.
“I’d like to see wrestling just like the television industry,” said Cody. “I’ve done a few bit roles here and there but that treatment and that care you get for your time on-screen, you have a comparable influence as a pro wrestler. You’re just as recognizable and you should be just as taken care of.”
Matt Jackson in January On AEW Wrestlers Receiving Health Insurance “Someday”:
“We’re at the day one process of that and we’re working on it, but yeah, that’s definitely a plan… never say never [to talent getting helth insurance “one day”]. We’re early on, so we’re creaking open that door barely – hopefully, we one day we can swing it wide open.”
Tony Khan in January on if AEW wrestlers will receive health insurance:
“I feel really positive about what we’re doing in terms of taking care of the guys. We have great management and the guys we’re focusing it on, Cody and the Bucks, they are very, very hands-on with the talent. And I’m sure, for us, the kind of people we’re bringing in, they’re gonna contribute to the company in a number of ways. And I think that, yeah, there is a package, a competition package and healthcare package that could be available.”