Count I of WWE Lawsuit- Misclassification


(Against Defendant WWE, on Behalf of All Named Plaintiffs to whom WWE provided an unconscionable booking contract, “Contractor Nostalgia Agreements”, or any other documents or payments purporting to limit their rights under Applicable laws of the United States)

  1. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the preceding paragraphs set forth above as if fully set forth herein, including all exhibits referenced.
  2. As part of its artful and cunning scheme to defraud each of the Plaintiffs, the Defendant WWE and VKM as its Chairman and controlling shareholder (individually and/or through the blizzard of trusts he has created) intentionally misclassified the Plaintiffs as “independent contractors”, without basis in law for doing so, and with the specific intention of depriving the Plaintiffs of money due to them which was retained by the Defendants and utilized to advance their business and augment their wealth.
  3. The misclassification by WWE was generally achieved by the presentation to the Plaintiffs of boilerplate Booking Contracts permeated with unconscionability. For the purposes of the scheme to misclassify the Plaintiffs, the relevant sections of the unconscionable Booking Contracts are virtually identical. Four examples of these contracts are attached hereto as Exhibits A, B, C, and D. No substantial negotiation was permitted.
  4. The unconscionable Booking contracts were utilized by the Defendants to dupe the Plaintiffs into believing that they were independent contractors with few if any rights against the Defendants, and particularly no rights to:
  5. Require WWE to contribute to State and Federal employment taxes as is required by law with respect to employees; thus resulting in significant additional expense to Plaintiffs;
  6. Require WWE to purchase Worker’s Compensation Insurance as would have been mandated by the laws of the various states so as to pay for on the job injuries, disabilities and wage loss, but for the deceitful misclassification;
  7. Require WWE to provide at its own expense health insurance and liability insurance or to pay out of pocket for work related injuries when such insurance was not available, instead of requiring Plaintiffs to make these payments;
  8. Require WWE to provide a reasonably safe work place as required by OSHA and its regulations;
  9. Allow Plaintiffs to seek to organize a union under the NLR Act;
  10. Require WWE to follow Family and Medical Leave Act and provide the guidance issued thereunder;
  11. Require WWE to provide written notices as mandated by statutory law concerning the protections afforded under OSHA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation.
  12. The unconscionable language artfully crafted by the WWE and its attorneys as the “booking contract” cannot establish the relationship between contracting parties as one of employer-employee or independent contractor. Case law requires an inquiry beyond the unconscionable contractual boilerplate to the actual nature of the relationship between the Plaintiffs and the WWE.
  13. The Booking Contracts state they are to be governed by Connecticut law. Connecticut follows the vast majority of jurisdictions in holding that contract language will be construed against the drafter. Here the drafter is clearly the WWE and its relentless army of attorneys. Of the numerous unconscionable Booking Contracts examined, there were no material deviations from the printed “form contract” imposed by the WWE, which is testimony to the vast discrepancy in bargaining power between the wrestlers and the WWE, the coercive nature of the relationship, and the fact that the significant majority of the wrestlers lacked both adequate (or even any) representation or sufficient educational training to even begin to comprehend the boilerplate Booking Contracts they signed, all as known and relied upon by the WWE. Serious penalties were imposed by the WWE for questioning any demand it made of Plaintiffs as is elsewhere more particularly alleged.
  14. The Internal Revenue Service has established a twenty factor test, very similar to the codification of the common law as set forth in the Restatement of Agency (Third), Section 7.07, and under applicable Connecticut law, for distinguishing true Independent Contractors from employees. Plaintiffs were employees of the WWF, despite WWF’s cunning scheme to misclassify them for its own profit.
  15. It would not matter or be a defense to the claim of misclassification if the WWE claims that it has a revenue ruling from the IRS on the issue of independent contractors. Such rulings are only as good as computer calculations. Applications for a revenue ruling in this case, in order to achieve “independent contractor” status would necessarily have to have been incomplete and misleading as to the degree of control exercised by the WWE over the wrestlers.
  16. The Plaintiffs and all wrestlers signing any one of the WWE’s boilerplate Booking Contracts are required to comply with the WWE’s instructions as to when, where, and how their “performance” is to be executed, and therefore should be classified as employees. See Rev. Rul. 87-41. Such requirements are among those imposed on employees, not those who are properly classified as “independent contractors.”
  17. Sections 1.1 and 5.5 of the boilerplate Booking Contract provides that WWE shall exclusively control the Wrestlers appearances and services “without limitation”, not only in matches but also personal appearances. WWE is given the sole right to assign the wrestler’s obligations to others. The WWE is given the right to “direct” the wrestler to create or design a copyrightable work which is then the property of the WWE.
  18. In accordance with Paragraph 9.6 of the Booking Contract “Wrestler agrees that all matches shall be finished in accordance with the Promoter’s [WWE] direction”, thus establishing a critical difference between athletes who participate in sporting events, and employees following a script. The object is not to win, but to follow the script, which the WWE has written, which often turns out to be a detriment to the wrestler’s career and financial interests, and is routinely utilized by WWE to punish dissent through direct financial penalty.
  19. Indeed if the wrestler deviates from the scripted ending not only is the Wrestler fired, but ANY sums due under the contract are forfeit –not only for wrestling, but for royalties and anything else there is a “forfeiture of any payments due” See Booking Contract, paragraph 9.6, Exhibits A, B, C, and D.
  20. Above and beyond the requirements of the unconscionable boilerplate Booking Contracts, WWE maintained nearly total control over all aspects of the Plaintiffs’ careers. Not only the location and time of performance was dictated, but also the duration and outcome of each match, the “persona” of the Plaintiffs including props, hairstyles, story lines, and “signatures moves” have continuously been dictated by the WWE under the guidance and iron control of its Chairman and controlling shareholder VKM. See Seven-Up Bottling Co. v NLRB, 506 F.2d 596 (1st 1974) (Holding that “Control” is a decisive element. WWE maintains dictatorial control and often directs the action in the ring as it proceeds).
  21. Furthermore the WWE, operating principally through VKM, exercises total control over the Wrestler’s scripted “character”, typically termed their “gimmick.” The wrestler’s “gimmick” has a major impact upon his or her career, success, and earning power. Other entertainers such as actors, may advance based upon their skill in the profession, as do sports athletes. However the opportunities of professional wrestlers are carefully dictated by the WWE to serve its own interests often to the financial detriment of the wrestlers. For example, the WWE has a long history of assigning African American wrestlers’ “gimmicks” as thugs or African savages. Those appearing to be “foreigners” are depicted as having low morality, or as terrorists.
  22. The detailed control which the WWE exercises over the performance of the wrestlers and the draconian penalties for not following those orders amply satisfy the “control” test of an employer-employee relationship.
  23. The second IRS-common law factor concerns “training” in its broad sense of not only physical training, but through the establishment of a “gimmick” and determining the outcome of the “match” including a choreograph of many of the moves. Training typically indicates that the employer wants the services rendered in a particular manner and certainly the WWE exercises near dictatorial control in that respect. Numerous wrestling moves are required, some optional, and some recently banned because of their devastating effect (i.e. the “piledriver”), but previously were required during the tenure of most of the Plaintiffs.
  24. Currently, the WWE trains nearly all wrestlers internally. This was not the case in the period from 1985 through 2000 for example, where extreme training methods producing musculature generally achievable only through the use of steroid enhancements, were commonly utilized by the wrestlers in order to maintain their positions with WWE. Thus control over training is another factor supporting the Plaintiffs’ status as employees.
  25. The next IRS factor – “integration” is concerned with whether the “employer” could continue to operate its business without the services being provided by the individual whose status is in question. Since the WWE is in the business of providing “sports entertainment” through wrestling “matches” the business would collapse without the employee wrestlers. Replacement of an individual wrestler is not the issue as the test is applied to the class of workers in the aggregate.
  26. The next test is whether the services must be rendered personally, which implies a substantial degree of control over the methods used and the results. The WWE boilerplate Booking Contract is for a particular individual. Since the individual wrestler has a particularized persona established and approved in detail by the WWE and the matches are scripted along story lines involving complementary “gimmicks”, there can be no assignment of the work to another wrestler by either of the participants. Only the WWE may make substitutions or change assignments. The “personal services” test therefore weighs heavily in favor of characterization of wrestlers as “employees”.
  27. The next test involves hiring, supervising, and paying assistants. Independent contractors have the right to hire additional help, or substitute help to complete the work. In the case of wrestlers, unlike professional boxers, the wrestlers may not select the identity or existence of “corner” assistants, as these might interfere with the persona created. Wrestlers are not responsible for finding, hiring or firing any person to assist in the creation of WWE’s desired match and its determined outcome, and in fact are prohibited to do so.
  28. For example, the WWE production RAW on the evening of December 14, 2015 saw the intervention into the “title match” of three outside wrestlers who supposedly came into the contest to assist in defeating a wrestler (“Roman Reigns”) who, as a part of his script, was alleged to have “insulted” members of Vince McMahon’s family. Chairman McMahon, as a part of the script, interfered with the referee and was “knocked out” by a “superman punch” from “Roman Reigns” who became “champion” after miraculously beating off the other three interfering wrestlers and defeating his gargantuan opponent “Sheamus” –-a result and a performance all carefully scripted by the WWE, with Chairman McMahon at ringside.
  29. Therefore, this hiring/firing/supervising test classifies wrestlers as employees. It has always been the case that the WWE selected any “assistants” as well as other wrestlers to interfere in the match according to a planned script. Indeed, the “Referees” are mere actors whose role is dedicated to advancing the planned outcome, and in this match Chairman McMahon was personally present to insure the desired result. McMahon, an employee of WWE, did nothing different from Sheamus and Roman Reigns whom he cunningly classified as “independent contractors.” Indeed, McMahon has total control over the performance while the “independent contractors” dared not deviate from orders.
  30. The existence of a “continuing relationship” provides support for an employer-employee relationship. Independent contractors typically complete one job and then the contract is finished and they may work for someone else. WWE contracts are for three years, excepting contracts with “Jobbers” or those on “handshake deals”. That the WWE has the option to terminate the contract does not detract from the nature of the relationship as employer-employee since such rights simply provide more control to the WWE. Unless the wrestler complies in all respects, he will not be utilized and his career will not advance.   The WWE has, and at all relevant times have always, had a practical monopoly upon the wrestling entertainment business.
  31. Wrestlers have “set hours of work” established by the WWE. WWE also establishes the story line, outcome of the match, and the characterization of the individual wrestlers, and their gimmicks, costumes and assistants. The WWE sets the time and place of the match and all essentials often for 150 – 250 matches per year per Wrestler. This test once again designates the Wrestler as an employee.
  32. The task of the wrestler is to show up for the performance and perform the part assigned. In large part the wrestler’s success and future prospects are not determined by his wrestling skill, but by how he is characterized by the WWE – if he is allowed to win and to be assigned interesting story lines and “gimmicks”. This is best achieved by following WWE’s total control thus pleasing VKM. This test once again designates the wrestler as an employee.
  33. Wrestler after wrestler, including Plaintiffs have stated that WWE is controlled by its Chairman Vince McMahon. VKM would not tolerate either any negotiation or questioning of the unconscionable Booking Contracts, whether written or on a “handshake”. For example:
  34. Timothy Smith (a.k.a. Rex King) alleges that this WWF culture was “keep your mouth shut”. He was informed by older wrestlers when he stated with WWF that if he spoke up and didn’t follow orders he would be considered a “trouble maker”, “squashed” (i.e. physically hurt) in the ring, then fired;
  35. George Gray (a.k.a. “One Man Gang”) alleges that “keep your mouth shut is [the] first rule of the business”. If you wanted to wrestle, you didn’t ask questions or you would be pushed down in the card and make less money. Chairman McMahon personally remade his character to “Akeem the African Dream” and required he dress in a yellow Dashiki as a racially stereotypical black, complete with tribal dancers supplied by WWE. Mr. Gray is Caucasian;
  36. Jonathan Hugger (a.k.a. Johnny Stamboli) alleges that he was handed a contract to sign by Jim Ross of WWE, which he executed with no negotiation on a “take it or leave it” proposition. He was told he had to move to Cincinnati and to break his lease. Mr. Hugger alleges that if he did not accept the WWE contract, you did not wrestle. Once he questioned a story line and was sent to Louisville, KY for two weeks as punishment;
  37. Ahmed Johnson alleges that WWE controls the Wrestlers by controlling the ability to manipulate their story lines and constantly telling them that “you have no other place to go.” If you did not do everything WWE demanded the “mocking angles” are deployed to degrade your character with a degrading story line and constant losses. Then your TV appearances would dwindle and any merchandising income would dry up.
  38. Next, the unconscionable Booking Contract requires exclusive full time devotion to the WWE during its term. Thus the Wrestler is prevented from utilizing his skills to enhance his income except through the WWE. Unlike an independent contractor, a WWE employee is not free to work for whom and when he chooses, and whether his work succeeds or fails. As is alleged elsewhere herein, a WWE Wrestler must perform 200-250+ times per year in a physically exhausting profession where injuries are very common and where preforming with pain and serious injury is required to maintain regular assignments. Additionally the unconscionable Booking Contracts contain non-competition clauses. Therefore WWE monopolizes the wrestler’s time and earning opportunities and this factor is entirely consistent with an employee, not an “independent contractor”. See Seven-Up Bottling Co. v. NLRB F.2d 596 (1st Cir. 1974).
  39. Next, where the work is done is determined by WWE. From the boilerplate Booking Contract the WWE controls the location of the work, the travel to a designated route, and the work at specified places. See Rev Ruling 87-41 (The same is true with “handshake” deals).
  40. The Tenth IRS Test Factor states that if a “worker must perform services in the order or sequence set by the person…for whom the services are performed, that factor shows that the worker is not free to follow the worker’s own pattern of work. Rev. Ruling 87-41. Such requirements are consistent with status as an employee, but inconsistent with an “independent contractor” status. As is alleged above, the WWE maintains control over all important aspects of a performance – the Monday Night Raw “Championship” match of December 14, 2015 alleged above is but one example. Control over sequence, timing and the “intervention” of “outsiders” was essential to the acceptance of the performance by the audience.
  41. The next test involves the “furnishing of tools and materials”. Although the boilerplate Booking Contract states that the wrestlers have the obligation to provide their own wardrobe, costumes and props, it is common knowledge in the industry that WWE provides the majority of the wrestler’s “tools” and specifies their costume, even providing a preferred tailor. For example the “Divas” series show consultation between the wrestlers and wardrobe and make-up artists. Wrestler Roy Wayne Ferris (“Honkey-Tonk Man”) regularly was instructed as a part of the performance to smash his guitar over his opponent’s head after his scripted “victory” – only to have another guitar appear at the next match. Upon information and belief the Honkey-Tonk Man did not pay for the guitars, which were an essential tool of the performance. There are numerous other examples, not the least of which are the previously very common employment of “prop” chairs that were very often utilized by one wrestler to smash over the head of his opponent, all according to script.
  42. WWE has made significant investments in the facilities used by the worker in performing services. Such investments do not need to be capital investments in permanent fixtures, but can also be by way of leasing the facility in which the performance is to take place. Given that wrestlers perform 200-250 days a year, the WWE makes considerable investment in providing the “arena” for the performance, and further pays other employees to participate in making up the story lines and “gimmicks” of the wrestlers. Additionally, there are numerous production employees paid by WWE to set up the rings, provide various props to be used in the performance (such as the guitars mentioned above), to control the lighting, and provide security and the other numerous accouterments of a mass entertainment production. The wrestlers task is to appear at the time and place designated, perform according to a script with a predetermined outcome with the designated persona in a ring erected by the WWE or its agents and in an arena leased by the WWE or its agents. These factors weigh heavily in favor of a classification as “employee”.
  43. The next factor is whether the wrestlers are actually at economic risk concerning a profit or loss from their profession. The Booking Contract has the wrestler providing only his costume and minor props (expensive props, chairs to be smashed over heads, and so on, outside interveners, are provided by and scripted by WWE. Wrestlers do not make significant monetary “investments” in their work. Buying a better office computer, tools or other physical devices will have no effect upon a wrestler’s employment compensation since in large part his success in the field is dependent not only upon his physical skill, but more so upon the persona assigned to him and the popularity of that persona over time among the wrestling audience and whether he can slavishly follow orders. The wrestler has no ability to strategically select his opponents to maximize his chance of success as a professional boxer might. That is all done by his employer- the WWE.
  44. Other professional athletes who show up to perform in arenas before the public at times specified by others are clearly considered “employees”. Professional baseball, football, hockey and basketball players are all represented by unions and enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining agreements. They enjoy the benefits of the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601, and social security taxes are contributed to by their employer as required by law. In the event of injury professional baseball players are covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits and receive their salary less the Workers’ Compensation benefits paid. Basketball players have been held by courts to be entitled to Workers’ Compensation due to injuries caused by repetitive trauma. New York Knickerbockers v. Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board, Cal: Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate Dist., 5th Div. 2015.
  45. The distinction between other professional athletes and professional wrestlers includes that in wrestling the outcome is controlled not by the skill of the participants but by the WWE scriptwriters in accordance with their perception of the entertainment value of possible outcomes or the whim of Chairman VKM. There are no legitimate referees to enforce rules. Indeed, even the “holds” and wrestling techniques are largely choreographed by the WWE, including modifications by the WWE during actual matches. Therefore, WWE performers hare subjected too much more control over their jobs than other professional athletes who receive the benefits of employees, have the opportunity to unionize and receive the benefits of being classified as employees. See Seven-Up Bottling Co. v. NLRB F.2d 596 (1st Cir. 1974).
  46. The Plaintiffs allege that professional wrestling is not a contest of skill but a drama with a pre-determined outcome. WWE determines which wrestlers will face each other in a bout, how long the match will take, and the type of match desired. The wrestlers are told what costumes to wear, how to wrestle, when to wrestle, where to wrestle, and who is going to win and what, if any, outside interference there will be. See also “Body Slam from the Top Rope”, 12 Miami Ent. & Sports L. Rev. 1 (1994-95).
  47. The boilerplate Booking Contracts which wrestlers must execute in order to work contain a choice of law clause which selects Connecticut as the applicable jurisdiction. See, g., Exhibit A, paragraph 13.7. Leaving aside for this section whether such a clause has validity, the law of Connecticut is in close agreement with the tests applied by the Internal Revenue Service for classification of an individual as an “independent contractor” or as an “employee”.
  48. Under Connecticut law, the existence of an employer-employee relationship is a “factual issue” and is based in large part upon whether the individual is acting in an “autonomous manner” at the time of the injury. Who has the right to “means and methods of work” is important. Chute v Mobil Shipping & Transportation Co. 32 Conn. App. 16, 19-20 (1993), 632. A.2d 688. As has been alleged above, WWE exercises total control over the outcomes of the matches and substantially regulates the choreographed match to the finish. No one in wrestling utilized the technique of smashing chairs over an opponent’s head, or demanding bloodletting through cutting, except at the urging of the WWE. Connecticut law appears largely consistent with the IRS tests. Means and methods are dictated by the WWE, and the wrestlers have been intentionally and deceitfully misclassified as “independent contractors.”
  49. The Chute case also holds that a mere declaration in a contract that one is an independent contractor or employee is not dispositive, but the actual relationship of how the work is conducted is a question of fact for the trier of fact. Chute at 732. Therefore, the self-serving boilerplate of the “unconscionable boilerplate Booking Contracts” required by WWE is not probative under Connecticut law –especially under circumstances where deliberate advantage by a multi-billion dollar corporation (and its virtual army of attorneys) is being taken of persons who have no training or experience to grasp the contrast of “employee” versus “independent contractor”, and have been subjected to the cumulative effects of repeated concussions, broken bones, torn tendons and other very painful and often long-term injuries.
  50. The Plaintiffs are of course also deprived of the protections of the National Labor Relations Act as long as they are misclassified as “independent contractors” In NLRB v United Insurance Co. of Am., 390 U.S. 254, 258 (1969), a twenty one point test very similar to the IRS test was set forth for resolving the difference between an independent contractor and an employee with the right to unionize. See also 55 A.L.R. Fed. 20 (1992).
  51. All of the Plaintiffs allege that WWE controlled the place, time and manner of their appearances, as well as the outcomes of the events, and to a large degree, what happened during the events – especially such dramatic occurrences as smashing a guitar or a chair over a wrestler’s head, or subjecting them to a “pile driver” through which one participant’s head is smashed into the ring floor or being bashed on the head with a metal chair. “Has the employer the general authority to direct what shall be done and when and how it shall be done – the right of general control of the work”. Compassionate Care. Inc. v. Travelers Indem. Co. (Conn. App. Ct. #AC-34963, 12/31/2013), quoting favorably Kaliszewski v. Weathermaster Alsco Corp., 148 Conn. 624, 629; 173 A.2d 497 (1961).
  52. In Latimer v. Administrator, 216 Conn. 237; 579 A.2d (1990), the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that where the “employer” held the right of discharge on an employee by employee basis, established the worker’s schedules, required them to adhere to specific instructions, and that the worker’s pay was not determined by the success of their enterprise and accomplished, with the equipment needed provided by the employer – the persons filling these criteria were employees for the Unemployment Compensation Act of Connecticut NOT “independent contractors”. In similar fashion to Latimer, everyone who is a contestant in a WWE wrestling match is subject to the control of its script-writers, often in great detail as to moves, props, moves allowed and moves banned, the outcome, the persona and so on. WWE wrestlers are under the dictatorial control of the WWE.
  53. The terms of the unconscionable boilerplate Booking Contracts provide much control; but, the Plaintiffs allege that in addition to the control provided by the language of the Booking Contract, the WWE exercised on a routine basis near dictatorial control over all aspects of its “product”, under the direct guidance of its current “Chairman” and controlling shareholder Defendant Vincent K. McMahon with severe consequences for any disobedience including physical risk and career ruination.
  54. For example, setting the wrestler’s persona can have a large influence on his income level. A “Hulk Hogan” personality may be set as a great hero – a “Captain America” type figure while the “Iron Sheik”, a character whose current equivalent could be an ISIS-type character, is doomed in every match to ignominious defeat, or allowed victories just to stoke emotions for his inevitable defeat in a “revenge match”.
  55. As soon as the audience tired of seeing the “heel” or “bad guy” pilloried, or the public whim moved on to a different type of “bad guy”, the persona of the “hero” would simply be repositioned by the WWE as vanquishing a different foe while the “bad guy” would be likely out of a job. Success and reward continues for one, for the other, a career is short and swift –regardless of who was the more skilled or better trained wrestler, and all as pre-arranged by WWE.
  56. Such contests of “good” and “evil” are the daily fare of the WWE and the scenarios alleged are under the total control of the WWE and its script-writers, and constitute the working conditions of the Plaintiffs; all the while each of them, is under the supervision of WWE Chairman VKM.
  57. To find more success in the WWE, being what is termed a “baby face” (Good guy) or “heel” (Top bad guy) are earning positions – at least for a time. A wrestler that the WWE scriptwriters want to succeed they give a “push” which means a winning story line in matches. Most of the wrestlers are “mid-card” which means they are scripted to lose in order to “push” the top entertainers. They are the human fodder of the WWE and are routinely dumped when their manipulation ceases to generate profit, booking contract or not, “handshake deal” or not.
  58. A case in point is Plaintiff Mark Copani (scripted as Muhammad Hassan). He was given a “push” as a Muslim American (he is Italian) and scripted for a match with the “Undertaker” then WWE’s biggest star on 6/28/05. His character was introduced with the Muslim “call to prayer” and he wore a Middle Eastern costume appropriate to his character, including a prayer rug. Mr. Copani was accompanied by several “henchmen,” supplied by WWE in black hoods, who attacked other wrestlers as a part of the show. The WWE established Hassan as a hated figure in order to sell tickets. However, in July of 2005 after the terrorist bombing in London which killed 52 people, Mr. Copani’s character became politically incorrect and he was told by WWE that he was being put on leave. He was terminated several months later, and his career ended – all at the control of the WWE.
  59. Plaintiff Tracy Smothers a.k.a. Freddie Joe Floyd was a well-regarded wrestler who worked very hard at conditioning and developing his in the ring athletic abilities. He was branded by Vince McMahon, WWE’s “boss” as a cartoon type character, a preposterous persona McMahon wanted to explore. Tracy Smothers’ career was injured and he was terminated because the “buffoon” gimmick didn’t catch on with the fans.
  60. It was well known among the Plaintiffs that the only way out of the WWE (except by termination) was by giving notice prior to the final 90 days of the Booking Contract. As soon as WWE discovered a wrestler wanted to leave, WWE through Vince McMahon would bury the character the wrestler utilized, and therefore the wrestler’s prospects by having him loose repeatedly or be otherwise humiliated. Control of the wrestler’s persona and match outcome, were not only utilized for entertainment purposes, but also to enforce total contractual control. If a wrestler dared to question the iron-clad WWE boilerplate Booking Contract, (or WWE’s review of his “handshake deal”) the fate of his “gimmick” relegated him to the graveyard of jettisoned WWE characters, and his opportunity for a financially rewarding career all but eliminated.
  61. In sum, Vince McMahon, the boss of WWE, had, has, and regularly exercises the ability to diminish or kill off the careers of wrestlers he did not like, or who offered any questioning let alone resistance to his iron control. The degree of control which Vince McMahon, through WWE, exercised over the careers and earning ability of wrestlers was and remains substantially more pervasive than would be tolerated by any “independent contractor”, or by anyone in a commercially reasonable setting.