Wrestlers sue WWE for "exploitative business model"
Over 50 ex-wrestlers accused the WWE and its Chairman, Vince McMahon, of concealing the risk of brain injuries associated with wrestling. WWE and Vince MacMahon were also accused of categorising wrestlers as "independent contractors" instead of employees as a deliberate attempt to avoid liability under worker protection laws. Improved medical monitoring, compensatory and punitive damages are being sought by the plaintiffs.
Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt founded the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) in 1953. In 1954, Vince J. McMahon replaced Jess McMahon following the latter's death, and CWC soon began to control most of NWA bookings. Following a dispute with the National Wrestling Association, CWC formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in 1963, which was renamed to WWF in 1979 for cosmetic purposes.
The largest wrestling promotion company in the world, the WWE earned an annual revenue of $658.8 million in 2015, with a profit of $24.1 million.
In 1983, Vince K. McMahon, son of Vince J. McMahon, bought CWC. Seeing the advent of television, Vince got WWF on television across USA, poached talent from rival companies, and wiped out most of the competition; thus becoming the most dominant wrestling company. In 2002, it lost a lawsuit to World Wildlife Fund for the initials WWF, and the initials were changed to WWE.
WWE has had its blemishes with several of its wrestlers sustaining minor, major and even fatal injuries. In 1998, Shawn Michaels broke his back which cost him 4 years of his career. In 1999, Darren Drozdov was left paralysed for life after a mismanaged wrestling manoeuvre. In 1999, Owen Hart fell 78 feet into the ring. This stunt led to his death.
In 2007, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and his 7 year-old son before committing suicide. While his motive remains unknown, it is widely held that Benoit's unstable mental state was a result of repeated concussions and brain damage sustained in his wrestling career.