This Week in Wrestling - July 30, 2015
Wrestling News From the week of
July 23-30, 2015
WWE Financial Report
WWE's second quarter business results showed $150.2 million in revenue and $5.1 million in profits. This compared to last year's second quarter, which it should be noted included WrestleMania, which did $156.3 million in revenue, but lost $14.5 million due to early spending on the network.
WrestleMana in 2014 brought in $35 million in income that was not network related, and posted a $5.8 million profit, so if you takeWrestleMania out of the mix, while not exact because of tax issues, the actual revenue would have been $121.3 million and losses would have been well over $20 million.
The key number is the network itself, which on June 30, 2015, had 939,000 subscribers in the U.S., 217,000 subscribers outside the U.S., and at that point had 71,000 people taking advantage of free month subscriptions. The total subscriber number was 1,156,000, down from 1,327,000 at the end of the prior quarter.
The average number of daily subcribers was 1,216,000, but that's skewed by people who signed up for WrestleMania itself who would have remained subscribers into April.
Wall Street seemed happy with these numbers since the stock has risen to $19.00 per share at press time.
It was not a surprise that there was a decline, although WWE was trying to push the idea more that at this point last year they had 700,000 subscribers.
WWE would not release info or answer questions regarding subscribers who had signed up for free months during the period and the retention rate, but the end of the quarter numbers show that, as expected, the people taking advantage of free subs are way down since it became a regular thing.
The company announced new programs for the network:
*An NXT reality show (which was noted would be relatively expense to put together, similar to HBO's Hard Knocks)
*Table for 3, which is like sitting at a lunch table with talent
*A studio news show (which I was surprised they didn't have at launch)
They announced Camp WWE, the show we wrote about in last week's issue, would be teased this year and debut in 2016. They would also produce new episodes of WWE 24, The WWE List as well as new podcasts.
The company is projecting 1.2 million paid subscribers at the end of the next quarter, which would be September 30, 2015, likely based on a SummerSlam bump.
Hulk Hogan Controversy
Exactly how four sex tapes featuring Hulk Hogan became public and ended up released has not fully come out. But what we do know is Hogan went on a racist rant, using the n-word repeatedly on one or more of the tapes.
In the first story, Hogan, in bedside talking to Heather Clem, said:
“She (Brooke Hogan, who would have been either 17 or 18 at the time) is making some real bad decisions now. My daughter Brooke jumped sides on me. I spent two to three million on her music career. I’ve done everything like a jackass for her. The one option Brooke had, Brooke’s career besides me is (to) sell beach records.
He also, said to Heather Clem, when talking about a billionaire black guy helping fund his daughter’s musical career, said:
“I don’t know if Brooke was f***ing the black guy’s son (Brooke had a boyfriend named Stacks at the time who was the son of a famous record producer). I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f***ing n******, but then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.
I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*** some n*****, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n***** worth a hundred million dollars, like a basketball player.”
He also said:
“F***ing N*****...he had Jamie Foxx coming in on the 22nd track. I didn’t even tell Brooke about it. F*** her. Brooke and (the name he mentioned was not released) met in Miami. Brooke f**** up a $10 million deal I had with the Saudis. Brooke says, `F*** you dad.’ She’s never said that. She flipped a bird at me.”
On that tape he also said, “I have this huge F***ing house in Miami (the house purchased for one of the seasons of “Hogan Knows Best”). My family never comes home. They went to L.A. F*** ‘em.”
His homophobic rant was when talking to Heather Clem about how VH-1 producers of the “Hogan Knows Best” reality show that was doing its filming season at the time, wanted to do a segment where they would go back to the house he grew up in.
“VH-1 wanted me to do a big thing and go back to the house I grew up in. So we knock on the door, and a big f– lives there now.”
He also said, “This half-gay was enamored with Linda.”
Shortly after the first of what were a series of regular releases from the National Enquirer and Radar Online of racial or homophobic remarks and slurs, Hogan issued an apology to People magazine.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
Lawyers for both sides, as well as Hogan, were well aware of the content of the tapes. Due to the feeling it would prejudice the case, Hogan’s lawyers were able to get the to get that content sealed.
The trial was about to come to fruition. Still, Gawker made implied threats that there were things about to come out. Then they did.
The question going forward will be who leaked the transcripts from the tapes. Hogan’s lawyers are trying to peg it on the higher-ups at Gawker, and are asking for a summary judgment in their favor in the amount requested in their favor. Naturally, Gawker denies having anything to do with it.
WWE officials were warned ahead of time by The National Enquirer what was about to happen. On the evening of 7/23, a decision was made. The first thing they were going to do is remove all mentions of Hulk Hogan from their web site. His profiles were gone, every story they could find would be gone, including his being listed as part of their Hall of Fame. It is still not clear nor decided if Hogan is actually still in the WWE Hall of Fame, only that he is not listed on the web site version–a Hall of Fame that includes people who have very publicly in the past made racial and homophobic remarks with similar slurs including the Iron Sheik, Ultimate Warrior and Cowboy Bill Watts, let alone Donald Trump, who saw NBCU and many others cut ties with him due to remarks about Mexicans last month.
The next day, at the same moment the story was released, it was announced that WWE had cut all ties with him.
Everyone from the 2K Sports to Mattel, to every other business partner was told, everything with Hogan has to be gone immediately. That was a nightmare for companies that had products on the shelves, and products ready to be shipped. There were products with Hogan’s image and other wrestlers’ images that had to be dumped. There were combination packs that included Hogan items that had to immediately be redone.
Of course he had to be gone from “Tough Enough,” where he was a judge. There were two WWE movies that Hogan was part of. One, a movie called “Celebrity Death Pool,” where he was in some early scenes, will have to have its opening completely redone. A second Scooby Doo cartoon will have his already voiced over scenes removed.
He was dropped from his role as General Manager on the Australian tour from 8/6 to 8/8, and replaced by Shawn Michaels, leaving upset fans who had paid $995 for VIP packages for front row seats and to meet Hogan.
Hogan footage was not removed from the WWE Network, nor were there any plans to do so, past the removal of the 1980s animated “Hulk Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling” shows and some home video material was also removed.
For the first time, everything is uncertain. There is no defending him here. Yes, times have changed, and the N word was used more prevalently among people who grew up when Hogan did than it would be today. It may even be worse to speak like that today than it was nine years ago, but what he said would have torpedoed him at that time as well. There is no ambiguity. It wasn’t with comedic overtones nor a mixed message. He outright said he was racist to a degree on the tape. Granted, he was just a ranting father talking about his teenage daughter to the wife of his best friend that he was fucking and figured nobody else would know. I mean, if you can’t trust the guy who lets you sleep with his hot wife, or the hot wife who sleeps with her husband’s best friend when her husband set it up, who can you trust? But it will be the most difficult yet to rebound as a pitchman for any company after those remarks.
But to a lot of people, and wrestling fans probably fit in this more than most, the fantasy world is far more real to them than the real world. I’ve seen people completely composed at funerals of people they’ve known for decades who bawl their eyes out when a character on an afternoon soap opera is revealed to have cancer. If you think about it, it’s weird. But it’s not unusual. There are a lot of people his age who have used the N word, but that’s a weak defense of outright racist comments.
The fact the business has been built on sleaze is not a defense that the current business would be able to employ Hogan at this time, or anytime soon.
Raw on 7/27 did a 2.65 rating and 3.68 million viewers (1.45 viewers per home), which is about what the show has been averaging this summer. The average since the start of summer is 3.64 million viewers, a number that only three episodes in 2014, two during football season, and two shows, both during football season in 2013 fell beneath.
If there was a question regarding interest from the Hulk Hogan news helping ratings, the answer is that it didn’t, given any curiosity based on current events would be in the first hour, and the first hour did unusually low. The good news was the show had strong growth and peaked in hour three. Raw was the second most-watched show of the night on cable.
The 8 p.m. hour did 3.42 million viewers; which rose to 3.75 million viewers for the 9 p.m. house and 3.84 million viewers for the 10 p.m. hour.
John Cena and Alicia Fox Injured
Cena and Fox were both injured on Raw. Cena took a hard knee right to the nose in his main event match with Rollins. The knee knocked Cena silly and the doctor came out and talked with him, but Cena continued the match and ended the night with a crooked and partially displaced nose. He was taken to the hospital to see an ear, nose and throat specialist in Dallas and had emergency surgery on Tuesday to repair his nose.
There are two forces at work here. The first is the mentality that SummerSlam is coming and guys like Cena in that position work through these things. The other is that Cena’s face is a big part of his marketability, both as a wrestling hero to kids and in his recent movie work. While having a crooked nose is fine for a guy like Barrett, it’s not so fine for Cena.
Fox suffered a mild concussion earlier in the show. She was working a spot with Charlotte where Charlotte swept her leg in a basic move, but Fox took the bump high on her head and neck and it was immediately clear it wasn’t smooth.
4 Hour Summerslam
SummerSlam was announced as a four-hour show this year, similar to WrestleMania. The PPV portion of the show will air from 7-11 p.m. Eastern on 8/23, with a one-hour pre-game show starting at 6 p.m.
Sting may be have got Axed
Regarding Sting, he may not be on the show any longer. WWE announced him for a meet and greet, and the original idea was to introduce him as a surprise a week or two out from the show as a mystery third partner. What we do know is that Sting was told some time back that he would be on the show in a six-man tag match, and more than a week ago, WWE had cut some TV commercials with both Undertaker and Sting shown for SummerSlam (but no matches listed).
As we noted last week, Sting had gotten himself into what we were told was ridiculously good shape for his age (56). But at one point of late he was apparently told that plans had changed and they wouldn’t be using him as a wrestler on the show. So it’s unclear right now. All the elements of the original angle, with Wyatt & Harper joining together and Reigns & Ambrose joining together, are basically how the angle was designed.
The next step was going to be the introduction of a third Wyatt Family member, and a beat down, and that’s where Reigns & Ambrose would introduce Sting as their surprise partner. If that was the case, you would think they wouldn’t have announced him at the meet and greet to tip off that he was going to be in town if the whole thing was to be a surprise. But that’s the deal when things change on a weekly basis.
The original idea was that in theory, with Sting & Ambrose on the team, the fans would in theory also be behind Reigns as a team member. Reigns’ reaction is always going to be a challenge for a PPV audience, let alone a SummerSlam level PPV audience in the New York market, given nobody was booed as much as Reigns was at Mania this year.
In promoting his newly released autobiography (which is very high on the honesty level, compared to most pro wrestler books), Bryan Danielson admitted publicly for the first time that his time off is not related to his neck, but is a concussion issue.
While Danielson has vowed that he will wrestle again, those in the company have no plans in place for a return.
Danielson said that he feels great and is just awaiting clearance from WWE doctors to come back. He said that his personal doctor, a Phoenix neurologist, has already cleared him, but WWE’s doctors haven’t.
Regarding comments by Bret Hart that he believes Bryan’s career is over even though Bryan insists he will wrestle again, Bryan said, “His circumstances were different from my circumstances. It’s just one of those things where people only know their own reality. That goes for me, it goes for you, it goes for anybody. If you think you know what somebody else is going though, odds are you probably don’t. So it doesn’t hurt my feelings he said that. I just think he doesn’t know the situation.”
WWE announced several activities in conjunction with SummerSlam. There will be an 8/21 Superstars Meet and Greet at the 40/40 Club and Restaurant at the Barclays Center, which is a Friday night event that will be an autograph and photo ops affair with Sting, Michaels, Orton, Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, Wyatt, Charlotte, Paige and Lynch. It’s notable from this list that they are trying to push Charlotte, Paige and Lynch as key figures in the Divas division.
On 8/22, there will be a Q&A session for the public with Paul Levesque talking about NXT and promoting the NXT show that night in Brooklyn. Besides Levesque, appearing will be Rollins, Balor, Banks, Owens, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. The panel will be a 90 minute Q&A plus VIP tickets allowing for photo ops and autographed posters.
WWE Network Survey
WWE sent e-mails to former subscribers of the WWE Network asking them if they would be interested in getting the PPV shows monthly for $4.99 streaming since they no longer were paying $9.99 for the network, as well as the idea of purchasing other programming from the network as a single-show price. That’s an interesting idea, but it feels like it undercuts the value of your PPVs even more.
Based on the survey, other ideas under consideration include incentives for network subscribers like giving them discounts on merchandise, DVDs and live events, or even a free month on the network. They asked fans also if they wanted more non-wrestling content, such as adding non-wrestling dramas to the network as well as more behind-the-scenes shows. There are also ideas such as lowering the price for long-term subscribers a little such as $110 for a year instead of $119.88.
Next Latin Diva
With the Lana as the female superstar of the company direction already seemingly changed and her now just being another character on the show, the new idea is to find a “Latin female star of the company.” They are looking for sex appeal and Spanish speaking skills for someone who can be front and center to expanding to the Latin audience.
Like with Lana, it doesn’t have to be a wrestler. There are people who are starting to search for Latin female weather reporters in Mexico who are chosen for looks. The perfect person they are looking for is, unfortunately for them, under contract with Lucha Underground in Melissa Santos, who is easily the best female ring announcer in the wrestling business right now. Well, if Lucha Underground doesn’t have a second season, she’d be available.
Tough Enough Elimination
Tough Enough this week, there was a unique twist. Miz replaced Hogan as the third judge. When picking the bottom three, they were Amanda the bikini contest winner who really hasn’t shown much on the show; Mada the big Egyptian bodybuilder and basketball player with his 80s promo style who has the legit size and charisma to where he was in many people’s eyes the standout as far as being a real prospect; and ZZ, who has the most personality but physically is in the worst condition.
Most of the remaining competitors said that ZZ should go home because he just isn’t in shape and his ring work is behind. However, he always does well in the fan voting. But Miz threw a monkey wrench into the story when he said he was saving Amanda, saying that he was doing so because he thinks she’s everything that the WWE is looking for in a Diva (“She’s hot” and “She’s fiery”).
Miz got mad at Bryan for putting her in the bottom three. Paige was furious Miz saved her, and even more so when the voting came out. The public vote came in as 48% for ZZ, 39% for Mada and 13% for Amanda, meaning to the public, Amanda was the clear loser, but Mada was the one who had go to home.
Tough Enough on 7/21 rebounded from a low mark against the Major League Baseball All-Star game to do 1,144,000 viewers, which is likely going to be its normal level. It was far below the 1.77 million and 1.88 million viewers for Chrisley Knows Best episodes that followed.
The 7/28 show did 980,000 viewers, down 14 percent from last week.
Total Divas Ratings
Total Divas on 7/21 did 995,000 viewers, a slight decline from the prior week, but it was the only show on E! that day that cracked the top 100.
The 7/28 show Total did 1,083,000 viewers, up 9 percent from last week.
New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Disappointing So Far
In its attempt to make the G-1 Climax tournament bigger than ever before, New Japan Pro Wrestling has turned it into something completely different.
After a big week, and now seven shows into the tournament, it feels far more like a 90s Champion Carnival tournament, except with less time limit draws, than a G-1.The shows don’t feel nearly as big as in the past few years, with the split crew singles matches. There is a different dynamic between a two week tournament and a four week tournament.
Besides the disappointing crowds, and in many cities, not particularly hot crowds either, there have been other problems. Everyone is a year older and even with more days between singles matches, they are working more shows and clearly having to pace themselves more early on.While New Japan still has many of the best wrestlers in the world, there is a sameness, and the issues of not creating enough new stars to freshen things up over the past few years had already clicked in.
Pre-tournament favorite Shinsuke Nakamura suffered a left elbow injury, last working on the 7/25 show in Takamatsu, where he beat Yuji Nagata. Currently, he’s got the left arm in a sling and has missed three shows so far. But he’s only missed one tournament match, on 7/28, when he was scheduled against Michael Elgin, who got a forfeit win.
He has not been pulled from the tournament and has told people he will be back in action soon, but that’s not a definite as to when. He has not been pulled from the tournament and he is still scheduled for his ROH shows on 8/21 and 8/22. But even with the forfeit loss to Elgin, unless he was originally scheduled to lose that match, that puts a monkey wrench in what was intricate B block booking for whatever the planned final destination is.
Ibushi killing It
The tournament star so far is Ibushi. Ibushi, working with broken fingers in both hands, opened with the loss to Tanahashi which was a genuine match of the year contender at ****3/4. He did not have a match of the year contender with Doc Gallows on 7/24 in Kyoto. But he had a ****½ match on 7/26 in Hiroshima with Styles, that wasn’t quite as good as their IWGP title match classic, but was easily the second best tournament match up to that point. He had a completely different ****½ match with Katsuyori Shibata on 7/29 from Fukuoka, so at this point he’s had the three best matches I’ve seen of the tournament.
ROH iPPV Review
It was a hell of a risk this day and age to book a 60:00 draw for a main event on a major show, but ROH did that with the 7/24 main event of its Death or Dishonor iPPV show.
ROH champion Jay Lethal retained his title against PWG champion Roderick Strong, on Strong’s 32nd birthday, before a packed house of 900 fans at the William J. Myers Pavilion in Baltimore. The match itself was excellent. At the start, you could tell the match was probably going long, as in more than 20 minutes. But there was really no tip off they were going the distance until they were 40 minutes in and you could still see they were far from peaking.
Both wrestlers did a great job, but in watching, you also could see the issues in doing it. In recent years, when there have been 60 minute matches on big shows, they were most often advertised ahead of time as Iron Man matches, which is a different dynamic, and really, even tougher because the audience pretty well knows ahead of time that it’s going the distance. In this case, they never lost the crowd, but there were long periods where the crowd wasn’t reacting all that big which is inherent in going so long. When the wrestlers went to bring the crowd up, they were always there.
ROH Destination America TV Changes
ROH on 7/22 did 139,000 viewers for the first airing (third lowest) and 126,000 for the second airing for 265,000. The current two show average is 264,000 viewers.
After less than two months, the company lost its prime time slot of Destination America, as starting last night on 7/29, the show will only air at 11 p.m., between two airings of TNA Impact.
Evidently, even as programming that DA isn’t paying for, they must not feel they are getting enough ad revenue for a prime 8 p.m. show. They don’t have a replacement as the next few weeks have different shows.
They also lost prime time on NESN, being moved from Sundays at 8 p.m. to Mondays at 4 p.m.
Roderick Strong resigns
Roderick Strong signed a guaranteed non-exclusive one-year contract this past week. He was probably ROH’s biggest star not under contract and WWE did have interest in him, likely for NXT as opposed to the main roster.
The new deal will allow him to work all of his indie dates and he can continue working PWG, where he is the champion. A lot of the top ROH wrestlers have contracts that don’t allow them to work PWG. With his signing, I don’t see anyone major at this time that would be leaving for NXT.
TNA loses Bully Ray
Even though he just started as the new babyface authority figure, Bully Ray is already gone. He wasn’t brought to television and is no longer with the promotion. He had only signed a per-show agreement which would have allowed him to leave whenever he wanted to. We’re going to be getting more and more of this with storylines starting and then ending quickly because most people aren’t under deals where TNA has first priority on their dates or long-term.
Even though their contracts expired, Austin Aries and James Storm were back at the tapings working on per-match deal, although Aries did an angle where he apparently lost a match where he would have to leave the promotion.
The situation regarding MVP is that TNA actually fired him over the Hernandez situation. Although we had heard he was thinking of leaving before he was fired, the decision was definitely made by TNA. He took the heat internally since it was his idea to bring Hernandez in.
Global Force Wrestling launch
After more than a year of announcements, a successful international PPV show with no follow-up, and several weeks worth of live events drawing small crowds, the big moment for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling took place on 7/24 with its first TV taping at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Just the idea of it is strange, as Jarrett has no television deals in place. There has never been a promotion that taped pilots and was successful in then selling the shows in the past. Some taped shows and bought air time, and quickly went out of business as that model didn’t work. There have been networks that have commissioned pilots of a wrestling show, and then picked the show up themselves, but that’s a different animal.
TNA / Global Force Angle
GFW and TNA are in a working agreement, to the point that Jarrett is now the authority figure on Impact wrestling after tapings this past week. There was some TNA talent at this taping, who noted being thrilled to work in front of a crowd this large. There was a lot of the talent from this crew that flew from Las Vegas to Orlando to be the GFW talent at Impact for the TNA vs. GFW feud.
Jeff Jarrett took over as the head of Authority, appointed by Dixie Carter. But it was a swerve, as GFW turned heel the next day on TNA and they were already building up the winner-take-all match with the winning team getting to own TNA with Jarrett’s team vs. Dixie’s team that would be taped on 7/29.
There were three title changes during the week. Jarrett vacated the King of the Mountain title, and on 7/27, P.J. Black of GFW won a match to win it. Bobby Roode then beat Black on 7/28 to win it. Also on 7/28, the GFW team of Brian Myers & Trevor Lee beat Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards to win the tag team titles.
Thank you for Reading
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