Monday, July 16, 2007

Chris Benoit Tragedy Splotlights Strain on WWE Wrestlers

In the aftermath of the Chris Benoit tragedy, the stresses put on WWE wrestlers are coming more and more into the spotlight. According to insiders, wrestlers are placed under near-constant stress, face hazardous conditions, have no insursance, no off-season, and often perform hurt. A major factor leading to these conditions is that the WWE is basically a monopoly. According to Alfonso A. Castillo of Newsday,

Even when they are hurt, many pro wrestlers, who are classified as independent contractors and don't get insurance, choose to work through agonizing pain out of fear of losing their place in the cards or their jobs altogether.

With no unions or pensions and no viable competitor to WWE, losing your job can mean losing your career, wrestlers say.

The problem for the wrestlers is that the WWE has bought out most rival wrestling leagues. That leaves the performers with little options. They must keep performing up to brutal expectations -- the WWE puts on shows more than 250 nights a year -- or risk losing their jobs. If they lose their jobs, they do not have another league to turn to.

This is similar to the problem faced by UFC performers as previously discussed on Everything But The Game. When performers have few options, they are taken advantage of. Of course, the MLB and NFL are monopolies as well. But in those leagues, there are 30 odd teams competing for the services of each player. If a player leaves one team, he has 29 more opportunities to find another job. WWE wrestlers and UFC fighters do not have that same opportunity.