Sunday, February 01, 2009

WWE News: JBL describes his biggest fear of ending up broke, like in "The Wrestler", By James Caldwell, assistant editor

In the current U.S. economic situation, diversifying where the money is coming from and where investment money is going is very important to maintain a healthy financial position.

Eventually we'll see how WWE's incoming revenue and outgoing investments fared in the fourth quarter 2008 and overall year, as the company is delayed in announcing revenue results for last quarter, but WWE Raw star JBL is taking the "diversification" route very seriously.

He reveals in his latest WWE Universe blog that it's partly out of fear for ending up broke, with real-life imitating art through the Shawn Michaels employment storyline.

JBL has diversified his income sources through the creation of Layfield Energy to distribute energy-related products in case the WWE career and financial analyst positions fall through. Yet, he remains haunted by a fear in the wrestling aspect of his job aspirations.

"My biggest fear is to end up broke," JBL said on WWE Universe. "I once saw an old wrestler who had made a lot of money working as the ground keeper at a Red Roof in Charlotte - that has haunted me to this day."

JBL points to his age as one reason why recently watching "The Wrestler" movie "scares me." Motivated partially by fear, JBL doesn't want end up like some of his peers.

"It's one reason I work so hard to not be him," JBL said. "Because there are a lot of guys who have made a lot of money who have ended up broke, and that is very sad."

Link: JBL blog on WWE Universe.

Caldwell's Analysis: It's tough to thrive in the current economic environment because it's easy to live in a state of fear about job security, not only in WWE, but in real-world jobs where valued workers are actually called employees, not bogus independent contractors. Every day, I hear about a friend who's living in fear of losing his or her job, or recently was laid off. I'm sure many of you Torch readers have experienced someone close being in that situation.

It's certainly not a WWE-only thing, but many wrestlers are considered to be paranoid by nature because they're competing for TV spots and PPV headlining-matches in a very subjective environment of deciding who gets those spots. So, when you see a wrestler protect his body in the ring or wrestle a soft match, don't think it's because the wrestler is trying to cheat the fans, but because he has to protect his investment on a constant basis, especially with WWE releasing talent left and right.

Which brings me to another point on the ultimate oxymoron in the world of an "independent contractor being released." How does someone who's considered "independent" of a company become released? WWE doesn't have any right to "release" someone, when the contractor - in the spirit of the law - should control the work he or she is to perform. It's completely ludicrous. End Rant.

Greg Tingle comment...

All respect to JBL for speaking on these things. My late father, who was mates (and workmates) with a few of the Australian pro wrestlers in the 1980s, thanks to the truck driving profession (where a few of the pro wrestlers got their real pay days) told me.. "balance is the key". I'm not certain the term had been coined back then, but he meant Mind, Body and Spirit. We said along the lines of "work on the body and work on the mind, and work hard".

It's in the best interests of the wrestlers (and their loved ones) that they do prepare for rainy day. As we know, the WWE business model can only allow for a certain amount of workers to be on the books at any one time. It's great the pro wrestling can offer huge exposure via the audience and to network big wigs and the like. Standing out from the pack and being very good or excellent at something else has proven to be a largely successful formula. The best wrestlers are usually very good actors, and they take that mainstream, sometimes with assistance from WWE Studios, sometimes in non WWE productions.

Wrestlers doing MMA, indy productions and "shoot interviews" has mixed results for their career path.

The bottom line is that the pro wrestler needs to do their best, in and out of the ring, to help ensure their livelihood for the day that they hang up their tights and are no longer wanted or needed by the world's top and highest paying pro wrestling promotions. The worker needs to protect their best interests, and that includes taking calculated risks and putting on the best show possible, that both promoter and fans will be happy with, but not killing themselves by getting banged up too badly in the progress.

Next time you think about giving a star rating to a pro wrestling match, think outside the square and take into consideration that the wrestler may be pacing themselves or be in the middle of a hectic travel schedule, or even be in great pain.

JBL's holistic approach - wrestling, financials, private business, commentating and the spot of writing, and intelligent choice of life and business partners, appears to be very sound, and would appear to be a good model for other pro wrestlers to follow. Of course, most pro wrestlers haven't got their pro wrestling to JBL's stage, but it sure the hell is something to aspire to.

I witnessed JBL wrestle in person at a roughhouse wrestling venue in Germany approx 15 years ago, and I had no idea he would make it as big as he has. Nothing stays the same forever... careers go in cycles - up and down. JBL was putting the work in way back then, and I had no idea that he was heading for greatness, but he sure worked hard in the match. JBL must have had a plan and a vision, and he knew where was heading - to the top of one of the the professions in the world.

Disclaimer: I joined JBL's Layfield Energy b2b program as a both a mark of respect and support for wrestlers who can see beyond the flashy lights and body slamming. Our website already has WWE, MBS and JBL content, and attracts over 1 million hits per month, so it was a perfect fit. If it makes some good money for me, that's a bonus, but I did as respect and to support JBL's smarts, guts and leadership. It's great to see that more pro wrestlers and starting to "get it", and much like (some) Australian NRL (National Rugby League) players and clubs, are taking steps to plan for the future, for when their bodies or desire won't be up to being just that "slice of meat" that the promoters hired them to be. The business needs more JBL's, and I would think the McMahon and other top promoters would be supportive. It also helps protect their investment and reputations. Here's to success on all levels.

(Credit: Pro Wrestling Torch)

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