Jerry Lawler Explained Why We’re Suddenly Seeing WWE Wrestlers At Independent Shows

AJ Styles, the current WWE United States Champion on Smackdown Live, made an appearance at a NWA Wildside reunion event this past Sunday in his home state of Georgia. Styles appeared at the show because WWE’s talent was off last weekend due to the busy schedule this coming week. Styles used to wrestle at NWA Wildside shows for many years, so he wanted to say hello to the fans and the talent while telling them about how important it is to support indy wrestling. You can watch Styles’ speech below.

In addition to Styles, it was announced this week that Kassius Ohno of WWE NXT will be challenging Joe Coffey for the Insane Championship Wrestling Championship this Sunday, September 17 in Manchester, England .

How can current WWE stars appear on these indy wrestling shows? Here’s a very good explanation from Jerry Lawler from his recent podcast. (Thanks to 411Mania for the transcript.)

“When you sign a contract with WWE, it’s pretty much exclusive. However, WWE wrestlers are, technically tax-wise, considered independent contractors. In that sense, you are really truly, supposedly, work wherever you want to. But it’s just an understanding, and it’s in the contract, that WWE will basically keep you booked where you’re not available to do anything else. I think they call them “third-party appearances.” That’s been a long-standing thing that if somebody else wants to book, say for instance AJ Styles, I’m sure what they did was call the office and made an offer. Then the office will look and see if it’s a viable thing; if AJ isn’t working that night.

So say you have an independent show, and you call WWE, and you say you want John Cena. If he’s available, and they tell you what his fee would be; if you are still conscious, if you haven’t fainted, and you say you can pay that, they call John and tell him they have an offer for him and if he would accept it. And why you don’t see WWE superstars at these shows, the reasons are money, it’s prohibitive for a promoter to be able to pay these guys what WWE is asking. And usually when these shows happen are on the weekend, when WWE are running their shows. Or a day off; days off are few and far between. They relish a day off; they wouldn’t want to do a third-party appearance on their day off.”

It makes perfect sense. As Lawler mentioned, most of WWE’s talent are booked on weekend live events, so it would be hard for these indies to ever book them. Plus, the bigger names would cost a lot more with WWE also wanting a fee on top of that. The most important part is what Lawler said at the end where he mentioned the talent wanting a day off. That’s definitely true because they work four days per week on average, they get home on that fifth day and they probably have errands to do nonstop when they are hope for the next couple days. Why go work an indy show? It’s easy to see why it is so rare.

Lawler’s point about Cena is interesting because he recently took part in a Q&A session style appearance in Australia likely because they paid him a lot of money to fly over there and talk to them. Cena talking about beating The Nexus at SummerSlam 2010 drew a lot of attention from that appearance. There are no other Cena appearances that we know of because, like Lawler said, it probably costs a ridiculous amount of money to book him.

Thanks to Jerry Lawler for the insight.