A WWE Hall of Famer has recalled the intriguing story of how they defeated Vince McMahon in court after suing him over a lie.
Vince McMahon and WWE might be the subject of ongoing legal investigations in 2022 but former WWE Superstar Jesse Ventura has discussed how he defeated the long-time WWE Chairman in court after McMahon lied to him.
Jesse Ventura had a successful in-ring career before having to step away from competing in the mid-eighties. He soon transitioned into a commentary role with WWE, sitting at the announce desk for the first six WrestleManias. However, all was not well in the company for the outspoken Ventura.
In 1991 Jesse Ventura brought legal action against WWE after discovering that Vince McMahon had paid royalties to other stars for their appearances on company videos, something McMahon had told Ventura didn’t happen.
Speaking on the Talk Is Jericho podcast with AEW star Chris Jericho, The Body explained how it was after he started getting royalties from his work in Hollywood that he questioned why he didn’t make any from WWE:
“I did Predator, and I did Hunter and I did Hollywood. Well, all of a sudden, I’m getting royalty checks. When Hunter shows on TV, a check comes to me. When Predator shows the check comes to me. So I went into Vince and said, ‘Vince, how come everything I do in Hollywood, I get paid royalties, and you’re out selling videotapes all over the country of my broadcast, my matches, and everything about me, and I don’t get nothing? How come Hollywood pays me and you don’t?'”
“And Vince said, ‘well, I don’t pay royalties,’ which by law, he doesn’t have to. There’s no law that says he’s got to do it. Anyway, it stuck in my craw and every time I would negotiate with him, including when I stated the night I went into the Hall of Fame, the biggest thing I ever did in wrestling was that I made Vince McMahon – [I was] the first one to make him deal with an agent.”
“Well, from that point on to after he was dealing with my agent, every year my agent would bring up videotape. And every year Vince would say we don’t pay royalties on videotape, which the WWF or E as it is today, they have that right. There’s no law, but it’s still ticked me off to the point where I was so angry. I said, ‘I want him to beat me in court on this because it just don’t seem right, I own the copyright of my name and likeness and he’s making money off it and not paying me a thing for all that he’s making.'”
Jesse Ventura then revealed it was McMahon’s comment about not paying royalties that ultimately cost WWE the court case as it was proved to be a lie, and select stars were receiving royalty payments from the company:
“So we went to court, now here’s where we got him. It was during discovery. We all sued him under something and here’s what we won on, called quantum meruit. Now what that means is this, Chris, if you decide you want to hire me tomorrow to bring me into wrestling and your group, you and I are going to sit down and we’re going to do a negotiation right?”
“Well during this negotiation, I am to expect that everything Chris Jericho tells me is the truth. And if Chris Jericho lies to me about something in these face-to-face negotiations, that is quantum meruit, that is an argument for the term where you can be victorious in court – you were lied to, during the negotiations.”
“Well, during discovery, we found out that Vince was lying when he said nobody gets paid for videotapes. Hogan was getting paid. Mr. T was getting paid. Cyndi Lauper was getting paid. All the people from the outside entertainment world were getting videotape royalties from the WWE. The only people not getting it were the wrestlers.”
“So we were successful because my attorney when he had me on the stand, said ‘Jesse Ventura if you knew Vince McMahon was paying video royalties to Hulk Hogan, Mr. T., Cyndi Lauper, and all these people were getting videotape royalties, would you have agreed to work without royalties?’”
“And I said, ‘Absolutely not. I would never have agreed to work had I known they were getting paid, and I wouldn’t.’ And that’s what won the case. The case was won on quantum meruit.”
“Vince lied when he said he didn’t pay royalties when the reality was certain people of the handpicked group were getting royalties, and if he paid me then guess what all the boys might jump on board. But it depends if all the boys had a legitimate negotiation with him. See, my agent came and testified. You know that yes, I brought this up to Vince McMahon. And yes, Vince McMahon told me, we don’t pay royalties. So I accepted that as WWE policy. Well, it wasn’t, it was a lie.”
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