Archive for September 29th, 2010

P.S. on Mick Foley’s Position on Wrestlers as Independent Contractors

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter expressed surprise at the previous item on this blog, in which I cited wrestler Mick Foley as having defended World Wrestling Entertainment’s position on its performers as independent contractors rather than employees (“Linda McMahon’s Unstoppable Political Machine Extends All the Way to Mankind and Doink,” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-unstoppable-political-machine-extends-all-the-way-to-mankind-and-doink-the-clown/).

Meltzer said that while he would have expected such a statement from Glenn “Kane” Jacobs, a well-known outspoken libertarian, it would mark a dramatic pivot from Foley’s own previous utterances on the subject. Meltzer asked me to produce the quote.

That got a little complicated. On September 9, in my post “In Response to Mick Foley on the Media on Linda McMahon,” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/in-response-to-mick-foley-on-the-media-on-linda-mcmahon/, I linked to a post at Foley’s own blog, “Whatever Happened to Research?”, http://mickfoley.typepad.com/mickfoley/2010/09/that-time-i-metrachel-maddow.html, in which he complained about coverage of the Linda McMahon campaign. But Foley’s item is no longer there; he must have erased it for some reason.

Someone better than I at these things was able to dig up the passage about wrestlers as independent contractors:

“At one point in my conversation with Mr. Stannard, I mentioned that the issue of independent contractor status was more complicated than it might seem, and that he might, for example have trouble convincing John Cena to give up his quarterly royalty check in return for employer paid health care benefits.”

Once Meltzer was shown the quote (by which Foley arguably curried favor with the McMahons, who returned the favor by plugging his new book on Raw this Monday), Dave and I agreed that Mick’s logic on this issue seemed seriously flawed.

“What does a merchandising royalty check have to do with employee standing?  NBA players get royalty checks and are not independent contractors,” Meltzer noted.

What Foley might have meant to say is that it is difficult to get wrestlers organized effectively to demand reforms – with respect to employee status or anything else – because the top guys at any given moment, such as John Cena, are at least temporarily making very big bucks, are complete company men, and therefore doom any movement toward unionizing the talent.

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s Unstoppable Political Machine Extends All the Way to Mankind and Doink the Clown

Two incidents inside the wrestling industry in recent weeks show both how close is the coordination of the Linda McMahon Senate campaign with her company, World Wrestling Entertainment, and how thorough is the attention to detail by both.

As is often the case these days with inside-inside news, I am indebted to wrestling fan and journalist David Bixenspan for much of the following information.

On the Raw telecast this Monday on USA cable, the announcer plugged a new book by Mick Foley, the wrestler who also has authored multiple bestsellers. Foley had a famous and successful run with WWE – as himself and as his alter egos “Cactus Jack,” “Mankind,” and “Dude Love” – but he now works for a rival promotion, TNA.

Plugs for opposition talent don’t happen by accident. In all likelihood, Linda’s husband, Vince McMahon, the potentate of WWE, ordered the Foley book valentine as a quid pro quo for Mick’s recent defense of Linda’s political candidacy on his blog and in media interviews. Today the McMahon campaign, fighting off a new line of accusations emanating from the Richard Blumenthal camp about WWE’s independent contractor abuse, is holding up the silly Foley line that grossly exploited company employees “prefer it that way.”

An even funnier story involves journeyman wrestler Matt Borne, a second-generation craftsman whose biggest claim to fame was that he was the original WWE incarnation of the character “Doink the Clown.” (The most recent Doink on TV was none other than Nick Dinsmore – the guy who years ago played the retarded character, “Eugene,” in one the original useless flurries of WWE YouTube clips by the anti-Linda crowd.)

Borne, like Foley, has been a media go-to guy for spoon-fed lines about how the McMahons do everything in their power even for those performers who, alas, make poor personal choices. (Borne himself went through WWE-sponsored drug rehab.)

For Borne, the reward was a recent WWE tryout camp held at his wrestling school in Freehold, New Jersey. John Laurinaitis, the head of WWE talent relations, and one of his assistants, Ty Bailey, did the scouting. Borne’s charges paid a stiff registration fee for the privilege of showing their stuff to industry movers and shakers, and Borne pocketed most of the dough for a nice payday. Funny, but before this month not many people had even heard of the Matt Borne Wrestling Academy.

What makes the timing even more suspicious, Bixenspan tells me, is that these tryout camps are usually staged at the training center of a current or former WWE regional “developmental” promotion. Or, if not there, at a wrestling school with historic WWE ties, such as that of Afa Anoia, the “Wild Samoan” in Pennsylvania (and an uncle of recently deceased wrestler Eddie “Umaga” Fatu).

I tell ya, the Society of St. Tammany has nothing on the pro wrestling fraternity.

Irv Muchnick

Highly Recommended Reading on Concussions in Mixed Martial Arts

“Why I have chosen to stop watching Mixed Martial Arts, my favorite sport – the mounting evidence of CTE from head trauma”

by Ivan Trembow

MMA Torch

http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/Guest_Editorials_20/article_6960.shtml

NY Times: ‘Wrestling Becomes a Campaign Issue’; CT Capitol Report on NY Times: ‘Voters Not Responding to Wrestling Attacks’

We have cognitive dissonance here. Or, as the gang warden in Cool Hand Luke put it, “a failure to communicate.”

Today the worthy Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent has a “Letter from Connecticut” in The New York Times headlined “As a Senate Race Tightens, Wrestling Becomes a Campaign Issue.” See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/nyregion/29conn.html?_r=1.

Bass says right there, high up in his story, that Linda McMahon’s record at World Wrestling Entertainment now “will be part of Richard Blumenthal’s closing argument.” Sounds good to me.

But in the link at the mischievous Connecticut Capitol Report, Tom Dudchik highlights the questions raised at the bottom of the Bass piece, talking about how the YouTube of Linda racking WWE announcer Jim Ross hasn’t worked.

So, once more with feeling, folks: It’s the deaths, stupid.

Blumenthal spokesman Maura Downes specifically and accurately tells Bass, “It is especially important to us what happens outside the ring … how she treated her workers.” The article goes on to cite “concussions and premature deaths among WWE wrestlers, steroid use, and the company’s reliance on hundreds of independent contractors who do not receive health care benefits.”

One more thing, Dudchik: Please find yourself a new stock wrestling photo for these links. I don’t even recognize who is preparing to plant his knees in the gut of the guy mistiming a diving splash.

Irv Muchnick


Irv’s Tweets

September 2010
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930