PWInsider.com can confirm that the first United States based independent talents signed are Ricky Reyes and B-Boy.
We have also heard that offers are out to former WWE star John "Morrison" Hennigan, former TNA star Hernandez, Dragon Gate USA Open the Freedom Gate champion Ricochet, Chavo Guerrero and several others. Ricochet is an interesting name since one would assume he is signed to WWNLive, the parent company of DGUSA and EVOLVE.
We are told that the El Rey Network contracts being offered to the talents have been described to me as "worded very broadly" and would require talents to sign exclusively for the series for up to "seven series cycles." How the cycle would be defined is said to be very ambiguous in it's contractual wording, which has raised the eyebrows of some of the wrestlers who have been offered deals. We have been told it could mean as long as seven years.
There have been several issues raised by talent after contracts were presented to the wrestlers. One issue that we have heard is that while wrestlers would be signing exclusivity away for such a long period, they are not a solid number in terms of guaranteed appearances on the series. That would mean they would appear and receive pay for episodes they appear in, but without a guarantee they would appear regularly - and at the same time, be locked into exclusive deals that would prevent them from wrestling anywhere else.
That is obviously a major concern as the wording would not just prevent the talents from wrestling for another nationally television promotion (i.e. WWE) but would also prevent them from working independent date without the promotion and the date itself being cleared by Lucha Underground. I was given the impression that would be the case even if they weren't wouldn't be performing the same characters on the independents as they would on the El Rey series. In many ways, that would be the equivalent of a TV actor signing a deal that would prevent them from doing a play as another character unless the TV show signs off on it. Obviously, the way wrestling works on the haphazard, fly by night realm that is independent wrestling, getting every date cleared in advance isn't really going to be feasible, especially the way bookings come up at the last minute. So, obviously, there is a disconnect between those behind the series and their understanding of how wrestlers make their money on the independent level.
The fact that the contracts offered, unlike most long term TV deals, are also not structured to provide for raises for the performers (i.e. if the show goes seven seasons, talent would still be making the same that they were paid for season one) has also raised a few flags among wrestlers being asked to lock themselves in for long term-commitments.
Beyond that, there is also said to be an unpaid "no compete" period that was described to me as "longer than WWE's paid 90 day no-compete period."
The contracts also call for wrestlers to work "publicity" days, without day, without a cap on how many they might be called upon to do. So, by the letter of the contract, they could end up required to work for months doing publicity without additional payment.
So, El Rey is looking for WWE-level exclusivity without WWE level financial guarantees to the talent.
With so many wrestlers raising concerns about the contracts, a number of them are going to former wrestler turned San Diego lawyer Andre Verdun, who worked the Wrestling Society X series on MTV before becoming a lawyer. I am told Verdun is representing a number of talents and trying to negotiate deals so the El Rey Network gets what they want in terms of talents for the series but also protect the wrestlers so they can continue making a living with independent dates, conventions, etc.
The El Rey Network will be taping episodes of Lucha Underground, their new TV series in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, CA on 9/6, 9/7, 9/13, 9/14, 9/27, 9/28, 10/4, 10/5, 10/18, 10/19, 10/25 and 10/26. The series will debut in early October on the El Rey Network with the first season advertising eight episodes.
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