53 U. Louisville L. Rev. 143 (2014-2016)
Employees vs. Independent Contrctors and Professional Wrestling: How the WWE Is Taking a Folding-Chair to the Basic Tenents of Employment Law

handle is hein.journals/branlaj53 and id is 151 raw text is: 





EMPLOYEES VS. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS AND
     PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING: HOW THE WWE IS
 TAKING A FOLDING-CHAIR TO THE BASIC TENETS OF
                       EMPLOYMENT LAW


                           David Cowley*


                           I. INTRODUCTION

    World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) markets its professional
wrestling product as an escape from the stresses of everyday life. Every
week, over twelve million people tune into the longest-running weekly,
episodic U.S. television program to watch cartoonishly muscular men and
voluptuous women duke it out in the squared-circle as part of storylines that
range from the implausible to the impossible.' Only 26% of the viewing
audience are children,2 so the vast majority of adult viewers are in on
professional wrestling's worst-kept secret: none of it is real.
    With this knowledge in mind, perhaps wrestling fans have chosen to
turn a blind eye to the very real consequences that professional wrestlers
suffer as a result of their career choice. True, many punches are pulled and
not every body slam is as painful as the man writhing in the ring would
have you believe, but professional wrestlers suffer serious and chronic
injuries just as all professional athletes and employees do. As former
wrestler Scott Raven Levy commented, '[injuries are] part of the job....
If you want to be a wrestler, you have to be a big guy, and you have to
perform in pain. If you choose to do neither, pick another profession.'3
    Wrestlers' brutal travel schedules compound their injuries. The WWE
not only has two weekly televised programs4 and monthly pay-per-view
events, but also typically puts on six other unaired, or house shows, that



   * J.D. Candidate, May 2015, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville. Special
thanks to my brother and fellow wrestling fanatic, Pat, and Grantland wrestling correspondent David
Shoemaker, who were both tremendously helpful in completing this Note.
   1 See Did You Know?, WWE (Nov. 28, 2011), http://www.wwe.com/inside/standupforwwe/didyou
know.
   2 See id.
   3 Jon Swartz, High Death Rate Lingers Behind Fun Facade of Pro Wrestling, USA TODAY (Mar.
12, 2004), http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/2004-03-12-pro-wrestlingx.htm.
   4 Monday Night Raw (USA Network television broadcast); SmackDown (Syfy television
broadcast).

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