Former WWE Superstar Alex Riley Wants Wrestling To Unionise
Riley wants to see movement within the industry
While some sports organisations like the NBA and the NFL have player unions, no equivalent exists in professional wrestling. There have been attempts to unionise within the industry in the past, namely from Jesse Ventura, and there was briefly murmurs of unionisation after WWE introduced a Twitch ban, but there has never been any substantial movement within wrestling.
One person who hopes that changes, though, is former WWE Superstar Alex Riley and he revealed his vision of a unionised professional wrestling industry on Booker T's Hall Of Fame Podcast.
"I'm not here to say that I have it all figured out. However, I love the business of sports entertainment. I love the people, I love it. In that vein, they need, and I'll say this, the WWE management is fantastic. They've done so much, it's a real, it's the NFL. The thing, when I was watching it at home, the WWE compares, and I'm going to speak about WWE because I've never been to AEW (and I hear they're fantastic as well), they compare themselves to the NFL, the NBA. Those people have unions. That's just the facts of it. The entertainment business in the United States of America is the number one export. We are the United States of America. We are free-thinking, we are free believing and we are free speaking. We lead the world in that system. When it comes to that system, that's why we lead the world in entertainment. It's open thought. Whatever the slang is for it, it's a real thing," Riley said.
"And I really feel the art of sports entertainment is one of the most beautiful, artistic platforms of expression that we have. I believe that it's going to be, if it isn't already, the future of American programming. It's lasted longer than anything. We have AEW now, we have WWE, we have Reality of Wrestling. I was speaking to you yesterday about the Monday Night Wars. How exciting were the Monday Night Wars? I know I didn't have a cell phone in my hand during the Monday Night Wars, I know I wasn't tweeting, I know wasn't on Instagram. I know my eyes were locked in and glued onto what was happening," he continued.
"And then you said the other day about WCW. And somebody had to go. I don't want anybody to go. I want sports entertainment to be a pinnacle structure of programming for the United States of America forever. Why would it not be? Why does one company, and I know they were battling for business and that was part of that generation. One of them had to go. But if it can be in a way where we're all working together and we're all evolving through television together, I think that's the best way to utilize that business. I just do."
Riley also believes unionisation would provide talent with a stronger voice and give them more opportunities to succeed.
"First of all, it would give the talent a stronger voice. That’s number one. So that just goes without saying. If things would be more balanced. I'm not trying to negate the fact that the person drawing the money at the gate gets the money. You give the star the money. That would make no, logical sense. But the people that are supporting, the people that are trying to climb and replace the star. Give them feet to stand on, give them something to push off of. Give them a pay structure and a belief system that allows them to stand on two feet and go after the main guy. New stars right? People that can stand on two feet, have a family," Riley added.
"I spent ten years in that business, and I gave my life to it. And anyone who says otherwise, I'd have to have a conversation too. I worked my ass off there, I'm proud of my work I put in there. I really am. There needs to be a platform for the people that are not the stars, to stand grounded on two feet, know that their job is secure and reach as high as they can for the brass ring.
"I don't want to get too much into contracts right now and the way they're structured. It's not for me to speak of right now. But I believe there is space in there to unionise, to allow for a more grounded, more opportunistic playing field to aim to replace the star in a fair, equal way. If you're working for AEW, if you're working for Reality of Wrestling, if you're working for WWE, you should go there knowing you could be the next guy. You know what I mean?"
H/T to Wrestling Inc.