WWE Observer news

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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:43 pm

    He apparently went back to a singlet at the ROH show last week as well instead of basketball shorts.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Swarles on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:50 pm

    Part of me just wants to see Steen signed as the ultimate FU to Cornette. But yea, unless he shows up slimmer, super motivated and IN SOME REAL GEAR, I don't see it happening.

    EDIT: OH DAMN SBR WITH THE SCOOP

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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:21 am

    2/24

    As was largely expected, the WWE television deal is now up for grabs, after the exclusive negotiating window with NBC Universal, which includes the USA Network (Raw), Syfy (Smackdown) and E! (Total Divas), expired on 2/15.

    NBC Universal still has the right to match any outside offers, which for WWE, was the exact scenario they would have wanted. At the end of the day, they don’t want to leave, but want outside suitors to drive up the price.

    “While we were unable to reach an agreement with NBCU during this (exclusive negotiating) period, we have certainly appreciated our long and productive partnership,” the WWE released in a statement to Variety. “With year-round live programming that is highly coveted by programmers, distributors and advertisers, we are extremely excited about our future. We look forward to engaging with potential partners who recognize the value of having the No. 1 show on cable and live content delivered 52 weeks a year.”

    The WWE could sign a deal with one conglomerate for product exclusivity and that conglomerate could put the shows on different stations, or they could sell all of the shows as individual entities to different conglomerates. It’s hard to believe a major station would be willing to air pro wrestling in prime time four nights per week, since WWE is looking at next television season for a Sunday through Wednesday night prime time line-up of “Total Divas,” (two seasons), Raw, live Smackdown and Main Event.

    WWE Executive Vice President of Marketing Michelle Wilson noted this is the first time the Raw and Smackdown contracts expired at the same time, feeling that the timing gives WWE more power in brokering a deal.

    In 2013, it was estimated that Raw, Smackdown, any specials, Total Divas and I believe this figure would also include Main Event on Ion, took in about $170 million in ad revenue. The WWE earned slightly more than $100 million in domestic rights fees, with the big increase being the addition of “Total Divas,” which is believed to take in about $700,000 per episode, a similar number to both Raw and Smackdown.

    Even though Raw is consistently among the highest rated shows on USA, it garners the lowest ad rates per viewer on the station.

    The WWE was looking for $280 million or more in television revenue from the U.S. market. Thus, no matter what the ratings, under normal circumstances, it makes no economic sense for NBC Universal to go even to $170 million to keep the deal.

    The reality is the stations could generate a solid percentage of that revenue in the same time slots even with shows with lower ratings. There are shows they can put on with minimal cost (and first run programming could be more expensive but would generate more revenue as well) where the profit margin would be higher than for wrestling.

    Cable stations and satellite distributors pay stations for carriage rights and in most cases, that’s far more important these days than ad revenue. The problem is, at NBCU, there is no belief that USA or Syfy would be cut back at all in carriage fees if they lose wrestling, since wrestling isn’t seen as prestige programming by cable companies.

    Another issue with wrestling is that with very few exceptions (MMA, Silk Stalkings in the 90s), wrestling fans are not station fans, just wrestling fans. They don’t watch other programming on those stations.

    Networks will spend far more than their ad revenue for football, baseball and basketball, especially the NFL, because history has shown the most valuable thing to build a network is to advertise your prime time shows during NFL broadcasts because it’s a huge audience that will then watch other shows. The same tactic during wrestling seems to garner very little benefit for the station.

    Even though Smackdown is Syfy’s most popular show, it doesn’t fit in with the station theme, but losing the show would hurt ratings overall.

    For the week ending 2/9, USA was in a rare non-football season situation of being No. 3, on cable, at 2.01 million viewers on average, trailing The History Channel (Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Swamp People) at 2.23 million, and AMC (Walking Dead, Talking Dead) at 2.21 million. The latter had an usually big week with Walking Dead hitting an NFL-like 15.76 million viewers for its new airing.

    Without Raw, USA would have fallen to sixth place, also trailing Disney, Fox News and TBS. However, that is not a normal week. For the entire year of 2013, USA Network without Raw would have still been No. 1 on cable, although its margin of victory would have been closer.

    Syfy was No. 17 last week with 1.05 million viewers on average in prime time. Taking away Smackdown, which had its biggest audience in more than a year, it would fall to No. 24 at 820,000 viewers.

    The value to USA is whatever financial and ego gain they get based on being No. 1 in prime time, because if nothing else, losing Raw would risk that position.

    However, perhaps they’ll pay more to keep a franchise they created and is still strong and based on history, will stay stronger than most cable competition for as long as forever is. Under normal circumstances, because it doesn’t generate big ad rates, its value to most other stations wouldn’t be that high.

    When they do the comparison with what NASCAR brings as far as ratings go and what they bring, the difference is NASCAR commands far higher ad rates and has a higher caliber of sponsors.

    Since the exclusive negotiating period with NBC Universal has come and gone without a deal, it’s now a question as to whether there is interest from the outside.

    Spike and FS 1 would make the most sense. The 2005 WWE split from Spike was acrimonious, but that was also nearly a decade ago. Spike also has its own wrestling franchise that, while it doesn’t generate anywhere near the ratings, comes with a lot smaller price tag.

    Plus, WWE also wants to place Superstars. I’m not sure what the thought process is on placing NXT on broadcast TV. The original idea was to place it starting this past September, but there was no interest, and now it’s being advertised as a WWE Network exclusive show.

    People at TBS and TNT have claimed that they will never get back into wrestling, and in 2008, showed no interest when WWE tried to get them to bid on Raw.

    There are no rumors of ESPN having interest, and I can’t see WWE not getting pre-empted often on ESPN, since WWE will never be one of the five biggest players on an ESPN. Going to ESPN 2, a secondary channel, is bad for WWE as it labels it secondary sports programming and WWE should do everything to avoid being labeled secondary anything.

    Even if FOX has an interest in them, to help build FS 1, they would be an entity where it could make sense to pay for more than the ads bring in. It will help build a fledgling station that is still struggling to find an audience, and can help the station in a number of ways including potential carriage revenue, which for the station is unusually low.

    But there are a couple of issues. The first is, while it would make sense for WWE to use FOX as leverage for a deal, in the end, do they really want to go on FS 1, risk the kind of ratings decline UFC got moving to that station, plus losing coverage in 10 million homes, or nine percent of the country?

    In addition, how much WWE programming would a sports channel want to put on, and where would the rest of the WWE programming go in the Fox family?

    As we’ve seen with UFC, with a sports station, the major sports are going to be a priority in the end, and if something huge in sports that they have rights to were to happen, would they, no matter the ratings, put wrestling as a priority over so-called major sports?

    USA and Syfy don’t preempt, while UFC is getting preempted and moved to FS 2 on its flagship Wednesday frequently. If FS 1 wants to carry wrestling (and I don’t know if that’s the case), that is a company that right now has to spend big to build a station and wrestling would raise the profile of the station. So they could overspend to get WWE to help build the station. But it’s a risk for WWE, and one I don’t think they’d want to take.
    --

    The first domino in the battle between WWE and traditional PPV providers may have been dropped this past week when The Dish Network quietly pulled Elimination Chamber from its PPV offerings for this coming weekend.

    The dropping wasn’t publicized and both sides have avoided any public comment. Dish Network subscribers who heard about it and asked, were told a multitude of different things from it being a web site glitch that would be fixed, to they are in talks, to that they are not carrying the show and telling callers they could order the UFC event the night before or the TNA show two weeks later.

    The battle was expected to take place at WrestleMania, and DirecTV, larger than Dish Network, had threatened to cease carrying WWE events because by putting the shows on the network at a $9.99 per month price, they believed they were undercutting their distribution partners who were charging $69.95 for HD of the same event.

    WWE has been in battles with cable distributors before, usually fighting over percentages of total revenues. In those battles, the WWE always went public, attempting to mobilize its fan base, and went over the top with criticism of those they battled with claiming they were not allowing fans their right to see such shows. The complete quietness on Raw, to the point it was shockingly never brought up, would indicate negotiations aren’t dead, and are very sensitive.

    However, if a deal isn’t reached, there are going to be some unhappy consumers. Only a tiny percentage of Dish Network viewers would be aware there is even an issue, and they likely won’t find out until they want to push the button to order on 2/23, only to find out the show isn’t being carried.

    In the past, such as WWE’s dispute more than a decade ago with DirecTV, which saw them not carry the Royal Rumble one year, there was plenty of publicity on WWE television about it. In that situation, even though DirecTV at the time represented 20 percent of the homes in the U.S. that had PPV capability, the Rumble actually did shockingly well, to the point that damage was minimal if any. In fact, it ended up being one of the most successful Rumbles in history, more because interest was high that year. But with notice, people with DirecTV were able to find friends who would order the show, because in almost any neighborhood, it’s the local cable that’s dominant, not a satellite company.

    The same thing would apply here if people knew of the situation. The Dish Network was in 14,049,000 homes as of November, or about 14.2% of the total PPV addressable U.S. homes. Last year’s Elimination Chamber did 181,000 buys in North America, but that was due to a C.M. Punk vs. The Rock main event boosting it above usual levels. The prior two years did 138,000 (2012) and 145,000 (2011), which would be more along the lines of what this year should be expected to do. Of those, about ten percent would be from Canada and Puerto Rico, so 125,000 U.S. buys would be a good estimate for this year. Of that, 14.5 percent would be 17,800 total buys, or a hit of something in the ballpark of $461,500 to WWE and an identical number to Dish. It would be impossible to even ballpark a WrestleMania financial impact, because we don’t know how much the lower priced network will do to PPV buys overall.

    If WWE was able to get publicity out in time that those 17,800 buyers would know, most would find other ways to watch the show. Even at the last minute, many still will, because one thing history has shown is that people who want to watch something will usually find a way to watch it. In reality, the financial losses will be higher for Dish than WWE. But they can more easily afford it. The Dish Network takes in more than $14 billion per year in revenue, as compared to WWE, which will take in closer to $500 million in revenue. The Dish Network’s profits for the year top $1 billion. The WWE’s will be announced later this week, but the company was at $10.7 million in total profits after the first nine months of 2013. In a game of financial chicken, this is a mismatch that makes WWE vs. TNA look like a seven-game NBA final.

    But when it comes to WrestleMania, the numbers are a lot more serious. That’s a game that every major PPV distributor will be looking at, because it’s the most expansive show of the year, and the network will be established for five weeks before it takes place.

    The surprise is that the game is being played before WrestleMania, the first PPV after the Network launch. There is no undercutting of Elimination Chamber live, and WWE is going to live up to the terms of the previous contract by not putting the show on the network until 3/25. However, this has not been explained to the fan base, which has only been told all PPVs will be on the network starting on 2/24, and that would lead people to believe Elimination Chamber could be viewed free the next day in HD as opposed to spending $54.95 to see it live. WWE did not make that clear thus far in any of the build-up for the Chamber show, that for this show, it would only be available by traditional PPV methods. In a sense, by advertising “every PPV starting with WrestleMania,” that would seem to exclude Elimination Chamber, but not in a way that most fans understood.

    Another option is with the WWE essentially putting the market value of its PPV shows at $9.99, that the cable industry would insist that they drop the price on PPV as to not be undercut. But this would make them an even more distant third revenue producer behind Boxing and UFC. As it is, WWE is expected to lose a great deal of cable and satellite commercials for WrestleMania, with the inventory expected to heavily go to the UFC 172 show in Baltimore and the TNA Sacrifice show the next day.
    --

    It’s been really strange how silent everything is on the C.M. Punk story. However the story started, it would appear D-Day, at least for now, is the 3/3 Raw show in Chicago.

    What I thought was strange last week was when the clip of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Layfield before Raw (it was incorrectly reported this took place during the commercial break in the Mark Henry vs, Dean Ambrose match) making fun of the fans for not being able to get a strong chant going for Punk, and it wound up on the Internet, that WWE didn’t get it taken down. Usually something like that would be down within a few hours. That, and the fact that there is no way Seth Rollins was going to bring up Punk during a commercial break on Raw and get on the mic and incite the crowd to chant his name on his own, seemed ominous.

    Given the Chicago show would be the first Monday where people have to pay to order the network and get the post-game show, a cliffhanger ending involving him showing up would be one of the best things they could do to get subscribers. Of course, if he’s really done, then it’s just fantasy booking.

    Punk went AWOL on 1/27, right before Raw went on the air. WWE has never done an angle of this type, where it’s not acknowledged at all on television. But it does fit into Punk’s M.O. Still, the idea he’d tell so many people he was unhappy to make it believable he’d walk out and work the boys is not how WWE traditionally does business.

    But never acknowledging his leaving as a storyline is also not how they’ve handled a top guy leaving in the past. Usually there is a quick burial and move on. It’s also a weird time because of the hijacking the show issue. If WWE were to suspend him (firing him makes no sense because unless they paid him, he’d be able to the next day start negotiating and appearing on somebody else’s television) and acknowledged it, even though it would be the “correct’ decision, the live audience would make him a cause and could ruin live Raw shows.

    Will Vince McMahon be able to, or has he already, pulled what Steve Austin and Chris Jericho called his Jedi mind tricks? Or has Punk already decided to be a puppeteer, as opposed to someone who realizes his body is breaking down and doesn’t want to be out there at a standard lower than he’s been willing to accept of himself? Or has he simply felt he’s not happy there and doesn’t want or need it anymore?

    And if he’s not there, how will the Chicago crowd react? This makes that night the most intriguing Raw episode of the year. Because it could be the most positive episode of the year. And it could be the most negative. But if it’s the latter, it will be a one-week thing, because the build to WrestleMania will take over and carry the promotion from there.

    --

    Regarding the network, while the first week is free, similar to UFC and other start-ups when they give a free sample, people have to still sign up with credit card information and a subscription will automatically renew until canceled. The hope, and gimmick, like with all Internet subscription sites, is that people sign up for free, and then just forget or don’t hassle with canceling, and become regular subscribers. There continues to be the talk of a cliffhanger ending on Raw on 2/24, to encourage sign-ups. What is notable is that because of the West Coast, where Raw airs three hours later, they will have to replay the post-game show. The pre-game show, if it’s going to work for the West Coast, would have to be replayed while the live Raw is finishing up. The plan right now is for the post-game show on Raw to be shot backstage, since it would be going on at the same time as the main event dark match if it was done from a spot inside the arena.

    It was notable that neither Hulk Hogan nor Undertaker, nor any type of a special show was pushed for 2/24 on Raw, on the 2/17 show. That’s the show the network debuts. I was expecting them to push this as a bigger than usual Raw show, with the idea of having a larger rating than usual going in, and thus more of an audience they can push the network launch to. Perhaps the plans have changed, but 2/24 is time to start promoting Mania and Hogan as guest host and Undertaker in what is either the biggest or right near the biggest match is best off announced sooner than later. Plus, with the network launch and first major show directly building Mania, that would be the show you really want to push to get the biggest rating of the year. But not even hinting of it as a major show was a surprise. Perhaps the feeling is with having to promote a PPV on Sunday and a network launch on Monday, that they didn’t want to be pushing something that would detract from the pushes of the other two things.

    One of the reasons WWE may not be pushing Apple TV clearance hard is that Apple TV is going to take a 50% cut of all orders. Other streaming services like Xbox or Roku are closer to 30%. With UFC, which goes live as far as paid ordering is concerned, at the same time as WWE, the push will be to order directly through your home computer, so the company itself gets the highest percentage of revenue, as opposed as to through a streaming device. The WWE is promoted multiple different ways to order. That’s why people who have looked at the numbers say the 1 million break-even figure WWE is talking about is a little bit low, as that is figuring most people who just get it through their computers.

    Monday’s Raw, from Green Bay, is sold out. The Resch Center is a lot smaller building than Raw usually runs in, as a sellout would be 7,000 tickets.

    Gawker Media has demanded e-mails from Hulk Hogan’s lawyer and publicist related to Hogan appearing on Howard Stern and Piers Morgan in 2012 in relation to the sex tape with the former Heather Clem, ex-wife of Hogan’s former good friend Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem. Hogan is due to be deposed as part of his $100 million lawsuit against Gawker Media for putting up a two minute portion of the tape on its web site.

    During the commercial for the network that aired on Raw, they pushed the idea of 1,000 hours of footage available. Originally they had announced they would open with 1,500 hours, so aside from the shows they have specifically advertised (and all the PPV by themselves should be right at 1,000 hours), it doesn’t look like they are going to have that much content other than what they’ve pushed in specific. That’s all the PPV shows, the exclusive first-run TV shows (Monday Night War, Countdown, WrestleMania Rewind, Legends House), the pre-game and post-game shows on Mondays and Fridays around Raw and Smackdown and there will be some archived old wrestling TV shows that were listed in the original pushing of it in Las Vegas.

    Mattel and WWE have extended their toy licensing agreement through 2019 with a new deal announced this past week. The companies have been working together since 2009 on a deal that coves more than 50 countries around the world.

    WrestleMania isn’t sold out, but there are 9,916 of the 55,000+ ticket holders who have their seats up on Stubhub right now, so they were buying them for investment purposes. Seats are going for $46.90 for nosebleeds and you can get two front row seats for $13,300 each.

    Mysterio’s contract is the next major one to expire, in about two months or so. He has one of the highest downsides, and is also one of the biggest merchandise sellers. He’s got all the knee issues and it’s clear from his return that WWE has no plans to feature him. Usually at this point WWE would be aggressively trying to get him to sign a new deal and that hasn’t really been the case. When there was talk of him not coming back some time ago, some of the company’s business partners in Latin America freaked out because he’s the most important guy it is believed in those markets. But it’s long gone from the days when Smackdown was a top ten rated show in the Hispanic demo when he was there, and dropped greatly when he wasn’t. With Mark Burnett’s AAA project in the U.S., it would figure to be a lock that if he doesn’t sign, he’d be the featured guy in that project.

    Add Scott Hall to the Hall of Fame list for 2014. WWE likes people to keep it quiet but Hall strongly hinted at it on Twitter this weekend. Sources who knew the lineup going in noted Hall’s name was on the original list. Just for getting Hall and Jake Roberts into a condition where they actually could be put in without risking an embarrassment, DDP should go in this year as well. His name was not on that list. And for those who think DDP isn’t good enough, when you look at the list who is in, the isn’t good enough should never even be brought up. Mike Von Erich, who wrestled only a few years, and was one of the worst main eventers I ever saw, is in. Lou Thesz, Frank Gotch and Strangler Lewis are not.

    The 2/27 NXT special will be airing at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so an hour earlier than Impact. The WWE Network doesn’t have a staggered feed like USA, Ion and Syfy, so that’s 5 p.m. on the West Coast, but with the network, you can watch anything at your convenience, including if you get in two minutes late, you get watch it from the start. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are both being brought in for the show.
    ESPN E:60 was at the WWE Performance Center this past week, planning on doing a piece on training to become a pro wrestler.

    Matt Goldberg, no relation to Bill, Mike, Sheldon or anyone else of note, was hired by WWE to produce stop motion animation. He had done some work previously for TNA and working with Lisa Varon. He’s also writing a sceenplay about the life of Hulk Hogan.

    Trinity Fatu (Naomi) got the word this past week that won’t be needing surgery for the fractured orbital bone she suffered when Aksana dropped a knee on her left eye in a mix-up during a Raw match on 2/3. She’s estimated being out of action four to six weeks. The timing means she should be okay for Mania. Then it becomes an issue if they are willing to hold off on building a Divas match just in case the healing goes slow. She won’t be able to appear on television for the next few weeks even if they don’t have her wrestle, unless she drives, because the pressure from a flight would be dangerous for her condition. They could always do a multiple person match with her as one of the women, so it’s not a significant issue if she doesn’t make it back in time, nor if she isn’t wrestling on TV weekly during the build-up period. The original plan was for A.J. to hold the title until that show. Naomi would have likely won it as part of an angle for the next season of Total Divas. The injury and her comeback can play into the season of Total Divas if they would choose to, since essentially it would be a storyline based on reality.

    From photos, it appears the idea of a WWE tryout has motivated Kevin Steen to get into the gym and drop weight. I was always frustrated watching him. Almost anybody can find a way to get into decent shape, even with injury limitations. Very few have the kind of talent he does. He’s got the hard part locked up.

    Dwayne Johnson’s proposed TV series based on retired football players living in Miami, which he will both star in and be the Executive Producer of, was picked up by HBO after seeing the pilot. It will be filming later this year.

    Johnson is the leading candidate for the 2015 Hall of Fame. It’s more up to him, if he wants it, and how his schedule goes. The tie-in is he was born in Hayward, CA, when his father and grandfather were working for Roy Shire, which is not far from Santa Clara, where WrestleMania will be from.

    Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Jim Cornette did a talk show on 2/18 in Manchester, England, and noted that if the WWE wanted to induct the Midnight Express and him into the Hall of Fame, that he would accept and be glad to be a part of it because he was very proud of that part of his career, and felt it would be fitting for the three of them to be acknowledged. He also said he doubted it would happen any time soon. This would have been the year for The Freebirds (still not inducted and at this point only one is left) and The Midnight Express since they were the two sets of heels that drew the biggest crowds ever at the Superdome, the record that will be broken this year. With Danny Hodge, I get it only because they don’t really have a ton of footage of him, but it’s still pretty much ridiculous that the WWE Hall is the least exclusive and yet the only one he’s not in. With the Freebirds, they’ve got tons of footage and Michael Hayes has worked for the company for nearly two decades, even if he’s had more than his fair share of troubles. I still haven’t seen a better in-ring tag team in the U.S. than the Midnight Express in the last 30 years, but Cornette has talked bad about them, and that doesn’t help.

    At press time, the stock was at $23.24 per share giving the company a market capitalization of $1.75 billion. The amount of trading on 2/18 was five times than of a usual day. The price dropped a little. The idea that the network and the negotiations bringing in more money are both going to be strong is built into the hype and expectations of the current price. I don’t see it going much higher based on news if it’s good, although a super hot network launch would change that. If news isn’t good, it won’t stay at this level, and the network deal and a very good idea of where the network stands should be clear in April.

    McIntyre needed several stitches over the left eye stemming from his 2/11 match in Ontario, CA, on Main Event against Big E (no longer Langston). That’s the second guy in recent weeks that he’s busted open, coming after Reigns. Of course he then got it from McIntyre from a kick to the mouth on Raw which busted his mouth open on 2/17.

    The new Marine movie written about last week, which stars Miz, and will also have Summer Rae in it, is called “The Marine: Moving Target,” and is expected to be released on DVD in March of 2015.

    There will be a Fan Axxess in August on the Friday and Saturday prior to SummerSlam in Los Angeles.

    For last weekend, the reason Mysterio was booked on the Northern California shows instead of in San Diego was the feeling that he’s been booked too often in San Diego. Considering they probably run twice a year or so there, and he’s been hurt a lot, it’s weird to think that they feel he’s overexposed in the market. San Diego ended up drawing the worst crowd of last week.

    Jey Uso (Joshua Fatu, 28) was married this past week, less than a month after his twin brother married Trinity McCray (Naomi).

    There was a story on a U.K. sports, Winner Sports, claiming Vince McMahon had interest in purchasing the Newcastle United football (soccer) team in the United Kingdom. The WWE stated that were nothing to this story. The story talked about how Vince was a big fan of U.K. football, which is ridiculous, because Vince doesn’t follow sports at all, let alone a U.K. sport. Shane McMahon has some knowledge of the U.K. sports scene and it is possible he would have some interest, but buying the team would be way out of his league unless he was a small minority partner. The reality is that neither McMahon is buying the team, given the price tag is $450 million, which is really out of Vince’s league as well. The current Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, who is worth $2.5 billion, is hated by both the team and its fans and they want him out. There’s no real money that can be made with the team unless, added to the purchase price, a new ownership group was willing to spend in the $250 million range for talent that would enable it to get into the UEFA Champions League, where real money could be made.


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    RFSKannon

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by RFSKannon on Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:31 pm

    It never ceases to amaze how many people bash a single Von Erich for being in WWE's hall of fame. They didn't go in as individuals, they went in as a family because of the history, success and tragedy the Von Erich's had in the world of wrestling (Texas especially).
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    TeeBeeKay

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by TeeBeeKay on Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:34 pm

    I agree with Kannon, if you really want to bash someone, use Koko B Ware, I like Koko and all but he should be the cutoff IMO, if you have a comparable career are greater you deserve consideration


    Page is definitely more deserving than Koko IMO, and it shouldn't be an issue if he ever gets inducted

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    Xero

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Xero on Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:14 am

    How can anyone make a legitimate argument that Diamond Dallas Page doesn't deserve to be in the hall of fame regardless of anything about the Von Erichs?
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    Indy
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Indy on Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:04 am

    DDP absolutely deserves a spot. He probably shouldn't main event a hall of fame class but he's definitely paid his dues.

    The fact that DDP Yoga has influenced and reshaped so many inside of wrestling alone should be enough to warrant him an induction.
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    Grant

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Grant on Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:29 pm

    Indy wrote:DDP absolutely deserves a spot.  He probably shouldn't main event a hall of fame class but he's definitely paid his dues.

    The fact that DDP Yoga has influenced and reshaped so many inside of wrestling alone should be enough to warrant him an induction.  

    Absolutely agree. The dude took certifiable human trainwrecks like Hall and Jake, who never got their shit together after numerous rehab trips, and revitalized them. His workout and motivational abilities made Goldust one of the best workers on the WWE roster. And as someone that does DDPYoga, he introduced the first workout that has actually worked for me and literally hundreds of others. For his fitness contributions alone, DDP deserves a spot.

    Never mind the fact that the dude is a former World Champion and one of the most crucial characters during the nWo era. Just because WWE buried him during the invasion doesn't mean he hasn't left a real mark on wrestling.


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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:43 am

    3/3

    The last PPV of the modern era for the WWE was an improvement over recent offerings in the ring, but ended with fans leaving the building unhappy once more.

    Randy Orton won the Elimination Chamber main event to retain his WWE world title, pinning Daniel Bryan, this time with the help of Kane, to headline the show on 2/23 at the Target before a sellout crowd of just over 11,000 fans (the television announced attendance was 14,101) paying $700,000.

    It was really a two match show, with The Shield vs. The Wyatts stealing the show. The anticipation of that match was probably the most for any regular WWE match in months, largely because it was a slow building angle. The six were kept apart for months after first teasing of an angle. They touched briefly on television one time in the buildup.

    It was the last PPV before this year’s WrestleMania, on 4/6 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Based on television, the top four matches seem to be Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (now official), Randy Orton vs. Batista for the title, HHH vs. Daniel Bryan (not official but strongly pushed) and John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt.

    An interesting thing is that on this show, where the crowd cheered Alberto Del Rio and booed Batista, things were rewritten after the show and Batista did a full-fledged heel turn on the 2/25 Smackdown tapings. Batista vs. Orton was going to struggle at WrestleMania as a title match under any circumstances. But with both as heels, that on paper wouldn’t make things better past the point the company can be happy and Batista can be happy he’s booed because it’s now the role.

    Usually they like to put the title match on last, but as things are structured right now, to put that match on last would be suicide for the match. I thought the obvious move, and still do, is to put Bryan in the title picture and do a three-way, since Bryan going over at WrestleMania will give him the most momentum possible since it appears he’s bound for the title anyway. But with Bryan challenging HHH, the only way they could change that is do a stipulation where if Bryan beats HHH, he can get inserted into that match. Bryan being against HHH seems to take Punk’s spot out. If Punk does come back, the only other option would be to have him as the face in a three-way with Orton and Batista. At least then the match can go on toward the end without the crowd crapping on it.

    They are doing almost the exact same angle, right down to on Raw, doing the exact same finish, with Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns and Jack Swagger vs. Cesaro. Exactly how the undercard will play out isn’t quite as definite as the top of the card, which was made late last year. Even with the negative crowd reactions, the only change is Bryan being moved from a match with Sheamus to one with HHH, for the spot opened up when Punk left.

    There has also been no hint of Vince McMahon. Stephanie McMahon is no longer announced as the owner of the company, which was supposed to eventually bring Vince back. Vince was advertised on shows months ago, and then never appeared. Then there was talk of him coming back in January, and that didn’t happen either.

    They were building an A.J. Lee vs. Naomi program for the Divas title. With Naomi injured, they went with A.J. vs. Cameron on this show and on TV. Naomi is expected to be back in mid-March. Even if not that specific week, the word is she should be able to wrestle at Mania, after suffering a fractured orbital bone. Michael Cole on the PPV said that she had surgery, but that wasn’t the case (he later corrected himself on Twitter but not on the show). At one point it looked like she would need surgery but her doctor told her she didn’t need it and if she let it heal without surgery, she’d be back a lot quicker.

    There was at least talk of a multiple woman’s match. Either way, after bumping the women last year at WrestleMania, as shown on Total Divas, there needs to be a triumphant storyline this year for one of the women in the cast, which was planned from Naomi at one point. Another program built is a tag title program with the New Age Outlaws vs. Usos, since the Usos beat them in a non-title match, in less than two minutes, on Raw. This could also be a three-way with the Rhodes Brothers, or even adding other teams to the mix.

    The Chamber show was there largely to build angles for WrestleMania. In doing so, it was a predictable show. With the exception of the tag title match with the New Age Outlaws vs. Usos, which could have gone either way since it didn’t matter who won, most winners were fairly easy to predict. What wasn’t, was the crowd reaction. It wasn’t a heel crowd, but they did cheer Jack Swagger over Big E and Alberto Del Rio over Batista.

    STAR RATINGZ!
    -Rhodeses/Rybaxel **3/4
    -Big E/Swagger ***
    -Outlaws/Usos **1/4
    -O'Neil/Young *
    -Wyatts/Shield ****1/4
    -Cameron/AJ -*
    -Batista/Del Rio 1/2*
    -Chamber ***3/4


    Hogan came back on Raw and will be the host of WrestleMania, which had been the plan for some time. At one point the idea was for Hogan to be at the network launch press conference in Las Vegas, but that was changed to the Raw on the night of the launch. I can’t give you anything even resembling a reason why Hogan’s first time on Raw since 2007 wasn’t promoted hard on all the television last week. The idea was that they were going to release it on the day of the show. But they did that three years ago for Dwayne Johnson’s return, and Johnson’s first time on Raw in years did the same 3.1 rating they always did. It wasn’t until the next week that the number was up. In this case, the whole idea between the Lesnar vs. Undertaker angle and network launch was that 2/24 was a show that should have been promoted hard to deliver ratings. They didn’t push Flair (on the panel, who has always done well in TV comebacks), Hogan, Undertaker or Lesnar. I can sort of see not pushing Undertaker because you can do a heavily promoted Hogan return and then give the people something more as a surprise. TMZ broke the story in a mainstream venue of Hogan being at that Raw on 2/21, even though within wrestling it had been reported for a few weeks. They got a photo of him when he visited the performance center. They pushed it like he was training there, but he never once got in the ring. I don’t know if someone will run into his fist, but when I was told of him being host, I was told that all physicality had been ruled out. WWE was not happy it got out, but after it was, wrote up a press release later that day. The WWE mentality has always been you only release bad news on Friday afternoons, not big news.

    Tandy O’Donoghue has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Strategy and Analytics starting 3/15, a newly created role, working under Chief Strategy and Finance Officer George Barrios. O’Donoghue will be responsible for overseeing corporate strategy, business development and data analytics. Her role will be to identify and execute cross-functional high-impact initiatives including the global rollout of the WWE Network, the development and execution of long-term strategy and global content monetization initiatives, as well as lead efforts to secure strategic equity investments and partnerships and will use advanced data analytics to support short and long-term decision making across the company. She was previously Senior Vice President of Affiliate Relations and business development, where she was responsible for the day-to-day management of the PPV business and the launching plans for the WWE Network.

    Steve Austin, when interviewed by Jim Ross on his podcast, said that when he was in Los Angeles doing interviews with WWE talent on 2/10, that nobody brought to him any ideas for Mania. It’s a lock at this point he won’t be wrestling on the show. He said that he’s not going to New Orleans just to go to New Orleans or go to the Hall of Fame, and if there isn’t a good reason for him to be there, he’ll be watching it at home.

    Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, 33, and long-time girlfriend Maryse Ouellet, 31, were married this past week in the Bahamas.

    For the 3/3 Raw in Chicago, The Shield vs. The Wyatts in a six-man is the scheduled main event. Lesnar is advertised, but Undertaker and Hogan are not advertised.

    Khali officially became a U.S. citizen on 2/20.

    WWE has started to edit out chair shots to the head on YouTube page tapes on old footage. It will be interesting if they do that on the network because the impression I was given is that the action would not be edited and the only things that would be edited would be over legal concern, such as music they don’t own rights to broadcast. The company is also getting a lot of content taken off You Tube, although anyone with a brain could have seen that coming.

    Austin said his experience from going to the Raw show in Los Angeles where he taped several podcasts is that he said he’s been told the camaraderie with the talent is different, saying one of the reasons is the top guys drive their own tour buses so the younger guys aren’t traveling with them and learning. Austin always said he learned the business traveling with veterans Skandor Akbar and Bronko Lubich during his rookie year in Texas and Tennessee. He also said he felt the wrestlers in the dressing room were walking on eggshells, which is consistent with what everyone tells me, largely because of the fear of losing a push or being let go. The era is different in the sense that if you were a star in the past, you wielded a decent amount of power and had confidence, because there were plenty of promoters who would want you if they had an issue in one place. Even a few years back, it was still a star-driven business. It has transitioned into a brand driven business where the stars are interchangeable (Cena may be the exception and Punk was to a degree due to his merchandise sales) and no matter who comes and goes, you aren’t going to see major swings in business. And now, even if somebody gets hot and starts drawing, the business difference is going to a minimal. House shows only appeal to the house show crowd, which is steady. Raw is about seeing Raw live in your city. Smackdown is half of Raw. And with the network, the PPV business is going to be relatively changed, in the sense a hot angle or big show will mean more network subscribers will watch on Sunday, but it’s not like people aren’t going to buy WrestleMania and then sign up for the network to see Money in the Bank or Night of Champions because Mark Henry cut a great promo. Austin said the locker room has a high degree of professionalism but people are afraid to speak up and take chances. He said it’s true that those in power don’t see anything in some of the talent but it’s up to that talent to make management see something in them. To be honest, these days, with fans slow to invest in people because fans themselves don’t trust early pushes, that’s almost impossible and it’s only when something catches on like the “Yes” chant or the giant swing that something happens.

    Goldust has been insistent that he’s not doing a program with Cody at WrestleMania this year. Hopefully true for all the reasons we’ve noted when it gets brought up.

    Van Dam was asked on Twitter about returning and indicated it would be soon.

    There may be a legal issue between Frank Shamrock and WWE, as Shamrock trademarked an insignia for T-shirts that looks similar to the insignia that has been used on Sheamus T-shirts.

    Jim Ross noted on his blog that Gerald Brisco would be scouting at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament (3/20 to 3/22 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City) and he would be attending as a spectator. Given he’d be with Brisco, it would not be a stretch to say he’d have some influence on evaluating talent for potential WWE careers.

    Heyman, who is expected to return to TV when Lesnar returns for the Mania build, did a TMZ interview where they brought up his cutting his ponytail.

    As far as Mysterio goes, since he hasn’t worked TV of late, he is fine and has been brought to TV, they just haven’t used him.

    At a conference call with media, HHH talked about the idea of bringing talent up from NXT after WrestleMania. He also talked about how, with the network exposure, they would be looking at doing more NXT live show touring, but he wants to keep the TV at Full Sail University.

    Roderick Strong and Kevin Steen are confirmed for the next camp, which will be from 3/24 to 3/26. I hope Steen contacts Mike Dolce, and gets into a major cardio routine and diet because the first day is how quick they can blow people up. Unless his cardio can outlast everyone, his getting tired fast combined with his physique will leave a negative opinion even as talented as he is. Michael Elgin was trying to get in on that camp but I don’t know if he heard from them or not.

    There was an audio show out of the Green Bay area talking about the Raw show and they were critical of WWE for kicking two fans out of Raw for holding up signs. According to the person kicked out, he gave his “Randy Savage for WWE Hall of Fame” sign to the person sitting next to him, and then felt bad the person got kicked out with him. He was holding up signs that he claimed were pro C.M. Punk (Well, saying C.M. Punk is right, UFC is better than WWE isn’t probably taken by then as a C.M. Punk sign) as well as Less talk, more wrestling and a Ronda Rousey can armbar John Cena and make him tap sign. This has been a part of WWE tapings going back to kicking out people with Ric Flair signs in the 80s, but it’s their TV and they want to control their airwaves and that’s how they roll. But the Savage Hall of Fame booted out is a little stiff.

    The 3/8 house show in Madison Square Garden, this week’s version, is Cena & Batista (still) vs Wyatt & Orton, Kane vs. Bryan with HHH in Kane’s corner and New Age Outlaws vs. Usos vs. Rhodes Brothers tag title. As noted before, they pulled Bryan off the Team Bryan tour from Salt Lake City, leaving that show with Sheamus, Show and The Shield as the headliners.

    For 3/22 at the Nassau Coliseum, they’ve got Orton vs. Cena in a cage match for the title and Sheamus vs. Del Rio.

    There is talk of releasing the entire old collection of Madison Square Garden house shows on the network in several months. One of the things about this is that it’s not like you just punch a button and you put things on. The process of getting the stuff ready is time consuming, but that is at least an idea on the drawing board.


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    SBR

    Posts : 1976
    Join date : 2013-12-13

    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:58 pm

    3/17

    The only logical scenario for the WWE championship match at WrestleMania was put together on the 3/10 Raw in Memphis, where Daniel Bryan was both granted his match with HHH, and the stipulation that if he wins, he's added to the title match with champion Randy Orton and Batista.

    The match, would be considered likely to go on last, and one doesn't have to over think the obvious in that the show at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans should end with upwards of 70,000 fans chanting "Yes," as Bryan captures the title. If it doesn't happen that way, they are risking missing the timing in a business where making a breakout star involves timing as one of the key ingredients.

    The scenario was put together in a creative fashion. Bryan brought out several dozens of supposed fans, a few of which actually were fans but most were people who were in various backstage roles in WWE on TV nights, all wearing his T-shirt and all chanting "Yes." The group refused to leave the ring and allow the show to continue unless Bryan was granted his match with HHH. Eventually, because they were holding up the show and for some reason, they had no security, to keep the show going HHH had to grant Bryan his match. Bryan then said that wasn't all he wanted, and said he also wanted a title shot if he wins.

    Exactly when this storyline was finalized is unknown. Bryan was originally going to be booked with Sheamus down the card for the show. But when C.M. Punk left the promotion, Bryan was moved up and into the HHH program. As far as being added to the title match, that decision likely came at the exact moment the promotion decided to turn Batista heel, as an admission that the people weren't cheering him like a top babyface. It had to be at least considered coming off the Royal Rumble, but based on the way television was put together, it doesn't appear that it was finalized until Batista was booed in Minneapolis at Elimination Chamber against Alberto Del Rio. In hindsight, you could see the pieces come together from that point, although almost everyone figured it had to be done even before then.

    Batista's not getting over as a face was more an example of wrong place, wrong time, as he was heavily booed by hardcore fans who resented his being booked to win the Rumble and get a title shot at WrestleMania ahead of either Bryan or Punk. It became natural to add a babyface into that match, and the only viable candidates would have been Cena, Bryan and Punk, and after the reaction to the Cena vs. Orton match at the Royal Rumble, even that would risk major fan rejection of the match. With Cena locked in with Bray Wyatt in a high-profile situation, that led to Punk or Bryan. Punk made that decision easy by leaving the promotion.

    Bryan being booked in both matches seems to shut the door on Punk being in a major match at WrestleMania. It also seems to put the finishing touches on the top of the card, now all announced, with Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar and Cena vs. Wyatt along with the two matches with Bryan as the card's top four bouts.

    There's no more clarity regarding the undercard. The only new match announced, a 30 man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is clearly there to get everyone who worked regularly all year into a match. The names listed in the match thus far are Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Axel, Kofi Kingston, Damien Sandow, Big E and Ryback. The two keys to this are it means no IC title match, unless Big E loses the belt shortly, and it puts to rest any talk of Ryback vs. Bill Goldberg, although from all we had heard about talks, that looked unlikely from the start. Essentially WWE was trying to sell Goldberg on the idea of coming back because of the pop he'd get, and Goldberg was only interested in business, and he's financially secure and wasn't going to come cheap. Even though Goldberg's heyday was 1998, and his one-year WWF run in 2003-04 never really clicked for a variety of reasons, his DVD released in 2013 was the company's second best seller behind the WrestleMania one. But he's now 47, and hasn't wrestled in nearly a decade.

    Others who would be expected to be in the Battle Royal would include The Miz, Justin Gabriel, Great Khali, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Bad News Barrett, Sin Cara, Big Show, Mark Henry, Fandango, Alexander Rusev, Xavier Woods, R-Truth, Brodus Clay, Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, Rey Mysterio, Santino Marella, and Zack Ryder. That leaves four spots open for surprises or a few NXT standouts, or perhaps Los Matadores and/or The The Rhodes Brothers if they're not in a tag team title program.

    At this stage of the game, if they wanted to do anything with Ziggler, he'd be a dark horse. Show winning would mean nothing and seem like a wasted win, but since it's the Andre Battle Royal and he's sort of the Andre successor, they could do that for sentimental reasons or lack of creativity. Aside from that, it would seem this would be Rusev's to win, since it's clear they've got plans for him as this year's version of Vladmir Kozlov, but hopefully turning out more better.

    In the tag team division, the Usos are champions. Since they've been using the New Age Outlaws on television even though Road Dogg has a back injury, that would indicate they believe he'll be okay for WrestleMania and will be involved in a tag title match. The Rhodes Brothers are still in the mix and in commentary on Main Event, Los Matadores were pushed as being in the tag team title picture.

    Sheamus and Christian have been doing a program and Sheamus is considered in WWE's internal pecking order as one of its biggest stars going forward. The TV program has had Sheamus beat Christian like a drum, and on Raw, even with a drum. So even though the two could go out there and would be expected to have a strong match, they will need an extreme stipulation for it to mean anything.

    On the male side, this only leaves Kane, the three members of The Shield, and Luke Harper & Erick Rowan. Kane was laid out by The Shield at the 3/11 Smackdown tapings. The ultimate direction is a split of The Shield and Reigns being pushed as a top tier babyface.

    On the women's side, right now Nikki Bella seems to be pushed as the top contender for A.J. Lee. They could do a multiple person match to get everyone on the show, but given the WWE title is a three-way, the tag title looks to be multiple-teams, so that could be booking overkill. But booking means little these days as far as anything but the top program, and even that will mean less than ever before in history going forward. Naomi's timetable to return, at least as of a few weeks ago, was this coming week.
    ====

    An article in Bloomberg.com listed that the WWE had talks with AMC Networks Inc., Viacom Inc., Time Warner Inc., and 21st Century Fox regarding negotiations for domestic TV rights. Talks only mean something if an offer is made. AMC is an interested one. Due to "Walking Dead," AMC is now a top five station. Viacom would be for Spike, which confirms what I'd felt for a long time was a logical business move, and also explains why Spike hasn't renewed TNA's contract that is up at the same time the WWE deal is up with NBC Universal. Time Warner would be for TBS and TNT. For what it's worth, I'm aware of a wrestling proposal to that company very recently where they said that they had no interest in wrestling again. Still, that doesn't rule out WWE. Fox would of course be to help build FS 1, and put UFC and WWE on the same station. George Barrios, the CFO of WWE, said he expected the new deal to be announced at the end of April or early May.

    Speaking of "Walking Dead," Punk will be on "Talking Dead" on 3/16, but the announcement by host Chris Hardwick was that it was Phil Brooks, also known as C.M. Punk. This would be his first media appearance since leaving WWE on 1/28. The fact he's going by his real name is interesting because he was C.M. Punk long before he went to WWE.

    On TV this week, they were back pushing one week free on the network, something that they originally stated would end on 3/3. They had continued to advertise a week free on the web site even after the free week period ended. As far as why they were pushing the free aspect this week instead of the network and its low price point to begin with is something you can only speculate on. They obviously get far more sign-ups when the first week is free, and most retain it. But I'd be very surprised if this continues through Mania, because the people who only bought the network knowing they could get Mania plus all the added content will be unhappy if they found out they could have timed things better and gotten Mania for free.

    Based on our polls, 91% of the people who got the network free trial remained on it (that's probably above the average but it's also likely a very high percentage of those who get it free kept it since the percentage for other streaming services retaining free orders has been very high). Regarding how much can be expected as far as foreign gain, of those who ordered it, 13% based on our poll are from outside the U.S. (Many who were outside the U.S. ended up kicked off because it was found out). Based on our polling, there should be a 29.1% increase next year for foreign orders from people who say that they will order but can't due to not being in the U.S., which is slightly ahead of the 25% that WWE projected to gain at that time. So that contradicts the idea the international gain won't be as much as projected.

    In what is probably very good news for this network, the UFC Fight Pass is already way ahead of projections, and that's with less hype, and more of an ancillary service for hardcore fans to have a chance to see everything, including prelim matches and some international shows not televised, as well as the library. UFC doesn't have anywhere near the WWE's library (although it has most of its library up while WWE has about 1.5% of its library up, UFC is claiming to have 5,000 hours of content up right now although I don't see how that's possible, but it's not like I've counted. WWE has up right now just under 1,300 hours of content up). But if the UFC numbers are way ahead of projections, the WWE numbers should at the very least have a ton of subscribers already, granted there is a huge difference in the break/even between the two services.

    In order, the people the company projects to be its five biggest stars going forward after WrestleMania are, Cena, Bryan, Orton, Sheamus, and Reigns. The Sheamus one surprises me a little, although HHH has been high on him for some time, and he was at one point being groomed as the No. 2 guy behind Cena. He never reached that level. The long delay in Orton's heel turn came because they were waiting for Sheamus with a bigger push to be more over than Orton with a lesser push on the Smackdown tour house shows. Eventually Punk turned instead and then Sheamus fell backwards and then got hurt. Also surprising is Batista is not on the list. This is a projection based on where they expect people to be several months down the line as opposed to where they are today and obviously when they get there things will have changed many times, but this is an internal list that was just made.

    A correction from last week's issue on the story about Vince McMahon moving Chris Jericho's debut date in 2007 back. It wasn't the PPV in Chicago where Jericho was supposed to return, but a date a few weeks later on Raw. McMahon did move that date back a few more weeks because of the idea that too many people had figured out when Jericho would return, so the story was correct in principle, but the date we had for his originally planned return was wrong.

    Ultimate Warrior tweeted this regarding the WWE Hall of Fame: "Fortune telling pundits lack the integrity it takes to figure me out. I'm honored Linda McMahon accepts my request to introduce at WWE Hall of Fame 2014." Linda McMahon was at the WWE Network launch party, but for years has tried to distance herself from WWE.

    Add Carlos Colon to the list of those to be inducted into the 2014 Hall of Fame. Colon cut a video talking about being inducted so that's a confirmation. At one point it was to be announced on the 3/10 Raw, but for whatever reason, it wasn't. Colon, 65, the father of Diego of Los Matadores (Edwin Colon) and uncle of Fernando (Orlando Colon), as well as the father of former WWE star Carlito (Carlos Colon Jr.), had been on the short list months ago of those they were planning on inducting, which at the time included Paul Bearer, Lita, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, Scott Hall and Mr. T. He most likely just got official word in the last week or two. This made the news in Puerto Rico, and he said that Carlito, Primo and Epico would be inducting him. So I guess Primo & Epico will be out of their matador outfits for the show. Rumors were going around in Puerto Rico of his being inducted over the past few days and Carlito even tweeted for people to watch Raw on 3/10, which was for the announcement, although it ended up not being announced on the show, but will be announced on Smackdown as it was announced in the building in Little Rock during the Smackdown portion of the taping. Colon is the biggest star in the history of pro wrestling in Puerto Rico. He's also the WWE live event promoter in the San Juan market, which would also play a part in the announcement since he was never a major star in the U.S. While he was born in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, he moved to Brooklyn at the age of 12, so his family always spoke both Spanish and English. He was a big fan of wrestling, in particular Miguel Perez Sr. He debuted in Boston in 1966, and wrestled as a prelim wrestler in the WWWF in the late 60s, as well as worked throughout Canada, as Carlos Belafonte, where he got a push and was a player. In 1973, he and Victor Jovica first formed Capital Sports, which, after going through some reorganizations over the years during financial bad times, is among the oldest wrestling companies in the world. During the peak, which would be the late 70s through the late 80s, it was one of the hottest promotions in the world, where virtually every major name of that era worked and headlined at one time or another. After Bruiser Brody was killed in a dressing room stabbing in 1988 at the hands of booker Jose Gonzalez (who still wrestles and headlines to this day as Invader I), the popularity declined and a lot of the top stars would no longer wrestle here, including the likes of Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Stan Hansen and Terry Funk. But it had some strong periods later, most notably the rise of Carlito Colon and his feud with Ray Gonzalez, and the debut of Eddie Colon and daughter Stacy. From the creation of the Universal title in 1983, he was perennial champion for decades. He's retired several times over the years, but wrestled a few matches this past year.

    SummerSlam pre-sale tickets for 8/17 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles went on sale this week. They go on sale to the public on 3/15. Of everything put on sale, all tickets except the platinum tickets were gone very quickly. They only released a limited amount of seats at first, and most went within a few hours. More were then released, and almost all of them also went quickly. It should be close to, if not sold out, by the end of the week as they have to save some tickets for the sale to the public.

    At press time on 3/11, the stock closed at $29.92. It had some big gains during the week and tons of volume, particularly mid-week, based on network and TV rights hype. Volume settled back to a little above normal. The company's market capitalization is now $2.25 billion.

    The current biggest merchandise sellers at the arenas are, in order, Cena, Bryan, Punk (down on the list because he's been off TV and not at the arenas), Batista, Sheamus, Hogan, Orton and Lesnar. On the web site, the best sellers are Cena, Punk, Bryan, Hogan, The Shield, Austin, Lesnar, Undertaker and Orton. Most notable is no more Sin Cara on the list since the change in the person playing the role, and no Mysterio, who for years had been in the top tier. Amazing how if someone is booked to be nothing, their merchandise doesn't sell so well.

    They are going to make a big push for Hogan for merchandise and legends merchandise based on a big four of Hogan, Undertaker, Warrior and Austin. Notable Warrior ahead of Michaels and no Dwayne Johnson (whose deal is that he gets a much higher cut of his merchandise than others and who isn't expected around any time soon). They also want all four of the big four at WrestleMania. Austin had talked about not wanting to go just to be there, and being happy to watch it from home, that he wouldn't be going unless there was a good reason. We know that they want to find a storyline for him to be at Mania in a non-wrestling fashion and the idea of him being there has been thrown at him, but we haven't heard of any kind of a deal. If you remember back, the original main event idea for this year's Mania was Austin managed by Vince McMahon vs. HHH, but they gave up on that one a long time ago.

    The plan going forward for the Raw dark matches (which they haven't done of late due to the network) is Cena & Bryan vs. Orton & Wyatt.

    I've heard a lot from several people on a commentary thing from the 3/3 Raw. Before the Christian vs. Sheamus match, coming off a WWE Network commercial, Layfield started talking about how much he liked Vince McMahon as an announcer. Lawler then delivered the line asking how he would compare Vince McMahon as an announcer to Jim Ross. Layfield responded that Vince was better because he could speak English, and then used the line of saying it's like comparing horse manure to ice cream (the line Bobby Heenan used in 1991 when Ric Flair was coming in when he tried to compare Flair's "real world title" to Hogan's title). The genesis is that certain parties were very upset at Jim Ross for telling a story on Opie & Anthony's radio show that week about Vince McMahon sharting. The story was back from well over a decade ago when Vince was doing the heel Mr. McMahon character in the Austin era, and Gerald Brisco, who has a notoriously weak stomach, was working with him in the Gorilla position as the guy who timed the segments to make sure the show stayed on track and segments hit at the right time. So before going out, Vince went to fart in Brisco's face, but accidentally shit himself. He went to the ring for his segment, did it with no problem. The brown stain was visible in the back of his Khaki pants and the camera people were all aware but didn't dare shoot it. That's all the story he told. The way the story was told at the time is when he came back, he must have changed clothes, and was holding the loaded old pants. He tried to chase Brisco down with to make him vomit, and HHH grabbed Brisco to hold him in place so he couldn't get away, but Brisco used one of his old amateur moves and reversed and escaped. Anyway, that story ended up going from Opie & Anthony to TMZ and tons of other web sites, so that was the receipt. It was clearly set up, and Layfield is often the voice of Vince. The segment was clearly set up since Lawler fed Layfield the line (notable because Lawler and Ross are legitimately best friends), but whether Layfield laid the segment out on his own or Vince did, I couldn't say.

    When appearing on Arsenio Hall, Nikki Bella was asked about her relationship with Cena and said that they were on a break, which is playing up the Total Divas story.

    I saw a photo of Evan Bourne taken this past week. He looks exactly like Alex Shelley but more muscular.

    Total Divas preview for the season premiere on 3/16 talks about Nikki having to adjust to life while broken up with Cena (that's probably storyline only as the two were still together at least as of a few weeks back), Summer Rae gets called up to the main roster and joins the cast (even more creative license than I'd have expected given she's been up for about a year and anyone who watches WWE TV even a little bit would know that) and Eva Marie's parents find out she got married and didn't tell them.

    Kane has started up a new insurance company in Knoxville called The Jacobs Agency, with his wife. They offer auto, home, motorcycle, RV, boat, life and commercial insurance, as well as retirement planning. Kane has told people in the area that he's been planning to retire for some time now but it's hard to walk away from the money, so he's going to continue while he can still make the big money. The feeling locally in the political world is that at some point he would be interested in running for public office as a Libertarian party candidate.

    Former referee Justin King (black ref) isn't happy about his tenure in WWE. He said he believed when he was with WWE he was one of the best referees they had. He said his life since leaving WWE has taken a turn for the better. "I have an amazing job now and no more drama with grown ass men in stripes. I swear that most of the referees in WWE are a bunch of crybaby ass kids that need to grow up. Mike Chioda and Marc Harris and Rod Zapata, those were my people. Thank you Chad Patton and Jack Doan for helping me live my dream. John Laurinaitis is one of the best bosses I have ever had. I don't care what anyone says about him. Mark Carrano and Jane Geddes were the demise of my career. I have no love for Scott Armstrong, who tried to ruin my career, from the beginning, in 2009. Truth is I wanted nothing more than to have my twin and me in WWE together and we both were qualified enough, but they would rather take ass kissers over talent. Not looking for sympathy, but just to get the real truth out there. So for anyone looking to referee for WWE, better start learning politics and playing a real life game. As far as my life goes, I thank God every day I am done."

    Steven Walters of Anarchy Wrestling out of Cornelia, GA, has signed a developmental deal. He'll start in mid-April in Orlando.

    Cena had a tight weekend schedule, working Madison Square Garden on Saturday night and going on last, then flying to Austin, TX for the SXSW conference (where he spoke Chinese for five minutes) and then flew on to a late afternoon house show in Jonesboro, AR.


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    BornToFail

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by BornToFail on Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:48 pm

    Dirtsheet wrote:I saw a photo of Evan Bourne taken this past week. He looks exactly like Alex Shelley but more muscular.

    At least he's still alive. He's coming back soon, right guys... Sad
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    Swarles
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Swarles on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:42 pm

    #HijackRaw(ForBlackRef)

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    dragondragon

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by dragondragon on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:07 pm

    If Evan Bourne looks like Alex Shelley, can they please get Alex Shelley?


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Stroke on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:14 pm

    I like that they added (Black ref) after King's name.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Swarles on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:38 pm

    dragondragon wrote:If Evan Bourne looks like Alex Shelley, can they please get Alex Shelley?

    Why would they need 2 guys that look the same?

    Stroke wrote:I like that they added (Black ref) after King's name.

    I think that was SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by dragondragon on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:45 pm

    [quote="Swarles"]
    dragondragon wrote:If Evan Bourne looks like Alex Shelley, can they please get Alex Shelley?

    Why would they need 2 guys that look the same?



    Doink Angle


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:00 pm

    Oh I totally added black ref just for reference.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:25 am

    I'm pretty sure Steven Walters is also in the Super 8 this year.
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by WhoBetta on Tue May 06, 2014 10:24 pm

    I miss you Observer updates. Please come back.  Crying or Very sad 


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Wed May 07, 2014 12:18 am

    WhoBetta wrote:I miss you Observer updates.  Please come back.   Crying or Very sad 

    I haven't subbed for at least a month, getting some extra bday cash this month maybe I will get one again.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:37 pm

    It's back WhoBetta~!

    7/6

    WWE seems to have the most long-term booking outside of WrestleMania plans in a number of years, as the storylines have been slowed down and the top matches for SummerSlam are planned.

    At this point, the big four SummerSlam matches are new WWE champion John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton, Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella (presumably with Brie Bella having to win to get her job back) and Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt. The lineup was first reported on by the SEScoops web site, and we were able to independently confirm those as the top four scheduled matches for 8/17 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane, possibly in a Buried Alive match, was on the original schedule, but that’s looking unlikely.

    During the Money in the Bank pre-game show, Bryan came out and noted that the strength in one of his arms has not returned. He looked a lot smaller, like he hasn’t been able to push weights yet. He said he didn’t know when he would be returning, and that he may need a second operation. It was known that he was not recovering, and may have even been getting worse, after the surgery, which was a bad sign. It would be the ultimate cruel irony that the guy who defied odds and whose real-life story of success is one of the most amazing pro wrestling stories in years, finds his future stalled just as he took the brass ring. Bryan vs. Lesnar was the original SummerSlam main event for the title. The beginning of the major Reigns singles push came when Bryan went down although he was always the hand-picked replacement for Cena. But all plans with Bryan for now are on hold.

    Cena won his 15th world title at Money in the Bank on 6/29 in Boston. The company has never really pushed his numbers that hard, but when won and the number was pushed in commentary, Michael Cole went off the air with the line that Cena may be the greatest champion in history. In the mythical pro wrestling records, Cena is now one short of Ric Flair’s 16. It was always thought that HHH would break that record, as in his last title win, the number was pushed hard. But he’s moved out of that position of being the guy who would be record-setting world champion to Head of Talent Relations, so he’s not going to be the guy who does it.

    Cena, on the other hand, if the Reigns push goes as expected, will be in the old Bruno Sammartino role as champion emeritus likely by this time next year, the generation’s all-time legend who is still around as the 1-A babyface, but at 37, with the way they switch belts (although they are slowing down and taking a more traditional and prestigious approach to the title), he’s probably going to get two more reigns. Where Bryan fits in when he returns probably depends entirely on the crowd reaction when he returns. If it’s not there at peak levels, it will be easy for them to figure based on his look and size, that he, like Dean Ambrose, will always be a strong face because true talent will stay at that level, but it won’t be top guy level. If the people react big to his comeback, the company will listen to the audience, usually, at least to a degree.

    The Cena win had been planned ever since they knew that Bryan was not going to be able to return for Money in the Bank and they didn’t want to go any longer without a champion. While Reigns became the “hot” babyface in Bryan’s absence, it made no sense to rush the title on him. With Lesnar plans for the title match, it really would have come down to Cena or doing a Bray Wyatt babyface turn. You could have argued for either one, which is a tribute to how much potential Wyatt appears to have as a face. But Wyatt wasn’t considered.

    What was interesting was the last few days before the show. The SummerSlam video box, with Cena and Lesnar the only two focused on, got out a few days before Money in the Bank. At first WWE tried to recall it, but in this day and age, that’s impossible. Then, before the show, WWE sent out an e-mail blast for Money in the Bank which also pushed SummerSlam with the same Cena and Lesnar photo. I thought them going out and releasing that as the match on their own two days before the PPV had to be a swerve, but it wasn’t.

    There was a risk is Cena winning when the crowd wanted Reigns to win. But the “Batista backlash,” which he was certainly booed at times in the match itself, didn’t happen. The storyline, which stemmed from Seth Rollins winning the first MITB match due to help from Kane, was that Kane was also helping Orton win. As people saw it unfold and believed to be happening, when Cena foiled The Authority’s plan and won the title, the crowd cheered Cena just fine. Some were upset with Cena winning, but he was the best of the available alternatives for that night. Plus, the belief internally is that the people who boo Cena the loudest are the ones who are so invested they are watching and buying at greater numbers than any other group.

    Reigns and HHH had a staredown to end Raw the next day, and it had been thought Reigns vs. HHH would be at SummerSlam. The match should happen as part of Reigns’ elevation to WrestleMania, and you can argue September or October would be a better time table.

    Going from there, most talk seems to be that Lesnar will take the title from Cena and build to a Lesnar vs. Reigns match at WrestleMania, which would be the coronation of Reigns as the new top babyface in the company. A lot can happen and we don’t have any confirmation Lesnar is taking the title, only that SummerSlam is big, but that Night of Champions on 9/21 in Nashville has to be built up as equally big. The people who ordered the network in its first three weeks subscriptions run out before the 9/21 show. It is the PPVs that are the main driver of subscriptions. As noted before, going forward the most logical schedule is to have the big three events be Royal Rumble in January because it’s tradition, WrestleMania in early April, and a big event in mid-October when the people who sign up specifically for Mania will be running out. But this year, 74 percent of the first batch of subscribers will expire during the month of September.

    Past the fact Lesnar will be at Night of Champions, nothing is known about Lesnar’s schedule past that it’s logical he would work Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. The question regards would they put the title on a guy who won’t be working house shows for a period from August through April? There’s also the question of what to do regarding Rollins and the cash-in. They do have the storyline in place where Dean Ambrose can cost him it, but since he already did that once on TV before the match started, a scenario likely to play out several times, that doesn’t feel like the end game. Reigns winning from Lesnar would at this point feel like a bigger moment than winning from Rollins, but a lot can happen between now and the end of the year, when the Mania battle plan will be fully decided.

    They did set a precedent with Rock in 2013, but that was late January through early April. Lesnar has been working under a deal of three PPVs a year and about a dozen TV shows, but all deals are open to renegotiation. Even Rock worked Elimination Chamber during the period he was champion and it’s clear they don’t want to have PPVs without the champion on them.

    With Bryan out indefinitely, that may have played a role in bringing back Jericho, to work a program with Wyatt. Jericho and WWE had remained on good terms from his last departure. They were in talks about returning for Mania season, but it didn’t happen because Jericho didn’t want to come back unless he felt the creative was in place. The last time he was in, he came back to build to a program where he’d turn heel and elevate Ryback at Mania, a deal made when Ryback, who had been super hot, was slightly cooling off after losing the Hell in a Cell match with C.M. Punk. While people will point to his limitations, Ryback was as hot or hotter than Reigns is today at that time, and one of the very few wrestlers in the last few years who made a big difference in a PPV number in his first title challenge (of course that was predicated on his winning, because when he got screwed, he never swelled numbers like that again). But the decision was made to turn Ryback heel before Mania, and program Jericho with Fandango. The Mania finish, with Fandango going over, was the only thing that made sense at that moment with Fandango on the rise and Jericho leaving. But today, using hindsight, it seems rather stupid, especially since the Fandango push was given up on so quickly after.

    Talks for Jericho to return had been going on, on-and-off, since that time. They apparently heated up about a month ago, which probably coincides with the bad news on Bryan’s recovery and the company feeling they had a top slot open. The deal wasn’t fully agreed to and completed until 6/27, the point at which Vince McMahon green lit the Wyatt program. Like usual, Jericho has committed for a certain length of time. “Fozzy,” Jericho’s other main project, had only three dates on the calendar for the next several months and has no announced listed future touring. It’s also notable signing Jericho, who has always been paid at the top tier level when it comes to downside guarantee, at a time when the company is doing extensive budget cutting. Jericho will be working house shows on a similar schedule as in his past returns. He’s been added next week to the Japan tour.

    Also returning on Raw was A.J. Lee, two weeks after her wedding to C.M. Punk. With the wedding planned, she took more time off than originally scheduled, as she was originally to be back about five weeks ago. She won the Divas title from Paige on Raw in a double-turn segment.

    Bad News Barrett, who suffered a separated shoulder at the 6/24 Smackdown tapings in Pittsburgh, underwent shoulder surgery on 7/2 under Dr. Jeff Dugas in Birmingham. The major surgery involved a ligament reconstruction as well as a distal clavicle resection, where the end of the collar bone is shaved off, according to Dr. Chris Amann of the WWE’s medical staff. He’ll be out of action for several months.

    The decision was made to put the IC title that Barrett held up in a Battle Royal on the 7/20 Battleground PPV from Tampa. Wrestlers in the Battle Royal thus far are Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Big E, Rob Van Dam, Alberto Del Rio, Bo Dallas, Great Khali, Kofi Kingston and a character played by Damien Sandow. At this point Cesaro appears to be the favorite since he’s the one regularly losing, getting pinned by Kingston on Raw, by Ziggler in a six-man on Main Event, and also got the worst of it in a brawl with Big E on Smackdown. Cesaro is still, along with Wyatt and Reigns, one of the three people the company is earmarking for top spots by WrestleMania, so the losses here aren’t supposed to move him down. But one of the reasons the IC title went to Barrett and not Cesaro, is because the booking of IC and U.S. champions has been so bad that almost everyone, including Cesaro and even Sheamus, ended up less over after a long run with a secondary belt than before they had the run. Barrett looked to be the exception to the rule.

    Given that they just had a TV Battle Royal two weeks ago, and a high-profile Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Mania, it just feels too soon for another. They did have a tournament recently for the IC title top contender and it’s certainly the wrong time for a ladder match.

    The announced Battleground main event is a Fatal Four Way for the WWE title with Cena defending against Reigns, Orton and Kane. They did an angle on Smackdown where Reigns was told if he interfered in the Orton vs. Ambrose main event, that he’d be out of the four-way. He didn’t interfere in the match, but did do a run-in to make a post-match save.

    It doesn’t make sense that HHH would put Reigns in the four-way. The whole idea was that they didn’t want him in the ladder match, badly, but he swerved his way in. He was responsible for Stephanie getting sick, and is the No. 1 storyline enemy of HHH. So them putting him in a title match the next month seems to make no sense. Also, the story would be better if he’s deprived of any title opportunities and the only way he can get one is winning the Rumble, as opposed to him being in several multi-person title matches before Mania and never winning. I guess we’ll see how that turns out.

    Ambrose vs. Rollins is also on the Battleground schedule.

    Other programs started include the continuation of Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan, with Harper pinning Jey on Raw in a trios match it would indicate another tag title match is imminent; Jericho vs. Wyatt; Rusev vs. Jack Swagger and A.J. vs. Paige in the Divas title match.

    --Notes--

    Vince McMahon has ordered major cutbacks, far beyond what has been done so far. The dollar figure going around is into the eight figures, so that the losses for this year aren’t nearly as large as were being projected a month back. There is a lot of fear that there major cuts on the horizon besides the talent cuts and some production cuts that have already taken place. I can recall when the network first became obvious it would be a reality toward the latter part of last year that there was the fear that while the idea eventually would work, that there may be growing pains, but luckily with the new TV deal, the increase in rights fees expected would alleviate the network losses. When the TV deal was announced and the increase was far less than anticipated, the fallout of that deal is part of the reason things are happening the way they are.

    Josh Matthews (Josh Lomberger, 33), was released this past week after nearly 12 years as an announcer. As Josh Lomberger, he was discovered in the first season of Tough Enough in 2001. Lomberger, Chris Nowinski and Maven Huffman were the three men’s finalists, with Huffman getting the nod. Lomberger was hired by Kevin Dunn to be a backstage interviewer, and moved to commentary in 2006 on a number of different shows including Raw, Smackdown, Heat, FCW, Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam, Superstars and ECW. In 2011, Matthews, Michael Cole and Booker T were the regular commentary trio on Smackdown and did some Raw announcing when Jerry Lawler was wrestling. Of late, he’s been hosting the pre-and-post game shows before Raw, Smackdown and the PPVs. He had already filmed the pre-game show on cable for the Money in the Bank PPV, which tells you how little time in advance it was known that he would be let go before the decision was made. Lomberger was at the TNA tapings in New York right after he was let go and he does have a connection to John Gaburick, given Gaburick was one of the main people behind Tough Enough, and it wouldn’t shock me that Gaburick may have even played a hand in Kevin Dunn pushing for Lomberger as an announcer. He was believed to be the latest victim of budget cutting.

    At about the same time, the shows Lomberger hosted were changed in a budget cutting measure. The pre-and-post-game shows before and after Raw were changed from being done at the arena to a studio setting. The shows before and after Smackdown were canceled. They also didn’t have a post-show or press conference for Money in the Bank, as they went from the end of the PPV, and started airing a replay of the PPV at 11 p.m. Renee Young is now hosting the shows they are still doing.

    The signing of two of the best wrestlers of the past decade, Kenta Kobayashi (KENTA), 33, and Fergal “Prince” Devitt, 32, is all but official. The WWE’s Japan office officially announced that on the 7/12 show in Osaka, that a major Japanese superstar would be signing his WWE contract at 5 p.m. that day. It had already been reported that KENTA would be signing in Osaka but WWE hadn’t confirmed it, although they inadvertently did. The ad for the Osaka show shows Hogan and a blacked out wrestler, but a code to see the ad lists it as “KENTA teaser.” Devitt was on a 6/29 show in London and it was announced this was his final U.K. match before he leaves for the U.S.

    WWE produced a Money in the Bank numbers video along the lines of the annual Royal Rumble video, noting things like Kane and Christian had been in nine Money in the Bank ladder matches the most in history and most cash-ins have been in June, which will be difficult this year. What was notable is that there was word from above that Punk not be in the video even though he’s won the match and cashed in and won the title each time.

    Shooting of “Tough Enough” at last word was still scheduled to begin this week. But even at this late date it’s up in the air due to budget cutting. The people involved got the directive to reduce production costs and it was not 100% at last word whether they would even start filming as scheduled or not.

    Cena has signed on for two movies, one of which is currently filming. The one he’s doing now is called “Trainwreck,” which was written by and stars Amy Schumer, the comedian who was once Ziggler’s girlfriend. Judd Apatow is the director. Cena is listed tenth from the top. Cena is working a less than full schedule in July. There are some weekends he’s not doing house shows. I believe he’ll be doing Raws and two weekends this month including the grueling Tokyo/MSG weekend on 7/11 and 7/12. That movie is scheduled for a July 24, 2015 release. A second movie is called “The Nest,” a comedy with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as stars about two sisters who throw one last party in their parents soon to be sold house. Cena will play a villain character for the first time since his early days in WWE in that movie, which is scheduled for a December 18, 2015 release.

    The Hollywood Reporter had an in-depth cover story on Dwayne Johnson last week, with him talking about going through bouts of depression. I’m not sure how widespread this is, but of wrestlers that I’ve known well, the percentage of the ones that go through major depression is huge. I don’t know if it’s the huge high of wrestling, the constant pressure of worrying about your lot with a fickle audience in a unique business, and I’m sure the Internet can’t help things because to me that’s a disaster for young wrestlers in particular. Johnson did a lot of media in Australia, where he’s shooting the movie “San Andreas,” which he’s guaranteed $12 million for. The story said that movie and “Hercules” were huge in that they can establish him as an even bigger player, even though the franchise movies he was part of last year led to his films grossing $1.3 billion, more than any other actor in the world, from “G.I. Joe Retaliation ($376 million, up 25% from the prior G.I. Joe release), “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($335 million, up 40% from the previous movie in that franchise) and Fast and Furious Six ($789 million, as compared to $626 for Fast Five that he was in and $363 million for Fast Four, which he wasn’t in). He said his turning point came in 2011 when he was unhappy with his career, saying he was hitting singles and doubles, switched from CAA to WME as his agents and getting rid of the team he had surrounding him. He talked about his depression as a kid, when he was living in Hawaii and the families car was repossessed and they were locked out of their $480 a month apartment because they didn’t pay the bills, and again when his football career ended in Canada. His story is that he got cut by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Their version is that he asked to leave because he said he wanted to train to be a pro wrestler. Either way, he was on the practice squad making $250 a week at the time (he had signed with the Stampeders for $35,000 but got cut from the main roster), after there was no interest in him by the NFL. Johnson was a heavily-recruited high school football All-American, but at the University of Miami, a series of back and shoulder injuries plagued his college career. He wasn’t drafted by the NFL, but was also aware coming out of college that he wasn’t going to be. He played with future superstars like Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp. As noted before, his production company, “Seven Bucks Entertainment,” is because when his football career ended, he had $7 to his name. It’s a figure he always remembers and brings up constantly. It talked about his unique relationship with is ex-wife, who is his business manager, and his former brother-in-law produces shows with him, and his wife’s new husband is his trainer. Because of the nature of the wrestling business, he moved 13 times, living just about everywhere in the country at one time or another growing up. He noted that he was told to be a star in Hollywood, he couldn’t be so big, so he trimmed down to 220 pounds, perhaps less, and ate very little, and also was told to distance himself from wrestling, and he started doing movies with Disney. He said the turning point was the movie “Tooth Fairy,” which did well at the box office, but it was not what he wanted to be, and after that movie, the decision was made to return to the action genre, and CAA placed him in Fast Five. He at that time turned hardcore bodybuilder and decided to return to pro wrestling. CAA told him it was a bad move, but he dumped CAA. Vince McMahon told him to contract Ari Emmanuel of WME, and they said he could become a franchise player in multiple franchises at the same time. He said he wanted people around him who shared his same vision, so dumped his prior team and said, “If we fail, that’s okay, we are going to fail swinging for the fences.” Hercules is gigantic for his career. The challenge was to keep his body at peak condition, not a normal in shape body but a Hercules body, for four consecutive months, which, no matter how much help you get, is both physically and even more mentally difficult. He had spent a year training to peak right after WrestleMania, and then wound up with the torn abdominal muscle, torn adductor and a hernia in his match with Cena. He decided against surgery, and somehow he’d train light and try to work through it, but the hernia, which came after the original injuries, changed his plans and he had no choice but to go under the knife. Because of that, the start of the movie shooting had to be delayed a month, at a cost of $2 million. Unlike in a supporting role, this movie was built around him, which meant a crazy all-day shooting schedule. To keep his look for the filming, basically holding a physical peak of staying ripped while maintaining non-human levels of muscle mass, he needed to get up at 2 or 3 a.m., train, work all day, fit in ten small meals of a very restrictive and constantly drink water. His schedule now includes an HBO TV series, “Ballers,” described as Entourage in a sports setting, where he will play a sports agent, which he’ll shoot in the fall, and shoot “Wake Up Call,” a reality show which is a remake of his short-lived “The Hero,” show. Johnson admitted that his third major depression, after seeing his mother react to being evicted and his football career going nowhere, came in 2008 after his divorce, which from a public standpoint he handled well, with neither he or his wife saying anything about what led to it, saying failing at marriage and being a husband knocked him on his ass. He also will continue his relationship with WWE, when it comes to merchandising and other things. As far as wrestling again, he has not ruled it out or retired. The fact is, he’s worked five matches in his second career, and was injured in two of them, the second being serious and Hollywood wouldn’t be thrilled at him doing it again. He said his willingness to wrestle again would be predicated on if he believes he could pull numbers equal to or better than the second Cena match. Originally he was going to try and do it last year with Lesnar, but opted out. The change in WWE on PPV makes that an interesting concept. For his Mania matches, he was paid a percentage as opposed to a guarantee, tied into the PPV revenue. With PPV revenue being so far down, a deal coming up would likely have to be for a guarantee that would be in the realm of what he earned for the 2011 and 2012 shows, and one wonders whether with the new business where the network income is more steady and not as reliant on a big star or a big main event, whether that’s financially feasible for WWE. Quite frankly, you couldn’t even have a good answer to that question until late in the year when more is understood about a network-based business model.

    While this is really just obvious, but it’s notable they are already talking about it, there are tentative ideas to do a Shield reunion in late 2015 or 2016, where they would be kept apart but be brought together for a short period of time, and maybe do it every few years, with the guide behind the last few DX reunions.

    The WWE Network is now on Amazon Fire TV, which joins Apple TV, Roku, Soy PS 3, Sony PS 4, Xbox 1, Xbox 360, iOS devices, Apple iPad, iPhone, Amazing Kindle Fire and Android devices as well as PC’s.

    Some notes on Cena being on the cover of the game. The general rule with Miz (2011), Orton (2012) and Punk (2013) is to make the person on the cover someone who was planned to win the title. With Rock, in 2014, that wasn’t the case as much as the ability to strike the deal and get Rock to agree to do the promotion as they’d put him on at any time, plus the feeling is it the 2013 WrestleMania was possibly his last match so it was thought it could be the last chance for him to be on the cover. Cena has never had a singular cover and was more than due. For this year’s game, for 2015, it will be on four platforms instead of two and with new consoles this year, the feeling is it’s a big opportunity for increased numbers in 2015 (as well as 2016) so the idea was, since Rock is retired and not available, it was imperative this year to play the biggest hand for the most people, and the belief is that is Cena, not Bryan, in the sense he’s more known, and the people who are Bryan fans who hate Cena are going to buy the game anyway. The idea of 15th time and 2015 are not coincidence in the sense there was a plan for him to have another title run at some point when the game came out. Obviously, it was not this soon in planning, since Bryan was going to keep it at the very least through SummerSlam if he wasn’t injured. The decision for Cena ahead of Bryan on the cover was made long before Bryan was hurt and long before the decision was made for Bryan to even get the title at Mania.

    Marty Lazzaro, 54, who was one of the best friends as well as the lawyer for Bruno Sammartino, passed away on 6/25. Lazzaro was the lawyer who negotiated the deal with Paul Levesque that got Sammartino back with the company. He was also the person behind the Sammartino documentary which has been worked on for years but has still not been released. The only thing we heard is that he had not been seen for a few days and was found dead in the Monogahela River, which is one of the three rivers in Pittsburgh. He was a personal injury lawyer in Pittsburgh and Sammartino brought up his name to me in just about every conversation we had, and in just about every radio interview we did. “He was an extremely bright man and a very good attorney, but that’s minimal in comparison to the human being that he was,” said Sammartino in a Pittsburgh Post Gazette story who said Lazzaro was like a son to him. “This was a man who had the biggest heart of any human being I have known in my life. He was such a kind, kind man.”

    Sammartino did approximately nine hours of taping interviews on 6/25 and 6/26. Exactly how and where the interviews will be used is to be determined, but they will probably be used in a number of circles, including historical DVDs and network programming. There is nothing we know conclusively about them doing a Sammartino DVD.

    Nothing is new on the Sting front, past the point that as of the weekend, he still wasn’t signed. The company is working with the idea that it’s imminent, but we’ve heard that for months. Ultimately, he wants in and they want him in, whether it’s for a television personalty role, an ambassador, the Hall of Fame or doing a match or two is not clear. It all comes down to money because Sting doesn’t have to sell himself short and he spent his entire career working with guaranteed money deals.

    Austin has been out promoting his new reality show, “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” filmed at his ranch in South Texas. It’s garnering a bunch of athletes and putting them through a series of strength, stamina and mental challenge with a big prize to the winner. The show will air at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights on CMT, ironically the same time slot WWE fans were used to watching Total Divas on. While Austin is under contract to WWE, it is a side production so WWE hasn’t promoted it at all on television. When asked who he thinks will be WWE’s next mainstream star: “There’s three guys who have big superstars written on them. I think Bray Wyatt is one of them. Cesaro is one of them, but when I got to mention the guy you’re asking for, it’s Roman Reigns. He happens to be related to The Rock. Good looking kid, damn good worker in the ring. I want to know more about his promos. But man, if I got to look at the roster right now and say who is my next megastar, his name is Roman Reigns.” Austin was on the MMA Hour, and when asked which he enjoys watching more today, pro wrestling or MMA, he said , “Totally MMA,” although said it’s because he knows pro wrestling so much while MMA he can watch more as a fan and learn strategies and game plans, similar to watching football. He said he would always love pro wrestling, but he gets more out of watching MMA.

    Regarding Austin, I never knew this, but at the WrestleMania in Seattle in 2003, Austin vs. Rock with Rock going over was always scheduled to end the show. It was kept a secret, but those who needed to know were aware it was going to be Austin’s last match and he was putting Rock over clean. However, Austin freaked out and had anxiety issues and wound up in the hospital the night before. Vince made the call that they couldn’t risk having Austin vs. Rock go on last because of Austin’s condition, so moved them to the middle of the card and put Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle last. Even though Lesnar vs. Angle was the title match, they weren’t going on last because Angle’s neck was so messed up. That was the match where it was Angle’s last match before surgery, and Lesnar landed on his head trying a shooting star press for the finish when he slipped on the ropes, and Lesnar was lucky he didn’t break his neck.

    Flair has been given no-start up date for television, but he is still scheduled as a babyface manager on the 7/12 Madison Square Garden show.

    The stock was at $11.75 per share at press time giving the company a market worth of $883.06 million.

    Conor Michalik, the young boy who died of cancer shortly after WrestleMania, where he was Bryan’s guest at ringside when he won the title, is being remembered by WWE announcing “Connor’s Cure,” a charity they will fund in conjunction with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. They are really working hard on this. At all the house shows, they are playing the video that they made of him, which is one of the most moving things they’ve ever produced and giving instructions on donations. Justin Roberts was having a hard time talking he was so choked up when having to talk about it after showing the video on the show in Bangor.

    Mark Kowal, the Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller was appointed the company’s Principal Accounting Officer. Kowal, 38, has been with the company since 2001. He was named Vice President and Corporate Controller in 2004, and made a Senior Vice President in February.

    While this could change, there is talk of the Monday Night Wars show to air on Thursdays as a lead-in for NXT after the end of the weekly run of the first season of Total Divas. That would be a behind the scenes TV series talking about that period, from a WWE point of view of course. The actual episodes of Raw and Nitro from the Monday Night Wars era are expected to be put up in a few months, roughly around the time the first six-month cycle ends.

    Marella, in talking about “Be a Star,” said he thinks it’s crazy when WWE gets criticized on the bullying issue given the nature of the product. “It’s crazy to criticize it, because the people who are putting out this product are the ones going out to the kids and saying, `Hey, what we do is a show. It’s entertainment,” he told Newsday. “You cannot settle your disputes the way we do on TV, because we are entertainment. That’s one of the big messages that we teach in every school, and the kids understand it.” Marella, who is 35, also hinted that his in-ring days are coming to a close, saying he’s interested in a possible television General Manager role or hosting a WWE network talk show. “I’m definitely winding down.” He said he doesn’t feel he’s in jeopardy of being cut because he can entertain in so many different ways and comedy is part of the presentation, and thought the people who got cut weren’t as versatile as he was.

    One prominent wrestler noted to us the increase in frequency of eye poke injuries (Cena and Cesaro just in recent weeks for the type of injury that almost never happened in the past) is because WWE is pushing everyone to be more aggressive in work style. This has led to people rushing, which leads to sloppy execution when it comes to being careful and safe, and thus more eye pokes, potato shots resulting in black eyes, concussions and separated shoulders. They are also working with the idea of just missing. The idea is to throw kicks and strikes really hard and fast, and just miss, which has led to an increase in concussions because if you are rushing, some of the near misses don’t miss.

    Cesaro suffered scratched right eyeball in his 6/30 Raw match with Kingston. The injury took place during the finishing sequence. Kingston was on Cesaro’s shoulders in position for a rana (victory roll) and turned his body around while on the shoulders into a huracanrana position. He steadied himself in the turn by holding onto Cesaro’s head, and in doing so, his finger went into Cesaro’s right eye, scratching the sclera of the eye. He wore an eye-patch. On Main Event, his scheduled singles match with Ziggler was changed to a trios match, so he didn’t have to do very much. He was only in a short period of time, although Ziggler did take off his eye patch and he worked some spots at the finish without the patch on. He’s supposed to keep the patch on a little longer. He was cleared by WWE doctors on 7/1 to continue working.

    When Tim Linceum of the San Francisco Giants pitched a no-hitter on 6/25, he was in the dressing room after wearing a Gladiator helmet and leading the team in a “Yes” chant. The team does that chant whenever a player hits a home run.

    Brian Myers, the former Curt Hawkins, did an interview with Live Audio Wrestling last week. He wasn’t down about being let go, saying he loved wrestling in the ring and for a long time, he was just sitting at home collecting a check and having no fun, so he was happy to be let go so he could start wrestling again. He said that the non-push of Ryder really broke the spirit of a lot of the undercard guys. “The worst part of that whole thing is that it really kind of broke the spirit of the locker room. For years, we were told in all these pep talks that there’s a brass ring, you’ve gotta reach for it, and it’s there for the taking if you work hard enough and get yourself over. And he did it. He defied the odds and actually does it, and all the boys are rooting for him, like, `Oh, wow this is cool as shit. This has never been done before.’ He got over without the office and without TV time. It was pretty mind-blowing. And then they just crush it and take it all away from him. To me, I felt the example that set for the rest of the boys was pretty brutal, because then, it’s like it almost feels hopeless. Its like you’re not going to be pushed unless they pick you to get pushed, and that’s kind of it. I thought, above all, that message that sent to the boys was the worst part. They crushed the spirit of a lot of people, like, `Okay, so my hard work here isn’t going to pay off.’”

    A second and third ref from NXT, Dan Engler, 36, and Jason Ayres, have been given the call-up. At the 6/26 NXT show in Starke FL, after the Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn match, all the NXT guys showed respect for him. Engler is somewhat well known as referees go. He was both a major referee and also did a lot of other functions like time the shows for TNA from 2002 to 2009, under the name Rudy Charles. Dan Engler is his real name. They did the same thing the next night in Leesburg for Ayres. Ayres, his real name, is 32, and has also used the name Jason Harding on indies. He’s been with WWE for two years in developmental. He had plenty of experience before that, working regularly with ROH from 2005-2007, Micro Championship Wrestling from 2007-2010 and well as Evolve and Dragon Gate USA in 2011-12.

    All Saturday Night’s Main Events (the originals on NBC and FOX from 1985 to 1992, and the lower profile and less viewed remakes from 2006 to 2008 on NBC) are to join all the Clashes as being uploaded on the WWE Network starting 7/7.

    They are doing 2-3 NXT house shows on the weekend within driving distance from Orlando in Central Florida mostly. They consistently do between 80 and 250 people. Not sure why they don’t try and get their TV in the area like they had it before and give guys promo practice and doing promos to sell tickets, even though it’s less applicable than ever before, it’s still experience gained in learning how to do non-scripted promos to build programs. The fan base is almost all regulars who are friends with the wrestlers and family, and they do very little it the way of general wrestling fans or the public.

    Shaun Ricker, as Slate Randall, is being the gimmick of “The Hollywood He-Man.” Garrett Dylan has been doing the comedy gimmick at the house shows as Captain Comic of the Rose Buds. Jason Jordan cut off most of his hair and is now going with a buzz cut. His hair looked similar to Woods.

    At the shows this weekend, they had Adrian Neville over Sami Zayn to retain the title in the main events. Fans were chanting “This is awesome” at the Cocoa show before they locked up. One report was that they had the best match but it lacked heat at first because it was face vs. face and people didn’t want to see either lose but the work got people into it. Charlotte and Bayley also had strong women’s matches. Jo Jo from Total Divas was working as the ring announcer this weekend.

    Tyler Breeze is still out of action with broken fingers. Marcus Louis is out of action with a leg injury and Cal Bishop will be out for several months due to a torn rotator cuff.

    In something that surprises me a lot, there are reports from Japan that the 7/11 show in Sumo Hall is sold out. That would be the show that includes both Cena and Hogan. WWE the last few years was only able to draw half-full houses at Sumo Hall. Hogan was a big deal in Japan in the 80s. Osaka, with Hogan, has sold out all the cheap seats, but the advance is nothing like New Japan did for Dominion last week.

    Hogan’s deal is a substantial guarantee, plus a high dollar figure per dates and he’s got the ability to do his own bookings outside the company as well although the company gets first call on him.


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    JustSkiff

    Posts : 1418
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:04 pm

    I had no idea Rudy Charles or Jason Harding were signed.
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    WhoBetta

    Posts : 465
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by WhoBetta on Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:43 pm

    Missed you so much. Smile


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    Xero

    Posts : 780
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Xero on Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:04 pm

    Brian Myers, the former Curt Hawkins, did an interview with Live Audio Wrestling last week. He wasn’t down about being let go, saying he loved wrestling in the ring and for a long time, he was just sitting at home collecting a check and having no fun, so he was happy to be let go so he could start wrestling again. He said that the non-push of Ryder really broke the spirit of a lot of the undercard guys. “The worst part of that whole thing is that it really kind of broke the spirit of the locker room. For years, we were told in all these pep talks that there’s a brass ring, you’ve gotta reach for it, and it’s there for the taking if you work hard enough and get yourself over. And he did it. He defied the odds and actually does it, and all the boys are rooting for him, like, `Oh, wow this is cool as shit. This has never been done before.’ He got over without the office and without TV time. It was pretty mind-blowing. And then they just crush it and take it all away from him. To me, I felt the example that set for the rest of the boys was pretty brutal, because then, it’s like it almost feels hopeless. Its like you’re not going to be pushed unless they pick you to get pushed, and that’s kind of it. I thought, above all, that message that sent to the boys was the worst part. They crushed the spirit of a lot of people, like, `Okay, so my hard work here isn’t going to pay off.’”


    This is pretty much it, and it's not just with Ryder.  Christian is another example of a guy with tons of talent that just never got a consistent main event push largely just because he was never pictured in that role.


    Roman Reigns is a good example of the opposite.  As the third man in a stable featuring Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, this no-name muscle man is the main getting the main event push.  The only reason people care about him at all is because somewhere along the line, WWE decided we should care.


    Apparently unless you can get a football stadium to mimic your chant, you just have to hope Vince and creative like you enough to warrant a push.

    The PhenomenalBullyOne

    Posts : 128
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by The PhenomenalBullyOne on Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:13 am

    JustSkiff wrote:I had no idea Rudy Charles or Jason Harding were signed.

    I think he does NXT matches i remember seeing him on a few. Rudy Charles i mean.

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    Re: WWE Observer news

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