WWE’s relationship with Xavier Woods’ UpUpDwnDwn YouTube channel presents another negative take on the company. There is already a bad aura in the business with the massive layoffs between conference calls where Vince McMahon brags about making record profits. Stephanie McMahon even named UpUpDwnDwn as one of the biggest outdoor brands to profit from WWE.
Woods hasn’t posted anything for months and there are now reports that the talents involved are boycotting video creation. WWE barely pays Woods for his contributions to helping the channel thrive and become viable. Ownership rights revert to WWE, but the public perception of trying to exploit Woods for more money could be the worst brand for the company in 2021.
Woods barely makes any money with UpUpDwnDwn
WWE has upset quite a few wrestlers who provide content for the UpUpDwnDwn YouTube channel due to Xavier Woods’ treatment in this business relationship. Woods was the person who created the magic that UpUpDwnDwn has become with various wrestlers playing video games together. WWE owned the channel, but Woods was the one doing all the work.
Years of downloads have shown Woods’ struggles trying to find the right place to shoot content, engage in weekly experiences, and give it their all between wrestling matches. The love of video games made Woods happy to do it, but it definitely takes hard work to get the videos to millions of views.
However, it has been revealed that Woods hardly earns any additional income from the channel, despite being the person most responsible for all of the content and success. WWE failing to reward Woods for his work has led other consistent wrestlers on the channel to refuse to film until things change. There has not yet been a full upload of the video to the channel since October 15, when the boycott began.
What the situation represents
WWE has publicly taken a negative hit for its treatment of wrestlers in recent years. In total, more than 100 wrestlers have been released since the start of the pandemic. Every few weeks, wrestlers will be informed without much warning of their release in waves. Many companies have to lay off talent with the variables of the past two years, but WWE consistently boasts of record profits on conference calls.
Talent is basically on edge knowing that anyone can be fired at any time apart from a handful of protected talent like Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. WWE releasing names like Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt show they are willing to do anything to keep pushing that profit figure at the expense of locker rooms.
WWE wrestlers having such an uncertain position and, quite frankly, being treated with a minimum of respect have added to other areas of the business. If a legend like Mickie James has their items sent in a trash bag, most talents can be treated badly at any time. The combination of WWE taking advantage of Woods under contract terms adds to talent already unhappy with recent decisions to make their voices heard in modest ways.
WWE must do it right
The biggest change to the wrestling landscape with AEW is that talent seems to prioritize happiness over stability in WWE. Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson leaving comfortable positions in WWE for AEW shows that part of the WWE mentality of treating talent like replaceable cogs in the wheel can come back and bite them.
Danielson bluntly admitted that all of the WWE layoffs and general treatment of wrestlers played a role in his decision to leave, even though he wasn’t one of those treated badly. Xavier Woods’ friends taking a stand show they are ready to oppose WWE if such things continue. Even if someone doesn’t leave for AEW, there are so many other promotions and the possibility of having your own brand again on banned platforms like Twitch and Cameo.
WWE has been involved in too many negative stories about the treatment of employees. The abuse of the independent contractor clause in contracts has been going on for years, but it has felt more personal with the heartless layoffs and now the small gestures to limit additional income for performers. Woods is one of the most valued talents in the company and no one will film UpUpDwnDwn content without him. WWE needs to provide at least one remedy to create positive momentum behind the scenes to prevent this from becoming a bigger issue with free agents down the line.
Vince McMahon is known to have a short fuse, so it’s no surprise that there have been occasions when he has had serious arguments with his top stars.
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