Longtime WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt recently appeared as a guest on “The Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling” podcast and spoke about the WWE Network, the rebranding of WWF to WWE, Vince McMahon and more. Below are some of the highlights from the interview.
On the WWE Network royalties lawsuit being dismissed:
“I think (Rene) Dupree was being manipulated by the same lawyer that has been running around bringing these CTE cases against the company and in fact we know he is. That whole business started with this guy advertising on the internet looking for people to sue the WWE and that he’s made various promises and representations to these people about what he thinks he is going to get for them and all the rest of that. After the judge in the CTE cases issued her subsequent rulings throwing out two of the cases and five-sixths of the other one while expressing skepticism about whether that claim would survive, shortly after that we believe he got Dupree to bring this royalties case as kind of a way to deflect attention from what was happening in the other cases and knowing full well that frankly Dupree’s case couldn’t go anywhere. As matters turned out (Dupree) evidently didn’t tell the lawyers he recruited to bring the case and to hide his own involvement that he had signed not one but two contracts that prohibited him from bringing such claims and as soon as the lawsuit was brought to my attention I sent an email the night they filed it to the lawyer in Chicago.
“I brought this to the attention of the Chicago lawyer and said I assume you don’t know this because any lawyer who saw these documents wouldn’t bring this lawsuit but here is what your client signed. And as you can see it absolutely prohibits this lawsuit that you’ve brought and that I demand you withdraw it immediately. And he wrote back saying very professionally thank you and that I was not aware of this and that he’ll look into it. And I am sure he did and as the evidence shows, he then withdrew the lawsuit which was the only proper thing he could have done frankly. He could have not continued the lawsuit at all once. I brought that to his attention and Dupree would have known it too, and it was all designed I think to create some negative publicity for the company and see if they could maybe get somebody better then Dupree to bring such a lawsuit which is kind of “trolling” if you will for a plaintiff.”
On how he would he describe Vince McMahon:
“I think he is a fascinating person. One of my favorite stories about Vince is when you first undertake to represent anybody as a lawyer you form judgments about the people you are representing and whether you get emotionally invested in them or whether you don’t. Are they honest? Are they truthful? In the early days when I was forming my relationship with him back in the early 90s and during the time the government was doing all this and it was a horrible time because all of the tabloid wars and all of these horrible and sensational stories telling these lurid and false tales about people up there; it was just miserable times. What I will always remember was one day when the headlines were just terrible and lurid and false and the kind of stuff that would make everyone angry, we were walking out of his office late at night one night and there was this fella, a janitor named Nick, who I learned later that he had a need for a dialysis machine in the building in order to keep his job which they did just to keep this janitor working.
“When I came out of the office I saw him standing there mopping the floor and Vince came out of the office right after me and was walking down the hallway and Vince turned around after this hellish day and goes back and starts asking how’s his family, how are you doing and took the time to care about that little guy in the building that most people probably wouldn’t know his name. But he did and he cared about him and that was such an interesting scene. And I have never forgotten that about Vince. A part from that, part of him as a business man he is fascinating to watch and I think he is a great marketer of our era and what he has done with this business is just mind boggling when you watch WrestleMania and you see the production values and the people from all over the world that come to see it, it’s extraordinary. When you see the influence on television even beyond wrestling and you see how these politicians now use sort of the ring entrance mode to build drama for themselves in various ways and how the NFL has stolen, if you will some of the camera techniques that were used in the XFL, his influence on television and marketing is extraordinary.”
On the rebranding of the World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002:
“Actually it was kind of interesting the way that transition took place pretty quickly. It was another one of Vince’s clever and genius ideas to just switch one letter. The whole ordeal with the World Wild Life Fund was kind of crazy, and I never did understand why they cared because nobody ever confused us with them and watching the whole English Court proceedings and seeing how different that was then American Court proceedings was kind of frustrating from my standpoint because it was the one big case that I couldn’t handle. The English Court would not allow American Lawyers to try cases in their court rooms and so I could only go there and watch. And it was infuriating to sit there and watch that and to not be able to do anything. But whenever they issued their orders that we couldn’t be “WWF” in the way we wanted to be anymore, it was just too burdensome to comply with the requirements of what we had to do if we were going to be “WWF” and so Vince just came up with the idea of we will change to “WWE.” And I don’t know if you remember the slogan “get the F out;” It’s kind of clever and now it actually captures what they do maybe better than the word federation anyway because they are an entertainment company and that is exactly what the business is so it was a very successful re-brand I thought.”
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