Friday evening WWE announced the release of Zelina Vega. There’s still no official word yet as to why Vega was released, but her Tweet showing her support for unionization and her Instagram post stating “See you on Twitch” are both strong hints that WWE’s new rule regarding talent being unable to utilize platforms like Twitch and Cameo without company involvement are the reason.
Following her release last night it didn’t take Vega long to return to Twitch to speak with her subscribers. While the former WWE Superstar didn’t share any details behind the nature of her release, she did have a very emotional and heartfelt conversation with her fans about how she’s feeling.
“I’m sad. I’m completely heartbroken. But obviously this isn’t the last you’re going to see of me. I don’t know what the future is going to hold. … If I go down as someone who stood up for themselves then, you know, so be it. But I’m so thankful. I’m not angry, I’m just heartbroken. Because doing this, being a wrestler is all I ever wanted to do. So I don’t really know what to say, I don’t really know…”
Vega more or less appeared to confirm that her release was related to Twitch during her stream when she said “If I go down as someone who stood up for themselves then, you know, so be it.” It’s possible Vega’s release could also be partially related to her new OnlyFans account. While OnlyFans isn’t something that’s been spoken about in the conversation of WWE taking over unauthorized third party services, such as Twitch and Cameo, it likely falls under the umbrella of revenue that the company is trying to control.
WWE has received a lot of criticism over the years for their treatment of Superstars that are signed as independent contractors. The company uses this employment definition as a loophole to get around a number of worker protections, and as a method to avoid paying for things like health insurance, 401k, and other standard benefits expected at most jobs.
Andrew Yang, American entrepreneur and former presidential candidate, has spoken of Vince McMahon’s treatment of independent contractors several times in the past, and has publicly shared his intentions are to force WWE to cease the practice. Yang has also taken notice of Zelina Vega’s release.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has outright stated that Vega was let go for supporting unionization.
Zelina Vega let go for supporting unionization tells me Vince wants to pick a very interesting fight. We'll see if he gets his wish.
— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) November 13, 2020
Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, the nation’s largest labor union representing working performers, also tweeted her support for Vega.
— Gabrielle Carteris (@TheGabrielle_C) November 14, 2020
Will Zelina Vega’s decision to stand up to WWE over their Twitch policy be the snowball that begins the avalanche of WWE Superstars refusing to hand over their Twitch and Cameo accounts? Is this the moment that will be talked about down the road as the beginning of the end of WWE’s ability to classify their Superstars as independent contractors? Time will tell.
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