Zelina Vega's WWE release has brought attention to the long-running debate of the need for unionization in pro wrestling. The talks of having a wrestlers union have been going around since the golden age of wrestling. Still, the talent has yet to form a legitimate union to safeguard their interests as contracted performers in the wrestling industry.
Former WCW Star Crowbar was the special guest on the latest edition of Sportskeeda's UnSKripted with Dr. Chris Featherstone. The former WCW World Tag Team Champion was asked about Zelina Vega's release and the topic of unionization in pro wrestling.
Crowbar said that unionization has been discussed in wrestling amongst talent for several years, but it has never come to fruition. Crowbar said that the older generation of wrestlers in the world of wrestling lacked the unity to form a union. The wrestlers from back in the day would snitch on another performer who supported unionization just to take their spot.
Crowbar explained that he wasn't too well-versed with the current culture in wrestling, and he didn't know whether the current crop of talent can pull it off.
"Wrestlers have always talked about unionization, and it's always been something where, and again going back to the Ring of Honor thing, I'm not sure how much has changed. For 20 years, if you didn't see me in New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania or New York, you'd probably thought I'd dropped off the map. I really stayed close to home in small groups. I'm really not sure how much the attitudes have changed. I always thought that the older school guys, although they talked about unionization, I felt like there was a dynamic where some guys would get behind it and then try to run with, and the other older guys would rat them out and take their spots. The older generation, this is just how I saw things work out. I just didn't think they had the unity to pull it off. I'm not sure if that's an issue now because I'm not really entrenched in the wrestling lifestyle right now. I watch it. I stay proficient in it. I stay in shape to do it, but it's something prior to COVID, I only did three or two weekends a month because I enjoyed it, and it was like, play money for the kids or whatever like that. But I wasn't entrenched in the whole culture. So, I'm really not sure. I can't give an informed consent. I know it was spoken about for years. I don't think the older generation could have pulled it off just because I just don't think that the unity was there. I don't know if it's there in this day or age."
Crowbar on the independent contractor status in pro wrestling
Crowbar was also asked about his thoughts on wrestlers being labeled as independent contractors in wrestling and WWE. The former Cruiserweight Champion said that wrestlers' contractual status is quite a confusing topic as the WWE Superstars enjoy most benefits as full-time employees but are still termed as independent contractors.
Here's what Crowbar explained about the independent contractor label in wrestling:
"I'll give you my thoughts on this that I've had forever. Some wrestlers will like it; some probably won't. But I'll go into my own experience from years back. When you get into it, you know what the deal is. You are pretty much an employee, you could be fired at will, but you are an independent contractor on paper. You meet almost all the criteria of an employee, but you are an independent contractor. We can both agree on that, right? That being said, you get a lot of guys in here who go through the business and say 'Vince did them wrong,' this and that. And again, you have all the criteria that make you an employee, but you are an independent contractor, but when you get into the business, if you have a good coach or teacher and you know what's going on, you know that it's a bad deal going in. You know what you're getting into. And I knew from very early on, maybe a month or two in, guys are talking about 'You get signed for WWE, WWF' at that time, you are pretty much an employee, but you are an independent contractor. You sign on for, at that time they would say hypothetically you sign on for three years, you are giving them three years, but they could give you your release with whatever it was, two-three months notice, then you are done. So, you are basically an employee, but you know it's an unfair raw deal going in, and you're still making the decision that, 'Yeah, I'm going to do this.' It's not fair, but it's still your decision to do this."Published 20 Nov 2020, 11:31 IST