Image: David Seto under CC 3.0
Although the story lines of professional wrestling are fake, the health risks are as real as can be. During the course of their job, wrestlers are often injured.
Strangely, in an industry that puts its workers at risk, they are not provided with health insurance plans. That is because pro wrestlers are generally considered independent contractors (although they cannot work for competing companies–this is especially the case under World Wrestling Entertainment). The biggest stars can afford to pay for their health care outright, but mid-card wrestlers will find it very difficult to find health coverage–due to their myriad pre-existing conditions and high-risk occupation. Former WWE executive Linda McMahon is currently running for the Senate in Connecticut; as a Republican, this status of her workers has been criticized.
Former WWE wrestler Mick Foley claims that being reclassified as an employee–and therefore having employer-sponsored health insurance–isn’t all positive. Currently, wrestlers receive potentially lucrative royalties for every usage of their image; WWE, especially, regularly releases DVDs and paid Internet and On Demand TV screening. As employees, they would lose that income stream. In other words, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.