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Zelina Vega’s WWE release draws reaction from labor leaders & wrestlers

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WWE released Zelina Vega yesterday (Nov. 13). We didn’t need insider sources to tell us the move was related to the company’s new policy prohibiting wrestlers from running their own accounts on online fan-engagement services like Twitch and Cameo, but we did get reports confirming that.

That ban reinvigorated the debate about WWE’s classification of talent as independent contractors, since it was another example of limitations their contracts place on how wrestlers can earn money from outside sources. Vega’s release, seemingly to send a message to performers not to violate Vince McMahon’s edict about using third-party platforms without the company’s involvement, naturally drew a reaction from people involved in that debate.

Entrepreneur, lawyer, politician and wrestling fan Andrew Yang has been a vocal critic of WWE’s talent management, and he was quick to comment on Zelina’s release:

He also received an offer of help from Maria Kanellis, who was one of May’s pandemic profit-protecting cuts. In one of several tweets following the Vega news, Kanellis wrote:

Yang’s outlined plan of action against WWE has involved regulation and organization. Even with Joe Biden’s victory in this month’s Presidential Election, the former may be a long shot if Republican’s retain control of the Senate - and with the ability to stymie attempts to appoint progressive cabinet heads and dictate the legislative agenda. Getting wrestlers to unionize is also an uphill fight, but Zelina’s pro-labor tweet (believed to be sent after she was informed of her release) caught the eye of the Screen Actor’s Guild and its President. SAG is the union Yang and others have argued WWE wrestlers could organize under:

The news also caught the eye of others in the wrestling community, including Paige. The former Divas champion has also threatened to defy McMahon’s Twitch ban, and expressed an interest in labor organizing:

Paige was the only person currently signed to a WWE contract who’s spoken up. But a few others who used to work for Vince chimed in:

Not everyone was interested in a possible pending legal battle, however. Some just wanted to support a talented person:

We’ll keep you posted on the larger story regarding WWE’s independent contractor policy, which figures to be a major one in 2021 and beyond.

In the meantime, join us in sending support to Zelina - or I guess we should get used to calling her Thea Trinidad. Can’t wait to see what she does next.