Jesse Ventura Recalls Advocating For Wrestler Unionisation In WWE

Jesse Ventura Recalls Advocating For Wrestler Unionisation In WWE

Decades after Jesse Ventura’s impassioned plea for a wrestlers’ union in the WWE locker room, the absence of such an organisation remains a prominent and contentious issue within the professional wrestling community.

Jesse Ventura, a WWE Hall of Famer, reflected on his efforts during an interview with The Vanguard, shedding light on the challenges and repercussions he faced while advocating for unionisation in the wrestling industry. He stressed that the establishment of a wrestlers’ union relies heavily on the willingness of wrestlers to risk their careers, drawing from his own experiences as a cautionary tale.

That will depend on the wrestlers, are the wrestlers willing to put their careers on the line? That’s what I did. You saw what happened to my career.

Recalling his fervent call for unionisation, particularly in the lead-up to WrestleMania 2, Jesse Ventura highlighted a crucial moment where he believed wrestlers could band together to demand federal negotiators’ involvement.

I said, ‘Boys, now’s the time to unionise. All the publicity’s gone out, all we have to do is stick together, go out to the press, and say, ‘We refuse to wrestle unless federal negotiators are brought in.’ It’s a federal law. I said, ‘Who do you think turns on the lights in these buildings? Union people. If they recognise what we’re doing, Vince cannot run WrestleMania.

Despite his impassioned efforts, Ventura noted concerns about the absence of key figures like Hulk Hogan, which posed significant obstacles to the unionisation campaign.

The first thing one of the guys said to me was, ‘Well, we need Hogan.’ I said, no we don’t. All we need is Bundy, that’s who he’s wrestling. We don’t need Hogan. And then we can contact the Charlotte guys [WCW] and have them walk out. And if we do this together, we can finally get a union.

Ventura’s interview also revealed a confrontation with WWE head Vince McMahon following his union advocacy. He outlined the financial and livelihood concerns driving his push for a union, citing exorbitant healthcare costs and the lack of retirement benefits for wrestlers.

I went home the next day. My phone rang, and it was Vince, ‘What in the hell are you doing yapping about this union crap in the dressing room?’ And I stood up to him, I said ‘Vince, why can’t we? It’s not just to fight you. Right now, I pay $5,000 a year for health insurance for me and my family.’ This was the ’80s, if we had strength in numbers, maybe I’d only have to pay $1,200 a year. What about retirement? I’ve seen hundreds of guys retire after 30 years in this business, they don’t have a pot to p**s in or a window to throw it out of.

The fallout from Jesse Ventura’s advocacy ultimately led to his departure from WWE as he pursued a career in Hollywood. His decision eventually granted him membership in the Screen Actors Guild, providing him with retirement benefits and healthcare—a stark contrast to the precarious financial situation faced by many retired wrestlers.

What Did Jesse Ventura Say About His First Meeting With Vladimir Putin?

Jesse Ventura said that his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was pleasant. Ventura was in Russia working on his political television show “The World According To Jesse” and said that he shook hands with Putin who assured him that the Russian government would not interfere with his show.

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