- For those wondering why Alexander Rusev's name has been changed to Rusev, that was Triple H's call. His thinking is that some of the names are too long, making it harder for fans to remember. He feels this is especially true with the foreign sounding names such as Rusev or Cesaro.
- Daniel Bryan is in fact dealing with a neck injury, we can now confirm. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion is at Raw in Greenville, SC and the word is he will need time off. While specifics of the injury are unknown, the talk earlier in the day was that it will alter storylines, with a creative meeting taking place to address it. We've contacted WWE's public relations department and will update with a statement if we receive one.
- Below is the angle that was used to write WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan off television:
Bryan has a legitimate neck injury and will undergo surgery on Thursday. The status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship remains in question, however, the word making rounds at Raw on Monday afternoon was that Bryan's procedure will be minimally invasive. While he is expected out, I was under the impression it would be a matter of "weeks" and not "months."
- This week's episode of Total Divas only garnered an average viewing audience of 750,000 viewers on E, which was the lowest audience in series history. Apparently there was a guide issue that threw off many, as it listed a movie as to airing in the show's place in the 9/8c timeslot on E. The show did a 0.3 adult 18-49 rating, which was enough to take it outside of the top 100 cable shows for the day. TV by the Numbers has more data available at this link.
- WWE announced on this week's episode of Main Event that an announcement concerning the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be made on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in London, England. As I discussed in the latest WNW Premium Mailbag, the company is waiting until after Daniel Bryan, the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, has neck surgery before determining the future of the title. The belief is if Bryan isn't going to be out a considerable amount of time, he'll keep the title. If he's out an extended period of time, a plan will be put in place to crown a new champion. Obviously if that's the route WWE takes, the company could promote a unification bout when Bryan returns.
- It was announced at Tuesday night's Smackdown taping in Greensboro, North Carolina that Bo Dallas will re-debut on the main WWE roster on next week's episode. WWE will tape next week's Smackdown next Tuesday from The O2 London in London, England. Dallas made sporadic appearances on main roster WWE programming last year before the company restarted on him with vignettes on the Raw after Wrestlemania XXX on April 7, 2014. Dallas is a third generation talent and is the real life brother of Bray Wyatt.
- Triple H is featured in a new kayfabe sit-down interview with Michael Cole. While the majority of the piece is kayfabe, Hunter gave a worked shoot update on Daniel Bryan and the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to open. I quoted the update then paraphrased the rest in a recap.
Triple H on the future of Daniel Bryan as WWE World Heavyweight Championship:
"I think that remains to be seen Cole. Right now there is nothing definite. We know what Daniel Bryan knows. He's having surgery on Thursday with Dr. Joe Maroon in Pittsburgh. We'll know more after that. I think that it's probably Monday night we'll have some type of definite decision on the matter once we know all the facts."
Hunter went full kayfabe, saying this is symptomatic of what he's been talking about for a year or maybe more. It's one thing to be an A+ player here and there and it's another thing to be A+ player day in and day out and to be able to understand the wear and tear of not only being a WWE superstar but of being the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Triple H said Bryan has held the title for a little over a month and he's already going under the knife. He called Bryan a "little B+ player" and questioned if he could handle going up against the 300 lbs. monster that is Kane or handle the target of being champion.
Hunter said he found it ironic that the little engine that could was going to go get a doctor's note to say that he can't face the monster anymore.
Cole then asked Triple H if The Authority would question Kane, saying the demon has been out of control for more than a month.
Triple H said they let the demon out of the box and now the whole world pays the price and that Kane does what he does. He said this "ain't ballet" and everyone wants to be in WWE but bitch about it when they get hurt. Hunter said he's tired of that attitude. If you want to play the game, be prepared to pay the price for it.
Cole asked why Triple H and Evolution decided to accept a rematch against The Shield at WWE Payback. Triple H said they know they got lucky and they're tired of it. Batista, Orton and himself maybe made a mistake. He believes The Shield is the future of the WWE but questioned if they'll still be here following Payback.
Cole asked how many guys Evolution has on their payroll. Triple H said everyone is on his payroll, including Cole. Michael brought up the closing segment on Raw, where The Shield was attacked. He discussed guys getting retribution after what The Shield did running rampant for a year. Triple H said they were protected two years by him and now their protection goes away.
You can watch this week's kayfabe interview at this link.
- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan underwent successful surgery on Thursday to repair a neck injury.
According to an update posted by WWE.com, Bryan underwent a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root. The surgery was performed by Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, PA.
A timetable for Bryan's return to the ring is currently unavailable, however, WWE reports he is out of surgery and doing well, with strength already returning to his hands.
Click here for coverage by dot com.
— WWE (@WWE) May 15, 2014
The company will make an announcement, intertwined with storylines, regarding the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in London, England.
- WWE's stock price is in heavy decline following the announcement of their new domestic TV licensing deal with NBCUniversal on Thursday. As I type this, the stock is currently down 45.56%, trading at $10.85 per share. The reason is because WWE's new domestic TV deal is well below expectations.
Vince McMahon was confident WWE would at least double its TV licensing revenue with the new deal but details released on Thursday showed that not to be the case.
Below is an excerpt from a formal press release sent out on Thursday:
Renewal of Key Television Agreements
Over the past six months, the Company has negotiated television distribution agreements in the U.S., U.K. and Thailand, and is in the midst of discussions regarding the distribution of WWE content in India.3 The Company estimates that it will increase the average annual value of these key television agreements to approximately $200 million, representing an increase of more than $90 million, that is nearly three times (3x) the increase achieved in the previous round of negotiations.
Management believes that the new agreements more fully reflect the value of WWE content, including significant first-run hours, a passionate and loyal fan base, and 90% “live plus same day” viewership, in the U.S., which makes WWE content, like sports, “DVR-proof.” The Company plans to capitalize on the value of WWE content to drive further increases in value in other international markets.
While raising the annual value of these key television agreements to approximately $200 million will be up from previous agreements, it won't be double. The company earned $139.5 million in TV licensing fees around the world in 2012 and $160.9 million in 2013.
As I noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, WWE expected to have suitors lined up and would "reward the highest bidder." This isn't how negotiations went.
We're told FOX and Turner pulled out early on and it was between Viacom and NBCUniversal. Viacom dropped out when they learned what WWE wanted from NBCU. According to a source, Viacom felt WWE was “toying with them” to put pressure on NBCU.
It was learned in February that WWE and NBCU were still "far apart on price" when WWE retained Chris Bevilacqua, head of media advisory firm Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures, to negotiate the deal.
WWE's stock price closed strong on Wednesday, with investors hoping for a new domestic TV agreement that would boost the company's TV licensing fees around the world in excess of $300 million per year.
- One of the biggest proposed changes in WWE's new domestic TV licensing deal was the possibility of taking Smackdown live. That didn't end up happening as Raw and Smackdown will continue to air in their current form in the United States on the USA Network and SyFy respectively. The reason WWE was willing to incur increased production costs to air Smackdown live was they were hoping networks would view them as live sports programming, something that is at a premium in the marketplace. Examples of this are NASCAR and Major League Soccer both significantly increasing their TV licensing fees in new deals. NASCAR raised their TV licensing fees 46% and MLS's new deal saw the league roughly triple their TV licensing fees. WWE's new deal will increase their TV licensing fees to nearly $200 million annually, however, it's well below the "doubling" investors had expected. The fact of the matter is while WWE provides highly rated programming, it's still not considered to be on par with live sports programming.
- Vince McMahon lost $340 million on Friday due to shares of WWE falling more than 40%. According to Forbes.com, McMahon's net worth is now estimated at $760 million, meaning he is no longer a billionaire. The drop comes in response to WWE announcing their new domestic TV licensing agreement with NBCUniversal. While investors were expecting a deal where WWE doubled or even tripled their last TV agreement, one benchmark analyst estimates that WWE got a 50% raise. Financial analysts now have additional questions about WWE's core business after initial concerns that McMahon was "too excited" about the WWE Network. WWE plans to address shareholders in a conference call on Monday morning at 11 AM EDT. Both Vince McMahon and WWE CFO George Barrios will be on the call. Click here for coverage by Forbes.com.
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