Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Reality of Contract Negotiations in Pro Wrestling

by Brian Phelps

Kaz and Daniels contracts allegedly expire in April, which means that TNA's negotiating is coming down to the wire.

I was on the dirt sites and came across a user who posted the following ridiculous statement. "TNA suck at contracts. They allow a lot to run down into the final weeks and even let them expire before resigning". This is a typical statement from a member of the IWC who criticizes a wrestling company without having any actual idea of how contract negotiations work. They believe that letting contracts expire or get down to the wire means that the company is lazy or disorganized. That's just simply not true. Allow me to explain.

I was baffled at why this member of the IWC would take the time to criticize TNA's negotiating tactics. At least they don't have wrestlers allegedly breaching their contracts like the WWE (see Austin, Punk). That's not a slight against Austin or Punk. They had their reasons, but facts are facts. I have yet to see TNA stars breaching contracts because they're unhappy with TNA.

And here's the elephant in the room that criticizing IWC fans don't want to see. Letting contract negotiations go down to the wire is a NORMAL and time honored practice in sports. Sometimes in sports, a team is not sure whether they want to re-sign an athlete due to a multitude of possible reasons (creative differences in team direction, financial conundrums regarding cap space, etc). As a result, teams will let the athlete's contract expire in order to allow the player to "test the free agent market". Sometimes,  that same player will come back to the team if they can't get a better deal elsewhere. Other times, another team will offer the player a more lucrative or attractive deal. That's how the sports business works.

In pro wrestling, TNA has a distinct advantage over other American sports organizations. There are really only four other financially viable options for the professional wrestler to make a somewhat decent living -- WWE, ROH, Mexico and Japan. From a wrestler's perspective, it's not like the NBA or NFL where you have 30 different teams to field offers from. Basically for TNA, if the WWE doesn't lay down an offer the wrestler will most likely re-sign with TNA since it's not likely that they will get a better financial offer from Ring of Honor or overseas promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling.

It's sad, but wrestlers have very few options out there. That's why we should all be rooting for Jeff Jarrett's new promotion. More wrestling companies means more options and more power to the wrestlers when negotiating deals. Letting contracts expire is a company's read between the lines way of saying "Good luck getting paid somewhere else. You'll be back". That is the reality of contract negotiations in pro wrestling.

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