Friday, September 11, 2015

The Front Line of the Class War Is NXT

The roar of the crowd doesn't exist without the talent, so why aren't they getting a piece of the pie?
Graphics Credit:
Wrestling is, as I've written in the past, a hotbed for the class war. Unlike in the indies, however, the stakes in WWE are incredibly high dealing with revenues in millions. To be completely fair, main roster WWE superstars do get to make a comfortable living. Is it commensurate with the amount of dates worked or the amount of revenue taken in by the company? Given that few businesses in America pay the labor a wage commensurate to the effort put in, I doubt it. However, one can make a lucrative living as a main roster WWE superstar.

However, NXT salaries aren't nearly as rich as one might expect for someone under the umbrella of the wealthiest professional wrestling company in history. Before they get to sign main roster salaries, NXT wrestlers make piddling salaries comparatively. They're low enough that Ring of Honor (with Sinclair Broadcasting Group backing it) can offer more lucrative money in the short term to wrestlers. Given that the success rate of NXT wrestlers transitioning to the main roster isn't high enough to make it a sure bet, the ROH fallback deal can look mighty tasty.

Things are changing with NXT's reach and exposure though. When it started out, the developmental arm was televised only locally in Florida, and the only marquee wrestlers who were ported from the indies or international scene were Paige, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose. Additionally, it was only running local Florida armories and Full Sail University. Now, it's a building block for the Network, the roster is pretty much built around wrestlers who are ready-made from the higher end alternative scene, and it's selling out main-roster sized buildings. One would think that the talent would see some of that windfall.

Yet, WWE officials recently made it a point to call a meeting with the talents and sing sob songs about how NXT runs at a loss and that gate shares and roster bonuses cannot afford to be given out. TO be completely fair, I do believe NXT is run at a loss and that the Performance Center sops up a lot of money. If the PC wasn't money-intensive, then it would be a failure, because in order to invest in the future, one needs to spend cash and time and resources on it. But should that mean that the talent should suffer when the success of the brand is built upon their backs, no matter how many pictures Triple H horns himself into?

If money shouldn't be diverted from the PC, then where should it come from? The most obvious answer is the one that will never be considered because taking money away from the executives and the front office is anathema in this hyper-capitalist society. Of course, how much money that should be diverted away from the executives of WWE is unknowable without knowing how much money Vince McMahon pays himself. But since he's always flirting with being a billionaire, he definitely can afford to shell out more money from his personal stock to the people keeping his brand afloat. The same can be said for the salaries of people like Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, George Barrios, Jerry McDevitt, Canyon Ceman, and Kevin Dunn.

Then again, NXT is run like WWE's in-house indie, so the pay structure being imitated is not surprising at all. However, most indie promoters act stingy because the money pool is so small. Everyone's fighting for a share that's a pittance in comparison to what WWE brings in. When someone is working for the most lucrative wrestling company in existence, they should expect to be paid like it. And when they're selling out the fuckin' Barclays Center, they should see some windfall from that since without their notoriety and hard work, that state of things just doesn't exist. Hopefully, WWE will do the right thing and find some way to free up more money for perhaps their most buzzworthy performers, but expecting a corporation act in the best interest of its labor is futile at best. That, of course, is why the class war is necessary to begin with.