How Does the Undertaker Get Paid?

a Sunday wrestling post

When I was a kid I remember asking my mom how Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker, and Sting get paid. She was a bit confused at first, but after a little explanation was curious herself. When men and women perform under an alias, who is the check written out to? Sure, Masked Man #1 working the local independent wrestling show is probably just paid in cash. But what of men like the Undertaker, who not only are paid for wrestling, but also merchandise and royalties?

As an adult I realize the answer is simple. The larger company any of these people work for is aware of the performer’s real name and writes checks to that individual. Easy.

Then this week there was a debate between wrestlers on Twitter. Should they use the real name or the character name? It was a long debate with good points for and against. Then like most things on social media the intelligent discussions went away and were replaced with echoes of ignorance. But, an interesting point was raised.

For over half the time I’ve been writing online it was under an alias. My real name is so unique I feared someone might read a negative review and in retaliation find out my home address or phone number. Thus an alias and brand name were born. Later, Facebook decreed it isn’t a “real name” and I had to change it. (Which, considering my real name, was also rejected and I had to send proof of name to Facebook.)

What really tipped me to having both names out there was my first printed comic book story. It did not have my name on it. The alias was there, but not the reality. This comic was sent to my parents, I have copies here to treasure. This was something to be proud of for eternity. Yet my actual name was not on it. This creation of mine was. That’s close, but not quite there.

But the nom de plume could not go away. It was recognizable now. There are people in the world who address me as “Hellions”. I couldn’t play God and kill off my creation. That’s why some sites have my real name now and the podcast is hosted by Kevin “Hellions” Decent. I’m connecting the brands. Making a new link for any readers or listeners. Now any future project with either or both names will still connect to me. Whether I say a Clark Kent story or a Superman story, the reader is aware it’s the same guy starring.

Then there are wrestlers. Fictional characters portrayed by real people. With blurred lines and a fan base that can’t always tell the difference. Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark/Iron Man only when he is on screen as that character. RDJ’s Twitter account is not the words and thoughts of Tony Stark. Any reader can tell the difference. But what of wrestlers?

Am I reading the words of Roman Reigns online through his account? Or is this Joe Anoa’i? On camera for WWE he’s Roman. But who is on Twitter? Who is tweeting about beating up someone on Raw – Roman or Joe? Who is a supporting actor in Hobbs and Shaw – Roman or Joe? When the day comes that Roman Reigns retires, who will I see in the next stage of his career – Roman or Joe?

Stone Cold Steve Austin in everything he has done post in ring career is still Stone Cold Steve Austin. Not Steve Williams. Hulk Hogan is Hulk Hogan. Except when he’s in the middle of a lawsuit and has to explain the difference between Terry Bollea and Hulk Hogan, including penis sizes. (Dear God, I wish I was kidding.)

Recently wrestlers Jordynne Grace changed her Twitter to her real name, Trisha Parker. It created a huge debate online and I think the dust settled on each wrestler doing what is best for them. Overall saying two things. One, the real person uses social media to contact friends, promotions, etc.  Also, there may be a point where she will no longer use her current ring name and it’s a good idea for her fans to get used to her real name before that day comes. Honestly, I think one of her best points is that in ring characters who are feuding – or even good guys vs bad guys – should not be friends on Twitter. Real people can be, but characters shouldn’t. Spider-Man should not follow Mysterio on Twitter, but if Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal want to be friends – cool.

For me, there are times where I wish wrestlers had some sort of obvious difference between a tweet in character or out. Things said as an in character heel are fine, but if these were the thoughts of a real person you need help. Fans are “smart” and realize the performance of wrestling. But until WWE Raw has some sort of credits with “Starring as…” there will always be confusion between the words of fantasy vs reality.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here receiving mail addressed to two names.

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