Thursday 4 October 2012

So Long and Thanks for All the Botches

Kelly Kelly, the woman WWE tried so hard to turn into the new Trish Stratus (an attractive young blonde who can also wrestle) has been future endeavoured. For those in the know this shouldn't come as a huge surprise.
Barbie 'Kelly Kelly' Blank has been working for WWE since 2006. Since debuting on the doomed WWECW she has been on the road constantly. Officially Kelly has left WWE because she announced she would be selling a calendar via her personal website and hadn't received the necessary approval from WWE management to do so. While that was a genuine issue it's believed the true reason for Double K's departure is more a combination of weariness and career offers outside of the sports entertainment organisation.

A shot of Kelly Kelly in Serious Babyface Mode
Kelly requested and was granted time off earlier in the year. It was believed that after resting up for a few months she would be willing to get back on the road full time as a WWE Diva. She reportedly asked for a part time deal that would give her more time at home and the ability to pursue interests away from the company. She still would have been available for much of the year but would essentially have had holiday entitlements (you know, like a normal person). WWE management didn't want to grant these requests and so Kelly is gone.
Something similar has reportedly happened with Chris Jericho's recent contract negotiations. 'Y2J' apparently wanted to work a set number of dates per year and retain control of when they fall, in order to keep touring with Fozzy. In exchange for granting these requests WWE would have ensured one of their biggest names stays on the roster for a set amount of time per year. Jericho was apparently also willing to make trips to WWE developmental as part of the deal. That his offer was turned down is bizarre: WWE would have gained much from it and had as much access to Jericho for bookings as they will anyway.
Back to Kelly. As noted above she wishes to pursue career opportunities outside of WWE. The company's policy is to retain complete control of what media appearances and projects their contracted talent undertake. Their reason for doing this is that they don't want talent doing anything that could place the promotion in a compromising situation (such as launching a risqué calendar). Unofficially they also don't want talent benefiting from the exposure they gain through being a WWE Superstar without the company also getting something out of it.
I can understand these policies but I can also understand why it would dissuade someone from re-signing. If more money and new experiences can be gained elsewhere, with fewer bumps involved, then obviously the talent are going to opt to try something new. They could find themselves with a great new career and if things don't pan out then they know they can always go back to WWE, an attitude which is the promotion's own fault because they've done such a bad job of creating bankable stars over the last several years.
While she wasn't the greatest female wrestler to ever step foot in a ring I do think Kelly's absence will affect the company. Even with her limits she was accepted as one of the beleaguered Divas' league's top babyfaces. With her gone the division loses yet another of its stars and the booking options become even tighter. That WWE has not bothered preparing anyone else for her spot only makes the situation worse. She was good for media appearances too. The promotion will need to start training Eve and perhaps Kaitlyn to fill that void.
If WWE want to stop this sort of thing happening again they need to make some changes. Either they should change their policy with regards to established stars taking non-WWE work or offer greater incentives for talent to stay put, such as giving talent a holiday allowance. Whatever the specifics are the general answer is clear: WWE needs to become more flexible when negotiating with their big names.
Being a WWE superstar is not an easy gig. If WWE don't start understanding that instead of treating their employees like they owe the company a favour then things are only going to get worse.

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