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Thread: ECW Contracts

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    Ecw ECW Contracts

    Does anyone have any knowledge on what the ECW contract situation was like? Did they just not have annual contracts or were they just not worth the paper they were printed on? How was WCW able to "raid" ECW in 1995, again in 1999, also WWE in 1999 and then Mike Awesome jumping to WCW while champion?

    I would surely think Mike Awesome was under contract while ECW Champion, unless Paul was stupid. How did WCW get away taking him? I remember Joey Styles saying during One Night Stand saying he was making good money at the time. Did Paul just not challenge their contracts when they jumped?

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  2. #2

    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Smarkslayer View Post
    Does anyone have any knowledge on what the ECW contract situation was like? Did they just not have annual contracts or were they just not worth the paper they were printed on? How was WCW able to "raid" ECW in 1995, again in 1999, also WWE in 1999 and then Mike Awesome jumping to WCW while champion?

    I would surely think Mike Awesome was under contract while ECW Champion, unless Paul was stupid. How did WCW get away taking him? I remember Joey Styles saying during One Night Stand saying he was making good money at the time. Did Paul just not challenge their contracts when they jumped?
    There weren't contracts. ECW was never a place that had the sort of money that they could afford to have talent under contracts. It's why it was so common for guys to come in and only have short runs before going to either the WWE or WCW. In the case of Mike Awesome, not only did he not have a contract, but Heyman was behind in his payments to him. In addition, it's because there weren't contracts, talent were free to work other places. This typically meant some of their talent worked Japan (Most notably the likes of Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, Awesome, and Tanaka) or just other smaller companies in America.

    So the extent of the "Contracts" were whatever the talent and Heyman agreed on.

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    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    There weren't contracts. ECW was never a place that had the sort of money that they could afford to have talent under contracts. It's why it was so common for guys to come in and only have short runs before going to either the WWE or WCW. In the case of Mike Awesome, not only did he not have a contract, but Heyman was behind in his payments to him. In addition, it's because there weren't contracts, talent were free to work other places. This typically meant some of their talent worked Japan (Most notably the likes of Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, Awesome, and Tanaka) or just other smaller companies in America.

    So the extent of the "Contracts" were whatever the talent and Heyman agreed on.
    Very interesting. So it was more of a work here if you want to type of situation. I could have sworn I did hear from some people that HHG, their parent corporation, did have some contracts, but I could be mistaken. Even if there were, wouldn't being behind on payments be a breach anyway?

    Being able to work in Japan is why a lot of those guys went to WCW and not WWF at the time, correct? WCW also allowed Japan dates?

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  4. #4

    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Smarkslayer View Post
    Very interesting. So it was more of a work here if you want to type of situation. I could have sworn I did hear from some people that HHG, their parent corporation, did have some contracts, but I could be mistaken. Even if there were, wouldn't being behind on payments be a breach anyway?
    Something to keep in mind is that contracts is a fairly new and rare thing in wrestling. Even in the WWE, you didn't have contracts back when Vince Sr. was running things prior to 1983. You made an agreement with a talent and at any time, that talent may leave to go elsewhere whether because the money was better or if it was just their time. Vince Jr. was pretty much the one who realized he could lure any top talent in the country to the WWE with guaranteed money. Granted, those contracts were always low, but everyone who signed with the WWE knew they would get X amount of dates for at least X amount of dollars. More importantly, the WWE knew that other companies couldn't tempt WWE wrestlers away the same way McMahon could with their talent. For example, when McMahon signed Hulk Hogan in 1983, it was possible because Hogan didn't have an actual contract with Verne Gagne. However, once Hogan was signed with McMahon, Gagne couldn't simply offer Hogan loads of money to return.

    I imagine ECW did have various contracts, but not with the talent themselves. Whether it's music rights or any sort of loans they took in, that would have been a contract. Even if they weren't technically contracts, the talents were still owed money from they were promised. So basically, a guy like Rob Van Dam could leave ECW whenever he wanted to since he didn't have a contract, but due to agreements, he had to be paid for his performance at a PPV like Hardcore Heaven 1999.

    Back to contracts in general, I would imagine that the only wrestling companies in America that had contracts back then were the WWE and WCW once Ted Turner bought JCP. It's very possible that TNA didn't have contracts for the first few years at least. I know ROH didn't have actual contracts for years, despite their storyline mentions of contracts (Eg. Colt Cabana and CM Punk wrestling in a match where the one received a contract). I'd imagine any wrestling company on TV, like Lucha Underground or even the Wrestling Society X had contracts, but non-TV companies like PWG doesn't. No idea what other countries are like, but it's probably a safe bet that New Japan didn't have contracts for years.

    Being able to work in Japan is why a lot of those guys went to WCW and not WWF at the time, correct? WCW also allowed Japan dates?
    Well, yes and no. For most of the 90s, WCW had a working relationship with New Japan. It's why they had those WCW/NJPW PPV supershows in the early 90s and why you saw so many New Japan guys like Muta, Chono, Tenzan, Nagata, and others from NJPW on WCW TV. If you were a WCW wrestler, there wouldn't be any problem to continue going on tours of New Japan, which we saw with guys like Benoit and Guerrero. If you were not working for New Japan, it could be a little tricky with not everyone being allowed to work for other Puro companies. Talents like Dr. Death and Terry Gordy worked for AJPW in the 90s, but not everyone had that luxury. Even though the WWE is very strict about not allowing their talents to work elsewhere, it's not always the case. Back in the 80s, things were actually switched. JCP worked with AJPW (Guys like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat could be seen in All Japan) while the WWE had a partnership with NJPW. NJPW's G1 Climax used to be called the MSG League. You often saw WWE talents like Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan working tours of NJPW. That was actually part of the problem with making Hulk Hogan AWA Champion. Since AWA had a partnership with AJPW in the 80s, but Hogan was a NJPW talent, you couldn't really make Hogan AWA Champion. If you watched early 80's WWE live events, you often saw NJPW wrestlers including the original Tiger Mask. Once McMahon Jr took over, the partnerships started to die off, although they often had a working agreement with at least one company at all times (The Japanese company, SWS stands out). There were the rare exceptions though. When the Steiners signed in late 1992, in their WWE contracts was the agreement that they could still go on tours of New Japan. While they didn't work NJPW as often as they did when they were with WCW, the Steiners did pop up in Japan a few times during their WWE runs. Typically in the 90s though, if you were signing with the WWE, you were signing away your ability to work Japan.

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    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Something to keep in mind is that contracts is a fairly new and rare thing in wrestling. Even in the WWE, you didn't have contracts back when Vince Sr. was running things prior to 1983. You made an agreement with a talent and at any time, that talent may leave to go elsewhere whether because the money was better or if it was just their time. Vince Jr. was pretty much the one who realized he could lure any top talent in the country to the WWE with guaranteed money. Granted, those contracts were always low, but everyone who signed with the WWE knew they would get X amount of dates for at least X amount of dollars. More importantly, the WWE knew that other companies couldn't tempt WWE wrestlers away the same way McMahon could with their talent. For example, when McMahon signed Hulk Hogan in 1983, it was possible because Hogan didn't have an actual contract with Verne Gagne. However, once Hogan was signed with McMahon, Gagne couldn't simply offer Hogan loads of money to return.

    I imagine ECW did have various contracts, but not with the talent themselves. Whether it's music rights or any sort of loans they took in, that would have been a contract. Even if they weren't technically contracts, the talents were still owed money from they were promised. So basically, a guy like Rob Van Dam could leave ECW whenever he wanted to since he didn't have a contract, but due to agreements, he had to be paid for his performance at a PPV like Hardcore Heaven 1999.

    Back to contracts in general, I would imagine that the only wrestling companies in America that had contracts back then were the WWE and WCW once Ted Turner bought JCP. It's very possible that TNA didn't have contracts for the first few years at least. I know ROH didn't have actual contracts for years, despite their storyline mentions of contracts (Eg. Colt Cabana and CM Punk wrestling in a match where the one received a contract). I'd imagine any wrestling company on TV, like Lucha Underground or even the Wrestling Society X had contracts, but non-TV companies like PWG doesn't. No idea what other countries are like, but it's probably a safe bet that New Japan didn't have contracts for years.
    Would you say it's more of a legal and money issue or just trying to lure talent to work for you that don't want to be exclusive to your company for companies that were late to getting talent on contract? Wasn't it also Bischoff more so than Vince that introduced the idea of guaranteed money regardless of matches worked?

    I do think Paul tried to get some talents under deals unless it's guys bullshitting because I think Stevie Richards did a YouShoot where he says Paul tried to get him to sign a contract that left the dates and money completely blank! Imagine trying to con your talent into signing a blank deal!

    It's very interesting how much the industry changed after Vince's raids of the AWA and then to some degree Bischoff's raids later on. The territories seemed much more cooperative and less cutthroat. At least when it came to talent and letting other companies breathe.

    I can't imagine any company today on actual TV that wouldn't put guys under contract. Lucha Underground contracts are said to be even more strict than WWE deals.



    Well, yes and no. For most of the 90s, WCW had a working relationship with New Japan. It's why they had those WCW/NJPW PPV supershows in the early 90s and why you saw so many New Japan guys like Muta, Chono, Tenzan, Nagata, and others from NJPW on WCW TV. If you were a WCW wrestler, there wouldn't be any problem to continue going on tours of New Japan, which we saw with guys like Benoit and Guerrero. If you were not working for New Japan, it could be a little tricky with not everyone being allowed to work for other Puro companies. Talents like Dr. Death and Terry Gordy worked for AJPW in the 90s, but not everyone had that luxury. Even though the WWE is very strict about not allowing their talents to work elsewhere, it's not always the case. Back in the 80s, things were actually switched. JCP worked with AJPW (Guys like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat could be seen in All Japan) while the WWE had a partnership with NJPW. NJPW's G1 Climax used to be called the MSG League. You often saw WWE talents like Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan working tours of NJPW. That was actually part of the problem with making Hulk Hogan AWA Champion. Since AWA had a partnership with AJPW in the 80s, but Hogan was a NJPW talent, you couldn't really make Hogan AWA Champion. If you watched early 80's WWE live events, you often saw NJPW wrestlers including the original Tiger Mask. Once McMahon Jr took over, the partnerships started to die off, although they often had a working agreement with at least one company at all times (The Japanese company, SWS stands out). There were the rare exceptions though. When the Steiners signed in late 1992, in their WWE contracts was the agreement that they could still go on tours of New Japan. While they didn't work NJPW as often as they did when they were with WCW, the Steiners did pop up in Japan a few times during their WWE runs. Typically in the 90s though, if you were signing with the WWE, you were signing away your ability to work Japan.
    It's amazing to think of a time Vince was willing to work with other companies. Both with NJPW and later ECW to some degree. WWE has changed so much. Imagine the possibilities if Wrestle Kingdom 12 with Chris Jericho being there was the beginning of a new partnership?

    Seeing WCW utilize the NJPW guys was pretty cool. They basically milked them for their short-lived Women's Division. Not NJPW, but GAEA I believe it was. Good times.

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  6. #6

    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Smarkslayer View Post
    Would you say it's more of a legal and money issue or just trying to lure talent to work for you that don't want to be exclusive to your company for companies that were late to getting talent on contract?
    Cable TV.

    That's what really changed things. To help explain it, let's look at it with dates and wrestlers:

    It's 1977 and Bruno Sammartino is the #1 draw that the WWE has. He just lost the title to Superstar Billy Graham and Verne Gagne manages to talk him into leaving New York and head to Minnesota to wrestle for the AWA. Does this hurt the WWE? Sure, Sammartino is their #1 draw. Maybe their house show business goes down, but their New York fans aren't going to be able to turn into AWA TV and they're not even going to have the knowledge of what's going on to make frequent trips to AWA events. So even if Gagne stealing Sammartino away from the WWE hurts the WWE and benefits the AWA, it's two completely different fanbases. McMahon Sr. would just have to figure out a way to entice the New York wrestling fans to come back to the shows rather than staying home.

    Meanwhile, it's a different 1998 and contracts don't exist. Eric Bischoff threw a ton of money at Steve Austin in June to skip out on the WWE after King of the Ring, rather than show up the next night on Raw to win back the WWE Title. Austin pops up on WCW TV and suddenly, thanks to cable TV, any WWE fans can tune into WCW TV to get their Steve Austin fix. Suddenly, the world of wrestling isn't these series of towns and eras that each territory controls. Instead, every wrestling company is fighting for every wrestling fan. So if you're a wrestling company, you're wanting to product your product so that the competition can't just steal your stars that you spent time building up. Thanks to contracts, Bischoff can try and offer Austin absolutely anything, but until the contract is up, he can't actually get Austin into WCW.

    Cable television allowed for the world of wrestling to connect. Not only could someone watch WWE TV who previously could only watch JCP/WCW TV, but once a company begins showing their product in an area on TV, the company can then build up a fanbase there to buy tickets when they begin running shows.

    [quote]Wasn't it also Bischoff more so than Vince that introduced the idea of guaranteed money regardless of matches worked?

    Bischoff, like McMahon, gets more credit than he necessarily deserves. They both technically did guaranteed money, but Bischoff relied more on flat out giving money regardless of if a wrestler performed or not. I would consider what McMahon did to be guaranteed money, but then Bischoff took that idea and added the moronic twist of requiring less to get the money.

    I do think Paul tried to get some talents under deals unless it's guys bullshitting because I think Stevie Richards did a YouShoot where he says Paul tried to get him to sign a contract that left the dates and money completely blank! Imagine trying to con your talent into signing a blank deal!
    God bless Heyman, but he could be a bit of a sneaky fuck. I wouldn't put it passed him to throw together some quick contracts to try and prevent WCW from signing any additional ECW wrestlers. So it's not even so much that when you start wrestling with ECW, you have a contract, but rather when there's a risk of you being offered a contract by WCW, Heyman suddenly tries to make you sign something.

    I can't imagine any company today on actual TV that wouldn't put guys under contract. Lucha Underground contracts are said to be even more strict than WWE deals.
    There have been modern examples of WWE and TNA putting wrestlers on their TV without contracts. In 2006, TNA did it with Shannon Moore, actually having him on TV for a few months without a single contract. WWE did it with James Storm on NXT. You can't do it in this day and age though. When you have TV, you have to constantly be building up to things, but that's tough to do when a talent could leave at any time.

    It's amazing to think of a time Vince was willing to work with other companies. Both with NJPW and later ECW to some degree. WWE has changed so much. Imagine the possibilities if Wrestle Kingdom 12 with Chris Jericho being there was the beginning of a new partnership?
    WWE is pretty sneaky when it comes to their partnerships. They work with companies, but then they typically only give away lame stars. Look at their partnership with ECW around 1997. They let ECW use such notable WWE stars as Jerry Lawler, Brakkus, and Leif Cassidy. The big obstacle between the WWE working with another company is that WWE is just so much more well known to Americans than any other company. So for the WWE, they don't see any benefit of working with anyone else. They gain nothing while other companies truly benefit.

    Seeing WCW utilize the NJPW guys was pretty cool. They basically milked them for their short-lived Women's Division. Not NJPW, but GAEA I believe it was. Good times.
    What a waste of time that WCW Women's Division ended up being. They actually created not one, but TWO Women Titles within a few months of each other. Both ended up virtually being dead within months with little to no exposure. Initially though, it looked as if the Cruiserweight Title was going to suffer a similar fate before Rey Mysterio Jr saved it.

    I never felt as if Bischoff actually cared about the New Japan talent. Using them not because they were special, but because they were different. WCW 1989-1993 did a much better job of making the New Japan guys feel like a truly special attraction.

  7. #7
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    Re: ECW Contracts

    The thing I always think about when ecw and contracts come up is taz. Went through his whole ecw career worked his way up to the world title and all he had was a handshake. Then you have that world title live event thing after awesome and taz left. Just funny to see just how screwy things were.

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    Re: ECW Contracts

    I don't think Awesome was making any real money by the time he left let alone good money. Even RVD ending up being owed over a hundred grand by the end of ECW and no showed in return. Mike was getting bounced checks and got a 1.1 Million dollar offer from WCW. They did however get an injunction for attempting to toss the ECW title in the garbage.

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    Re: ECW Contracts

    I always thought that these guaranteed contracts were one of the worst things to ever happen to wrestling. There's no incentive to draw money. Guys would no show house shows if they got a hang nail. Then when business would go down the company would get stuck paying these big bloated contracts for guys that didn't draw. It's just bad all around.

  10. #10

    Re: ECW Contracts

    Quote Originally Posted by NYindyfan View Post
    I always thought that these guaranteed contracts were one of the worst things to ever happen to wrestling. There's no incentive to draw money. Guys would no show house shows if they got a hang nail. Then when business would go down the company would get stuck paying these big bloated contracts for guys that didn't draw. It's just bad all around.
    In some ways, the guaranteed contracts isn't a problem for any of the things you listed. Take into consideration the following:

    - What's the incentive to draw money? In order to get a nice pay raise when your contract comes up for renewal.

    - Got a problem with wrestlers making up excuses to no show events? Give them a punishment instead of just taking it.

    - Business down and left having to pay out big contracts? Maybe don't give everyone some big guaranteed contract and instead just a few key members on your roster.

    Just because it ended up being a poor thing for WCW, doesn't mean it's entirely a poor idea in general. Like virtually everything WCW did, WCW's stupidity was shown. This is the same company that paid people loads of money to just stay home or would suddenly realize that they had blown through all of the dates a wrestler would have in their contract, forcing WCW to spend loads more to get the talent to work additional dates needed. Guaranteed contracts were just the way wrestling would naturally go due to how wrestling was changing. Once McMahon started signing talent to non-guaranteed contracts, Bischoff had to do something to make WCW contracts even more tempting. In general, WCW was a really poorly managed company that partially due to so many frequent and drastic changes behind the scenes, the viewpoints in what they should do or who should be pushed changed far too often. If WCW could fuck something up, best believe that they found a way to do it. It only makes sense that they'd be the most notorious example of fucking up guaranteed contracts.

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