Welcome to the WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium Newsletter. This is where you will find all of the big news and Ask WNW segments from the week neatly archived for your viewing pleasure. This week's edition covers news from Saturday, July 26, 2014 to Friday, August 1, 2014 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:
Note From Richard: For those that have asked, the Newsletter is organized with the news posted on Saturday at the top with the most recent stories at the bottom. We have it organized this way so you can read the news in the order in which it happened. Thanks for your support!
- The big news on Friday had to do with Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella when Bryan caught robbers breaking into their home. Brooks Oglesby covered the story and the subsequent press conference. It's of note that Bryan will need a second surgery as doctors believe the nerve injury that was corrected in the surgery in May has a second location. The next surgery will be needed to repair a nerve injury near his elbow. As Brooks noted, Bryan himself stated he only has about half of the strength in his right arm that he has in his left. As far as WWE is concerned, Bryan is out indefinitely and not in any future creative plans. The directive is clear and that is they want him to get healthy.
- The Post and Courier has an in-depth piece on Ricky Steamboat. In it, he cleared up any questions about his WWE contract status. Steamboat noted he's under a Legends contract and talked about his recent trip to Malaysia for the company.
Below is an excerpt:
"I am under a Legends contract," says Steamboat, who recently visited Malaysia to promote WWE's upcoming tour in October. "I'm like a diplomat. I do appearances and autograph sessions and speak for the company. It's a great gig for me. I'm glad I'm still able to do this and still have some notoriety, to keep this old dog going until it's time to ride off into the sunset."
Click here to read the fantastic piece by Mike Mooneyham.
- The Law Office of Robbins Arroyo LLP announced on Friday they have filed a class action lawsuit against WWE. The suit is filed on behalf of investors that purchased WWE's stock between October 31, 2013 and May 16, 2014. The complaint seeks relief on behalf of the plaintiffs based on accusations of the company making false and misleading statements regarding their domestic TV licensing deal. Click here for the press release.
- Dot com has a new kayfabe Q&A with Brie Bella to enhance her angle with Stephanie McMahon. Click here to read it.
- This week's episode of Smackdown Fallout is online at this link.
- James Gunn confirmed on Twitter that he's writing and directing the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. The film will be released in theaters on July 28, 2017 and will see Batista reprise the role of Drax the Destroyer.
The Tweet is as follows:
- Jerry Lawler vs. Kevin Steen is advertised for Northeast Wrestling's show on August 2, 2014. In a promo uploaded to YouTube, Lawler says that he understands this is Steen's last match before hitting the big time. You can watch the promo at this link.
- WWE posted video footage of the company taking over San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Click here to watch it.
- Bret Hart appeared at Sunday's WWE live event in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, drawing a major pop after the main event. Hart helped Chris Jericho fend off Bray Wyatt to send the crowd home happy.
- David Benoit, Chris Benoit's son, was in attendance at Saturday's WWE live event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
- WWE has officially announced the signing of Fergal Devitthere on dot com. According to their report, he'll report to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida on Monday.
“This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I was maybe four or five years old,” Devitt told WWE.com last week, while preparing for the trip in his home country of Ireland. “I grew up watching wrestling my whole life, so to get the chance to step in the ring that I’ve watched on TV so many times is a dream come true.”
Click here for dot com's complete report.
Devitt joins Kenta and Kevin Steen as notable WWE developmental signings. Triple H wants to "keep the pond stocked," even in the face of mass budget cuts. All three are seen as valuable assets with different talents to offer.
- WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 will take place on Sunday, October 26, 2014 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The pay-per-view will be the first in the venue in more than four years. Tickets will go on sale this Saturday, August 2, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT and will be available at Ticketmaster.com and the American Airlines Center Box Office. I expect a presale for earlier in the week. Click here for official information on dot com.
- ChicagoNow.com has a new Q&A piece online with Bo Dallas. In it, he discusses the transition from WWE NXT to the main roster, his lineage and possibly facing his real life brother, Bray Wyatt, in the future. Below are the highlights:
Starting his career in NXT w/his brother Bray Wyatt:
We both came into this with the same mindset, that we are going to be our identities. We wanted our success to be for ourselves. As much as we respect and love our father, grandfather and uncles, we didn’t want to become molds of them. We wanted this path to be our own. So far I think we accomplished that. I don’t think you look at myself or my brother and say, “Oh, that’s the sons of former wrestler IRS”. To have the family on the road with you it’s great to have somebody bounce ideas off of and help you critique you. You can trust those people and you can’t buy that relationship; it’s a beautiful thing.
His father, Mike Rotunda, working as a producer in WWE:
He has helped tremendously. My Dad has seen so much wrestling through his years, he knows more than my brother and I combined. It’s always great to have a base with him and the critiques he gives me I take them to heart and apply them immediately.
Possible Bo Dallas vs. Bray Wyatt program:
HA! Right now I think Bray is doing that quite well and I have my own agenda. But you never know maybe one day down the road maybe Bo Dallas will cross paths with Bray Wyatt. Maybe our differences will come to a head in the future. With the WWE you just don’t know.
Click here to read the piece in its entirety.
WWE Monday Night Raw will return to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois on Monday, September 29, 2014.
- The Mirror out of the United Kingdom has more quotes online from Dave Batista to promote his role in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. In it, Batista confirms that he'll be back to WWE but doesn't give a date. He questions how much longer he can continue to work and says he wishes for a sendoff program with Triple H and Wrestlemania. Click here to read his comments in their entirety.
- Hulk Hogan did a media conference call on Monday to promote the world television premiere of Wrestlemania 30 this Sunday on NBC at 7 PM/6 CT. In it, he claimed the opening segment to the show -- featuring himself, The Rock and Steve Austin -- was all done on the fly. The rest of the call was as you would expect.
- WWE announced on Monday the appointment of Barry McMullin as Senior Vice President of Sales & Partnership Marketing. Part of McMullin's responsibilities will be providing strategic vision for WWE’s global sales operation and WWE Network sales strategies. Click here for the official release.
- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown did an average viewing audience of 2,720,000 viewers on SyFy. The show was the highest rated cable original on Friday. TV by the Numbers has more data available at this link.
- As previously noted, Fergal Devitt reported to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida on Monday. There was a lot of excitement about his arrival, as there also is surrounding Kenta.
- Sheamus was spotted in Dublin, Ireland on Friday night after being sent home from last week's WWE television tapings due to illness.
- Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt has been announced for SummerSlam following this week's Raw.
- Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella has been announced for SummerSlam following this week's WWE Raw.
The main event angle on this week's show featured Stephanie and Brie meeting in the ring following Stephanie's "arrest" angle last week. Brie said she would "drop the charges" against Stephanie if she agreed to a match at SummerSlam. Stephanie agreed to the match and the two proceeded to brawl with several WWE agents breaking up the fight.
WWE SummerSlam 2014 will take place on Sunday, August 17, 2014 from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Alberto Del Rio received stitches after being busted open hardway during his match with Justin Gabriel for WWE Superstars on Monday (taping results at this link). WWE has posted photos of the procedure at this link.
- TMZ Sports has picked up WWE's signing of Fergal Devitt. After Devitt reported to the WWE Performance Center on Monday, TMZ posted a picture of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes giving him a tour of the facility, available at this link.
- In this week's Raw Fallout, Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter talk about their controversial past and cut a promo on Rusev & Lana, The Usos & Dolph Ziggler celebrate their 6-man tag win, and Natalya & Naomi are interrupted by Cameron. The clips are embedded below:
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- 14,613 was the announced attendance for this week's episode of Monday Night Raw from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The show was a legitimate sellout.
- After this week's episode of WWE Raw went off the air, Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella were escorted to the back. Big Show & Dean Ambrose beat Bray Wyatt & Seth Rollins in a dark match main event after Show chokeslammed Wyatt to get the win. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan were at ringside.
- We noted on Monday that Sheamus was in Ireland over the weekend. That's why he wasn't at Raw this week, not because of the illness that got him canceled from last week's TVs. The following is from Twitter:
- A new commercial for SummerSlam on August 17th in Los Angeles is online at this link.
- Below is a screen shot of a new Roman Reigns t-shirt released by WWE:
- The new shirt of Dean Ambrose reads "Unstable" and can be seen below:
- Scott Steiner made some interesting comments regarding the WWE Network to The Miami Herald. Below is an excerpt:
“Just because somebody follows you don’t mean they are going to pay for it. A lot of people are misjudging the popularity of people or characters. It’s bull****. I think they did the same thing. A lot of those wrestlers have a lot of Twitter followers, but all that combined they should be able to get $9.99 for the Network. They found out they don’t pay…When do you concede that you failed? They live in their own little box and think they are all geniuses. So when are they going to concede that they are not as smart as they think they are?”
Click here to read his comments in their entirety.
- Speaking of the WWE Network, the company is promoting an encore showing of SummerSlam 1998 at 8 PM ET on Sunday. Click here for more.
- Below is the updated SummerSlam lineup following this week's episode of Monday Night Raw:
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
- John Cena © vs. Brock Lesnar
- Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
- Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
- The UK Huff Post has a new Q&A online featuring quotes from Batista. While Batista has been doing a lot of media ahead of the release of Guardians of the Galaxy -- in which he plays the role of Drax the Destroyer -- I felt there were enough notables here to pick out some highlights. They are as follows:
Wrestling fans being anti-Batista or just pro-Daniel Bryan:
You could have fooled the hell out of me! They channelled their rage right in my direction. I can't put my finger on it, it was crazy. I don't get wrestling now. I've kind of completely taken my finger off the pulse. It's a different audience which I don't understand. It's strange though, it's really just the TV audience because when we get into the live events it's a completely different audience and they come just to watch the show. It's weird, the TV crowd seems like they come to be the show rather than to watch and interact with the show. It's like they want to steal the show, so I'm just totally confused.
Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling:
Any competition is good for business, the problem is they're just not going to be any competition. They'll never beat the production of the WWE. It's a huge production, they're just so good at what they do and they're on top of the world for a reason. It's a first class production and I don't see anybody being a threat. WCW was the closest thing and I think it's a shame they went under because I think competition is a good thing but that promotion or any other promotion is just not competition.
The Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak being broken:
It sucked! Honestly, I thought it sucked. I haven't really talked much about it but I think it was a bad decision, a horrible decision. I don't have any say in the matter but to me, watching as a fan, it made me sick. Brock Lesnar beating him didn't seem to work and it really wasn't good that Brock left the day after. I just don't see how that made sense at all. I don't think anyone wanted to see the streak broken and it just didn't make sense to me.
Click here to read the pice in its entirety.
- Eden interviewed Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods in a dot com exclusive backstage at this week's Monday Night Raw. She said people are starting to wonder what they're about. Big E started to answer before Woods said those who don't know are not in a position to say and those who are, wouldn't say. Kofi said in other words Eden, you will know what this is when we want you to to know what this in. Click here to watch the segment in its entirety.
- While this has been brought up outside of WrestlingNewsWorld.com, one thing Mick Foley discusses on his comedy shows is Brock Lesnar being the one to end The Undertaker's streak. Foley's opinion is Lesnar was the perfect guy to end it because he doesn't care what people in or out of the business think about him. Basically, stating Lesnar's apathy is the perfect way to handle the weight of the streak.
- RVD is quoted here to promote WWE's upcoming tour of Australia. He said he believes now is a great time to tryout for WWE NXT as so many success stories are coming up through the company's developmental system.
- Dot com talked to Curtis Axel about training with The Rock to help prepare him for WWE matches. You can read the piece at this link.
Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Houston…
- Vince McMahon did a lot of tinkering with this week's script before the show went live on the USA Network. We're told many of the programs saw their direction altered in the changes over the weekend. Vince wanted to shift the focus of Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella solely on them and not a rift between Stephanie and Triple H.
- Paul Heyman continues to receive rave reviews for his mic work and helping sell John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar in "his client's absence." As I noted in Ask WNW, I felt Cena did a very good job in the opening segment of this week's show.
- Roman Reigns was dinged up after taking the first RKO from Randy Orton when the table didn't break. He was not seriously injured.
- We're told Cameron has received grief for her in-ring work recently. One source noted her reviews have been viewed as "nothing less than awful."
- WWE plans for both Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose and Jack Swagger vs. Rusev to be gimmick matches at SummerSlam. It's interesting that I heard over the weekend that the company had no intention of doing Rollins/Ambrose at Battleground, making it even more questionable why they advertised it in the first place.
- There were a lot of people scratching their heads as to why R-Truth went over Bo Dallas on this week's show. No one I spoke with knew the answer.
- Morale continues to be lower than normal and something that bares repeating is the opinion of Brock Lesnar. While he's "back" for the program with John Cena at SummerSlam, many resent him for his part-time status. It's going to be an interesting story to follow, especially if the company ends up putting him over for the title.
- This week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 4,317,667 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the show broke down by hour:
Hour one - 4,391,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,511,000 viewers
Hour three - 4,051,000 viewers
The audience was down slightly from the week prior. TV by the Numbers has more data online at this link.
- There were a couple of developments in regards to WWE SummerSlam at this week's Smackdown taping.
First, Chris Jericho faced Erick Rowan in a singles match with the stipulation being that if Jericho went over, Rowan would be "banned from ringside" for Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam. Jericho went over so Rowan is banned from ringside.
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger in a Flag Match was officially announced for SummerSlam. We noted plans for a gimmick match between the two in our Backstage Raw News on Tuesday.
- Goldust & Stardust beat Big E & Kofi Kingston w/Xavier Woods in a dark match at Tuesday's television tapings in Corpus Christi, Texas.
- Dot com posted a brief injury update on Alberto Del Rio after being busted open on Monday night in a bout taped for this week's episode of WWE Superstars. Brooks had the story that he required stitches with a link to official photos.
According to the latest update, Del Rio required 7 stitches and featured the following quote from WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann:
“During Alberto’s match with Justin Gabriel, Justin's elbow struck the left orbital area of Del Rio, causing a laceration,” said WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann. “He's going to keep it covered and he should be medically cleared to compete on WWE Main Event.”
Click here for coverage on dot com.
- There continues to be a lot of talk about how Brock Lesnar will be utilized on WWE television going into SummerSlam and in the weeks to follow. I just went through the company's official listings for every upcoming episode of Monday Night Raw and found three confirmed shows Lesnar is on at this time. Those shows are as follows:
Please note that SummerSlam is August 17, 2014 so he's advertised for the go-home show and the show after.
WWE Night of Champions 2014 is September 21, 2014 so the September 15th Raw will be the go-home episode to that pay-per-view. What we can take away from these listings is that Lesnar is expected to be on the Night of Champions card. Speculation will suggest he will be defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, although that hinges completely on how the SummerSlam main event [against John Cena] is booked.
- Curtis Axel -- whose real name is Joe Hennig -- spent time with The Rock in helping prepare him for WWE matches in his run with the company over the last three years. Dot com recently featured this connection in a new Q&A piece with Axel that we recapped at this link. Not everyone was pleased with the piece as they feel they were left out.
Former WWE star Curt Hawkins -- whose real name is Brian Myers -- Tweeted the following about the piece:
For those that do not remember, The Rock actually worked with both Axel and Hawkins to prepare for his WWE run that began in 2012.
Hawkins, a victim of WWE's 2014 mass roster cuts, recently made headlines for calling Mark Henry an idiot. He is currently training wrestlers at his Create a Pro Wrestling Academy. Click here for more information.
- Dot com reported on Wednesday that Bray Wyatt and The Bella Twins have been added to the inaugural Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con on Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. They'll replace John Cena, who was scheduled but had to cancel due to filming commitments. Click here for coverage by dot com.
- There is a rumor playing out in the Irish press that Sheamus is scheduled to reprise the role of Darth Vader in a new Star Wars film. He took to Twitter to discuss it. The following is from the verified Twitter account of Sheamus:
- WWE will hold another set of NXT tapings on Thursday night from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. We're told the show is sold out and Wrestling News World correspondent Scott Brooks is having a hard time securing a seat. Currently set for the tapings from the main roster include Big Show, Sin Cara and The Bella Twins. We'll hope Scott gets a seat so he can provide you with the best NXT taping coverage available in the world right here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Funaki is working for WWE to help transition Kenta from Japan to the United States.
- We noted earlier on Wednesday that Thursday is a very important day for WWE as they will report their quarter two earnings for 2014 with updates on the WWE Network. Early indications are the numbers are not going to be good with an increased fear that mass job cuts are coming.
WWE has already been in the process of trying to show investors they are committed to cutting costs in order to make up for the lack of pay-per-view revenue as they transition to the new WWE Network model. This became very clear when they announced mass main roster cuts in June and have continued to cut costs in other areas.
I'm currently unaware of how many people are expected to receive their termination but most sources feel WWE is looking to get as lean as they have been in quite some time. The number of people that could lose their job is possibly staggering.
Again, these are the fears going into Thursday's official announcement by WWE.
- This week's kayfabe sit-down interview with Michael Cole features Brie Bella with Triple H "not there." You can watch at this link or embedded in the video below:
- Eden's latest video blog is online at this link.
- WWE Magazine asked Paul Heyman how he stacked up against other great managers. You can check out the video footage at this link.
- Kane is scheduled to appear at HorrorHound Weekend located in the Marriott Indianapolis East in Indianapolis, Ind. from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Click here for more.
- WWE announced on Wednesday they have released Ricardo Rodriguez. While Rodriguez gained fame as the personal ring announcer for Alberto Del Rio and a brief stint with Rob Van Dam, he'd been working as a member of the company's Spanish broadcast team.
The following is the official statement from dot com:
WWE has come to terms on the release of WWE Superstar Ricardo Rodriguez as of today, July 30, 2014. WWE wishes Ricardo Rodriguez the best in all of his future endeavors.
Rodriguez Tweeted the following about his release:
We reported earlier on Wednesday that sources had indicated mass job cuts were feared ahead of WWE announcing their 2014 quarter two earnings.
- WWE reported their second quarter earnings for 2014 on Thursday before market open. We covered the release in its entirety at this link.
It was learned the WWE Network had 700,000 subscribers at quarter end on June 30, 2014. The company explained they saw a gross addition of 161,000 subscribers since Wrestlemania 30 on April 6, 2014, reflecting a net addition of 33,000 subscribers.
Below is how it was officially stated:
The quarter was highlighted by the ongoing ramp up of WWE Network, which attracted gross additions of 161,000 subscribers since WrestleMania on April 6th and ended the quarter at 700,000 subscribers, reflecting a net addition of 33,000 subscribers.
- WWE reported their second quarter earnings for 2014 on Thursday before market open. We covered the release in its entirety at this link.
In the release, the official traditional pay-per-view buy rates for the shows in the second quarter were announced. Please note the WWE Network was in place for all of these shows so the numbers are considerably lower:
Wrestlemania XXX - 690,000 buys (compared to 1,039,000 w/Wrestlemania 29)
Extreme Rules - 108,000 buys (compared to 231,000 in 2013)
WWE Payback - 67,000 buys ( compared to 186,000 in 2013)
Money in the Bank - 122,000 buys
- WWE announced on Thursday the WWE Networkwill be available in over 170 countries and territories beginning on August 12, 2014. Below is an excerpt from the official WWE release:
International Availability: The Company plans to make the U.S. version of WWE Network available on an over-the-top basis starting August 12th in over 170 countries and territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain and the Nordics, among others. The network is expected to be live in the U.K. by October 2014. Plans for the network in Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia will be communicated at a later date.
Click here for WWE's earning release in its entirety.
- WWE announced on Thursday the WWE Network will be available as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel in Rogers’ cable systems in Canada. The clearance comes as part of a new 10-year partnership with Rogers Communications.
The company announced a WWE Network preview on systems beginning August 12 and thereafter through other Pay-TV providers outside Rogers’ footprint.
Click here for the official release.
- Vince McMahon was quoted in WWE's 2014 quarter two earnings release, where the company reported a Net loss of $14.5 million for the quarter and some very underwhelming WWE Network subscriber numbers.
While McMahon expressed optimism, Chief Financial Officer George Barrios announced that WWE will be reducing their staff by 7%. The comments are included in their entirety below:
“WWE’s core business metrics remain strong, and WWE Network continues to be the single greatest opportunity to transform WWE’s business model. During the quarter, we developed plans to make WWE Network available globally starting August 12, and completed a long-term content deal in Canada with Rogers Communications,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Additionally, we identified efficiencies that will improve our 2015 OIBDA outlook by $30 million. Based on these initiatives, we are optimistic about our potential to drive long-term growth.” “As we expanded WWE Network to 700,000 subscribers, our earnings performance surpassed our guidance, which targeted a Net loss ranging from $15 million to $18 million. Our key metrics continued to show strength as average North American attendance increased 11%, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth. Raw and SmackDown TV ratings increased 5% and 3%, respectively, marking SmackDown’s 7th quarter of growth among the past 8 quarters,” added George Barrios, Chief Strategy & Financial Officer. “We identified efficiencies across WWE, which include a 7% reduction in staff, and improved our 2015 OIBDA outlook by $30 million. We developed plans to make WWE Network available in over 170 countries, and entered a 10-year deal that provides for the WWE Network launch as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel in Canada and renews our television licensing agreement for Raw and SmackDown. The progress in our strategic initiatives reinforces our view that successful execution of our WWE Network strategy can generate meaningful economic returns.”
We reported on Wednesday that mass job cuts were expected and sadly, those fears look to be realized.
- WWE reported their 2014 quarter two earnings before market open on Thursday. As part of the release, the company provided an update on WWE Network subscribers, the traditional pay-per-view buy rates for shows in the quarter, announced WWE Network's international availability and revealed a plan for the WWE Network to operate as a traditional Pay-TV channel as part of a 10-year partnership with Rogers Communications in Canada. They also detailed a plan to improve their 2015 OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) outlook by $30 million -- which includes a 7% staff reduction.
All of this was enough for investors to react positively to WWE's release with the stock price up over 9% in the early trading hours. Below is a screen grab of the WWE stock price just after 10 AM EDT on Thursday:
- WWE issued a formal press release on their new 10-year broadcast and multimedia agreement with Rogers Communications in Canada. We reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com that as part of the agreement, the WWE Network will be available as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel in the country.
The official release is below:
TORONTO — Rogers Communications and WWE today announced a historic 10-year broadcast and multimedia agreement, making Rogers the exclusive distributor of WWE’s flagship programming in Canada through 2024. The deal extends WWE’s current programming on Sportsnet 360 and includes the right to distribute WWE Network as a premium linear channel, with a preview beginning August 12. Rogers will be the exclusive distribution partner of all WWE pay-per-view events throughout Canada and will sponsor an application to the CRTC to bring the popular WWE Network to Canada. Starting August 12, a preview of WWE Network content, including live WWE pay-per-view events, groundbreaking original series, live in-ring action, reality shows and a video-on-demand library, will be available on a subscription basis on Rogers Channel 512. Rogers will offer this WWE Network content preview subscription to all cable, satellite and IPTV providers across Canada. Fans in Canada will receive more WWE programming than ever before through Rogers' cable and digital assets. Highlights from the new deal also include national rights for Raw, SmackDown and WWE Main Event on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet NOW and Rogers Anyplace TV. “This landmark deal is a win-win for WWE fans in Canada,” said Scott Moore, President of NHL & Sportsnet, Rogers. “The premium WWE content offers our customers more of the programming they want, on any platform of their choosing. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WWE, and deliver exclusive content to its passionate fan base in Canada for the next decade.” “We are excited to expand our partnership with Rogers as we look for innovative ways to grow our brand and further the reach of our programming in Canada through their vast distribution channels and marketing platforms,” said Gerrit Meier, WWE Executive Vice President, International. “The structure of this new agreement demonstrates WWE’s commitment to growing our brand internationally through integrated partnerships as well as the flexibility we have in rolling out WWE Network around the world.”
Click here for coverage by dot com.
- WWE held a conference call/interactive Webcast presentation with investors on Thursday morning to go over the company's 2014 quarter two financial results. The official release is available at this link.
Michael Weitz from investor relations opened the call by reading a prepared statement. Leading the call will be Vince McMahon and Chief Financial Officer George Barrios.
Vince said when he looks at WWE's business he looks at their key drivers - domestic attendance, TV ratings and WWE Network subscriptions. Domestic attendance is up 11%, Raw's ratings are up 5%, Smackdown's ratings are up 3% and they have 700,000 WWE Network subscribers. Vince said he considers 700,000 a strong base to build on and they have different marketing and payment options coming up. He discussed global availability on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 and in the UK by October and Germany a little later. Vince talked about the 10-year agreement in Canada with Rogers Communications. He detailed it was "a little different" as a combination of core programming in conjunction with WWE Network. McMahon said he was pleased with where the company was and their ability to grow.
George Barrios took over the call and announced while they saw a net loss for the quarter, they beat their estimates. He talked about subscribers being satisfied with the WWE Network and discussed aforementioned expansion. Barrios, when discussing new WWE Network programming, mentioned Monday Night War and WWE Rivalries but did not mention Tough Enough.
Barrios went over the numbers, including $19.4 million in WWE Network revenue but a decline in pay-per-view revenue. Rather than trying to recap, I always advise reading them yourself in the official release.
After Barrios crunched the numbers, the call was opened to a question and answer session.
The first caller asked Vince McMahon if they needed more paying options for the WWE Network to attract more subscribers. Vince said that's one aspect of it but there are several others for attracting subscribers.
The same caller followed-up about the company expanding the WWE Network to 170 countries, as opposed to the 7 planned on the last update. Vince explained that launching the English feed will help them get into various markets quicker.
Another caller asked about the "churn" of WWE Network subscribers, with initial subscriptions not yet expiring. George Barrios said estimates are 4-8% a per month turnover but at this point there's no renewal churn. Barrios said they have some assumptions on the renewal side and they believe they will fit in the business model they've developed. He said they are working on some things to offer more payment options but they haven't been implemented yet.
Regarding cost savings, Barrios said it's part of the planning process. He said when you've grown as much as they have, they've probably introduced some inefficiency. They aren't giving line items guidance about the savings and refused to give specifics.
George Barrios stated the infrastructure they've built -- such as customer service -- will handle the international expansion. Asked if they've noticed a big pop after Raw or if it's a bump surrounding pay-per-views. Barrios said it's around the pay-per-view.
A caller asked why WWE chose to go this route in Canada and it seems to be a step away from what they're doing in the US. Vince said they're Canadian and they look at things a little different. He doesn't know if they're going to do that anywhere else. It could [happen in other markets] when you combine both their core programming and the WWE Network. Barrios wouldn't discuss the different economics with the Rogers Communications deal. Vince explained it was an offer they couldn't turn down.
When asked about a price increase, Barrios said they're looking at different price points but don't want to comment on that at this time.
Barrios said they're not going to give out how many subscribers are setup for auto renewal compared to those that have to do it manually. If you signup [for WWE Network] for a 6-month subscription, you'll be able to do $9.99/month for 6 months or have the option for one upfront payment.
A caller pressed if they're still targeting 1 million domestic subscribers by the end of 2014, Barrios said if they hit that they'll be thrilled.
One caller wanted to know what the company was attributing the live event attendance increase to and it was said that people are excited about the product.
It was asked if Rogers has the right to embed advertisements in the WWE Network stream. Barrios said they plan to offer an authenticated version in Canada so it will have a similar feel that it does here in the US but the advertising capabilities will be built into this.
WWE has agreed on a new TV licensing deal in India but they're still working on it.
WWE Network subscriptions from Rogers Communications in Canada will be counted in the subscription numbers.
Barrios said in a lot of the countries they're opening up the WWE Network in, they didn't have pay-per-view capabilities.
The call was closed following the question and answer session.
- The WWE Network has 700,000 subscribers as of June 30, 2014. Below is a clarification of how that breaks down:
WWE announced on July 31, 2014 they have 700,000 WWE Network subscribers as of June 30, 2014
WWE announced on April 7, 2014 they had 667,287 WWE Network subscribers
The company added 161,000 subscriptions during that time period but lost 128,000. The 128,000 loss was due to cards not being able to be charged or having no funds on them. George Barrios was asked specifically about this in the conference call with investors but did not get into it.
Moving forward, WWE will be "thrilled" if they hit 1 million domestic subscriptions by the end of 2014.
- The latest episode of WWE Inbox features Superstars and Divas talking about their favorite and least favorite catchphrases. You can watch at this link.
- Have you ever imagined what Raw would look like if it were sandwiched between '90s sitcoms like Full House or Family Matters? Watch a humorous video at this link.
- A lot of new WWE Network information was introduced in Thursday's WWE quarter two earnings report for 2014. One piece perhaps getting overlooked are new WWE Network pricing plans. Beginning next month, WWE Network subscribers will have the following options:
A $19.99/month WWE Network subscription that requires no commitment
One upfront one-time payment option for $9.99/month for six months
Continued option to be billed $9.99/month with six month commitment
The new pricing plans are part of WWE's consumer marketing efforts to attract new subscribers to the WWE Network. Below is the exact wording:
Consumer Marketing: To enhance awareness, additional marketing investment is planned around the popular SummerSlam pay-per-view event in August. The Company will also introduce new payment plans in August, including a $19.99 monthly plan (with no commitment) and an upfront one-time payment option for its existing $9.99 per month offering (with six month commitment).
Click here for WWE's earnings release in its entirety.
- Dusty Rhodes, who showed Fergal Devitt around the WWE Performance Center on Monday, recently underwent double hernia surgery. We're told his responsibilities in developmental have diminished over the years as his health has worsened. Rhodes didn't do himself any favors last year on the September 30, 2013 episode of Raw when he infamously put his left hand up in the face of Stephanie McMahon. The unscripted subtly got him a lot of heat and put him in a bad position politicly. We're told Rhodes has been frustrated with his part time role and he's talked about retiring sometime next year.
- Dot com has a new feature article online where they ask talent what they would change if they could go back in time. Click here to read it.
- Digital Spy has a new article online featuring quotes from Paul Heyman to promote his upcoming 3 disc DVD/2 disc Blu-Ray set. Click here to read it.
- Dot com looks at "The 10 best wrestlers you've never heard of" at this link.
- WWE notified all staff members part of the 7% staff reduction of their termination on Thursday. The word making rounds is if they didn't receive notice by Thursday, their job is safe. I don't have a number but it's safe to say it was not a good day at Titan Towers in Stamford, Connecticut.
- Both Fergal Devitt and Kenta are at this week's WWE NXT tapings from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.
- Five WWE NXT wrestlers have been released from the company. This is part of the ongoing cuts, as WWE announced yesterday they will be reducing their staff by 7%.
Garrett Dylan announced on Twitter on Friday that he has been released. Jodi Kristofferson is the son of Kris Kristofferson. Dylan was released last August and quitely resigned with the company sometime in the last several months.
Tyler Travis also announced that he has been cut.
Slate Randell announced that he is taking bookings. View his tweet below:
Mac Miles and Dani Jax were also released.
- Hulk Hogan told the CBS Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate on their 105.3 The Fan radio station that he "put a bullet" in Brooke Hogan's engagement to former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Phil Costa. He said not only did he not like Costa but hinted at a physical altercation. Below is an excerpt:
“I love the Dallas Cowboys, been a fan forever. But, my daughter was engaged to one of those guys and he didn’t walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk,” said Hogan, speaking of Costa. “I put a bullet in that really quick. There was no way my daughter was going to marry somebody that I don’t like that got me mad, or has got in my face.”
Click here for Hogan's comments in their entirety.
Brooke's engagement to Costa actually put a bullet in her career with TNA Wrestling.
As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Brooke received nuclear heat for her public engagement to Costa last summer. At the time TNA was heavily invested in an angle where Brooke was separated from her on-air “husband” Bully Ray. TNA was blindsided by the announcement, causing them to abandon the angle. As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, this is one of the reasons why Brooke was released from her contract with the company.
- Wrestling News World reader Jeff House sent word that Chris Jericho will sign autographs at Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas to promote Fozzy's new album "Do You Wanna Start A War." Jericho will be on Raw as the show will emanate from the city.
- Kane helped sponsor a food drive with The Journey Church in Tennessee on Thursday night. Click here for the story. The "devil's favorite demon" working with a church to fight hunger. There's a lesson in there and it's a good one.
- Tickets for WWE NXT Takeover 2 are already on sale at this link. For those that missed it in our taping results, we're under the impression the Takeover name is being used as the equivalent of Saturday Night’s Main Event.
- Here's a photo of Prince Devitt and Triple prior to the start of this week's WWE NXT tapings:
It'll be interesting to see how long Devitt stays in WWE's developmental system before being called up as I heard he wanted [and was given] certain assurances as to how much time he had to spend at the WWE Performance Center getting seasoned.
- IGN posted a fun "IGN First" video of WWE 2K15. You can watch it at this link
- TMZ is reporting that Impact Wrestling's television contract will not be renewed by Spike TV, effectively cancelling TNA's flagship show once the current contract ends. The report continues:
TNA Wrestling's flagship show "Impact Wrestling" could soon be without a home -- Spike TV quietly let the league know it's not renewing their TV contract … TMZ has learned. Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the deal ... tell us Spike execs contacted TNA President Dixie Carter late last week to break the news -- and the following day Carter informed members of her inner circle. TNA's current deal with Spike reportedly runs through October. It's unclear at this point when "Impact Wrestling" will stop airing on Spike.
The article also notes that Spike gave TNA advance notice of their decision so the company could potentially seek a television deal elsewhere. Click here for more.
We'll have more on this story as it develops.
- For those that missed it, TMZbroke the news that Spike TV has informed TNA Impact Wrestling they will not be renewing their agreement that's due up in October. We've been following the negotiations since the onset and now have full information as to what happened.
Spike TV and TNA had been getting close to a deal early in the month and I'm told it was to the point where Spike wanted TNA back. The ratings are fairly consistent and it's cheap programming. The hold up in negotiations was TNA looking for a sizable increase in rights fees and Spike feeling like TNA had no leverage. Spike has been paying $65,000 per hour for Impact or $130,000 per week. That was just the basic rights fee for the show and Spike has pumped a lot more money in over the years chipping in significant portions towards the contracts of some of the higher priced talent (most of which have left).
TNA was looking for $100,000 per hour in the new deal (the deals have always been structured per hour dating back to the original deal which was for a one hour show). Spike was not interested in giving any increase, feeling the show has been stagnant, has shown no growth and Spike took a "take it or leave it approach". But it was looking like a deal might get done, with Spike moving to $75,000 per hour and TNA moving to $85,000 per hour. So they were not far apart on money.
Then disaster struck for TNA when it was learned that Vince Russois still involved with the product. I'm told executives at Spike do not like Russo and had been promised he would no longer be involved with TNA (which was an obvious lie even relayed to me via a TNA spokesman). At that point, TNA had a major problem on their hands, although it's unknown if they realized how big it was at the time.
TNA and Spike had a meeting a little under a week ago, with TNA going into the meeting thinking they would bridge the money gap and hammer out a deal (at $80,000 per hour). Spike took the position of no increase (staying at $65,000 per hour) and if a deal was not struck, no more meetings (effectively, TNA would be cancelled).
TNA postured like they had other options and did not take the new deal at the old rate, and now, they may end up with nothing.
TNA has been trying to keep this quiet as they hoped to get another meeting with Spike, but it appears Spike is moving on. TNA is also frantically trying to get a meeting with the people over at Fox Sports, which they used to have a relationship with, in hopes of being paired with UFC again, this time on Fox Sports 1 instead of Spike.
As for what Spike might do, Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling can't negotiate with Spike until 2015 (when TNA & Jeff parted ways, it was agreed that Jeff could not do business with Spike for 12 months). However, Jeff and Spike have used third parties to communicate. Spike is skeptical that Jeff can get something off the ground that would draw the audiences TNA would draw.
Spike has also met with Ring of Honor, although Spike doesn't see them as a viable alternative.
There is another player in this though, as Eric Bischoff has very quietly been trying to put something together. Bischoff is well liked by Spike and they were not happy when TNA let him go.
- Dixie Carter has assured fans of TNA Wrestling that negotiations with Spike TV are still ongoing. The following was Tweeted from her verified Twitter account on Monday afternoon:
Negotiations with @SpikeTV are ongoing. Stay tuned and be sure to tune in this Thursday night for Ultimate X on #ImpactOnSpike!!
The comments come in response to TMZ breaking that Spike TV has canceled Impact Wrestling. We detailed what happened -- as the gap in negotiations closed significantly in recent weeks but fell apart due to a major misstep -- at this link.
You can read her Tweet below:
We are able to confirm that TNA executives are exploring their options in the United States, including reaching out to Fox Sports 1.
- TNA Wrestling executive Bob Ryder says reports stating that Spike TV has canceled Impact are not true. The following is from his verified Twitter account:
Reports are not true. Negotiations with @SpikeTV are ongoing.
You can read the Tweet in its original format embedded below:
TNA President Dixie Carterissued a similar comment but stopped short of calling TMZ's report that Spike TV had canceled Impact false by saying that negotiations with Spike TV are ongoing.
We have complete details on the Spike TV/TNA situation, with how much money TNA is currently making and dollar amounts in proposed new deals. We also have details on the stumbling block that resulted in the cancelation report. You can read that report in its entirety at this link.
- I'm told many contracted TNA performers were caught off-guard by the TMZ report that Spike TV had canceled Impact Wrestling.
The company sent out an email to talent on Monday, explaining that negotiations with Spike are still ongoing and they are also talking with other networks. The story making rounds is that Spike is offering less than what they want but the UTA representative is negotiating the gap.
While figures aren't being thrown around, I previously reported that Spike is currently paying TNA $65,000 an hour and TNA wants $100,000 per hour.
At this point, talent is being told not to talk to third parties about the company's domestic TV deal. They've been advised to direct their questions in-house and will be given information when it is available.
- Vince Russo seems to spark controversy no matter what he's doing.
The former WWF, WCW and TNA Wrestling creative writer was officially removed from the head of TNA's creative team in February 2012, however, a working relationship ensued all the way into this month. While TNA denied that was the case when we contacted them in January 2014, Russo himself confirmed he had been working for TNA as a consultant. Russo now says he's finished with TNA.
The following is from his Twitter account:
At least one person currently employed by TNA won't miss Mr. Russo. Taz Tweeted the following from his verified Twitter account:
Russo told a fan that he loves Taz with all his "heart and soul." Below is another conversation, in which Taz responds:
As we reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com, when Spike TV found out that TNA Wrestling had been lying to them about Russo's involvement, their negotiations for a new television agreement took a big hit.
- Rockstar Spud took part in a media conference call on Wednesday to promote the new season of British Boot Camp 2 that will air on Challenge in the UK and Ireland this Fall and the One Night Only X Division Xtravaganza pay-per-view beginning on Friday, August 1, 2014.
In it, he was asked for this thoughts about TNA Wrestling's negotiations with Spike TV.
Spud said that he didn't have any thoughts on it. He said as far as he knows, talks between TNA and Spike TV are ongoing. Spud said they work very well together and have a great relationship but he's a wrestler and it's not his area.
- Rockstar Spud took part in a media conference call on Wednesday to promote the new season of British Boot Camp 2 that will air on Challenge in the UK and Ireland this Fall and the One Night Only X Division Xtravaganza pay-per-view beginning on Friday, August 1, 2014.
In it, Spud admitted he's exactly like his character in real-life, where he's more or less a jerk. I asked if there was any resentment towards him coming in from British Boot Camp and working in one of the company's top angles. Spud said he hadn't noticed if there was and he just comes in and does his job. He then played up his character.
Before letting him off the line, I asked with the Premier League season about to start what football club he supported. Spud said he's a lifelong Everton FC supporter. I told him I was a Manchester United fan living in the US. He completely heeled me, all in good nature of course but that was something that needed to be established.
- We reported on Monday exclusively on WrestlingNewsWorld.com that TNA Wrestling sent out an email to talent regarding TMZ's report that Spike TV had canceled Impact. In that email, it was stated that negotiations between TNA [through their UTA representative] and Spike were ongoing. There was a gap in the amount TNA wanted and Spike was offering but they were still talking and there were other networks on the table as well.
In asking around, most talent is taking an "out of my hands" approach. What that means is, they're hoping for the best and focusing on what they can control. It's a sentiment Rockstar Spud shared when speaking to the media on Wednesday and one I've heard other contracted workers say as well.
The last we heard was there was a meeting last week and Spike offered to renew at $65,000 per hour and TNA didn't take the deal. This was after the Vince Russo controversy. I have complete details on the negotiations at this link.
- TNA Wrestling announced on Wednesday they have hired Chris Melendez under a multi-year agreement.
Melendez is a former Team 3D Academy student and is a veteran of the United States Army. He was severely injured while in combat in Afghanistan, resulting in the amputation of his left leg. It didn't stop him from pursuing his dream as a pro wrestler as he began training in 2012 with Bully Ray and Devon.
Melendez will make his TNA debut at the August 5-7 Impact tapings in New York City.
John Gaburick Tweeted the following:
Click here for coverage on ImpactWrestling.com.
- Jeff Hardy told Brian Fritz in a promotional interview for the Destination X episode of Impact Wrestling that he wants to end his career with WWE. Hardy explained it's the fans he misses and whether it's 10 or 15 years down the road, he wants to finish his career where it started and that's WWE. You can listen to the interview in its entirety at this link.
- TNA has announced a meet and greet will be held for all ticket holders after the August 5th-7th Impact Wrestling tapings in New York City. The sessions are free of charge to ticket holders. Click here for more information.
- TNA Wrestling posted on their official website that they have signed star Zema Ion/DJ Z to a multi-year deal. You can read their announcement below or at this link:
Just announced by Executive Vice President John Gaburick, TNA Wrestling is happy to announce the re-signing of DJ Z! The former X-Division Champion and incredible talent, both in and outside of the ring, signed a new multi-year deal effective immediately! On Monday, August 4th, catch DJ Z as the special guest DJ on Sirius XM’s popular “Sway In The Morning” show on Shade 45! Tonight, watch as DJ Z competes in a 3-way match against Manik and Low Ki during Destination X! The broadcast begins at 9/8c on Spike TV!
Zema Ion made his TNA Wrestling debut in 2011 and is a former X-Division Champion and a X-Division Feast or Fired briefcase winner.
- Vince Russo revealed on his website what his job entailed while working for TNA Wrestling as a consultant. You can read his post here, but here is an excerpt of what he has been doing:
Every Thursday night following IMPACT, I would send both Dixie Carter and John Gaburick my review/critique of the show.
Vince Russo also revealed in the post that he has been working as a consultant with TNA Wrestling for 9 months. This proves that TNA Wrestling lied to us when Richard Grayasked about their relationship back in January of this year.
It was revealed on July 15, 2014 that Vince Russo has been working with TNA Wrestling as the information was leaked out through an email that he sent Mike Tenay and Taz. Once Spike TV found out about the involvement, they quickly questioned and possibly turned on TNA Wrestling as we reported in their television contract negotiations. Vince Russo then announced on July 30, 2014 that he and TNA Wrestling decided to part ways.
- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson did an interview with The Fight Nerd where he ripped apart his time with TNA Wrestling. The current Bellator MMA fighter said as soon as he got there and saw the operations, how they ran things and what they were doing, he had no plans to go back.
Jackson said they had a lot of momentum when he was supposed to be programmed with Kurt Angle and he pitched some ideas to TNA. He claimed they wanted him to wrestle pro fighters in the ring, something he refused to do. Rampage said he saw the writing on the wall then. He said Dixie Carter and "Big" John Gaburick communicated with him to come back but they'd never come through on anything they said they were going to do in the past.
Rampage said he had some fun when he was there and met some cool people. He pointed out Chavo Guerrero and Bully Ray. He's still interested in doing some pro wrestling and said he and Chavo are still planning on teaming up as Chavo was actually training him in pro wrestling.
You can watch the video at this link.
- While Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has vowed to never work for TNA Wrestling again, Tito Ortiz told CageSideSeats.com there are plans for him to return this month or in September.
"I'm actually returning [to TNA] August or September," Ortiz told Cageside Seats. "I'll be coming back to TNA and doing some stuff. It's in the works with Dixie. She reached out to me and I'm a big wrestling fan. I've been a wrestling fan since Junkyard Dog! We have some ideas."
Click here for more by CageSideSeats.com.
Jackson and Ortiz were scheduled to face one another at Bellator 106 last November, however, the fight was canceled due to Ortiz having a neck injury. Ortiz made headlines in January for allegedly driving under the influence.
- TNA Wrestling has announced TNA Tag Team Champions The Wolves vs. Team 3D vs. The Hardys for their Impact taping next Wednesday, August 6, 2014 in New York City. The bout that aired on this week's show between The Wolves and The Hardys caught the attention of Edge.
He Tweeted the following:
- We reported earlier on WrestlingNewsWorld.com that TNA had announced TNA Tag Team Champions The Wolves vs. Team 3D vs. The Hardys for the Impact taping next Wednesday, August 6, 2014 in New York City. The company has announced the night prior, Tuesday, August 5th that Samoa Joe will face Low Ki.
In addition to these bouts, new signing and US Army veteran Chris Melendez will debut and Tajiri will be in action. Remember the Hardcore Justice show will also be taped featured the Six Sides of Steel.
Click here for more on ImpactWrestling.com.
- This week's Destination X episode of Impact Wrestling garnered an average viewing audience of 1,383,000 viewers on Spike TV. While the audience was down from the past couple of New York City episodes, it was still a relatively strong number. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 shows on cable for Thursday at this link.
With Spike TV reportedly canceling Impact Wrestling, what does that mean about the future of TNA as a company? Are these the final days if a TV deal is not reached elsewhere?
The biggest story of the day is without a doubt the future of TNA Wrestling. TMZ broke the news that Spike TV has informed the company they will not be renewing their agreement that is up in October. I followed-up with complete details, explaining how the two parties had actually bridged the gap in negotiations but a major misstep ultimately resulted in the cancelation of Impact Wrestling. You can read that article at this link.
As for what this means for TNA, it's not good. The company has already reached out to executives at Fox Sports 1 in attempt to gauge interest but they must find a new domestic TV partner. If not, they're in big trouble. TNA has clearance internationally, however, it's imperative they remain on television in the United States. I believe there are a lot of workers that are shocked this morning, with a considerable amount of unrest about the company's future.
Today is not a day for celebration, for anyone. I understand there are plenty of "TNA haters" that are brushing the news off but there are a lot of people whose jobs are at risk here. I hope for their sake, TNA is able to find a new TV home.
What is your opinion on the new faction of Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston? Is there any need for another mid-card group following the demise of 3MB?
It's interesting that in the weeks after The Atlantic accusing WWE of a race problem and Mark Henry discussing it, the company has green lighted a faction that has been teased in various forms. I'll embrace any plan to feature Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston more prominently but am not overly optimistic, seeing it as a second-tier faction along the same lines as 3MB. I hope I'm wrong and they're in for a bigger role but I do not see them getting the main angle like the faction of Lashley, MVP & Kenny King has in TNA Wrestling.
I was shocked when Undertaker lost the streak at Wrestlemania XXX. Surely the streak should have been left undefeated. Is there any reason why Undertaker decided to have it broken?
There was mass shock across the industry when Brock Lesnar went over The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX and that's because WWE did a great job at keeping the outcome under wraps. There was literally no talk of the streak ending beforehand and it was a moment where we were all caught off guard. While I was initially against the streak ending, after finding out the full story ,I am OK with it. Undertaker had felt a lot of pressure in recent years over the streak and didn't want to retire undefeated. According to sources close to The Dead Man, he wanted to "do the honors" after so many had done them for him. From what I understand, had he lost it at Wrestlemania 29, he probably wouldn't have even worked Wrestlemania XXX. Now that Brock Lesnar has ended the streak, Undertaker is free from the pressure of competing or "saving the show" if he does compete. Undertaker came out of this year's show banged up and is far from a guarantee for next year.
Why did WWE have Cesaro stop doing the swing? It was great move and it helped get him over with crowd.
I believe Cesaro stopped doing the swing because it was considered a babyface move and WWE currently wants him working as a heel. The abrupt separation from Paul Heyman leaves Cesaro once again a question mark on WWE TV. Will he find a role with The Authority with an elevation inevitable or is it yet another setback?
From the Ask WNW vault…
November 2012: Now that Linda McMahon’s political career seems to be over, can Vince move on to make the product more entertaining? - This was the one million… or should we say $100 million question that we knew would come up following Election Day. I honestly believe Vince McMahon is committed to producing a PG product because of the diverse opportunities it provides WWE in today’s marketplace. The only situation I can see the product reverting back to the days of the Attitude Era is if a viable competitor threatens them. Linda McMahon’s political career has certainly impacted WWE’s programming but her loss won’t produce the immediate creative overhaul some are hoping for.
Is it just me or was this the first time in a while that ALL three hours of Raw were worth watching? Is this a sign of things to come with the show or did WWE just get lucky?
I thought this week's episode of Raw was a good effort but it could have still been condensed from three hours. The best parts of the show were as follows - John Cena's stellar show-opening promo and fantastic match against Cesaro, Randy Orton taking out Roman Reigns to get heat on him, Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins (despite the non-finish) and the closing segment with Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella (I loved Stephanie's slap and final line). There was still plenty of filler content in the middle to dull the show down.
It's very important that WWE put on noteworthy television from now until SummerSlam. Initial WWE Network subscriptions expire after the pay-per-view and the company will look to retain as many subscribers as possible. Raw has been three hours for over two years now and I still firmly believe it's product over saturation.
After John Cena's incredible match vs. Cesaro on Raw, the so many other great matches of his career & what I fully expect to be an awesome match vs. Lesnar at Summerslam... It's time this "Cena Sucks" BS stops... I agree with everybody else his character needs change but it's not going to happen at this stage so it's time to take John Cena what he is & that's one of the best ever.
I take it that you really like John Cena. There's nothing wrong with that as John is still WWE's most popular performer, however, it's generally the under 13 crowd or female demographic that's high up on him. I don't have any problem with the "Cena sucks" chants or the heat he generates. Hulk Hogan generated heat as a babyface, so did Triple H and many others. It's inaccurate to say Cena "can't wrestle" because he's had enough good matches where he's proven that he can go, however, I don't take the heat as BS. It's a normal part of the business and there is nothing wrong with the message that the character could use a revamp. I'm not holding out hope but that doesn't mean the older fan base can't chant for it either.
It seems to me that right now would be an ideal time for Vince McMahon to purchase TNA. I know this is unlikely with the WWE Network seemingly hemorrhaging money, but you'd get Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley, and the rest of Sting's career in the library. Thoughts?
I knew with the uncertainly regarding TNA Wrestling's future on American television that this question was inevitable but it's unrealistic at this time. If TNA loses Spike TV and is unable to find a TV deal in the United States, the only value they have is their tape library. There are obvious names that could draw WWE interest but again, this is all premature. I will also dispute that now is an "ideal time" for Vince McMahon to buy TNA. WWE is in the process of making mass budget cuts following an underwhelming domestic TV agreement and the need to monetize the WWE Network. How does adding the burden of TNA help any of that?
After being signed over 8 years ago via the Diva Search, Rosa Mendes is still employed by WWE with no real character development nor decent grappling skills. Yet over the course of the same time frame, WWE has released many great female performers. What are your thoughts?
Rosa Mendes has withstood a lot, including getting sent home from WWE's European tour last year. However, she's persevered and will be added to the Total Divas cast for Season 3. Internally, I believe the hope is she will help increase the Latino demographic to the hit reality series. I can't give you a valid explanation as to why some performers are still employed when others are let go. This isn't an objective business and it's ultimately Vince McMahon's decision as to who is employed and who is not.
From the Ask WNW vault…
July 2012: I was wondering about your thoughts on the WWE Network. Oprah’s network is basically hemorrhaging money at this point. Isn’t Vince McMahon and the rest of WWE upper management worried the same could occur with them? - Vince McMahon addressed the failure of the Oprah Network when talking about the WWE Network in a conference call with investors in November 2011. McMahon called the Oprah Network a “miserable failure” and said that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the Oprah Network didn’t capitalize on what Oprah does best. Vince argued they tried to brand the Oprah name without featuring Oprah. He said WWE was going to do the opposite and would be “extraordinary successful.” Despite Vince’s calculated optimism, there are many in the company asking questions much like yours. As for my thoughts, the WWE Network is a huge risk and I’m not seeing a lot of upside. Sure, I’d like to see a network launched with all WWE programming and quite possibly carrying most of the pay-per-views, however, the fact they’ve struggled to gain clearance shows just how difficult it’s going to be just to get it launched.
One of the things that I believe the WWE Network could use is more live programming. With WWE already running several live events per month, why not television them on the WWE Network?
Live programming is what drives the WWE Network and it's a known fact that live shows such as pay-per-views and WWE Main Event outdraw anything else that airs. With that being said, your solution of airing live events is much easier said than done. First of all, WWE would have to alter their format of live events as they will often repeat a card from city to city in order to provide local fans with programs that are on television and they are familiar with and give the workers a chance to practice for upcoming televised matches. If that was sorted, the main problem with this and why I don't see it happening is the expense. It's expensive to produce events for television and airing live events on WWE Network would be so expensive it wouldn't be worth it. There are multiple things to consider, including getting the production and camera team from city to city along with equipment without getting into the extra time and effort it would take to setup and tear down. The burden would simply not be worth it. However, I agree one of the ways to make the WWE Network better would be to add more original programming.
It seems that Fandango was Vince McMahon's project with people humming his theme song and doing his dance moves, now it seems like he is booked under, similar to what Damien Sandow is doing. What happened to his push?
It's safe to say the luster has worn off of Fandango and he's nothing more than an enhancement talent at the present time. We see this all the time and it's not just with him either. There are workers and gimmicks the WWE office has high hopes for but they're unable to get over. Fandango had plenty of opportunities including a win at Wrestlemania against Chris Jericho and a catchy theme song that caught fire. However, he was unable to use those opportunities to separate himself from the many other gimmicks. Not everyone can be Bray Wyatt and it ultimately comes down to how the crowd responds to a gimmick to determine how far they are able to go.
Tell me this doesn't sound great. Brock Lesnar beats John Cena at SummerSlam, only for Daniel Bryan to get healthy and defeat him for the title at Wrestlemania 31. An amazing comeback story, do you agree?
It's a great scenario and an amazing comeback story, I'm just not sure it's realistic at this point. Brock Lesnar is heavily favored to go over John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. In fact, I feel it would be a crucial mistake if that didn't happen. However, it's far from a sure thing and we should take the plans one show at a time. I think many fans would love to see Daniel Bryan benefit from the rub that Lesnar was given by ending the streak, however, he has to get healthy first. Currently, Bryan is out of all creative plans as he deals with injury issues. I can tell you a match that Vince McMahon wants to do at Wrestlemania 31 is Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock. I know this is likely to be contentious but I can confirm it's something Vince wants to do.
The Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella feud kind of reminds me of Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler feud at Wrestlemania a few years ago: not a bad idea and well built up, but receiving way too much attention for what should only be a middle of the card feud. Do you agree?
I think Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella holds more weight to Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler because it's essentially a Daniel Bryan spinoff. I don't think fans really cared who "won" between Cole and Lawler but I believe there is legitimate interest in Brie -- as Bryan's wife -- and Stephanie -- as part of The Authority. With that being said, I don't think we can go into Stephanie vs. Brie [at SummerSlam] expecting a stellar wrestling match. Their segment on this week's Raw was entertaining and it's my hope that can translate to something worth seeing at SummerSlam next month.
From the Ask WNW vault…
July 2012: With Raw moving to three hours do you see Smackdown doing the same? - I posted this question for any WWE writer or producer that may be reading just so they could have the assurance that things could be worse. I don’t see Smackdown expanding and I have my doubts about how long Raw’s expansion to three hours will last. Monday’s are already extremely chaotic and adding an extra hour of live TV doesn’t have anyone excited (not even the majority of fans that read this website). Think about it for a second. The WWE writers and producers have to hammer out a three-hour live show with very limited preparation time. Two hours were stretching things thin and the extra hour has hurt morale and I’m told many are going to try and “gut it out” but could quit due to the added pressure. The ultimate factor will be how the first hour does in the ratings and that will be an uphill climb this fall with the return of Monday Night Football.
Now that WWE has reported 700,000 WWE Network subscribers and laid out plans for international expansion, what is your reaction?
I was surprised to see the WWE Network gain only 33,000 subscribers from April through June. While they have added 161,000 subscribers since Wrestlemania XXX, they also lost 128,000 due to not being able to bill the cards on file. Most of us figured something was up when they opened the WWE Network completely free (without even a credit card) for an entire week and those concerns only grew with recent financial cutbacks. There are some positives to take away from the news.
First, WWE is bumping up the international expansion of the WWE Network. Beginning August 12, 2014, the service will be available in over 170 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain and the Nordics. The United Kingdom will follow in October 2014 with Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia following after that. Canada is getting an entirely different option with the WWE Network being available as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel through Rogers Communications.
Next, WWE is introducing new pricing plans. If you were an initial subscriber, you had the option to commit to $9.99/month for 6 months or buy a year gift subscription up front. Beginning next month, subscribers will have the option to go monthly (at $19.99/month) or pay for an entire 6 months in advance ($59.94).
So if there is any takeaway from the fact WWE Network has seen little growth from its initial surge, it's that it will be available to more people with more options in the near future. I do think a target of 1 million domestic subscribers by the end of the year is going to be very difficult to reach.
How profitable is WWE Studios?
WWE Studios made $1.7 million in the second quarter of 2014, down from $2.1 million in the prior year quarter. The movie portfolio itself generated a loss of $0.2 million in the quarter compared to a loss of $0.4 million the prior year quarter. WWE stated in their earnings report that movies such as Scooby Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (direct-to-DVD), Oculus (theatrical), and Road to Paloma (direct-to-DVD) released in March, April, and July 2014 performed "in-line with expectations."
I remember the days of the Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, The Rock and Triple holding the Intercontinental Championship before they had a chance in the main event. Wouldn't it be better for WWE to use the IC title as a gateway to future WWE champions like a Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns?
I examined the usage of the Intercontinental Championship in a detailed article earlier this month and followed-up in Ask WNW. While I completely agree it's the worker that makes the title, not the title that makes the worker, the Intercontinental Championship -- or Intercontinental Champion to be specific -- has been poorly booked over the years. As a result, the belt is no longer used as a gateway to introduce mid-card talent into the main event scene and is essentially a glorified prop. It will have to be a philosophical decision within WWE to change that but there has been no such thing in recent years. However, back to your question, I do feel it would be of better use to utilize the title in the fashion it was in previous decades.
Do you think it's plausible that unlike what most others think, Stephanie McMahon will win at SummerSlam? I keep saying she needs to get her comeuppance, but in my opinion Brie already got her revenge by getting her arrested and getting her job back. I think the subtle things Stephanie has been saying to Nikki over the past few weeks, such as saying it is Brie's fault that she is wrestling alone and the fact she offered her a pay rise, but Brie said she didn't want that. I could see Nikki turning heel for a Brie vs Nikki feud obviously for the purposes of Total Divas. What's your opinion?
Using the word 'comeuppance' in a question was a great way to get my attention and an answer to your question. I think you are dead on about Stephanie McMahon going over Brie Bella at SummerSlam to setup a Nikki Bella heel turn. In fact, I believe there are many that believe the match will be booked as you have suggested. Brie Bella got her revenge and now it's Stephanie that needs to prove her power. Many have asked what I think of Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam and while I don't expect a particularly good wrestling match, it was an entertaining segment on Raw this week. If they can entertain at SummerSlam like they did on Raw, I will be pleased.
From the Ask WNW vault…
March 2012: How long does the WWE Wellness Policy last? I realize it one strike is a 30-day suspension, two strikes is a 60-day suspension and three strikes results in termination. However, let’s take Evan Bourne for example. If he fails another Wellness test in let’s say three years, would he still be fired? What about William Regal, who also has two violations? Is there a time when the policy resets? - The policy doesn’t reset and even if Evan Bourne or William Regal were terminated and later re-signed, they would return with two Wellness Test failures. If a worker has three failures and they are terminated, they will remain terminated for at least one year. If WWE brings them back after their minimum termination of one year they will return with two Wellness strikes, must test negative during pre-screening and will be subject to strict random testing while they are under WWE contract. The entire WWE Wellness Policy is online at this link.
Is TNA is unable to find a domestic television partner, what are the chances they look to broadcast online?
If TNA is unable to come to terms on a new agreement with Spike TV and do not have any other suitors for their programming in the United States, it's certainly possible they explore all of their options and one of those options would probably include broadcasting online. Many independent promotions have gone the iPPV route and have had success. However, if TNA loses domestic TV clearance, they'll have to operate in a scaled back form. I don't know what that would look like or if they would even be interested in doing so.
Could you see Vince McMahon buying the TNA Wrestling tape library if they were to go out of business?
I believe it's extremely premature to assume that TNA is going out of business. Obviously if they lose domestic TV clearance they'll have a major problem on their hands but until it's confirmed they've lost that clearance, we need to be careful. I re-worded this question because the person that asked it was operating under the assumption they were finished. As for the question itself, I believe Vince McMahon would be interested in the TNA tape library just like he's been interested in every other library over the years. Why wouldn't he? He has all of the means to re-master the footage and promote it, however, it's still a premature question.
I am a fan of Jack Swagger's patriotic momentum at the moment but what if he loses to Rusev clean, is it over? If Swagger goes over, where will he be booked?
The original plan was for Rusev to make short work of Jack Swagger, nothing short of a glorified squash match. From what I'm told, Vince McMahon was so happy with the way Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter have got over as babyfaces, he made the call to protect Swagger at Battleground and extend the program to SummerSlam. Further, an interesting development to the match at SummerSlam was revealed at this week's Smackdown taping. You can read about that at this link. As for who goes over at SummerSlam, I feel strongly that Rusev is the favorite. However, the aforementioned development (that we're not spoiling here), could play a role in protecting the match loser. I don't think either will be "finished" if they go under given the circumstances. While one can argue Rusev has a higher ceiling (since he's still "fresh"), Swagger was a guy Vince once saw as a main event talent.
During the Monday Night War were you Team WWF or Team WCW?
This is a fun question to close out the week on! I was actually Team WCW and I would flip to Raw during the commercial breaks. Originally, I was a fan of workers such as Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and The Ultimate Warrior [in the WWF] but it was during WCW Saturday Night I started following Ric Flair, Randy Savage and of course Hogan (I believe it was '94 when my interest in WCW started to really grow). When Scott Hall defected to WCW, my brother and I were hooked. It was an obsession that fueled our passion for the business.
One of our friends and neighbors started a pro wrestling website in the mid-90s located at WrestleNation.com. My brother and I were interested in creating websites and saw him having success, so we launched our own at http://4cw.hypermart.net, which we moved to 4CornersWrestling.com. In 2000, we moved the website to WCWWWF.com and later WrestlingUnlimited.com. In February 2003, we purchased WrestlingNewsWorld.com from a guy named George Patton (he originally founded the website as UltimateWWF.com. From February 2003 to April 2007, the website existed more as a hobby or a blog. In May 2007, when I graduated college, I revamped the website as my full-time occupation. My brother Ryan left in July 2011 to pursue other interests and here I am!
From the Ask WNW vault…
January 2013: How do the superstars refer to one another when the cameras aren’t on? Do they call each other by their legal name, or by their character? - It really just depends on the person. For example, would you even know who I was talking about if I said the name Michael Hickenbottom? Above, I just referenced Pat Patterson (real name Pierre Clermont). I’ve got a funny story to disclose on this question. Four years ago I was conducting some interviews for use on the website. When booking names I would often go through a worker’s agent to get in touch with them. Well, I wanted to be as professional as possible without sounding like a mark so I emailed one agent and asked to book Nick Cvjetkovich (better known as Kizarny or Sinn Bodhi). The agent said when they read the email they thought, who in the hell is Nick Cvjetkovich?