The wrestling landscape has changed, and competition is at an all time high. Bidding wars have begun, and lucrative deals are on the table.
The WWE does have an advantage in order to retain stars who may be looking to go elsewhere, contract extensions due to injury.
Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan faced this situation during their time on the injured list, as the WWE froze their contracts. Mysterio eventually was released, but was quite unhappy at the time, claiming the WWE quietly extended his contract without letting him know.
Dave Meltzer notes in the latest edition of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter that practice is still affecting talent on the injured list.
The time left on a talent’s contract doesn’t start again until the wrestler is ready to work, and fulfil their duties as an active in-ring performer, as stated in their contractual agreement.
The WWE does plan on continuing to use this loophole in extending talent deals.
The Revival recently asked for their WWE release, which was not granted. NXT stars who are called up to the main roster are provided a new contract. These contracts are generally 3 years.
In the Revival’s case, signing a 3 year deal would put their contracts expiring in April of 2020. In reality, the WWE can have them much longer due to the injuries both members have sustained.
Scott Dawson suffered a ruptured bicep shortly after their main roster debut, which kept him out of action for 5 months. This extends his contract by an additional 5 months, due it being frozen while injured.
Dash Wilder suffered a fractured jaw in 2017 which kept him out of action for 2 months. This extends his contract by an additional 2 months.
Many wrestlers have suffered significant injures over the last two years which allows the WWE to extend their deals including Finn Balor, Bayley, Tomasso Ciampa, Samoa Joe, Asuka, Braun Strowman, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Bludgeon Brothers, Fandango, and Goldust.
These injuries lasted a few weeks to several months, and the WWE is adding that time to their current deal.
While talent is injured the WWE takes care of all medical and rehabilitation costs, as well as continues to pay their downside guarantee, and any merchandise royalties.
Stars who wish to pursue other promotions, such as the new upstart All Elite Wrestling may have to wait several months after their contracts expire. This provides an upper hand to WWE, who will in most cases attempt to sign stars to deals, which are now 5 years in length.