WWE wrestler Ryback (real name Ryan Reeves) wrote a Tumblr post today where he disclosed that he’s asked to be left off of the company’s programming until he gets a new contract. Reeves—a mid-card wrestler who acknowledges that at this point in his career his job is to make other talent look good—questioned why the winners and losers get paid differently, when the matches are planned out beforehand.
Reeves argues that if the results aren’t actually results, and the entire enterprise involves mutual cooperation for the greater good, maybe everyone should bring in the same salary. From his post:
Wrestling is pre determined, we as performers know before we go out to that ring or perform a backstage scene who is winning and losing etc or have a general idea of what we are going to say. It blows my mind how in a sport which is pre determined from a company standpoint winners are paid so much more than the losers. Every single person who works for WWE from top to bottom is absolutely just as valuable as the next. The winners cannot win unless the losers go out there and agree to lose to them.
It blows my mind that in this day and age though we still adhere to this formula. Obviously things have always been this way, but does that make them right? Times have changed and our goal as humans should be to evolve and learn from our past and the past of others so we could make this world a better place. Why is it a guy who is told he is going to go out and lose and does everything he is told be paid not only less, but much less than said winner over a period of time. Every single performer for WWE sacrifices the same amount of time from home and their families and every single man or women goes out and does what they are told. Looking at this formula though losers turn into what fans like to call jobbers and their value decreases in the companies eyes and before you know it they get released. For what? For doing exactly as they are told!
Why not pay the talent equally? The winners have more MERCH as it is or are supposed to anyways so they get that extra perk, but why make the guy who is told to and agrees to lose earn less and sacrifice spots in big pay per view match ups etc. This is one of the major problems with wrestling and WWE today. Most guys take great satisfaction in helping making other talent, the bitching and the moaning we always hear about stems from the fact they know they are ultimately over time going to make less and live in fear of being released.
Reeves is fine with not being at the top of the card, but wants to be paid appropriately for his work. One possible counterpoint is that he’s not always good at his work—and that he’s been accused of not being good at it in ways that undermine his claims that pro wrestling is all about cooperation and mutual benefit. C.M. Punk (real name Phil Brooks), who walked out on WWE in 2014 and claimed the company pushed him to wrestle through serious ailments, said that Ryback was sloppy in the ring and “took 20 years off my life.” (Start listening at the 52:00 mark.) Brooks accused Reeves of intentionally hurting him when they wrestled:
I was beat up, and I was torn up, and then John Cena got hurt, and they were like, “Well, how do you feel about [Ryback]? He’s definitely not ready, but you can carry him if you want.” I was like, “Yeah, okay, great.” So, that took 20 years off my life. I’m already beat up and I have to wrestle Steroid Guy—I call it like I see it—he’s very hurty. Sometimes deliberate. There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs right at the tail end. I never got an apology for that. He was something else. Real piece of work, that guy.
Reeves denied Brooks’s accusations at the time.