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Business lessons from WrestleMania 31

The biggest sports entertainment event of the year is in the books. Did you miss it? Nope, I’m not talking about the NCAA Tournament or even the Cricket World Cup—by the way, you can rest easy since Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets to capture its 5th Championship—I’m talking about WrestleMania 31. Yes, the penultimate event for the more-than-semi-scripted man drama took place on Sunday before a live audience of 76,976 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, and countless millions watching at home on pay-per-view. wrestlemania

WrestleMania didn’t just deliver at the box office. The event featured show-stopping action from big name headliners, both past and present. For those of you who missed all that glorious “wrastlin,’” I’ll give you the 30-second recap: The Big Show defeat 20-plus wrestlers to take home the trophy in the 2nd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal; Triple H (who entered the ring dressed as the Terminator) defeated Sting after both “D-Generation X” and “nWo”—including The Real American himself, Hulk Hogan—intervened on behalf of both fighters; John Cena defeated Russian fighter “Rusev” (who entered the venue on nothing less than an actual TANK!) to win something called the “United States Championship belt”; Daniel Bryan climbed a ladder and out-head-butted Dolph Ziggler to grab the “Intercontinental” Championship belt; The Undertaker laid to rest Bray Wyatt with a move known as the “Tombstone Piledriver”; and, most importantly, Seth Rollins curb-stomped his way to the WWE World Heavyweight title, defeating Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Oh yeah, and Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson called on Women’s UFC Champion Rhonda Rousey to clean up a little trash in the ring. Whew! I’m tired just describing it.

But what the public doesn’t see in this grand spectacle is the small army of attorneys, agents, and other business people it likely takes working behind the scenes to put an event like this together, both logistically and in terms of arranging appearance agreements for the special guests such as The Rock and, well, I will stick to calling her “Ms. Rousey” out of both respect and fear. The business of the WWE is entertainment—in massive, action-packed doses. And there is no doubt it takes an equally large amount of planning and negotiations to make that happen.

Although your business may not be to the same scale, it is likely that it takes more than just flipping the lights on to turn a profit. Your employee relations are no different. Successful employee relations takes planning.

Do you have an employee handbook? No—you should probably get one. Woooooooh!

Got a handbook? Good—when was the last time it was updated? Never? Uh-oh. If your handbook’s last revisions bear the same date as Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake’s last title bout, you’ve probably missed some important changes in the law.

Handbook: check. Updated: check. OK, Mr. Wonderful, good job. But, to ensure you and your company are in the best position to prevent and/or defend against lawsuits by current and former employees, you should audit your operations, at least annually, to make sure your managers and supervisors are properly interpreting and applying these policies on a day-to-day basis. Forget this step and you could get “clotheslined” by a lawsuit.

Taking these few, simple steps can go a long waytoward helping your company prevent unnecessary litigation and ensure you retain the belt as the undefeated, heavyweight champion.