Week in Wrestling #51
By: Larry Causion Jr. CausionCreations.com
Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Credit: Dave Meltzer
Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Credit: Dave Meltzer
Wrestling News From the week of
September 18th - September 27, 2016
TNA Sale Update
With Bound for Glory and television tapings scheduled this week, the expectation was that TNA would be sold by now, although that’s been the feeling for weeks and at press time it still hasn’t happened.
This puts the company in a tough position because Dixie Carter is still the majority owner of the company, with 70 percent of the stock, but has no money to fund this coming week’s shows.
This has been the case for every set of tapings going back several months, where in the end, either Aroluxe at first, and Billy Corgan of late, have funded the tapings in exchange for ownership. We’ve also heard word that Fite TV also has a stake in the company.
The shows are all written. The talent has tickets for Orlando. But the money isn’t there to produce the shows, which would be around $600,000. The frustration across the board has grown with fingers pointed across the board at Dixie Carter for making a mess of the sale negotiations.
Carter is the one who is going to make the decision who gets the company and they need someone who has the ability to fund it. WWE was said to be back in the picture early in the week, but at press time, they are back out of the picture. Before there was a feeling WWE was a last ditch thing but the feeling now is Carter is going to make the best deal for her, as a WWE deal would end the company as they would only buy it for the tape library, and probably bring some of the contracted talent into WWE.
There’s also the issue of the debt, which is in the millions of dollars, largely to Aroluxe and Corgan but there are other creditors as well. The belief is that WWE wouldn’t assume the debt and that the company would then be closed down. John Gaburick, due to his longtime relationship with Kevin Dunn, was the one who brought the WWE into the picture.
The debt is also a key problem in getting someone else to buy it, because if the company was to continue, who would be there to pick up the debt? In the case of Corgan, and for that matter Aroluxe, to have put money in and the company then folding would mean they’d get little for that investment other than a percentage of the purchase of the tape library. Aroluxe, headed by Jason Brown and former wrestlers Don & Ron Harris, are believed to not want Gaburick around. There is an argument the debt is greater than the value of the company, which makes the sale tricky, or if not, the numbers aren’t far apart.
With Corgan, with time he may be able to put together the right deal to save TNA, but he may only have a few days left. If there’s no money by 9/30, there will be no PPV on Sunday and no tapings the next week. That would put TNA in breach of its television contracts and PPV contracts to provide the shows and new material. It wouldn’t guarantee death, but it would be a bad thing and it could mean death at that point, or grave consequences if one or more of the television partners used the breach to cancel the show.
The WWE offer for TNA is low, and while they appear not to be the frontrunners at this moment, with timing of the essence, they may still get it.
Corgan is said to want to run a wrestling company but it’s up in the air if she’ll sell him this one under the terms he wants to buy it. The up side to buying this company is there are in place paying television deals in the U.K., although there are questions about the longevity of that one, and a good deal in India which is probably the biggest current revenue stream. There is also the Pop TV deal, which is good through April (nothing in television is guaranteed but the belief is this deal isn’t in jeopardy until April as long as they fulfill production of new weekly shows) and at least gives the company national exposure, even if the deal doesn’t bring in any real money. It’s that new deal that has led to trouble because the Pop TV deal is worth virtually nothing since Pop pays nothing for the shows and the shared revenue on advertising aspect of the deal has led to TNA getting little if any money.
So they are down several millions from the Destination America deal the year before, and that deal was worth between 40 and 50 percent of what the Spike deal was two years ago, so that’s where the financial problems really started to take hold.
Corgan did an ESPN interview on 9/26. He was in Los Aneles recording a new solo album with Rick Rubin (who was the main financial backer of Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the 90s). He said that his goal is to change the company from one willing to be in the shadows of WWE to one to move out of the shadows, which means trying to attract more sponsors, more talent and do live events, but admits there are no quick fixes.
He claimed there is an idea in the works to do a full-length Hardys movie based on their new characters. He said that wrestling has been living off the innovations done by ECW and attitude era WWE and nobody has innovated much since. He said he wants to personally stay off television as much as possible because he’s better as a heel, but he doesn’t like the heel authority figure in wrestling right now because it’s been done to death and nobody can do it as good as Vince McMahon.
When asked about his attempts to buy the company he called it a very complicated situation with many moving parts but said he has secured the resources to do so and hopes to have a deal put together in the next three weeks. He said his first move would be to change the name from TNA.
Corgan has essentially saved the last two tapings and seems more hands-on regarding control of the company. The product is mostly solid, but they need better than solid right now, they need something to wake people up to what’s going on and while the Matt Hardy situation is definitely over, to the point people chant “Delete” at WWE events (not much but it did happen at Raw last week) and at indie shows (a lot more), it’s only helped somewhat and financially not a lot given there’s no method of making significant money right now past the TV revenue and that’s not enough.
Corgan is said to want full control, but to do that he’d also have to buy out Aroluxe. Aroluxe has a battle plan of cutting things back to just a few television tapings per year to keep the product alive. According to sources, a deal appeared nearly completed on 9/26 but ended up not being finalized.
TNA Bound for Glory
The line-up for Bound for Glory on 10/2 in Orlando is Bobby Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III for the TNA title, The Hardys (Matt & Jeff & Reby and Senor Benjamin and Vanguard 1 as managers) vs. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve & Rosemary) in The Great War for the TNA tag titles, Aron Rex vs. Drew Galloway (or more likely somebody else) in the finals of the Grand Championship tournament, Maria Kanellis vs. Gail Kim for the Knockouts title, Mike Bennett vs. Moose, plus there will be an X Division title match (not finalized at press time) and a Bound for Gold Royal Rumble style gauntlet match where the winner gets a title match which pretty much will get everyone else on the roster on the show. There will also be the Gail Kim Hall of Fame ceremony.
Galloway was injured and is out of action. He had a match where he was spiked badly on the back of his neck on some type of a slam into a DDT-like move and was very lucky not to be hurt badly and it’s possible he could have been paralyzed. Apparently his muscle flexibility, along with some luck, is going to allow him a pretty quick recovery although we don’t know exactly what time frame that is yet. Right now the odds are strong that he won’t be wrestling at Bound for Glory but he is holding out hope he can do it.
Galloway was very fortunate that the injury didn’t put him out for a year or much longer. Galloway was in the finals of the Grand Champion tournament against Rex, which is the deal where they do rounds and have judging and try to present it with a boxing/MMA backdrop although the work in the matches is the same as in every other match.
Clash of Champions Review
Clash of Champions was built around a newly-turned Seth Rollins against Kevin Owens for the latter’s Universal title. The crowd seemed flat, whether due to the Sheamus vs. Cesaro and Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho matches taking the crowd to levels nobody else could reach after. The storyline was that Rollins believed Stephanie McMahon was conspiring against him, while she denied it. There was a ref bump, and Rollins had Owens beat but there was no ref to count. Chris Jericho interfered freely at that point. Then, Stephanie sent down a referee and Owens hit the power bomb and got the pin. Then HHH showed up after the show and he and Stephanie had big smiles on their face, with the idea that Stephanie was in on the screwing of Rollins all along, as Rollins, the top face, had known, but Mick Foley kept giving her the benefit of the doubt when she claimed she had no idea.
Roman Reigns won the U.S. title from Rusev, which should accomplish the goal of keeping Reigns busy and out of the Universal title picture for a while. The goal, using Rusev as the foreign menace, is to get the fans behind Reigns and build to that coronation of him as the top star. It’s been the immediate goal now going on a third WrestleMania cycle. So the idea seems to be if he’s going back-and-forth with Rusev that people will decide to like him.
The one issue with Rollins is the clumsy turn has made it that the crowd, which was badly wanting to like him when he returned from his knee injury, is lukewarm to him because he stayed heel and the turn was so bad, in the sense he was screwed but was mad that his benefactors were no longer cheating for him, and instead were cheating for someone that the most vocal fans were glad they were cheating for.
Hell in a Cell
The next Raw PPV is Hell in a Cell on 10/30 in Boston. Nothing is clear for that show. Jericho beat Zayn, and the original Hell in a Cell main event was to be Finn Balor vs. Owens vs. Jericho, and Rollins has been largely slotted where Balor was to be.
The announced matches there are A.J. Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE title, with the big push being Cena going for 16th title; Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt, The Miz puts up the IC title against the career of Dolph Ziggler, Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown women’s title and Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Usos for the tag team titles. A no DQ match with Nikki Bella vs. Carmella has been built but not announced. Baron Corbin against either Jack Swagger or Kane has been teased and there is little else left.
ROH All-Star Extravaganza
The All-Star Extravaganza PPV on 9/30 in Lowell, MA has Adam Cole vs. Michael Elgin for the ROH title, a three-way ladder match for the tag titles with Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. Young Bucks vs. Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley, Bobby Fish vs. Donovan Dijak for the TV title, Jay Lethal vs. Tetsuya Naito, Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi, the first match in the trios tournament with Briscoes & Toru Yano vs. ACH & Kushida (a late replacement for Lio Rush, who had a prior booking in Europe) & Jay White, Kyle O’Reilly vs. Hangman Page and a four-way for an upcoming tag title shot with Rhett Titus & Kenny King vs. Dalton Castle & Colt Cabana vs. War Machine vs. Shane Taylor & Keith Lee. There is also a dark match with Silas Young vs. Evil vs. Will Ferrara. The building is set up for 2,500 and the advance is strong, not that I’m expecting a sellout but they do expect to do well the first night. The PPV starts at 9 p.m.
Kurt Angle Gets Main Stream Pub
Kurt Angle was on the Dan LeBatard show and claimed that when his painkiller addiction was at its worst he was taking 65 extra-strength Vicodin daily (some wrestlers do have the tendency to exaggerate on things like this). He said that while he was in TNA, everybody drank so he’d take meds and drink after matches at night and that led to him getting four DUI’s in five years. He claimed he’s been clean for three years and doesn’t ever want to feel like he did in the past, saying he spent a lot of money on medications and they took control of his life, and he didn’t think about anything but how he was going to get more, and it was ruining his life.
Hogan Spending Money
Hulk Hogan just spent $1.6 million on a beachfront cottage in his home city of Clearwater, FL. The 2,000 square foot place has a deck on the beachfront and a panoramic beach view. The cottage is right behind the 5,000 square foot mansion that he and his wife Jennifer purchased for $3 million in 2014.
Clearly WWE is preparing to be bring Hogan back, as he has been seen in a lot more TV commercials and Network ads.
Lashley's Next Fight
Bobby Lashley will be fighting on the 10/21 Bellator show in Memphis against Josh Appelt, who has a 12-5 record. Even at 40, Lashley has been able to do MMA while being TNA champion and not making the promotion look bad in the process. He’s Bellator’s top heavyweight draw and Bellator has no heavyweight champion, and Bellator seems to be making no moves to crown a heavyweight champion. The big heavyweights there are Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione and Lashley. TNA acknowledges his MMA career, but no longer mentions his fights, I guess due to a lack of relationship with Bellator since Bjorn Rebney left, and TNA no longer being on Spike.
New Japan Pro Wrestling Financials
New Japan owner Takaaki Kidani gave the annual company financial rundown. In the 2015-16 fiscal year which just ended, the company grossed $32 million and posted a $4.1 million profit, which would be high points for the company in both categories dating back probably 15 years. Last year’s numbers were $27 million in revenue and $3 million in profits. WWE is roughly 20 times larger than New Japan. He noted that New Japan is more popular in Japan and throughout Asia, but he also said it’s rare to find an industry where the No. 2 group in the world is that far behind the No. 1 group.
His goal remains $100 million in revenue. The big thing is that while live attendance is not up, like in the U.S., those who are going are really hot for the product as the merchandise numbers at the house shows are great. Kidani noted that when they purchased the company the prior owners had lost $8 million over the previous decade. There were some profitable years but most of the time over the decade it was a money losing company. Kidani noted that when they purchased the company in 2012, they put down $5.3 million, but of that money, $4.5 million went to paying money that Yukes, the prior owners, still owed. When they purchased the company, the annual revenues were only $9 million, so in four years, they’ve almost quadrupled it.
He noted a big difference is the streaming network as WWE has 1.52 million subscribers and they have just passed the 40,000 mark, of which 8,000 is outside Japan, mostly in the U.S. The outside Japan numbers are far ahead of projections but Japanese culture has been very slow on streaming services. New Japan had projected 100,000 subscribers by the end of the first year and weren’t even in the stratosphere. A lot of that is just the Japanese market. PPV never hit it as big in Japan either because of cultural issues.
Varsity Club 2.0?
This may not happen, especially since it would be months away if it does happen, but there’s been a pitch for Benjamin, Swagger and Ziggler as a Varsity Club/shooters type group on Smackdown. The thing is from an international standpoint, the most accomplished wrestler on Smackdown would be Gable, who went to the Olympics, although Benjamin, who placed third in the nation as a senior would be the most accomplished NCAA wrestler on the brand. Gable in NXT at one point headed up a shooters group and it was dropped because of the idea that Vince hates those kinds of gimmicks and it would hurt everyone involved.
Hardy to WWE?
Matt Hardy has gotten feelers from intermediaries that HHH wants him when his contract expires, which would be next spring. The problem is that he’s got pretty much creative control of his character here, plus can make his own schedule and he does extremely well on the indie scene, particularly when you throw in merchandise. With WWE there’s the killer schedule which probably isn’t the best thing for him physically right now. Granted, if something happens to TNA, that equation changes because he’s loaded with ideas for his character and he would need television to get them over.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes Update
Brandi Runnels, the wife of Cody, who was ring announcer Eden Stiles in WWE, signed a contract to start here as a wrestler. We’d already reported that Cody & Brandi were interested in doing a program in TNA with Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis, after working with them in Northeast Wrestling. She’s going to use the ring name Brandi Rhodes. This is notable because Cody can’t use the Rhodes name, particularly in TNA or ROH, at least as of right now. The difference is that WWE registered the name Cody Rhodes and he had no prior usage before WWE. WWE never registered Brandi Rhodes as a name, and she never used that name in WWE, so she can use it anywhere she wants. The clever aspect is that if she’s there as Brandi Rhodes and they do mixed tag feuds, they can bill it and the announcers can say Cody & Brandi Rhodes, with the idea that his ring name is just Cody (which he can obviously use as his real name). The last I’d heard, he was going to just use the name “Cody” when doing television.
Cody had said he wasn’t interested in signing with any promotion, and his situation is unique because he’s agreed to a number of dates with ROH starting with Final Battle, including a program with Adam Cole, and nobody has appeared for political reasons on TNA & ROH television at the same time. She’s been working with him on shows as his personal ring announcer. She’s very good in that role, doing all kinds of funny lines like calling him the grandson of a plumber, the star that left them in the dust, and wishing his former employer the best in all their future endeavors.
TNA Grand Champion Tournament
In the Grand Champion tourney matches, they do open scoring (announce it after every round) and have three judges scores combined. So instead of one judge doing 10-9, 9-10, 10-9 and he scores 29-28, it’s three judges round scores being combed, so each round would be a 29-28 or 28-29 or 30-27. They also haven’t done the dominant rounds because wrestling is booked give and take or near finishes and 10-8s, although one would think they will. But to me the breaks in the action after three minutes need to be tweaked for this to work. Its different and ts worth a try.
Daniel Bryan Documentary
Bryan was on Talking Smack and started pushing for fans to get the WWE to release a documentary they did on him. WWE followed him everywhere for a time showing him training for his return, which was supposed to be at WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium, but then Dr. Joseph Maroon made the call of not letting him wrestle again. It includes clips of Bryan wrestling a bear.
Terry Funk Update
There was a lot of talk over the weekend regarding Terry Funk, and health issues, stemming from Funk, 72, being in Philadelphia on 9/17 for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion at the 2300 Arena. Funk was supposed to be in Dreamer’s corner for his main event match against Matt Hardy, who would have Senor Benjamin in his corner. Funk was reportedly feeling light-headed, and he later told us he was just exhausted. In a sense he was crazy to make the trip as Funk had surgery on 9/12 in Texas for an inguinal hernia. He’d needed the surgery for months and was scheduled to get it several weeks ago. That was the reason he didn’t attend the Waterloo Hall of Fame ceremony in late July. We’d reported at the time that the morning of the surgery, Funk drank a large amount of milk when he woke up, forgetting that he was supposed to have an empty stomach for surgery. When they were preparing him, they asked if he’d eaten or drank anything and he told them he had rank milk. They canceled the surgery at the time, noting it could have been fatal, and rescheduled it, but the first date he could get was four days before his bookings for Dreamer in St. James, NY and Philadelphia. Those were bookings he wasn’t going to cancel even though he had canceled a few bookings this year, notably on the DDT major show.
The hernia surgery was very painful and Funk was supposed to stay in bed for about two weeks and not to anything. However, four days later, he woke up at 4 a.m. to fly from Amarillo to La Guardia Airport. He appeared at the New York show, and was driven to Philadelphia after, arriving at 4 a.m. He got up the next morning and signed autographs all day. By the time for the evening show, he was exhausted and asked Dreamer if he could just do an interview and leave early. Dreamer said that Funk was having medical issues, which led to people getting very concerned and even his daughter calling him up noting all the stuff on the Internet about him having a heart attack. He did the interview in the ring and mentioned at the end of the interview that he didn’t want to leave the ring because if he left the ring, it could be for the last time. He’s had various health issues over the last few years including a terrible case of pneumonia last summer. He joked to us that he’s got an appointment with his surgeon the middle of next week to get clearance to get out of bed and leave the house, as they have no idea he’s already flown to the Northeast.