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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net and has been since October 1998, yo. Man, what an AWFUL week of programming for the WWE this week. One of the worst RAWs of the year and that follows last week’s awful show as well. Then you have Smackdown whom everyone claims to have “won the draft” continuing that awful booking trend. Oh, and dumping more dirt on Daniel Bryan to bury him since his comeback. Rusev jobs to everyone else but can defeat Bryan? Then you have Samoa Joe, who should have potential, but Roman took out the garbage on that at Backlash.
Is it took late for Comcast and FOX to get a refund on the combined $2 billion+ agreements signed with the WWE?
Watching the WWE lately makes me actually dislike pro wrestling. Worse yet, it makes me ashamed to be a wrestling fan. Do you like them apples?
Come on October 26th, 2018! Can’t get here fast enough.
And how about those RAW ratings… Oh, you’re going to give me “but but but NBA Playoffs” and “but but but Memorial Day holiday”. Let me remind you that during 1998 when BOTH WCW Nitro and WWE Monday Night RAW were growing, they also aired shows on Memorial Day and faced off with the NBA Playoffs which featured arguably the greatest and most popular basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. RAW right now faces an NBA with reduced television viewership versus 1998 AND without any wrestling competition like WCW Nitro to steal its fans.
We are now FOUR straight weeks at being under 3 Million viewers for Monday Night RAW. The average viewership of 2.494 million is an all-time low, at least since the mid 1990s. WHAT A JOKE. As I keep saying, when you take away Rumble to Wrestlemania season AND Brock Lesnar, NOTHING draws for the WWE. The WWE Creative Team sucks and cannot entertain within the confines of the PG Era and the WWE invested 4 years into Roman Reigns with no growth in return. By taking their midcard for granted, the WWE lacks an internal feeding system to develop the next star.
If you look back to 1996-1997, you could actually feel that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was going to be a big star. Then, during 1997-1998 after the Rock turned heel, you could sense that he could be a major star. Also during 1998 especially after Michaels left, you could sense that Triple H was going to figure things out and be great on his own. During 2003-2004, you could just feel how special John Cena has become as a potential star. Ditto for during 2004 when Batista started having a swagger about his character and polished his in-ring ability from years of midcard wrestling. Obviously during 2011 when CM Punk had his “pipebomb” promo and then during 2012 when Daniel Bryan somehow got his tag team with Kane over.
You don’t get that feeling with any midcarder right now… Nobody. Anybody that got close, they were either moved to the wrong brand (the Miz) or jobbed out quickly to Brock Lesnar (Braun Strowman). And now, after a major comeback, the WWE had a ready-made superstar becoming medically cleared with Daniel Bryan… And they already blew it. Poor booking of the Shane/Bryan vs. Owens/Zayn match at Wrestlemania 34, losing to Rusev (jobber to the stars), and now to Samoa Joe (jobber to Brock/Roman).
Can someone tell me which male NXT call-up since the 2015 raids began has got over on the WWE main roster? Is there anybody out there who can carry the business?
And they won’t… Not with the morons and neanderthals backstage at the WWE.
Vince McMahon is proving to be a better businessman than a booker. He’s the kind of guy who can convince Comcast and Fox to give him a COMBINED $2 Billion over the next 5 years with television deals DESPITE RAW/Smackdown declining in the ratings as those deals are signed. His creative team consists of family members who will never challenge him, a TV Producer who only cares about the look of the shows and not the quality (Kevin Dunn), and a bunch of Hollywood writer hacks who couldn’t cut it elsewhere. Man, we were lucky when Vince could surround himself with Vince Russo, Pat Patterson, Bruce Prichard, Chris Kreski, Ed Ferrara, Jim Cornette, and also Jim Ross supplying great talent during the late 1990s for the Attitude Era. As the draw of the 2000s arrived, one-by-one, each of those guys left and lesser creative minds took their place. That and the WWE became more corporate to allow marketing Vice President types to get into Vince McMahon’s head.
WWE has their money now, at least for the next 5 years… They have more than doubled their 2014 deal thanks to cord-cutters causing Cable/Satellite channels to become desperate for “DVR/streaming proof” live content. Sports leagues are laughing to the bank right now with their TV deals as something needs to convince those aged 35 or older to remain Cable/Satellite subscribers.
Many of the “Yes Man WWE Fans” are saying “look at the stock price” or “look at the TV deals”.
Yep, I must be wrong… I just observe FACTS such as LOWER television viewership and live event attendance in the United States since 2014. Those are just numbers… In recent times, the merchandise numbers have taken a hit as well. TV viewership, attendance, and merchandise are indicators of DEMAND for American fans to want to consume WWE products. All 3 are declining…
But that doesn’t matter. Cable/Satellite and Network Television channels DESPERATE for live content will overpay for the WWE. Talk about “Winner’s Curse” on steroids (economic term for when an entity overpays for a product already in decline or about to decline).
The one hope that I have for the WWE is Women’s wrestling… WWE is legitimately attracting world class athletes in attempts to become pro wrestlers. After all, pro sports for women don’t really pay after College. You have WNBA, UFC, Women’s Tennis, and Women’s Golf… But none of those leagues compare to the earnings from the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL… Or even male counterparts of Golf or Tennis (women had to fight for equal pay in Tennis). There are some amazing female athletes in the WWE and they even have Ronda Rousey, former top MMA star. We are only in the early years of this division, as 2015 was when Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha joined the roster.
Because we just don’t see that next “big” superstar from the guys… Yet.
And we won’t find one with this current WWE Creative Team led by Vince McMahon surrounded by fools. By the way, the Women’s Division is also regulated by that same creative team.
Imagine if the WWE had a good Creative Team AND a better developmental system to create stars? If you thought that over $200 million per year for RAW and Smackdown each was impressive, imagine if WWE had top drawing stars? They could get much more money if they chose or created a legitimate star instead of repeatedly over-pushing a guy like Roman Reigns or making up a phony main eventer like Jinder Mahal with xenophobia heat.
Let’s get back to that FOX deal… Many are trying to suggest that since the WWE is on broadcast TV, there could be a chance that this “ends” the WWE Network and/or Pay Per View events.
Let’s evaluate what FOX just paid for. They ponied up $200 million per year for WWE Smackdown to air on Fridays. Just for that product and that product alone, nothing else special (although I like the potential of a pro wrestling show on FS1 as long as it acts independently from the WWE). But NO Pay Per Views or wrestling specials beyond Friday nights. And it airs on Friday nights…
WWE has over 1.5 million WWE Network subscribers paying $9.99 each. Do the math over 12 months… Yeah…
And between 2019 and 2024 when the TV Deals expire, that subscriber base could increase. I say “could” because I’m not having much faith in WWE’s viewership declines. That said, many fans could be acting like me and tryout YouTube clips and just watch the Pay Per Views. Getting through 3 hours of RAW and 2 hours of Smackdown INFOMERCIALS for Pay Per Views is just getting brutal. Even if it holds steady at 1.5 subscribers and at $9.99, you are just under $200 million in potential revenue.
That and you have to think about the future. Those aged 25 and younger aren’t getting cable or satellite at all. Those aged 25 to 45 are “at risk” to cut the chord. Those aged 45 or older are loyal to cable/satellite, BUT they are getting older. WWE has to consider keeping its programming diversified in case things get sour with one of the television deals. For example, what if a key WWE officially Tweets something that cased RAW and/or Smackdown to get cancelled. You call me crazy, but Rosanne pulled in stronger viewership than the WWE could ever imagine but that show was cancelled based on 1 offensive Tweet from Rosanne Barr.
Now, the FOX deal is impressive because it is on broadcast television to potentially reach over 100 million homes…
But Smackdown is on Fridays.
Let me remind you of the ratings DECLINE when Smackdown moved to Fridays during the 2000s.
If you put Wrestlemania on broadcast television, you risk losing that WWE Network base who is willing to pay you extra $9.99 per month ON TOP OF your television deals. “Why have the WWE Network if the WWE will place its top shows on FOX anyway?” Defeats the purpose of having the Network. And again, by 2024 if the TV deals aren’t as lucrative or possibly not there, the WWE has their WWE Network as a fallback plan. WWE has to keep their programming diversified.
I’m not suggesting that placing Wrestlemania on FOX is a bad idea… It could work out. But as seen since 2014, the WWE can successfully operate 2 shows on television and Pay Per Views on the WWE Network without issue. Why break that up? Why make yourself one-dimensional and reliant on your television contracts?
I still say that the WWE is missing potential of RAISING prices for its WWE Network. It has been $9.99 since 2014 and inflation has grown since. They could easily charge $14.99 per month and probably retain most of their subscriber base.
WWE needs to keep the WWE Network in order to have a place to air International Pay Per Views which I believer are going to become a regular thing. “Greatest Royal Rumble” is only the beginning.
Place Wrestlemania on FOX if and only if (a) the MONEY is right and (b) WWE is allowed to make Wrestlemania on-demand on the WWE Network. I believe that is a great compromise that could be made. Going beyond Wrestlemania? Such as airing more events like Rumble (doubtful with NFL) and SummerSlam? That’s when it begins to challenge your WWE Network golden goose.
THE LAST WORD
Been a while since I have did a “last word”… As I’ve said repeatedly, I have zero problems with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). It is not my “cup of tea” although there are several superstars that I think highly of from that promotion. If you enjoy it as a wrestling fan, then good for you. Enjoy what you like and continue doing so.
But I want to comment specifically on the Cow Palace on July 7th, 2018. The Cow Palace has the potential to host 15,000 maximum if needed, but the typical sporting event has about 10,000 to 13,000 maximum arranged. For the 7/7 event, 1/3 of the arena has been blocked off for ticket availability which includes the entrance way. So if we assumed 13,000 maximum capacity, losing 4,000 tickets due to the entrance way could keep that just under 10,000 tickets available for this event.
No problem, right? After all, Cody Rhodes & friends just sold out a 10,000 seat arena in Chicago in LESS THAN 30 minutes. Surely, a big time promotion who put on “epic” matches during 2017 and 2018 could at least draw 10,000 for an event in the United States… Right? After all, many of the same wrestlers attending “All In” during September will also be at the New Japan Cow Palace event…
Looking at Ticketmaster.com for ticket availability, I plenty of choices. Yes, folks, I don’t need to run to the secondary markets (Stubhub) because this NJPW Cow Palace event which is almost 1 month away has NOT sold out.
Not even close. As I move my mouse around each arena seating section, I am approximating that OVER 2,000 tickets are still available for sale. Here is my source of information…
So “All In” can sell 10,000 tickets in under 30 minutes and it’s just a bunch of wrestlers promoting their own event… But New Japan cannot fully sell 10,000 tickets and they are a promotion who has been around for years, have television, and are all that you hear about from the Internet Wrestling Community? If you’re a WWE fan, you get mocked by New Japan hipsters who tell you that the talent and matches in NJPW are “not even close” to the quality of New Japan matches. You get told that over and over and over again.
And their New Japan World streaming service? Last I checked, it was just under 100,000 subscribers worldwide and that was helped by a 25,000 “bump” by Chris Jericho joining the promotion.
Could someone show me where the AXS TV numbers are? I would love to see them but they are no where to be found. I’d be very curious to see if New Japan’s show drew more than Impact Wrestling’s “awesome” viewership of 300,000. My last numbers seen from 2015 online are 200,000 per show, but like I said, viewership numbers are not readily available. If the show drew strong viewership numbers, you’d hear about it.
JUST SAYING… Can some of you New Japan diehards lay off on the “NJPW is better than WWE” taunts? Sure, I’ll concede that maybe the in-ring stuff could be better, but if in-ring stuff was the only thing that counted, Chris Benoit would have been a major drawing World Champion for the WWE during 2004. He wasn’t, as business continued to decline for the WWE after he won the title.
You can enjoy New Japan all that you want and desire… Just cool it with the “New Japan is better” stuff that you ram down my throat in my emails or on Twitter. Financial numbers don’t justify it.
As I keep saying, United States embraces Japan’s culture more than any other country. Look how hooked we are on Nintendo and Sony Playstation for our video game fixes. Pokemon? Good God, that is crack to many people out there. Look at all of the animation that we watch from there. But yet, their pro wrestling isn’t as popular in the United States…
If you’re a New Japan fan, just enjoy it and be proud of what you like… But cool it on its “growth” with wrestling fans in the United States. They cannot sell 10,000 tickets in the Cow Palace, their streaming subs aren’t growing like they could, and AXS TV ratings are no where to be seen. Those are facts, folks.
How can the wrestlers possibly featured on this Cow Palace show be able to sell 10,000 tickets instantly by themselves but the New Japan promotion can’t?
But hey, that’s none of my business. I just deal in facts.
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net – 1998-2018
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