In an interview with Wrestlinginc., Kevin Fertig, the former Kevin Thorn and Mordecai, revealed how the WWE Network has affected his royalty payments from his former employer. The results aren't pretty.
Fertig said that he used to make about $2,000 to $3,000 a quarter, which would give him an extra $8,000 to $12,000 a year. Alarmingly, he said his most recent check was for $67, which would bring his total to $268 a year.
Fertig was only in the company for a couple of years, so you can only imagine how much money some of the long-time veterans of WWE have lost out on. For former wrestlers, who are likely making well under $100,000 a year on the indy scene, the royalty checks from their old employer were likely a big part of their income.
Of course, with sales of DVDs dropping for years now, part of this was to be expected. But it's a shame that the men and women who put their body on the line for the company are seeing so little money for their work now, despite it being more accessible than ever.
While the comparison is far from equal, Bob Gunton, who had a minor role in The Shawshank Redemption, was receiving nearly $100,000 a year off of residuals from that film alone a decade after it was released.
Another way to look at it is that former NFL players will make $470 a month for every season they played in the league (starting at age 55) for the rest of their life. Play five years and you'll land $2,350 every month (which would take about 10 years for someone like Fertig to make from their former employer). Since WWE doesn't have a pension set up for their talent, the closest thing to gain any sort of money from them is the royalty check.
With the cannibalization of pay-per-view payouts in WWE, this is also part of the reason why some former stars have not been interested in returning for the brand split. The work remains brutal, and the money is only getting worse.
Hopefully WWE can figure something out, as we've seen far too many former wrestlers end up with very little money (and huge health problems) by the time they call it a career.