– WWE has moved on under the assumption that CM Punk won’t be back and had to offer refunds over the weekend. That didn’t stop the company from not mentioning it as they scripted The Shield to bring up his “going home” in a show-opening promo.
– February 2014 is one of the biggest months in the history of WWE and is sure to change the business forever. In addition to the company launching the long-awaited WWE Network on Monday, February 24, 2014, they will also look to determine their future on cable television. NBC Universal, WWE’s current domestic television partner, will have until February 15, 2014 to accept or reject WWE’s final offer to extend their agreement. WWE is currently looking to significantly increase the $139.5 million they earn each year for domestic TV licensing fees. While the belief within the television industry is that NBCU won’t let WWE go, the company will be able to negotiate with other networks if NBCU rejects their final proposal. Outside bids are due on February 28, 2014 and WWE is set to select its domestic TV partner by March 4, 2014. Any move, should there be a move, would happen in October 2014. It is interesting to note there are a couple of tie-ins with TNA Wrestling here. First, TNA’s domestic TV deal with Viacom’s Spike TV is up in October 2014. Should WWE and NBCU not renew their agreement, there are already rumors Viacom could make a play to re-acquire WWE programming. Spike TV carried Monday Night Raw from 2000 to 2005. In fact, industry insiders claim there has already been informal contact between WWE and Viacom executives. Even if WWE renews their agreement with NBCU, there could still be a problem for TNA. The New York Post reported that NBCU was thinking about pitching a physical WWE Hall of Fame from Universal Studios in attempt to retain the rights to its programming. One of the hold ups on a physical Hall of Fame at Universal has been the theme park’s reluctance to give WWE exclusive rights there. TNA is currently using Universal Studios as their “hub” for taping their material and while they have dates confirmed through May, there is no long-term lease agreement in place.
– Betty White, 92, will guest star on next week’s episode of Monday Night Raw live from Los Angeles, California.
– Mark Henry will return to Monday Night Raw on next week’s show from Los Angeles. He hasn’t been on television since Brock Lesnar “dislocated” his elbow in the Kimura lock. He was on live events over the weekend.
– New details are emerging that CM Punk left the Royal Rumble pay-per-view with a head injury. He apparently underwent ImPACT Testing and was within normal levels. There were reports last week that he was overheard in a backstage argument with officials regarding his health but we are still unable to confirm whether or not that actually happened. The Punk issue seems to be a polarizing issue with readers and I want to make something very clear. WWE is better off with CM Punk. I want him on the roster and feel that better long-term planning and utilization of his character and skills could have resulted in him even surpassing his popularity in 2011. I also think a WWE fan that buys a ticket should have the ability to chant whatever they want at shows. However, this entire notion that “fans are sending WWE a message” by chanting “CM Punk” at WWE events is rather absurd. CM Punk left. We can all debate why he left but the fact of the matter is, no one knows exactly why he chose to walk out. However, WWE didn’t want him to leave and Vince McMahon was trying to get him back. But at this point the company is moving on without him.
– WWE will make its debut on PS4 and Xbox One with WWE 2K15, Take-Two Interactive has announced. We noted earlier this week there were plans to release a new game in Take-Two’s 2015 fiscal year. Sales of WWE 2K14 exceeded the game maker’s expectations.
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