The WWE recently terminated its contract with WWE Hall of Famer, Superstar Billy Graham. In addition to cutting out Billy’s monthly salary the, WWE has made this one personal. The WWE has threatened to sue Billy if he uses the name, “Superstar Billy Graham”. Always a fighter, Superstar Billy Graham is fighting back and has harsh words for Vince McMahon and the WWE.
This is turning out to be one of the strangest stories of the year. I was under the impression that things were good between the Superstar and the WWE. I just assumed with WrestleMania XXVI in Phoenix, that Billy would be a big part of the promotion. Not only will Billy not be a part of the promotion, things have gotten downright ugly between the Superstar and the WWE.
WWE recently notified Billy that they were terminating his legends contract. As part of their deal, the WWE were paying Billy a base salary of $2,000 a month. Billy will no longer receive that salary. The WWE will likely not produce any Superstar Graham related merchandise or videos which would earn him royalties. One of the most influential men to the history of the WWE was kicked to the curb as a cost-cutting move.
Billy Graham sacrificed his body to pro wrestling. The only way for Billy to earn a living would be with autograph signings and conventions. In addition to terminating his contract, the WWE are threatening legal action against Billy from making any money using his likeness. Cutting out a salary may be an economical move. Preventing a man from making a living is just downright personal.
Billy has never been one to sit back and take it lying down. Billy was very outspoken against the WWE in the 1990s. Billy and Vince were enemies in every sense of the word. Without the Internet, Billy went on as many talk shows as he could to get his side of the story out there. Billy and Vince did eventually make amends with Billy recounting a lot of the things he said about Vince and the WWE.
Things seemed well between both Vince and Billy. Billy was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by Triple H. The WWE released a book and home video paying tribute to the former WWWF champion. Since the death of Chris Benoit, Billy became more outspoken about drugs in wrestling. Billy even had a public war of words with WWE superstar Mr. Kennedy. Billy said the following to me in a 2007 interview on my radio show Pro Wrestling Radio.
“I am very disappointed and honestly I am going to tell you right now, his failure to reach out to me and make amends was the final blow as far as me recognizing wrestlers as really good, honest, human beings that most of them are. It just crushed me that the guy didn’t have the decency to send me an apology and has let me down in the quality of character in professional wrestlers.”
Billy never attacked Vince McMahon or the WWE as an organization during this time period. I am sure Vince wasn’t happy, but if anyone earned the right to speak up it is Superstar Billy Graham. You may not agree with everything Superstar says, but you can’t disagree with his right to speak his mind about the pro wrestling business. In the end, Billy was just looking out for the boys.
Things have apparently come to a boiling point within Titan Towers and the WWE. Like 1992, Billy has once again taken up a public crusade against Vince McMahon. Billy posted a copy of termination letter online. Click here to read it. Billy also said, “Vince will indeed burn in Hell for trying to stop me from using my pro wrestling name, because he doesn’t want me to, let him burn, he is one evil man.”
[adinserter block=”1″]Personally, I may be a little biased here. I love the Superstar as a man and as a pro wrestler. In corresponding with Billy about coming on my radio show, we developed a friendship. Billy has Hepatitis C as does someone in my family. Billy offered daily advice and opened up about his own medical struggles. Billy continued to email me for updates. In my own personal experience, Superstar Billy Graham is a good man and deserves better.
I think this is only more evidence that there needs to be some kind of a union in pro wrestling. Is $24,000 a year really going to make the difference between the WWE meeting all of its debt obligations? Is “Superstar Billy Graham” appearing at a convention going to hurt WWE business? For a guy who has contributed as much to the pro wrestling business as Superstar Billy Graham has, to be stripped of his likeness and kicked to the curb without a penny is a disgrace no matter how you look at it.
See Billy Graham at his best by ordering the WWE DVD – Superstar Graham 20 Years to Soon by clicking here.
Get Billy’s WWE Legends – Superstar Billy Graham: Tangled Ropes autobiography by clicking here.
Grab the WWE Jakks Pacific Wrestling Classic Superstars Exclusive Action Figure Superstar Billy Graham Black & White Version by clicking here.
Headlocks and Eye Gouges – I will be back on Pro Wrestling Radio this Wednesday night May 6 at 7 PM/EST. I will be joined by former WWE and WCW world tag team champion Jerry Saggs of the Nasty Boys. Jerry will talk about the career of the Nasty Boys, some great road stories, and reveal who is on the current hit list of the Nasty Boys. This should be a lot of fun and an interview that you don’t want to miss. I will take your calls following the interview for the remainder of the program. Call in with a question or comment at 1-877-800-8834. Listen live at http://www.tvbydemand.com/radio_prowrestling_radioshow.asp 7-8:30 PM/EST this and every Wednesday night.