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Only 2 weeks to go for the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING to exist here on LordsofPain.net. We’re almost there… And I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s like being a school student just before a Summer Vacation, but being a senior in high school. Feels good… I’ll tell you what really feels good and that is no longer watching events on the WWE Network. Sorry, but devoting 4+ hours of my Sunday nights to the WWE was becoming a chore. I’m free at last…
But there is one WWE Network special gaining a lot of attention right now. On November 2nd, 2018, the WWE is sending along John Cena, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Kane, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Brock Lesnar to the international event in Saudi Arabia called WWE Crown Jewel. Reports suggest that the WWE will earn another $20 million or so for doing this show and combining these huge international payoffs with the FOX/Comcast television deals, it has made the WWE stock surge during 2018.
However, there is tension surrounding the host country. I’m NOT going to go into this controversy here in a pro wrestling column. What I’ll simply do is just provide this LINK and you may read for yourself. It is a news story that is bubbling in the press about the current United States-Saudi Arabia relations and the WWE‘s Crown Jewel has been made into a target by the media and by politicians. There are calls for the WWE to cancel this show… For the record, the country of Saudi Arabia is denying these allegations.
What’s my opinion?
WWE can do what it wants.
You, as a wrestling fan, you need to choose if you’re offended or not…
If wrestlers are offended, they need to unite and refuse together. If not, just do your job and make money.
See, WWE is a business and a publicly traded corporation. The main job of a Corporation is to maximize profits to get the most earnings per share for the shareholders. The WWE stock has boomed during 2018 because of the FOX/Comcast deals but also for the newer revenue stream of doing Pay Per View like shows in international markets. Specifically, Saudi Arabia being willing to pay a reported $20 million per show. Instead of burning out United States markets with 2 Pay Per Views per month between RAW/Smackdown brands, the WWE has figured out that they can do 3-4 international shows to make MORE money. There is a real chance that the WWE has made more money with THREE international shows (Australia + 2 Saudi shows) than all United States hosted Pay Per Views combined. Now do you see why the WWE stock has been surging?
But, if the WWE walks away from the Saudi Arabia “Crown Jewel” show, watch that stock price tank bigtime. I believe that the Stock Market is betting that Vince McMahon loves money more than what politicians think or what anyone on social media thinks.
However, you’re like… What about Hulk Hogan‘s racial rants? What about Seth Rollins‘s Curb Stomp finisher ban? What about any wrestler homophobic slurs that were meant as trash talk? What about Daniel Bryan choking a ring announcer with a tie to get terminated? What about Muhammad Hassan‘s character getting removed after the Smackdown incident where a bunch of guys in ski masks attacked the Undertaker with piano wire?
Did any of those incidents have a reported $20 million price tag for 1 night’s worth of work? Nope…
WWE will change if they sense that it could cost them money. They are probably weighing how many fans will temorarily leave and if the revenue lost is around $20 million. That’s why Hulk Hogan was terminated for his racial rants because the WWE was worried that the black demographic of fans would walk away. Cleaning up the WWE for drugs and violence was the direct response of the WWE to the Chris Benoit killings. In this direct case, deciding to cancel WWE Crown Jewel would instantly cost the WWE Corporation $20 Million and ends a 10 year agreement to host at least 1 annual show per year. That is a ton of money that the WWE would be walking away from.
WWE is in an interesting spot on this one, however, because of their relation to President Donald Trump. Not only have they conducted business together for 30 years (Trump hosted Wrestlemania 4 in 1988), but the friendship forged has definitely helped Linda McMahon to become part of President Trump’s cabinet as Small Business Administrator. Four United States Senators (1 Republican with Graham, 3 Democrats with Murphy/Coons/Menendez) have spoken about it. Reportedly, Lindsey Graham may have a spot in Trump’s cabinet in the future yet he’s saying that there “should be a pause” with the WWE’s financial relationship with Saudi Arabia. It would be hard to say whether or not Trump cares about the Senate at the moment with the 2018 elections around the corner and because Trump successfully obtained his Supreme Court Justice with their votes.
Question is how YOU, the wrestling fans, are upset about WWE having financial relations with Saudi Arabia. Many of you within the Internet Wrestling Community claimed to be offended by the “Greatest Royal Rumble” show containing ZERO female employees. But if you look at the numbers between that show and SummerSlam, not much change in business other than the current trends already seen. FOX/Comcast didn’t see enough fan “runoff” from social outrage to deny the WWE $2 Billion over the next 5 years. Now, if these international allegations are true, what will you do as a wrestling fan? Where’s your outrage?
Sounds like I’m retiring at the right time, eh?
Lastly, let’s see how the WWE wrestlers react. Crown Jewel will pay wrestlers well for their travels and participating for this show. Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kane, and Undertaker are all appearing on this show and they may collectively have around 10 matches combined together for 2018? Shawn Michaels is COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT for this show… He has been retired since Wrestlemania 26 during 2010 and has not wrestled at any other venue since. But, he’ll wrestle for a pile of money overseas…
We can then get into the discussion on whether or not these Independent Contractors are willing to unionize. But if WWE wrestlers haven’t unionized by now, how could they? WWE’s policy is to pay the top guys well enough to discourage anyone from unionizing. With a union, it’s “all or nothing” and the WWE draws from the top down. Hulk Hogan, Austin/Rock, and John Cena/Brock Lesnar were top draws that drew butts in seats based on them being on top of the card and the midcard being great was the bonus. Certainly, a stronger midcard makes the WWE grow faster, but the WWE during the 1980s exploded when Hulk Hogan could be marketed as the top guy and the late 1990s grew based on Steve Austin. Specifically, that 1998 roster was VERY THIN yet Austin’s character was so compelling that you tolerated goofy midcard storylines from Vince Russo just to get to the main event with Austin vs. McMahon in some fashion (someone Tweeted me that thought lately, apologies for forgetting who and not crediting).
Fact is, this show still presents the WWE with a big pile of money. Vince McMahon and the Board of Directors are currently weighing Risk/Reward of continuing the show or not. I’m willing to bet that the show will go on but MAYBE the card gets changed up a bit… Maybe. Hearing the rumors of the WWE considering to move a few matches to Survivor Series 2018 might happen… WWE can have its cake and eat it too… They’ll still have the Saudi show but lessen its impact as “punishment” for recent allegations. But the WWE could consider these as allegations or if true, as an isolated incident.
Let me give you this fact… According to United States Department of Energy figures, the United States imported 27,143,000 barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia during July 2018. Saudi Arabia belongs to a cartel group known as OPEC which bands together countries to collectively agree on oil production. OPEC itself exports 92,110,000 to the United States. In total, the United States received 315,454,000 oil imports during July 2018. Doing the Math, the United States imports 8.6% from Saudi Arabia alone but imports 29.2%. While domestic drilling for Oil has reduced United States dependency on foreign sources, we’re still dependent on Saudi Arabia for their Oil resources.
Are the Senators challenging the WWE considering that? WWE just started doing these MEGA SHOWS during 2018 and anything that happens at those shows just affects the WWE. Sure, there are times that the WWE Network begins to appear like an infomercial for that country, but people can chose NOT to watch or NOT to have the WWE Network. United States needs transportation. We have probably imported their oil for over 40 years now… So you’re going to hold this 1 allegation against the WWE and not question your government for their personal business with that country? Hypocrisy at its finest.
WWE is a private business… It can do what it wants as long as it is NOT illegal. WWE doing business with Saudi Arabia is NOT illegal. Now, you can choose as a fan whether or not that the recent allegations would question yourself as a WWE fan. Show some sack as a wrestling fan if the WWE’s dealings with Saudi Arabia offends you. Just to give you an example, I quit watching WWE entirely during June 2007 and didn’t start watching it again until late 2009 because of the Chris Benoit killings. The Eddie Guerrero death during late 2005 depressed me as a wrestling fan, as I was tired of my personal favorites dying because of the wrestling business not taking care of them. I only returned during late 2009 when I researched what the newer WWE Wellness Policy was about and how it actually began helping wrestlers. Not many full-time wrestlers on the WWE roster have died since! You need to show backbone as a wrestling fan.
Now, am I offended by the WWE’s dealings with Saudi Arabia?
Not directly, but maybe I am desensitized by years of companies and our country having “shady dealings” with other companies and countries. Honestly, I’m far more offended by how much we rely on cheaper labor in Asian countries while polluting everything in sight just to have cheaper goods at Walmart. While I have really no alternative if I want to buy clothing or electronics to buy something “Made in China”, I’m bothered personally by the human rights of those actions taken by most companies in the United States. The United States being a customer of other countries goods/services certainly causes them to “look the other way” for how a country operates. In many ways, I’d like for the United States to focus on helping out the United States more because there are a lot of people here suffering from various things.
I’m MORE offended by the WWE’s focus on MONEY rather than QUALITY.
The PG Era has made the WWE more corporate than ever and sadly enough, it makes it more “safe” for advertisers and other corporations. Corporations are becoming more politically correct than ever for any dealings within the United States but turning a blind eye to anything internationally as long as the money is great. Thus, if you carefully watch how the WWE Corporation has acted in the last 15 years, they overreact to anything that happens within the United States. With Social Media in place, it has BECOME WORSE. Just seconds after Hulk Hogan‘s racist comments leaked, there were INSTANT demands from many on social media to terminate relations with Hogan. It’s a giantic megaphone from what WWE perceives as its customers… But are they really the WWE’s customers and not just social justice warriors moving from cause to cause? Right now, they are piling up on the WWE…
But money talks… $20 Million and 9 more years of revenue like that REALLY talks.
WWE has denied us QUALITY programming for years. Yes, it can produce some moments… I really enjoyed Royal Rumble 2018 and it gave me hope for the year 2018. Yet, 2018 continued to prove that Roman Reigns is NOT top guy material in his current state (he could still get there with years of experience), the developmental system isn’t working that hard on personality traits or promo cutting skills, Women’s wrestling needs Ronda Rousey more than it thinks, and that the Brand Extension since the 2017 “Superstar Shake-up” BLOWS. WWE has lost me as a wrestling fan since that shake-up, as it greatly eroded the Smackdown brand while not granting good opportunities for most NXT call-ups. Meanwhile, the existence of the brand extension continues to pull good talent out of the NXT brand which should have been the 2nd brand to begin with as a true alternative to fans. It’s a miracle that the Takeover shows for the past 2-3 have been awesome because of how thin that roster has become because of the RAW/Smackdown roster split.
Before this past year, they’d denied us of any wrestlers being pushed as top guys from what WE, as wrestling fans, wanted. CM Punk during mid 2011 was ready to be the #1 guy and pushed that way for years. Nope, we had to put his WWE Title around Alberto Del Rio (where is he lately) and have Triple H take him down a few pegs. Daniel Bryan was red-hot during 2013 and ready to become a babyface sensation that the WWE hasn’t seen since John Cena made it big. Nope, let’s try yet another push of Randy Orton… Braun Strowman looked to be your next big babyface star and he actually pulled GOOD matches out of Roman Reigns during 2017. Nope, let’s knock him down a peg by having Lesnar beat his ass at No Mercy 2017 and then have him win the Tag Titles with a CHILD at Wrestlemania 34. The Miz FINALLY found himself with Maryse by his side on the Smackdown roster during 2016. Nope, let’s move him to the RAW roster during 2017… Asuka and Bayley were legitimately drawing as Female NXT champions, even as the roster surrounding them was being eroded by RAW/Smackdown talent raides. Nope, let’s let them appear as JOKES on the WWE roster and lose in terrible and humiliating fashions. Did you not watch how GOOD that Asuka vs. Charlotte match was at Wrestlemania 34? Christ… But don’t worry, it brought James Ellsworth back to the roster who has legitimate non-title wins over AJ Styles when he was WWE Champion. Dean Ambrose has a big losing record on Pay Per Views between the time the Shield broke up during 2014 through the “quick fix” Money in the Bank 2016 show.
^^ THAT offends me as a wrestling fan. Top drawing superstars were RIGHT THERE in front of the WWE and Vince McMahon‘s face and the WWE chose to push guys who might look nice as action figures.
I’m telling ya, if I was a top fighter for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), I’d think about cashing in soon with the WWE. Look at how the WWE overpays them and overpushes them. I get it with Brock Lesnar because he was a former WWE wrestler first and UFC fighter second… But the way Lesnar destroyed John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, and Braun Strowman was embarrassing… And then a 50 year old Bill Goldberg can defeat him in less than 2 minutes? I do enjoy Ronda Rousey and I believe that she is a tremendous athlete… But she has already been a buzzsaw through the entire RAW women’s roster… What is there left for her to prove? And can the WWE truly show me HOW she has really drawn? I’d like to see the Quarter Hour numbers again which have DISAPPEARED from the news since the WWE went to a 3 hour show. Gee, why is that?
The ironic thing is that if the WWE found its next Hogan, Lesnar, Rock, Austin, or Cena, they could make MORE than being a squeaky clean Corporate public relations and politically correct machine. Don’t believe me? Just look at WWE Crown Jewel. Again, I stress, look at all of that VETERAN talent going overseas to Saudi Arabia. Reportedly, Brock Lesnar will be receiving MILLIONS just to wrestle this 1 show! Shawn Michaels is COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT for this show! Kane is again taking a break from being a Mayor to wrestle in a foreign country again. Man, he is going to struggle to get re-elected! Ask Jesse Ventura who also tried to “cash in” as a political figure. When have we seen John Cena wrestle on a United States WWE show lately? Undertaker went from wrestling just Wrestlemanias, maybe a SummerSlam, to working ALL International shows.
Those are older stars who made big names for themselves during the Attitude Era… Yet, why is that Saudi Arabia wants them? They can’t take the current full-time roster only? Could the roster led by Roman Reigns + the Shield, Braun Strowman, or AJ Styles command a country to pay a reported $20 million for 1 single show to air on the WWE Network, which is more than a Wrestlemania show? Oh, and about those Wrestlemania shows… Many WWE veterans from the Attitude Era keep popping up on those shows, too… Before the recent news hit, there were reports that the Rock was rumored to be appearing at Wrestlemania and then defending his title at the next annual 2019 Saudi Arabia show. What, you aren’t impressed by the Roman Empire?
Anyone who dares to flaunt that Stock Price or the FOX/Comcast deals in my face need to realize that the WWE could be MUCH BIGGER if it had better top drawing stars. It seriously took Roman Reigns over 4 years to finally overtake John Cena as the #1 merchandise guy and that was just after Wrestlemania 34. John Cena became a part-timer and pushed as a midcarder after getting squashed by Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014 YET Cena remained the #1 merchandise mover in the WWE until mid 2018? Wow… And numbers show that merchandise sales in the United States, specifically at retailers and at live WWE events, have declined since 2014. Congrats on being at the top of a declining mountain, Roman!
Could you imagine how BIG the FOX/Comcast deals would be if a Hogan/Rock/Austin or even a younger Cena/Lesnar type draws existed? Christ… WWE will get a combined $400 million per year, but that is across 2 networks. FOX pays over that per year for NASCAR which has 1 race per week and they do not air races for all 52 weeks. FOX will also pay more per year to air Big Ten football games. And then I can get into what Comcast overpays. See their Olympic coverage? See what they pay for JUST Notre Dame football games? See what they pay for JUST 1 NFL game on Sunday Nights?
If you want to ever brag to me about any Stock Prices or Television Deals, I’ll tell you to quit being complete enablers to WWE’s bad behavior. You’ll stick with the WWE no matter what… Despite your criticisms over their creative or talent decisions, the countries that they do business with, or the PG Era… You are still here. Either take a stand as a fan or quit lecturing others who want to stop this nonsense.
For the record, I have been contemplating retirement since April following Wrestlemania 34 and have a column announcement of a “6 month notice” to prove it. I announced at the end of September that I was officially retiring as Mr. Tito… Thus, these recent allegations surrounding the Crown Jewel Pay Per View aren’t pushing me out. If anything, it just proves that the WWE cares more about QUICK MONEY rather than LONG-TERM MONEY by putting on QUALITY programming. Everything is a quick fix gimmick to make money… Go observe Wrestlemania 32 when a poorly drawing show headlined by Roman Reigns vs. Triple H was causing sluggish ticket sales in Dallas. Then, Shane McMahon does a big comeback and is thrown into a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker. Suddenly, ticket sales surge again…
Why is Brock Lesnar still here and why couldn’t Roman Reigns get a definitive win against him at Wrestlemania 34? Lesnar is not going away for a while, I’m afraid, because the WWE needs him to draw that quick buck. And then sending all of these veterans to Saudi Arabia to get that quick $20 Million. What does pushing guys in their late 30s, 40s, and early 50s do for the current full-time roster again? Those older guys are going to be unable to perform soon… Then what?
Honestly, if WWE goes through with Crown Jewel, it wouldn’t surprise me and because it wouldn’t surprise me, it doesn’t offend me. In my head, they are just another American company looking to make money. WWE doesn’t have any influence on foreign policy much like millions of barrels of oil sales truly do. The WWE is just going to have a wrestling show, show some pro-Saudi Arabia stuff on their show (part of the deal), and then come back home to cash in that big check. Go see what placing embargoes have done to other countries. I’d much rather have the youth of those countries see what a free society can create as entertainment than not at all. And believe me, in light of these reported allegations, you can best assure that Crown Jewel won’t have any problems because that entire country will be on high alert to “not mess this up”. Some may fear the safety of the wrestlers, I don’t… I can guarantee that security will be strong for that show to go on as planned because it’s in that country’s best interests to keep those WWE shows happening… Because of that, I’d recommend that the WWE takes the money and continue onward with the show.
But if you’re offended as a wrestling fan or as a WWE wrestler, take a stand. Otherwise, just admit that society has desensitized you and continue being a fan.
And why is it that I’m the only wrestling columnist discussing this topic? Come on… You guys are going to miss me when I’m gone, come October 26th, 2018, when the “series finale” of my column occurs on its 20th Anniversary.
THANK YOU for reading, as always. I wouldn’t be writing these columns if it weren’t for you, the readers. I appreciate the time that you put into reading and discussing my columns. Tweet me anytime if you want to chat, as even after I retire from writing wrestling columns, I’ll still be lurking there. Just follow @titowrestling and you’re set.
And if you want an arse kicking on the Nintendo Switch online system, you can receive that too. Ice Hockey and Tecmo Bowl are a TON of fun to play online from the NES Classics, but if you want to play some Rocket League, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, Runbow, etc., just let me know.
I’ll still be around on Twitter and I’ll loosely follow pro wrestling news, maybe pick and choose YouTube segments to watch to remain current. I’m just choosing not to dedicate my Sunday Nights to Pay Per Views, watching RAW/Smackdown, or spending 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per column dedicated to wrestling. I just don’t have that in me any longer…
And remember… To purchase the Doc’s book Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era via Amazon.com in the United States, GO HERE. To purchase this book via Amazon.com in the United Kingdom, GO HERE. If those don’t work, please inquire Doc via Twitter through his handle @TheDocLoP.
BUY THE BOOK!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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