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, August 30, 2014 to Friday, September 5, 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!
- R-Truth is currently dealing with a shoulder injury. He noted in a media interview with JournalStar.com that he's currently working at about "80-85 percent." Below is an excerpt:
“We take some devastating hits out there,” said R-Truth, who’s 6-foot-2, 227 pounds. “A lot of times we’re out there injured. I’m injured now. I’m about 80-85 percent. I hurt my shoulder. But, as they say, the show must go on. So I’m out there.”
Click here to read the piece in its entirety.
- Steve Austin appeared on Saturday's episode of College Gameday on ESPN, which broadcast live from Arlington, Texas. He was featured at the end of the broadcast and provided guest picks for select games. I was impressed with Austin's CFB knowledge and fully agree with his assessment of the Alabama Crimson Tide over my alma mater of West Virginia University.
- As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Sheamus will defend the WWE United States Championship against Cesaro at next month's Night of Champions pay-per-view. That was the highlight of this week's episode of Smackdown Fallout, subtitled "Sheamus is ready for Cesaro." Click here to watch.
- The attorney/manager of Jake Roberts has released a statement regarding the health of his client and friend. In that statement, it's clarified that Roberts did not lose consciousness on the flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas [last Wednesday] but experienced chest tightness and trouble breathing. He communicated his condition to the flight attendants on board and was transported to the hospital upon landing. He did not pass out on the aircraft. Roberts was diagnosed with double pneumonia, causing him to have little functionality of his lungs. Tests revealed an abnormality on his brain. The initial diagnosis is that it was a result of taking bumps as a wrestler but a neurologist is conducting further tests. As for Roberts being in and out of consciousness, he was put into a medically induced coma to treat the pneumonia but is now completely alert. Neither drugs nor alcohol had no bearing on his condition. Roberts was recently transferred to another hospital in Las Vegas to better treat his condition.
- As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Rob Van Dam finished up with WWE at this week's television tapings in Ontario, California. His final match aired on this week's episode of Smackdown against Seth Rollins. In an attempt to draw traffic to his Tweet Secret account, RVD posted a message about his latest run with WWE on there. Van Dam is a personal favorite of Vince McMahon and I'm sure he'll have other opportunities to return under similar short-term agreements if he desires. He's already accepting dates on the domestic independent scene.
- Naomi continues to deal with issues from the orbital fracture she suffered on the February 3, 2014 episode of Monday Night Raw. She's been on the shelf again lately due to another procedure she had done because of the injury.
Naomi Tweeted the following from her verified account:
The injury occurred during a match with Aksana and was featured as a storyline on Total Divas. It was severe and caused communication between her sinus cavity and the back of her eye socket, keeping her unable to travel by airplane. When she came back, she wore an eye patch.
Naomi missed nearly a month and a half because of the initial injury, returning on the March 17, 2014 episode of Monday Night Raw.
- Sinn Bodhi posted a new health update on Jake "The Snake" Roberts on social media to clarify that he's not in a coma, debunking that as "crappy gossip." The following is from his Facebook:
This goes right along with our extensive update on Roberts posted on Saturday. Doctors put Roberts in a "coma-like state" to treat him, which is a relatively common practice. Some people hear the word coma and start jumping to all kinds of conclusions.
- The Des Moines Register has a new article online featuring quotes from Cesaro to promote this week's episode of Monday Night Raw in the city. In it, Cesaro talked about Owen Hart, William Regal and The Steiner Brothers giving him inspiration but ultimately, he's his own hero.
"It's always good to have heroes and people you look up to, and it's very important to look to them for inspiration," he said. "But you need to be your own hero. The way I went to get here, nobody else did it this way, so I'm very proud of that."
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
- Bad News Barrett recently spoke with The Miami Herald to discuss his recovery from injury, which Superstars he enjoys watching as a fan, why Vince McMahon & JBL are heroes of his, and more.
In the following excerpt, Barrett gives the latest in his recovery from the shoulder injury that sidelined him in June:
“I’m great,” Barrett said during a “WWE 2K15” event SummerSlam Weekend in Los Angeles. “I’m back in the gym lifting weights again. I’m working hard on my rehab to come back as soon as I can. I miss performing in front of the WWE Universe and traveling around the world seeing the fans all the time.
“…There is never really a good time to get injured. I felt like I was in the middle of a good run. I had some good matches, and people were enjoying what I was doing. Obviously, I also had the Intercontinental championship, which was huge in itself. There are elements of this happening that really did suck, but I want to be back and better than ever. I want to push forward. Eventually, I want to win the WWE world heavyweight championship.”
Click here to read the full article.
- NXT talent Solomon Crowe suffered a chipped tibia during a recent NXT live event in Palatka, Florida. Crowe posted the following updates on Twitter & Instagram:
- Zeb Colter has broke his silence on Twitter after a couple of weeks, assuring fans that he has returned. Colter has been off WWE television since SummerSlam, leaving some to question his future with the company.
The following is from Colter's verified Twitter account:
As we reported last week in our Hot News Hotline, it's been rumored that Colter is dealing with some type of injury that could have occurred during Rusev's beat down on him at the SummerSlam pay-per-view. However, we also confirmed that he's still under WWE contract.
- Sinn Bodhi (Kizarny from WWE) continues to provide health updates on Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He noted on Sunday via social media that Roberts underwent a bronchoscopy. Roberts is breathing better but still on a ventilator.
The following is from Facebook:
- SLAM! Wrestling caught up with Trish Stratus for a new Q&A that you can read at this link.
- Jim Ross was spotted on the sidelines at last Saturday's Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma Sooners college football game in Norman, OK.
- Jim Ross Tweeted on Sunday that WWE is not approving his requests to interview any of their contracted talent on his podcast. The issue was brought up when a follower inquired about Ross interviewing Ric Flair.
- Alberto Del Rio has returned to Twitter for the first time following his WWE release. There, he noted he's en route to Mexico to finalize his deal with AAA. The following is from his verified Twitter account:
I heard Del Rio was spotted at San Antonio International Airport earlier on Monday, so I'm assuming that's where he flew from. Notice Del Rio's use of the hastag #FreeAlberto, which is similar to the campaign that AAA has initiated for Rey Mysterio. Mysterio, who is currently trapped in his WWE deal, is looking to depart to follow Del Rio to Mexico.
- Michael Sam has been invited to next week's Monday Night Raw. Sam is the first openly gay NFL player and was just cut by the St. Louis Rams.
- WWE posted another trailer for the Season 3 premiere of Total Divas on Sunday, September 7, 2014. You can watch it at this link.
- Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt in a Steel Cage Match has been announced for next week's Raw. Roman Reigns will face Randy Orton in a SummerSlam rematch as well.
- Damien Sandow accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on the latest edition of Sandow's 60. In addition, Sandow used playing card analogies to offer a message about a "jester's" position on the midcard:
The jester, as we know, is meant to entertain everyone. And if we look at the jester's position, the jester is around the middle of the card. Now while most people think that the jester's position is permanently on the midcard, some of us have an ace up our sleeve.
The video is available at this link.
- WWE is reporting that Jey Uso suffered an "aggravation of his previously injured knee" as a result of Gold & Stardust's attack on Raw. Footage of the attack is available at this link.
- In this week’s Raw Fallout, several stars of Total Divas speak on what to expect on the upcoming season, Adam Rose speaks on The Bunny's attack on Heath Slater, and Brie Bella responds to Nikki Bella's actions. The clips are embedded below:
Total ChaosDon't Mess With The BunnyBrie Fights Back
- Stephanie McMahon, as Chief Brand Officer of WWE (not her character), penned an "Open Letter" to Michael Sam to formally invite him to next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in Baltimore, Maryland:
Exhibiting class and dignity rarely shown in professional sports, WWE invites you to next Monday's RAW to speak of your struggles to succeed, lessons you have learned along the way, the courage it takes to be yourself and the prospects of your continued journey. You are a role model, who by example can encourage everyone to stand up and openly be themselves. Signed, Stephanie McMahon CBO, WWE
You can read the letter in its original format here on dot com.
We first reported on Sam's invitation to Raw here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. Sam, a standout defensive end for the University of Missouri, was cut from the St. Louis Rams last week. He would have been the first openly gay player to play in the National Football League.
- We noted on Sunday here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com that Naomi recently had a minor procedure done to correct a problem from the orbital fracture she suffered back in February. She returned to the ring on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, teaming with Summer Rae and Layla to face Cameron, Eva Marie and Rosa Mendes. You can watch a clip at this link.
- The Miz's "makeup artist" that was seen on this week's Raw was Sarah "Crazy Mary Dobson" Bridges. She's known for her work on the domestic independent scene and in Japan.
- It would appear that Darren Young isn't overly enthusiastic about Michael Samreceiving an open invitation to next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. He Re-Tweeted the following Tweets on Twitter:
To be fair, he also Re-Tweeted those that suggested WWE do a segment with the two of them together. Sam would have been the first openly gay player to play in the NFL, while Young is the first openly gay performer to be under a WWE Performer's Contract. Young came out prior to SummerSlam 2013, while Sam came out prior to the 2014 NFL Draft.
- WWE issued a surprise invitation to NFL hopeful Michael Sam to appear on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw from Baltimore, Maryland. The invitation was announced on this week's show and followed-up with an "Open Letter" penned by Stephanie McMahon, as Chief Brand Officer (not her character as a member of The Authority), here on the official WWE website.
Sam was a standout defensive end at the University of Missouri, winning the honor of SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, he announced that he is gay. The St. Louis Rams drafted Sam in the 7th Round of the 2014 NFL Draft, which would have made him the first openly gay man to play in the NFL, however, cut him last week as they trimmed their roster to 53-men. He wasn't given a spot on the team's practice squad as they look to utilize it to create depth at other positions.
As part of WWE's invitation, they're offering an opportunity for Michael Sam to have an "open mic." JBL was deliberate on commentary that at the very least Michael Sam should be on an NFL practice squad. While the latter might be true, the invitation as a whole comes off as a shameless promotional stunt.
We've often criticized TNA Wrestling over the years for similar stunts, so it's only fair we judge WWE by the same standard.
This isn't the first time WWE has tried to take a talking point in the mainstream media and bring it to their programming. Last year, the company invited conservative talk show host and political commentator Glenn Beck to Raw. They even sent Michael Cole to his office to interview him. When it was clear Beck had no interest, WWE quietly dropped the whole thing.
This time, it appears WWE wants to give Sam an open forum to promote a message of tolerance and respect. While I agree wholeheartedly with that message, it's a message WWE could already deliver with one of their own talents. Darren Young came out as homosexual prior to SummerSlam last year and while he was turned babyface, the company did nothing to acknowledge his sexuality. Young is currently out after tearing his ACL but he was quick to point out the irony in WWE's invitation.
While I applaud WWE's efforts as a company that promotes equality, the invitation to Michael Sam does nothing to help either party. It makes WWE look desperate for attention and highlights irony with their reluctance to feature Darren Young, while it would only re-affirm concerns that NFL teams have about Michael Sam as a distraction. Sam wants to prove he deserves a spot on an NFL team based on his play, not on his sexuality. I have a very hard time believing that Sam would even consider the invitation as he continues to chase his dream.
I've been a loud critic about WWE's "$9.99 marketing campaign" for the WWE Network, feeling it comes off as desperate and makes a valuable service come off as cheap. This is along those same lines of desperation and WWE should be looking to strengthen their own programming, rather than trying to capitalize on mainstream talking points.
- WWE has loaded up next week's episode of Monday Night Raw from Baltimore, MD by announcing Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt in a Steel Cage match and Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns, both SummerSlam rematches. The company is expecting very stiff competition as Monday Night Football returns to ESPN for the season with a double header of games. This is also the reason for their invitation to Michael Sam, which I labeled as desperate and ironic at this link.
- Darren Young continued to have fun with the invitation of Michael Sam on Twitter, Tweeting the following:
- As I mentioned in Ask WNW, Zack Ryder was none too pleased with not getting booked for last week's Raw. This week he was booked but squashed. He Tweeted the following:
- Sinn Bodhi (formerly known as Kizarny in WWE) continues to keep fans updated on the health of Jake "The Snake" Roberts through the use of social media. In his latest update, he notes that Roberts is expected to be off the ventilator in a "couple days."
The following is from Bodhi's Facebook:
- WWE's ridiculous invitation to defensive lineman Michael Sam likely lost any chance of happening on Tuesday. ESPN'sAdam Schefter reports the Dallas Cowboys would like to add him to their practice squad if he passes a physical on Wednesday.
The following is from Twitter:
As a Cowboys fan, I agree. We could use all the help we can get. I've thought since Sam was drafted by the Rams that he would be a fit in Dallas and not just to sell jerseys (unneeded remark by Schefter). First things first though and he'll have to pass a physical and be placed on the practice squad.
I went on record earlier on Tuesday, calling WWE's invitation desperate and ironic.
- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown garnered an average viewing audience of 2,730,000 viewers on SyFy, which was good enough to be the most-watched episode since July. TV by the Numbers has data for all of the top 100 cable shows for Friday at this link.
- WWE announced on Tuesday that talk show host Jerry Springer will appear on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw to moderate a discussion between Nikki and Brie Bella. Springer, known for his tabloid talk show career, will look to "bridge the divide" between the twin sisters. The company is using the celebrity tie-in in the program that began when Nikki turned on Brie at SummerSlam. WWE is looking to load up next week's Raw as they go head to head with Monday Night Football on ESPN, which is why they've already announced two SummerSlam rematches. These in addition to the invitation to Michael Sam. Next week's Raw will take place from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
- While much has been written and speculated about the future of Dave Batista in WWE given the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, word making rounds is that he's eager to return. While it's understood Batista will have more doors opened as an actor, he wants to come back before retiring from the ring. It is true that Batista was not happy with his latest WWE run. He had very little say in his character's booking and argued about the direction that was presented to him. Batista knows the most successful work of his career was as a heel and it's the role he feels more comfortable in. There is still a possibility that Batista doesn't come back, however, he's still honoring appearances booked on behalf of WWE. To debunk any rumors, the reason WWE didn't make a big deal about his role in Guardians of the Galaxy isn't because of heat, it's because they weren't involved with the film. One thing Batista wants in his next run with WWE is more control over the direction of his character. He has no problem working live events and television tapings and actually enjoys working those dates. From WWE's standpoint, they're expecting to have him for Wrestlemania 31 next year, however, no plans for the show have been finalized.
- WWE NXT Diva Veronica Lane has announced that she is finished with WWE. She broke the news in a Tweet/note on Tuesday that has been embedded below:
Lane signed with the company in 2013 and recently recovered from a leg injury.
- WWE has pulled Stephanie McMahon's "Open Letter" to Michael Sam from their official website. In the letter, Stephanie, as Chief Brand Officer, formally invites Sam to next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. You can still read the letter here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
I followed-up with harsh criticism about how the move shows desperation and highlights a point of irony, in a Richard Reacts piece at this link.
It's likely WWE is backing off their invitation as there is almost no chance of Sam accepting, especially considering he is likely to sign with the Dallas Cowboys as a member of their practice squad on Wednesday.
Sam, who hopes to become the first openly gay man to play in the NFL, was cut by the St. Louis Rams last week. Trying to garner attention, WWE wanted to give him a platform with an "open mic" on next week's episode of Raw in Baltimore, Maryland. WWE is doing all they can to generate hype for next week's show as they'll go up head-to-head with the return of Monday Night Football on ESPN.
- Below are details on what cameras didn't film at this week's Raw taping in Des Moines, Iowa and Main Event/Smackdown taping in Lincoln, Nebraska:
What you didn't see on WWE Raw…
There were no dark matches -- before or after the show. After cameras stopped filming following the main event, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns greeted fans sitting at ringside. They signed autographs and interacted as their respective theme music rotated on the loud speakers.
What you didn't see on WWE Main Event/won't see on Smackdown…
Naomi beat Cameron in a pre-show dark match, getting the pinfall after hitting Rear View.
After WWE finished Main Event, Adam Rose beat Titus O'Neil. O'Neil demanded a rematch and Rose beat him again, this time with the Party Foul.
After WWE finished filming Smackdown, there was no dark match main event. Mark Henry, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho interactive with fans at ringside. There was a funny moment when Henry tried to put on Reigns' vest but it obviously didn't fit.
- Alberto Del Rio -- as El Patron Alberto -- is being advertised for AAA's "Ring & Rock StAAArs 3" show from the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on Sunday, September 14, 2014. Alberto will team with Myzterziz (formerly known as Sin Cara in WWE, where he uses the same gear as Sin Cara) and La Parka to face Averno, Texano Jr. and El Hijo del Perro Arguayo.
Del Rio had a 90-day non-compete clause attached to his WWE contract but apparently it has been dropped. You can check out the show's promotional poster below:
He was at a press conference for the show on Tuesday, as you can view a photo below:
- Sinn Bodhi (f/k/a Kizarny in WWE) continues to provide updates on the health of Jake "The Snake" Roberts. In his latest update -- posted on Tuesday -- Bodhi announced that Roberts has been taken off the ventilator. The following is from Facebook:
To recap, Roberts was hospitalized last Wednesday after experiencing problems breathing on a flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas. It was later learned that he was in an Intensive Care Unit in a Las Vegas hospital after being diagnosed with double pneumonia. While running tests, doctors discovered a mass on his brain. Roberts was expected to be taken off the ventilator this week, however, as stated above, he was taken off early.
You can read all of our updates as they are posted on Roberts at this link.
- There was a wardrobe malfunction on this week's episode of WWE Main Event as Layla grabbed the trunks of Rosas Mendes and exposed her backside, while working on the ring apron. There were more than a few people that questioned whether or not it was intentional as WWE looks to build promotion for next Sunday's season premiere of Total Divas on E. Mendes is new to the cast for Season 3.
- This week's kayfabe sit-down between Triple H and Michael Cole s now online. In making some notes, Hunter confirmed Brock Lesnar will defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena at Night of Champions. He said the entire Bella family is messed up and promoted the SummerSlam rematches on next week's Raw with Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt taking place in a steel cage. Click here to watch now.
- WrestleZone.comreported on Wednesday that Steve Guerrieri was promoted to lead creative writer of Smackdown. Ryan Ward, who had been acting as lead writer, will still be in charge of writing WWE NXT. The writers are also involved with Raw under the direction of Dave Kapoor and Ed Koskey.
- Jerry Lawler is scheduled to wrestle on Wednesday night for the Nashville-based USA Championship Wrestling event at the Dickson County Fair. Bell time is 7:30 PM, as The Tennessean ran a feature article at this link.
- Eden's latest video blog is now online at this link.
- Sheamus is representing WWE on behalf of their anti-bullying Be-A-STAR campaign for a texting campaign. You can watch a promo at this link.
- The Rock confirmed Wednesday on Twitter that he will play the role of Black Adam in the upcoming DC Comics film. You can read his Tweet below:
Dot com penned an article about it at this link. In their piece, they tease a Marvel vs. DC showdown at Wrestlemania 31 featuring Drax the Destroyer (played by Batista in Guardians of the Galaxy vs. Black Adam (The Rock). The possibility is there.
- The Dallas Cowboys have signed defensive lineman Michael Sam to their practice squad, ESPN.com has confirmed. As for why this is being published here - it officially nullifies WWE's invitation for him to appear on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in Baltimore, MD.
We explained earlier that dot com removed Stephanie McMahon's "open letter" to the NFL hopeful, as the company likely realized there was no chance of him appearing after finding a potential new NFL home.
Dot com announced on Wednesday that WWE will extend its invitation for Sam to appear on any future episode of Raw he wishes. You can read their piece at this link.
As I explained in Ask WNW, if WWE is serious about promoting a message of tolerance and respect from an open homosexual, they should use Darren Young. However, this is all for shameless publicity.
Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Des Moines, Iowa…
- There were as many as six show re-writes from Saturday to Monday. We're told it wasn't just a few talking segments but complete re-writes. Logic was "out the window" and the atmosphere in the back showed it. Workers didn't even seen the big board until just over an hour from going live on the USA Network.
- The issues were blamed on writers not communicating with other writers and constant indecision between Vince McMahon and Triple H. Hunter wanted to tease a change to John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar in the opening segment but Vince hated it. However, they went with it and it came across bad on television and was clarified in Wednesday's kayfabe Michael Cole interview. They're doing Lesnar vs. Cena at Night of Champions and every other segment reaffirmed that, which is why the opening segment came off as so illogically out of place.
- WWE wasn't expecting Seth Rollins to generate such a pop in his hometown and they had nothing to combat it and while they tried to talk over it on commentary, it was simply overlooked.
- Rosa Mendes was criticized for her in-ring work, as she's only being featured due to her inclusion as a cast member in Season 3 of Total Divas. The Total Divas promotion is seen as the culprit for much of what the company is doing with the females right now including the horrendous Bella Twins program.
- One observer couldn't stop talking about WWE's lack of talent at the top of the card. While CM Punk has been gone for nearly eight months, the company is still feeling the effects. Daniel Bryan being out has only made matters worse and as I've previously reported, it's become a major concern for Vince McMahon.
- This week's Labor Day edition of WWE Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 3,920,333 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how viewership broke down by hour:
Hour one - 4,009,000 viewers
Hour two - 3,925,000 viewers
Hour three - 3,827,000 viewers
This is the second straight week the company has failed to reach an average of 4,000,000 viewers and isn't a good sign heading into next week, where the competition will pick up significantly. If there is a silver lining to this week's number, it's that it was on a holiday and WWE never overreacts to holiday viewership numbers/television ratings.
TV by the Numbers has more data available at this link.
- CM Punk and WWE are engaged in a legal battle, according to a new report on PWTorch.com (featuring a mention of the Wrestling Observer). Apparently Punk sent a letter to WWE over their use of his likeness, specifically his likeness in the WWE '15 video game. Punk is seeking royalties but WWE feel they have a claim because Punk breached his Performer's Contract when he walked out in January. It's been one of the biggest stories of the year as CM Punk left WWE the night after Royal Rumble 2014, where he was apparently disgruntled and concussed. Vince McMahon made it a priority to try and retain the services of Punk, however, was unsuccessful. His WWE contract expired in July and he is now considered retired. The issue gets even more complicated as Punk's wife, WWE Diva AJ Lee, remains employed by the company and is considered the face of the Divas division. It's believed WWE didn't want to threaten Punk when he was under contract as Vince was hoping cooler heads would prevail and he would return and eventually sign a contract extension. Triple H has reportedly been ready to move on since the issues started and has not been enthusiastic about Vince's efforts to get Punk back. Punk has distanced himself from the wrestling business considerably, not wanting to talk about his status even with close friends. He has resumed activity on Twitter and continues to make sporadic appearances outside of wrestling.
- WWE updated their Key Performance Indicators, giving a preliminary buyrate number for WWE Battleground 2014. According to the data, the pay-per-view drew 113,000 traditional pay-per-view buys. Below is a screen capture of the chart:
While a buyrate of 113,000 would be considered a disaster in the pay-per-view era, things are much different with the evolution of the WWE Network. Here are the official traditional buyrate numbers for the WWE pay-per-views this year that have already been announced:
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
The official number for WWE Battleground will be available when the company reports their quarter three earnings for the year, at which time we will also get an update on the WWE Network subscriber count.
- Mick Foley has been dealing with severe back pain that has gotten to the point where it's impacting his post-wrestling career. Foley was recently forced to cancel an upcoming show in Denver, Colorado due to back issues.
The WWE Hall of Famer is scheduled to undergo a minor surgery to alleviate pain on Thursday. He wrote the following on Facebook:
Foley spent his career taking tough bumps and was told by doctors that if he ever wrestled again, he posed great risks to his long-term health.
- Jim Ross is transitioning to the world of Mixed Martial Arts. It was announced on Wednesday that Ross will handle announce duties for Battlegrounds MMA on Friday, October 3, 2014 in Oklahoma. Ross will join suspended UFC fighter Chael Sonnen at the announce desk for the pay-per-view.
Ross, who was removed from his broadcast position in WWE and later forced into "retirement," has been busy. In addition to a regular column on FoxSports.com, his PodCast One show and JRsBarBQ.com blog, he also transitioned into boxing back in May. He had a health scare over the summer but it was learned it was the result of a medication that he had been taking.
- Ric Flair will be involved with next week's NXT Takeover II special event on the WWE Network as he'll appear to welcome Kenta to WWE's developmental program. Other items announced for the show are as follows:
Fatal 4-Way Match for the NXT Championship
- Adrian Neville © vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd
WWE NXT Women's Championship Match
- Charlotte © vs. Bayley
WWE NXT Tag Team Championship Match
- The Ascension I© vs. Kalisto & Sin Cara
Hair vs. Hair Match
- Enzo Amore vs. Sylvester Lefort
- Mojo Rawley vs. Bull Dempsey
WWE NXT Takeover II will take place on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 8 PM EDT from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. It will air live on the WWE Network and will have an "Open Thread" here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- WWE continues to feature Rosa Mendes as a "free spirit" with a wild past leading into her inclusion as a new cast member for Season 3 of Total Divas. One of the trailers for this season features Mendes topless with her breasts blurred out. The company picked up on all of that in a video of her day off, posting behind-the-scenes footage of a photo shoot she did at this link.
On this week's episode of Main Event, while working on the ring apron, Layla grabbed the trunks of Mendes and exposed her backside. Given WWE's goal with Mendes on Total Divas, many questioned whether or not it was intentional.
Mendes has quite the list of incidents while employed with WWE.
In 2012, she was involved in an incident at the San Antonio International Airport. She was reportedly intoxicated after being found "visibly upset in a public bathroom." It was later alleged that she was assaulted by her ex-fiancé -- former WWE starJackson Andrews -- prior to making the flight from Las Vegas.
In April 2013, Mendes was sent home from WWE's European tour after outlandish behavior that included frequent intoxication. Last October, head WWE producer Michael Hayes was suspended after being seen drinking at a hotel bar with Mendes.
- WWE issued a press release earlier this week to promote Jerry Springer's appearance on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. In the release, Springer was quoted. That quote is featured in an excerpt below:
“I will conduct an intervention with the Bella Twins in an effort to achieve sibling harmony,” said Jerry Springer, legendary talk show host, who will make an appearance on the season premiere of Raw® this Monday at 8/7C on USA Network.
Note in the above excerpt, WWE terms next weeks episode of Raw the "season premiere" as they shift into fall programming.
We first reported the news of Springer coming to Raw to take part in a segment with Brie and Nikki Bellahere on WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- WWE is touring Malaysia from Putra Stadium on October 10th and October 11th. John Cena is the top star advertised with tickets now on sale at this link.
- Former goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson is working as Hugo Knox at the WWE Performance Center. On Thursday, the company featured him in a video blog at this link.
- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar sold his 43-acre estate in Minnesota for $750,000. The LA Times ran a story with pictures that you can read at this link.
- WWE took a moment to remember Joan Rivers, who died on Thursday. Rivers participated at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986. You can read their article here on dot com. They published a video at this link. For more on the passing of Rivers, follow CNN's coverage at this link.
- Brooks Oglesby reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com that Solomon Crowe suffered a chipped tibia at an NXT live event. Crowe updated on his status on Thursday, noting he doesn't need surgery.
The following is from his Twitter account:
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts is scheduled to be moved out of ICU by the weekend. While Roberts was hospitalized last week due double pneumonia, there are other health issues doctors are monitoring.
As previously reported, it was discovered that Roberts has a mass on his brain. Doctors will need to run more tests but have been treating the pneumonia. The initial belief is the mass is from past trauma.
There is some concern about Roberts' kidney function, something that doctors are also monitoring.
Sinn Bodhi (f/k/a Kizarny from WWE) has been providing constant health updates on Roberts and has been with him the entire time. He spoke to Chuck Carroll about his condition that you can listen to at this link.
- Mick Foley used his Facebook page to update fans on his health following a scheduled back procedure that he underwent on Thursday. Foley noted it was the first of "several minor surgical procedures" that will hopefully alleviate his pain.
His post on Facebook is included below:
- SyFy has made a change to their Fall schedule that could indicate WWE Smackdown is not changing nights. The change has to do with "Haven" as it was originally scheduled for the 10/9c timeslot on Thursday nights beginning on September 11th. A new update from the network lists Haven in the 8/7c Thursday night timeslot (which would be the proposed slot of Smackdown with a move). You can view the change at this link.
However, before we start jumping to conclusions, the change has been reflected on the calendar for September 11, 2014 at this link. But if we go to the schedule for Thursday, October 2, 2014, Smackdown is still listed in the 8/7c timeslot with Haven following at 10/9c.
WWE has acknowledged they've considered moving Smackdown back to Thursday nights but have not confirmed a move.
Friday, September 5, 2014 3:28 PM EDT Update: SyFy has officially announced "Haven" is moving to Thursdays at 8/7c at this link. They've also edited mentions of Haven airing in the 10/9c from the show's official page. However, Smackdown is still listed in the 8/7c timeslot on the official schedule for October 2nd but beside it is Friday's date. So the confusion continues. End update.
- The weekend is near as The JBL (not Cole) Show is now online. This week, Hulk Hogan makes an appearance. You can watch at this link.
- WWE posted a commercial for the Season Premiere of Monday Night Raw at this link. Key promotional elements include Jerry Springer moderating a discussion between Brie and Nikki Bella, Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho in a steel cage match.
- Below is the updated WWE Night of Champions lineup:
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Brock Lesnar © vs. John Cena
WWE United States Championship Match
- Sheamus © vs. Cesaro
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
- Dolph Ziggler © vs. The Miz
WWE Divas Championship Match
- Paige © vs. AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella
WWE Tag Team Championship Match
- The Usos © vs. Goldust & Stardust
- Mark Henry vs. Rusev
WWE Night of Champions will take place Sunday, September 21, 2014 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. We'll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Following up on our report about Spike TV being interested in purchasingTNA Wrestling, people within TNA are saying it was a lowball offer and that if Dixie Carter decided to sell, they think they could get more than what Spike was offering.
We're able to confirm that TNA took meetings with potential buyers and potential networks last week. One source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, stated they're in desperation mode trying to find a TV deal and if they can't, find a buyer.
Spike's position is they don't want "anything to do with Dixie Carter after the first of the year" and the whole experience has really soured them on wrestling. It hasn't helped that some of the Bellator guys -- such as Rampage Jackson -- have spoken so poorly of their TNA experience. Spike is really encouraged by Bellator's potential right now and money they could be pouring into TNA, they'd rather devote to Bellator at this point. Put all their eggs in that basket and really try to build the brand.
The feeling from the network side is they've tried everything possible to build up TNA and finally feel like they're wasting their time. It's now believed if they could acquire the company "dirt cheap" and use it as programming they own, that's one thing, but otherwise they'd rather get out of the wrestling business and really focus on Bellator.
- SLAM! Wrestling ran a piece featuring quotes from AJ Styles last week. We didn't run it when it was originally published but there are some quotes that I wanted to feature. Styles was asked about his time in TNA Wrestling, his departure playing out in public and the possibility of the company ceasing opportunities.
Below are the highlights:
In-ring segments with Dixie Carter:
"You know, sometimes there's a lot of truth in what was said in the ring with Dixie and I," Styles said. "She said TNA made AJ Styles. I would say that we made each other, to be honest with you. They gave me a platform so that I could get my name out there and I did some great things there. But at the same time, I think that I helped TNA, along with a lot of the other guys who busted their tails there. To look back, I did a lot there. I was there for 11 years. That's a long time to be at any job. I'm grateful for that."
When people say he's bitter over TNA departure:
"At times I think people would say 'ah, he's bitter.' That's really not it," he said. "There's a fine line between bitter and disappointed. When you get disappointed, you get angry and some people might call that bitter. It is what it is. I'm happy that I had the opportunity to wrestle for TNA, I did a lot of great things there and what's done is done and I'm happy where I'm at."
Dixie Carter being in charge of TNA:
"Ultimately, Dixie's the head honcho there. If you're the head honcho of any business, you've got to take responsibility for the good things and the bad things. You've got to hire the right people. If you're not smart enough to make this decision, or make the right decision, then you hire someone who's smarter than you to make that decision for you."
Possibility of TNA going out of business:
"You've got guys that are still busting there tails there and you've still got some great wrestlers there," he said. "To be honest with you, I don't want to see TNA going out of business. A lot of people would say 'ah, I bet AJ is happy.' I'm not. It's sad. I hope that TNA does not go under because there are a lot of wrestlers that deserve to be there, that deserve to be doing well for themselves. After 11 years, you'd hate to see something like that go."
Click here to read the piece in its entirety.
Our top story on Monday is Spike TV looking to move on from TNA Wrestling. The news comes after a failed attempt to purchase 51% of the company and a short-term extension for the company's programming to remain on the network.
You can read the story in its entirety at this link.
- This week's episode of Impact Wrestling did an average viewing audience of 1,095,000 viewers on Spike TV. This is the third straight week the Impact audience has increased in its new Wednesday timeslot, an indication that regular viewers are adjusting to the change. TV by the Numbers has more data for Wednesday available at this link.
Do you feel that if WWE, with its frequent pay-per-view scheduling, would focus on certain title defenses at certain pay-per-views (similar to the structure of UFC defending titles every couple months like Brock did), that this would create more buzz, more focus, and better buildup of storylines going into that particular show? I feel it would put more focus on mid card talent, champions could reign longer and titles would have more prestige.
The idea sounds great on paper but it wouldn't work under WWE's current landscape. While I completely agree with that mindset that the worker makes the title, the title doesn't make the worker - there would have to be a philosophical change in WWE regarding their titles for this to get over. In other words, WWE would have to decide once and for all their undercard belts are more than props and the champions must be booked with confidence. That means champions no longer going under in non-title matches, one of my biggest pet peeves of the wrestling business. It would take this type of booking to cause a situation where fans would care about pay-per-views being headlined by undercard belts. It could be done but not under the current setup. Further, WWE likes to promote every pay-per-view as a must-see event and under this idea, there would be a clear differentiation based on what undercard title the viewer wanted to see defended the most.
When will Sheamus get a push for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
There is no way for me to predict this as the only program on the books for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is what you are currently seeing - Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. When WWE unified their world titles last year, I cautioned it would take opportunities away from upper mid card talent such as Sheamus. That's exactly what has happened and it will be up to WWE to make the WWE World Heavyweight Championship come off as more prestigious. I believe Lesnar holding the title has done that but I'm very curious to see how they book his first defense at Night of Champions.
Do you expect content on the WWE Network to get to the point where you can watch every show WWE produced chronologically for the last few decades?
I expect the WWE Network to continue to feature a wide variety of on-demand content for their subscribers, however, I also realize WWE will tactfully add/remove content in correlation with what is in demand and with how they plan to continue with their DVD/Blu-Ray structure. The way I see the on-demand tape library on the WWE Network is that it's an "added bonus" for a valuable service that is well worth the $9.99/month price tag. One thing that I believe gets lost in the silly 9.99 promotion is that the WWE Network is a valuable service. With all the promotion about the "cheap" price tag, it makes the service feel "cheap." It's not and well worth the money, however, WWE is clearly doing whatever necessary to get people to subscribe.
If Smackdown is moving to Thursdays, will NXT stay put or change days?
According to SyFy, Smackdown will move to Thursday nights on October 2, 2014. WWE has yet to confirm the move but I see that as mere formality at this point and they're probably waiting until it gets closer so they can launch a full promotional blitz for the move. With that said, NXT will not air head-to-head up against Smackdown. Last week, NXT premiered earlier in the afternoon (at 4 PM ET) on Thursday before repeating in the 9 PM ET timeslot. Perhaps WWE is looking for different slots for it to air but it will not premiere head-to-head up against Smackdown. The WWE Network gives the company great flexibility and they won't want to waste original programming up against other original programming.
From the Ask WNW vault…
January 2012: Do you see Jack Swagger ever getting back to the main event? I’m happy to see they’re pushing him again after a run when he was jobbing to people like Santino Marella. - I was told that Jack Swagger was humbled after his reign as World Heavyweight Champion due to problems with his behavior backstage/ego. The fact that WWE put the United States Championship on him last night shows they are committed to building him back up. While the title change was done to sell Zack Ryder’s “injuries,” Swagger clearly benefits. Swagger has a lot of potential and I could easily see him working in the main event again.
How did JBL go from one of the "ring leaders" that hazed The Miz during his early day with WWE to being his biggest supporter?
JBL is a heel commentator and The Miz is a heel performer, which is the reason for the accentuated admiration on this week's episode of Raw. JBL was asked a few years ago if he hazed The Miz, in which he answered "hell yes" and he wasn't sorry for it. Things have changed since the days JBL was a locker room veteran and it sure seems like he's changed as a person. Once known for being the hardest on up and coming talent, JBL seems to be a lot of fun since returning on commentary. Do you watch the JBL & Cole Show every Friday? If not, I highly recommend it. I personally believe JBL saw The Miz's potential and wanted to "toughen him up" for the business. Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, it was the "old school" way of doing things.
Did fans overreact with how WWE mishandled John Cena burying Bray Wyatt on last week's Raw?
No, I think fans were more than justified in the condemnation of the careless knee-jerk booking of John Cena over Bray Wyatt on last week's Raw. Moving forward, WWE will quietly sweep it under the rug but it was a clear mistake for Cena to make short work of Wyatt. I understood Cena going over Bray Wyatt in their match at Wrestlemania XXX, as Cena is still in the prime of his career but there was no excuse for what they did on last week's Raw. I personally feel it was Vince McMahon's paranoia and possible regret for the way Brock Lesnar was booked at SummerSlam.
Do workers not booked for TV tapings or live events still have to be at the arena or do they go home?
WWE does not bring workers to shows if they are not booked. If a talent is not needed, they are sent home. A good example of this recently would be that of Zack Ryder. Ryder worked the live event loop of California a couple of weeks ago but was sent home for TVs. He wasn't happy about it.
What is WWE's exit strategy if the WWE Network doesn't work out?
I'm not aware of a contingency plan if the WWE Network doesn't pan out but I don't think we're at that point or anywhere close to it. The WWE Network hasn't sold as well as initially hoped -- with the company seemingly backing off their target of 1 million domestic subscribers by the end of 2014 -- however, they are still moving forward with the Network as the centerpiece of their business. It's extremely complex to explain how WWE is transitioning from a model reliant on pay-per-view to a model reliant on Network revenue but in the long-term, I believe it's the right decision. Pay-per-view is outdated and once WWE is able to effectively monetize their network, they are going to have a lot more control and flexibility over their product. It was almost a perfect storm with the company failing to double their domestic TV rights and the Network underwhelming out of the gate, however, the company is already hard at work at "picking up the pieces" and moving forward.
From the Ask WNW vault…
November 2012: What do you think of Triple H’s backstage work so far and do you have high hopes for WWE when he eventually takes over? - There are times when I believe Triple H is more in touch with the product than Vince McMahon but there are also times when I feel he’s out of touch. For example, Hunter’s commitment to developmental is definitely the right thing to do and I like the direction things are going as NXT Wrestling. However, when I hear Hunter is pushing Sheamus as the next face of the company, I just don’t see it. While I’m a fan of Sheamus and think he works hard every night out, I don’t see him as the face of the company. As a whole, WWE is poised for growth and success because of the way it’s been built.
Why does Brock Lesnar only have a contract for limited dates? What's the big deal with him appearing once a week for Raw, is he really that busy?
The reason that Brock Lesnar left WWE a decade ago is because he despised the travel schedule and hated living his life out of an airport. He walked away from tremendous earning potential -- a spot most wrestlers will never achieve -- to pursue outside opportunities. After a failed NFL attempt and a run in Japan (as a pro wrestler), he went on to UFC and endured great success. In the UFC, Lesnar realized his full potential and became one of the biggest draws in their history. Vince McMahon was determined that Lesnar's first post-UFC appearance would be in his ring -- feeling it was WWE that heavily contributed to the success of Lesnar, which translated into millions of pay-per-view buys. WWE knew Lesnar would only agree to a contract that included a heavy downside and limited dates. He completely broke the mold and cashed in big time and out-earns the majority of the WWE roster, while working minimal dates. It's the subject of debate and controversy but it is what it is. Lesnar is one of WWE's top guys, despite minimal TV appearances and PPV dates.
Why do you consider WWE inviting Michael Sam to Monday Night Raw an act of desperation?
It's obvious that WWE wants to create hype for next week's Raw because they'll go head-to-head with Monday Night Football on ESPN, which will heavily challenge them for their demographic. By inviting Sam, the company knew they would attract mainstream media attention even if Sam didn't acknowledge the invitation. I hated how in Stephanie McMahon's "Open Letter" to Sam (now off WWE.com), it was perceived that WWE wanted to "take a stand" for equality and justice for all when they were only looking to cash in on his name value. If they were serious about that message on their programming, they should look no further than Darren Young, who is the first person under a WWE Performer's Contract to be openly gay. However, don't be deceived, this was a watered down promotional tactic and not some extraordinary stand for justice. It was cheap and it showed how desperate WWE is for attention as the competition gets stiffer.
I guess to a certain extent it worked -- in that it got people talking but why not get people talking about the actual programming? This week's Raw was dreadful and left many viewers shaking their heads a week before the NFL competition starts up. While there are bound to be peaks and valleys regarding WWE storylines, the invitation sure seemed like WWE was out of answers with their Michael Sam invitation.
In Tuesday's installment of Ask WNW, you mentioned hazing backstage in WWE. How serious/extreme does it get in WWE and are their measures in place to discipline such behavior?
Things are no longer as they once were in terms of hazing, bullying and extreme ribbing backstage in WWE. The business has evolved with society in understanding such behavior is flat out wrong. Daniel Bryan had a quote several months ago where he talked about this generation of wrestlers being the tamest ever in regards to backstage ribs. Yes, there are still jokes played and rookies are bound to get a hard time but it's nowhere near the level it once was. When The Miz was breaking in, he wasn't even allowed to change with the rest of the roster.
What are your thoughts on the Brie/Nikki Bella program?
The ongoing program between Brie and Nikki Bella is one of the most poorly executed personal feuds in quite some time. WWE transitioned from a program in Stephanie/Brie that was compelling and engaging to a program that lacks logic and comes off as forced. Not only has the poor acting been obvious but the roles of Brie and Nikki are not clearly defined. Nikki isn't a clear heel, playing the role of the victim in her "but I never told anyone" vignettes, while making Brie come off as a liar that can't be trusted, keeping her from a clear babyface. While one could suggest this is some sort of hybrid program where lines are blurred, it has translated into some of the most mundane WWE TV in quite some time. Things don't look to be getting any better either, given the fact WWE is introducing Jerry Springer to the program next week.
From the Ask WNW vault…
June 2012: Seeing as how WWE is short on top tier talent, do you think they should call some older guys to come back for a couple of months? Like Shawn Michaels, possibly the Undertaker? Or maybe reach out to Batista and see if they can get back under contract? - WWE has already done what you are asking, hence The Rock and Brock Lesnar coming back on part-time deals. Shawn Michaels is under WWE contract but is retired from the ring and only desires to do things that do not involve him wrestling. The Undertaker is also under WWE contract but is semi-retired and used for Wrestlemania. Batista is a guy the company has interest in but no deal has been put together as of this writing. Now is the time of year where competition is light and can be used to develop new main event stars. Rather than WWE relying on the older and more established names, it’s a good time to create more stars to mix with the aforementioned talent when competition gets stiffer and Wrestlemania season draws closer.
Even though it's just a dot com tease at this point, would WWE seriously risk putting Batista in the main event at WrestleMania next year? Personally i feel that would be a flat-out flop.
For those that missed it, dot com teased Batista vs. The Rock for Wrestlemania 31 next year in their article reporting on The Rock playing the role of Black Adam (with Batista opposing him in a Marvel vs. DC showdown as Drax the Destroyer). I haven't heard of any discussions involving an actual Batista vs. Rock match but there were preliminary plans for next year's Wrestlemania 31 to be featured around Brock Lesnar, The Rock and Batista. That promotional information has since been removed but it was telling in terms of who the company viewed as top guys for the show.
As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Batista is eager to return but he wants certain assurances in the booking of his character. I believe if it's worked out that he comes back, he'll be in a prominent role at Wrestlemania 31.
As good a show as SummerSlam was, do you feel it was a mistake to have all three title changes? It's turning Night of Champions into "Night of Rematches" and Sheamus vs Cessaro won't help the card much.
There are two SummerSlam rematches announced for Night of Champions so far - Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena and The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler. I don't see it as that big of a deal but I will be interested to see how they book Cena vs. Lesnar. The way it was booked at SummerSlam made it almost impossible to book a competitive rematch. If Lesnar is as dominant as he was at SummerSlam, what will that do to John Cena? Does the company look to put Cena over and have Seth Rollins cash in? There are a lot of questions and to me, that's more of the concern than two rematches.
WWE's European tour is coming soon and normally they have a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match but with Brock Lesnar as champion and not going to Europe, is there a chance he drops the title?
This is an interesting observation and I intentionally placed this question under the talk of a Brock Lesnar/John Cena rematch. While the overwhelming assumption is that Lesnar will hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until Wrestlemania 31 when his contract is up, dare we ask what if? What if Vince McMahon decides to go the direction I described above and put Cena over, only for The Authority to use their "insurance policy" in Seth Rollins? This would give them a full-time champion and an opportunity to start on Rollins as a top guy but would it cheapen Lesnar ending the streak? It could write Lesnar out of storylines for a potential Wrestlemania 31 program against The Rock -- something Vince wants to do -- but it's filled with potential problems. I don't have the answers and I don't envy the people that have to make the decision. It was always going to be difficult booking someone to end the streak and it got even more difficult when that person ended up being a part-time talent. Compounding the issues is the injury to Daniel Bryan and CM Punk quitting the company, as they're clearly light on top talent. How WWE books Lesnar vs. Cena at Night of Champions will tell us a lot more in the direction they plan on going and is by far the most interesting element of the pay-per-view.
What are TNA's options if they leave Spike TV at the beginning of next year?
Spike TV has renewed Impact through the end of 2014; however, there are serious questions about what will happen after that. According to a source, Spike actually made overtures about purchasing 51% of TNA before looking to move on without them. Now, this isn't to say that a last-minute deal can't be worked out -- as TNA continues to pump out they are still talking with Spike through UTA -- but it's worth looking at other options. There have been rumors and speculation about second-tier cable networks having interest but I don't think people fully comprehend the ramifications of such a move.
Further, it can't be stated enough that the major cable networks are not enthusiastic about pro wrestling. All we have to do is go back to WWE's TV negotiations from earlier in the year. WWE was so confident there would be suitors lined up to bid on their programming, they set their investors up for unrealistic expectations. What WWE thought would be an all-out bidding war, turned out to be a two horse race between Viacom (Spike TV) and NBCUniversal/Comcast (USA Network). When Viacom found out what WWE was wiling to accept from NBCU, they backed out and WWE tucked their tail in-between their legs and re-signed a deal Vince McMahon said himself was disappointing with NBCU, knowing they were going to face investor backlash.
Now, TNA is out in the marketplace with a far less attractive model. They are shopping taped programming with stagnant viewership. While the numbers are at least respectable -- they're far below that of WWE. If WWE had only a couple of serious suitors, how can anyone expect TNA to have more? Now obviously TNA isn't looking for the money that WWE was but if networks aren't enthusiastic about the biggest pro wrestling/sports entertainment company in the world, it's fairly obvious what an uphill battle TNA is facing.
Back to second tier networks having interest in TNA and people not understanding the ramifications, Spike TV reaches approximately 98.7 million pay television subscribers in the United States. Velocity, one of the rumored second tier networks believed to have interest in adding TNA programming, was available in approximately 52.2 million American households last year. In other words, even if TNA reaches an agreement with one of these networks, they will have to exist in a scaled back form. If they garner around 1 million viewers while available in over 98 million households, how many viewers will they be able to attract in over 52.2 million? Would TNA even be interested in such a model?
In addition to taking a dramatic viewership hit -- which would negatively impact every facet of TNA's business -- they would also be generating significantly less in domestic TV rights fees (Spike currently pays TNA $65,000 per hour for Impact or $130,000 per week or $6,760,000 per year). The best-case scenario for TNA would be to agree to something with Spike TV -- even if they aren't able to raise their fee. If not, TNA will not be able to operate as they do in their current form.
From the Ask WNW vault…
March 2012: Has WWE considered lowering the prices of their B-level pay-per-views. By giving up some money they could in turn boost a show’s butyrate? - I agree the price of WWE pay-per-views is too high, especially paying more for High Definition (which should have never been the case). The pay-per-view business is not what it once was and I’ve gone as far as saying it’s an outdated model with the multitude of ways people are now viewing content. There has been a lot of talk about WWE’s pay-per-view business taking a dramatic shift with the launch of the WWE Network but it has been delayed with the network’s delay. When the network finally premieres, I expect a change to take place in regards to the company’s pay-per-view model.
Do you think it is wise for Smackdown to change nights from Friday to Thursday?
The status of a Smackdown move remains uncertain. While a move from Friday back to Thursday appeared inevitable following a WWE production truck with the graphic “Thursdays 8/7c", WWE confirming a move was contemplated to SyFy adding the show to their schedule for Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 8/7c. However, the network announced on Friday that Haven will occupy the 8/7c timeslot on Thursday nights beginning next week, while still having conflicting information on the official schedule. WWE hasn't commented since the "contemplated" statement, so a move is far from a sure thing.
I believe WWE is better off with Smackdown on Friday nights for the simple fact they don't have to compete with the NFL. The NFL poses a major threat to WWE's viewership because it's the same demographic and we all know how stiff their competition can be on Monday nights, even for games that aren't competitive. I couldn't imagine why Vince McMahon would want that headache twice a week, even though Thursday in prime time is a much better spot than Friday (traditionally, Thursday is the most watched night of the week while Friday is the least watched night). Again, there is very much conflicting information if a move will even happen so until we hear from WWE, will go forward with Smackdown on SyFy every Friday night at 8/7c.
With CM Punk suing WWE over royalties for inclusion in WWE 2K15, do you see this as him really not coming back?
According to reports that we outlined at this link, CM Punk sent a legal letter to WWE over their use of his likeness, specifically his likeness in the WWE ’15 video game. Punk is apparently seeking royalties but WWE feels they have a claim with "breach of contract." Since I haven't been able to confirm beyond that I don't want to do too much speculating. When/if I am able to get more details about said letter, I might be able to provide more information.
As for Punk never going back, we never say never in the wrestling business. Brock Lesnar and WWE had a legal battle after his departure in 2004/2005 because he had a lengthy non-compete clause attached to his contract but he went on to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling. We all know how that story ends so we just don't say the word never. I believe CM Punk missed a golden opportunity to return by not working Wrestlemania 30 this year and left a tremendous amount of money on the table.
Can you envision a scenario where Vince McMahon gets another shot at traditional TV carriage and pulls back the OTT model for a traditional version of WWE Network? I think the casual fans would come then.
The WWE Network is available as a traditional Pay-TV channel in Canada and I haven't heard good things about it. I personally do not believe the fact the WWE Network is an over the top service (as opposed to a traditional cable network) is what is causing for it not to grow as the company had hoped. There are other reasons and those reasons include product over-saturation, bad marketing techniques and the simple fact that WWE might have been overly optimistic about interest. I'll quickly run through these points.
Monday Night Raw is three hours each week; Smackdown gives the viewer another two. Even if a fan only watches these two shows each week, that's five hours. That's a significant commitment from anyone and doesn't even consider secondary shows, online consumption and DVD/Blu-Rays. The WWE Network provides the consumer with much more content but perhaps many of the four million plus that watch Raw each week and the two million plus that watch Smackdown each week, feel that's enough. Remember, secondary pay-per-views used to receive in the range of 200,000 buys when they sold well with "big four" shows drawing more. However, it was only Wrestlemania that would touch the one million buys threshold. WWE has already attracted far more than the traditional pay-per-view buyer as 700,000 WWE Network subscriptions (the last number announced) is significant. And those were only domestic subscribers.
Bad marketing is perhaps the most disappointing component of the WWE Network. I've been a loud critic of the $9.99 campaign because I feel it's annoying and it devalues the service. I talked about this at length in the latest WNW Premium Mailbag but think of it this way. Why do you eat at McDonalds? It's cheap and easy. You don't go to McDonalds expecting a world class meal. The entire $9.99 campaign focuses on the price without defining the value. Sure, they try to convince the viewer it's well worth it but lost in $9.99, $9.99, $9.99 is that it's a service of value. How much was the Best in the World CM Punk DVD? Or what about the new Paul Heyman DVD? How did the most expensive WWE pay-per-view -- Wrestlemania -- more than triple average pay-per-view buys? These products weren't marketed on their price, they were marketed on the fact they were must-see. The WWE Network is available at an incredibly low price but lost in translation is the fact it's a valuable service.
The final point ties into the first point. WWE has all of the hardcore fans. People like me and you that watch each and every week, order every pay-per-view regardless and get online and dissect each respective show. They've gone a couple steps further by attracting the marginal pay-per-view buyer and the casual pay-per-view buyer. At 700,000 WWE Network subscribers, it's safe to say they're getting close to the fan that orders just Wrestlemania (remember, it was the only show that even came close to 1 million buys). Now where do the extra subscriptions come from? WWE is hoping that making the WWE Network available internationally will help their numbers and it should but the idea of a service with millions of domestic subscribers might have been overly optimistic. While WWE claimed their targets were conservatively based, I would argue that based on the percentage of people that ordered the pay-per-views.
There's no quick and easy fix for the WWE Network. It's a new model not only for WWE but for any company in the entire world. They've gone from a company that relied on pay-per-view revenue to a company that will rely on Network subscriptions. It will take time and it won't be easy, but WWE should come out all right in the end. By going the OTT route, they've taken out the middleman. They don't have to worry about contracts and clearance; they just have to convince the viewer it's worth signing up for. Once getting someone subscribed, they have to focus on keeping them.
From the Ask WNW vault…
October 2012: In your opinion how many years do you believe it will be until we see the next “face of WWE”? I don’t see it in any of the current up and coming talent. - No one knows who will be the next “face of WWE” let alone when we will see it and while you asked my opinion, I’m not in a position to make such a bold proclamation. I can tell you some view the next face of WWE to be CM Punk while Triple H feels Sheamus has the opportunity to put the company on his back. I actually think Cena is the face of the era of people like Punk and Sheamus and feel it will be someone else. Randy Orton is younger than them all but given his Wellness problems; I don’t think it can rest on his shoulders either. The next “face of WWE” will probably emerge when we least expect it but I assure you will know it when it happens.