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WWE STARS BEGIN TO SUSPEND TWITCH ACCOUNTS, LAST DITCH EFFORT TO CHANGE VINCE MCMAHON'S MIND APPARENTLY FAILS

By Mike Johnson on 2020-10-30 10:56:00

A number of WWE stars announced they have publicly suspended their Twitch accounts in the wake of several talents trying to change WWE Head Vince McMahon's mind about the edict preventing talents from maintaining third-party relationships.

PWInsider.com is told that several talents recently met with McMahon in order to sit down with him to argue against the Twitch ban, but given that a number of high-profile talents, including AJ Styles, have announced they are suspending their Twitch streams overnight, it would not appear they were successful in swaying the WWE head.  

Styles wrote to his Twitch community, "I want to thank you all for the great memories on Mixer and Twitch. I will cherish these memories and I love everyone of you that have made this possible and supported me. As many of you WWE is making some changes that involve streaming. We will see what the future holds in that regard. With that being said I will be suspending Stylesclash stream. This isn’t good bye, but this is see you sometime in the future. We will leave discord open, but it won’t be monitored we will be making changes. Chris or I will let you know what that looks like once we figure it out. If you see me at the arenas or whatever be sure to let me know you’re part of the phenomenal family. Again this isn’t the end it’s just a pause. Thank you again for your support."

Beyond Styles, others who have shut down their Twitch streams include Mia Yim (who had used hers to raise money for charity on numerous occasions), Zelina Vega, Ceasaro and Aleister Black. 

One star, however, has publicly announced that she was especially upset and had not yet decided if she would follow suit.  In an emotional moment where she reacted to learning of others suspending their streams, Paige stated that she "honestly have gotten to the point I can not deal with this company anymore" and that she had to make an important decision.      

Black and Vega, who are married, had their account note that "Any further information on this situation will be addressed by Tom and Thea [their real names] personally when the time is ready.  We also ask that you do not repeatedly ask them on their status and allow them to provide an update on their own time."

Yim stated she was putting her stream "on pause" and that this was not a goodbye but a "see you later" situation.  She thanked her followers for helping her "get through the last few months."

Paige, who noted she was learning a lot of late from an "unionization lawyer", continued on, "I'm f**ing tired, man. I broke my f***ng neck twice, twice for this company man, over f***ng worked. I broke my f***ing neck twice for this company. They don't realize that this community isn't f**king...about f***ing subs, man. We build a community and a wonderful f***ing family where this is an escape for a lot of people, including myself. I can't wrestle anymore. I always worked so hard in WWE that I can't wrestle anymore....my neck is f***ed. My whole f***ing dreams got taken away from me dude and I had to have something that fulfilled even a small....that huge f***ing void that I lost with wrestling...that huge f***ing voice.  I couldn't wrestle anymore, something I lived and breathed, sh**n wrestling since I was a f***ing fetus dude, and it got ripped away from me. I had to find something that could even fill a little bit of that and Twitch was doing such a wonderful thing for me. It's such a wonderful place for me."

There are talents who have made a great deal of money independently of WWE, under their real names, via Twitch fan subscriptions, tips, etc. even after Twitch takes a sizable percentage off the top.  The fear among talents that we have heard from in recent weeks is that if they sign their Twitch channels over, they could conceivably lose a significant amount of revenue during a period of time that they are no longer making bonuses due to the lack of live events, merchandise royalties being down, etc. 

Sources on WWE's side have downplayed those fears, pointing out that since talents are not on the road, their road expenses are down and pointing out that last year, pretty much the entire roster across the board signed new deals with higher downside guarantees so that even if they are making less than expected, their guaranteed downsides are higher to begin with compared to a few years ago.   

Needless to say, there has been quite a tug of war privately over the matter for the last several weeks. 

On 9/4, WWE sent an edict out from Vince McMahon via demanding talents sever relationships with "third parties" if the company deems that the talents are using their “name and likeness in ways that are detrimental” to WWE by Friday 10/2 and if they do not, they risk fines, suspension or termination going forward.  Once that edict was received, a number of WWE talents, including Mia Yim and Paige, among others, changed their social media platforms to reflect their real names, as opposed to their WWE personalities.  While talents were initially under the belief this made them exempt from the pressure to drop or sign over those third-party accounts, that has not been the case, with some stories even making the rounds that WWE has informed talents that even if they keep those accounts independent of WWE, WWE would be expecting a percentage of those earnings. 

The bigger issue at play here is that WWE is going to relaunch their Twitch presence in a major way and doesn't want anything that could run opposite of their strategy going forward. PWInsider.com confirmed several weeks ago with sources at Twitch that there are plans for a big push for WWE's own Twitch channel going forward, likely launching by the end of the year, if not sooner, which fits the timeline of WWE wanting to take over the Twitch accounts. 

A number of WWE personalities have shut down other third-party relationships with outlets like Cameo and Pro Wrestling Tees due to WWE's edict several weeks ago.   Some WWE sources have pointed to the timing of new WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, who came to the company from Hollywood powerhouse CAA in August, as likely being behind many of the recent changes, theorizing that Khan could be repositioning the company as an in-house management firm for all talents, resetting parameters so all third-party opportunities flow through WWE itself to maximize those opportunities.

WWE Hall of Famers Mick Foley and Kevin Nash publicly knocked WWE's decision to force talents to shut-down their third party relationships last month with Nash pointing out that WWE performers remain independent contractors who receive 1099s at the end of the year, not employees.  Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has also come out against the situation stated on Twitter severak weeks ago, "This would be infuriating to me if I had spent time building up my social media channels only to have WWE take them over from their ‘independent contractors.’ People are angry and rightfully so."

WWE has not commented publicly on the Twitch situation, but last month issued the following statement to PWInsider.com about WWE's stance on talents' third-party relationships:

 “Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E and Braun Strowman. It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved."

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