Week in Wrestling #36
Wrestling News From the week of
April 22nd- April 28th, 2016
Payback this Sunday
The 5/1 Payback show in Chicago has Reigns vs. Styles for the WWE title, Jericho vs. Ambrose, Zayn vs. Owens, Miz vs. Cesaro for the IC title, Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (with Bret Hart) for the women’s title, Corbin vs. Ziggler, The Vaudevillains vs. Enzo & Cass in the finals of the No. 1 contenders tag team tournament and Kalisto vs. Ryback for the U.S. title (which will be the pre-show match).
The other key thing they are selling the show on is Vince McMahon will make a decision between Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon on who runs Raw. One would think it’ll end up in some form of competition and program. It was notable that HHH was not there on television this week as part of the program. Vince picking Shane would make no sense, but then again, this entire Shane storyline makes no sense. But him picking Stephanie ends the story, which is the wrong thing to do at this time.
Reigns vs. Styles is built around the question of whether Anderson & Gallows or the Usos will interfere, and is Styles going heel with Anderson & Gallows in a way to steal the title while telling everyone he isn’t. It’s a weird dynamic because if they actually did turn Styles strong heel and he screwed Reigns, he’d come out of it like he was a bigger babyface.
John Cena Return Announced
Cena announced his return would be on the 5/30 Raw in Green Bay. Cena wrote: “they said the surgery recovery time is nine months, but I’m ready to go in five. This Memorial Day, Cena is back on Raw.” There were thoughts that the Memorial Day Raw would, with the holiday (which isn’t a killer to ratings like a New Year’s Eve or July 4th, but does have an effect) could be the non-football low since 1997 aside from a major holiday, but the Cena return could keep that from happening. Generally, rotator cuff returns are six to nine months, and Cena did beat the timetable, as expected, but not by as much as he was intimating.
Cena and Nikki Bella have been invited to President Obama’s last White House Correspondents Dinner on 4/30.
RAW Ratings Keep Falling
Raw on 4/25 did yet another seasonal record low averaging a 2.19 rating and 3,116,000 viewers (1.49 viewers per home), breaking the non-football nor holiday low since 1997 record of a 2.31 rating and 3,322,000 set the prior week for the taped show from London.
The key is that it showed that Raw being taped wasn’t the key reason for last week’s record low when a live show did even worse the next week. Worse, Raw is now doing worse than its numbers in the fall against the NFL, which is very unusual and portends major record lows later in the year. It also isn’t good because the NBA and NHL numbers are going to start increasing over the next few weeks as they get deeper into the playoffs, and it may be worse this year because of the softness of the audience with the 35+ males who make up the largest portion of regular viewership.
Another key is that ever since Shane McMahon was put on the show after Raw, the rating has dropped significantly, with every week being lower than the week before. Now, there is going to always be a drop the second Monday after WrestleMania, but usually it will steady from there. I’m not saying causation and correlation, just a note. But if you are following wrestling for storyline, that’s among the worst botched up heavily pushed high profile major storyline in modern history with him being put in control. Anyway, clearly, it didn’t help any.
Bret Hart Still Being a Pussy
Bret Hart talked about doing the show to “Total Wrestling,” saying, “I do it to honor Nattie. I (have) no desire to be there, no desire to be on TV. I’m happy to be there for Nattie, but I’ve just had wrist surgery so it’s not a great time. It’ll be great to put Flair in the sharpshooter, though.” Even though Hart’s surgery to remove cancer from his prostate got the most attention, he’s actually had a far worse time recovering from wrist surgery which has made it hard for him to even grip or write, and the recovery from that surgery was much harder than anticipated.
Global Cruiserweight Series
The first matches in the Global cruiserweight series, qualifying matches, took place on 4/24 in London at the Progress Wrestling show. Zack Sabre Jr. beat Flash Morgan Webster in one match and Jack Gallagher beat Pete Dunne in the other. Webster didn’t come out of it well as he tore ligaments in his left ankle and disclocated his right shoulder in the match.
Another Global cruiserweight series qualifying match was announced for 5/1 in London at the Revolution Pro show. The match announced was Noam Dar vs. Josh Bodom. HHH had already announced Dar in the tournament. Given Sabre Jr. having been announced and then winning a qualifying match later would you to believe the same is the case for Dar.
Ricochet May be staying with Lucha Undergorund
Prince Puma (Ricochet/Trevor Mann) was back at the tapings this week and it appeared there were storylines in place to resurrect his killed off character. The character was killed when they thought he wasn’t going to renew his contract, which expires with this season. But last week, as reported, the promotion made a very significant offer to him. The deal would be similar to his current one, except more lucrative, where they would have first dibs on his services but he could continue to work indies that don’t have U.S. television (not sure why New Japan doesn’t fit into that category as he has been allowed to continue working there) as well as anything overseas.
The deal would, combined with his Japan and indie work, likely be more than WWE would offer him (it’s far more than they offered similar level independent talent and he’s earning far more than that indie talent that were big names and took cuts to go to WWE were earning with this deal) and make him one of the highest paid non ex-WWE guys on the North American scene. WWE has the money if they want anyone they can offer them enough but feel they don’t have to and have the attitude that they don’t need to change their structure or bid for talent in most cases, although obviously there are going to be exceptions to that.
Mysterio Not Going Anywhere
Rey Mysterio Jr. signed a three-season contract so any talk of him going anywhere else that has television in the U.S. isn’t happening unless they breach the deal until season four airs, which is a long time down the road. He’s got two dates left on his AAA contract and at this point it appears that would be it in Mexico for him, but obviously if AAA offered him the right deal he could do more major shows.
Lucha Underground has made it clear to talent that they can’t work Mexico with a promotion that is considered opposition to AAA, which has kept several people in AAA from jumping to Elite. It was weird that Mysterio Jr. wasn’t used except for one spot the entire weekend, here in theory they taped four shows, and that spot was an impromptu run-in after the Matanza injury just to send the fans home happy. There’s always the plenty of backstage stuff so it could make sense but there were people who went on 4/24 and talked about how neither Rey nor Pentagon, who are considered the two big stars to the regulars, were there.
Sinclair Possibly moving to Cable
A story to watch for right now is regarding rumors as to whether Sinclair is rebranding the Tennis Channel as the American Sports Network. The American Sports Network is Sinclair’s sports division and it is up and running as something like a subchannel on their stations. If they turn it into a cable channel, which is an if, expanding upon their college sports coverage of ASN and adding other sports, and decide wrestling fits in as a sport, that could explain some moves that could be made. We don’t have exact numbers, but the channel is cleared in around 40 to 50 million homes, putting it’s exposure level in the same range as AXS. But if the rebranding as a sports network is complete, they would need programming to fill time.
There is nothing new regarding the future ownership of the promotion. There are said to be a few different companies they are in talks with regarding selling a percentage or a majority ownership to with one new company now emerging as the favorite. This would end up as a face saving sale and they are offering a significant amount of money for the company, but it’s based on things happening within the company buying that haven’t happened yet and would have to make sense. It’s said that a key is the value and size of the tape library, so it would be a broadcaster looking for time filling programming if things work out. There could also be the value of the international television deals. This would in theory be a better option than Aroluxe, but everything depends on who gets put in charge.
(See Above post for your most obvious Hint of the Day)
The company is returning to PPV with Slammiversary on 6/12 in Orlando at Universal so they will go at least the first seven months of the year without a U.S. arena event. They completed all TV filming leading up to that show this week, so they are likely back doing television that week in June. Currently the TNA web site shows no future shows at all, including no PPV date in Orlando, even though they shot angles for a card that would be headlined by Drew Galloway vs. Bobby Lashley for the TNA title where the only way to win is via knockout or submission, so essentially MMA finishes; Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem (TLC rules) match, Ethan Carter III vs. Mike Bennett, Jade vs. Sienna (Allysin Kay) for the Knockouts title, Abyss & Crazzy Steve vs. Robbie E & Jessie Godderz for the tag team titles, Eli Drake (who defeated Bram in the only title change at the tapings, taped on 4/23 for air on 4/31 when he cashed in his briefcase after Lashley had destroyed Bram) for the King of the Mountain title and Gail Kim vs. Maria Kanellis.
Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IC title in a rematch of their match-of-the-year candidate bout on 2/14 in Nagaoka seems to be the first match set for New Japan’s 6/19 Dominion show at Osaka Jo Hall.
The Dominion show will be the biggest event for the company since the Tokyo Dome, and for the past several years has been one of the company’s showcase events.
The match was set up after Omega had retained his title over Michael Elgin on 4/27 in Fukuoka at Hakata Star Lanes, in the rescheduling of the two key matches that were originally set for 4/29 in Kumamoto. The Kumamoto show had to be canceled after a series of earthquakes did extensive damage t the city. Tanahashi had set up the title match by beating Bad Luck Fale on the show in another match originally set for Kumamoto.
In actuality, Tanahashi challenged Omega after his win, but Omega denied it and laid Tanahashi out. But it was pretty clear that is the end direction, unless it’s a long program and they hold the match off for months to build anticipation. But with the Osaka show being so big, that’s unlikely.
NJPW Business Cold
The bad news is that New Japan is even colder than expected. Ticket sales for both Fukuoka shows, the 4/27 show and the loaded 5/3 Dontaku show at the larger International Center Arena, were slow. Even with the addition of two PPV matches, only 864 fans were at the event.