Chris Jericho had former U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang on the Talk Is Jericho podcast where they discussed WWE’s treatment of their talent, which Yang has called “plain f–king greedy” in the past.
Yang discussed how long the WWE contract is and how much control WWE has over their talent, and Jericho agreed but noted that most people in wrestling are just used to it being that way.
“Someone sent me the WWE contract. It is very very long and robust,” Yang remarked. “It’s a very long contract. The amount of control that the WWE has is incredibly high. It has made them or save them tens of millions of dollars [or] hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the company, and that money came directly from the pockets of the performers.”
It’s interesting because you hit so many points to speak about because I think a lot of it, what you just described, is exactly the truth, but for us in the business, it’s just the way it is,” Jericho added.
Yang prefaced that he doesn’t blame the talent for signing these deals noting that WWE is the pinnacle for many wrestlers. He said that the issue is “a failure of the government” but assures that he would help talent because “it’s the right thing to do.”
“And I don’t begrudge any wrestler from signing that deal, any deal really, because WWE is a quasi-monopoly, essentially,” Yang said. “You work for years in the hopes of being able to do what you love in front of millions of people for a living. No matter what that contract said, you’re going to sign it. You don’t have real bargaining power, particularly, if you’re just trying to make a living in the business, and so this is really a failure of government to look out for the talent on this side.
“And I’m friendly now with a number of performers, and they message me. That’s how I got this contract and other things. They’re sick of the bulls–t, but there’s no way they can actually raise their hand and be like, ‘hey Vince, this is messed up’ because of the power dynamic. It’s so uneven. So it’s something that I would love to help the talent with because it’s the right thing to do. It’s been overdue for years and decades.”
Since the beginning of AEW, Yang has tweeted his support for the promotion. He explained that he liked the idea of the “scrappy upstart” in AEW going against “the goliath or juggernaut” in WWE.
“I have natural sympathies for AEW because it seems like the scrappy upstart that is more sensitive to how talent gets treated trying to go against the goliath or juggernaut in the form of WWE, and I think any wrestling fan knows that some degree of competition is positive for the talent so that you know that they’re actually options,” Yang said. “So those are the things that immediately made me like AEW.”
Chris Jericho said that the biggest difference between WWE and AEW is that WWE still runs their business like a wrestling business going all the way back to Vince McMahon’s grandfather and father. He said that AEW is run like a sports franchise or a sports club since the Khan family owns a NFL franchise and a Premier League club.
“I think the biggest difference is kind of what we’ve been talking about this whole conversation is that WWE treats the business as a wrestling business because that’s what it’s been for 60 years from Vince’s father and Vince’s grandfather, almost from the old school carny attitude, and you can see that with ‘the independent contractor’ for example,” Jericho explained. “It’s not right, but it’s just the way it is, like I explained.
“AEW treats things from a sports team perspective. The Khan family owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. They own Fulham Football Club in England. So they treat the company like they treat their football team, and that’s a whole different vibe as how the talent, the athletes [and] the performers get treated.”
Jericho continued talking about how in AEW, talent do not have to worry about the expenses that come from traveling on the road like how players on the Jacksonville Jaguars do not. He explained that in WWE, talent have to worry about trying to get from show to show, renting a car and trying to find their hotel rooms.
“Not to get into the specifics but things that I have here in AEW, I never had in WWE for 20 years,” Jericho stated. “Even something as simple as paying your expenses on the road like any team does. If the Jaguars go to play a game in St. Louis, the hotel is paid for and here’s the trip and here’s the team bus to pick you up and drive you around. That’s just the way it is. It’s not even a second thought right? That’s how it is here in AEW as well, which it’s never like that in WWE.
“They still go with, here’s your plane ticket. You’re flying to Detroit. You’re working Detroit, Chicago, Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. So you rent your car in Detroit. You drop it off in St. Louis. You got to find your hotel rooms. You got to get a car that’s got a good rate for the drop-off. All this stuff and those are your expenses and your responsibility to do that, and that’s another thing that I think people are just like, ‘are you kidding me? You really have to do that?’ That’s the biggest difference.”
Jericho said that AEW’s treatment of their talent is one of the reasons he’s glad he signed with AEW and has been able to help AEW become successful. He said that he has not intentions of leaving and signing with anywhere else.
“To me, it’s one of those things where I’m really glad that we were able to take a chance and get this company off the ground and make it successful, and I have no intentions of ever going anywhere ever again,” Jericho asserted. “I like it here. I like working for the Khan family, and it’s been a lot of fun, which sometimes, it was not as fun in WWE. So it’s definitely a whole different vibe here.”