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Old 12-10-2020, 04:35 PM   #1521
Damian Rey 2.0
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Reigns v Goldberg sounds really underwhelming.
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Old 12-10-2020, 04:48 PM   #1522
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Watch Taker already come out of retirement to face AJ again and may as well do Cena/Wyatt as well.

WrestleMania 37: it's WrestleMania 36 with fans
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Old 12-10-2020, 09:22 PM   #1523
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The Sheets:

Originally Posted by Observer
Following last week's Winter is Coming special episode, AEW Dynamite improved on those impressive numbers, averaging 995,000 viewers on TNT last night. The rating in the 18-49 demo was a 0.45.

Dynamite was up nine percent in total viewers from last week. This was the largest audience for the show on a night with NXT competition since October 16, 2019.

The 18-49 rating for Dynamite was up 7.1 percent from last week and was the highest for the show since October 9, 2019, opposed or unopposed, which was the second-ever episode of Dynamite ...

NXT was also up in both viewership and the 18-49 demo, averaging 659,000 in total viewers and a 0.17 rating in 18-49. That's a slight increase of 0.2 percent in total viewers and a 6.3 percent increase in the demo.

Dynamite finished second in all of cable television in the 18-49 demo. In men 18-49, the show averaged a 0.57 rating. That was the highest in all of cable by a considerable margin, with the closest competition being the 0.40 rating that the season premiere of MTV's The Challenge drew.

NXT finished 37th on cable in 18-49.

The combined audience of 1.654 million viewers on Wednesday night was up 5.3 percent from last week and was the highest since February 19. The combined 0.62 rating in 18-49 was the highest in all of 2020 -- and that includes weeks when Dynamite and NXT aired on different nights. It was also well above the 0.53 rating that Raw did on Monday night and was essentially the same as last Friday's SmackDown.

As usual, Dynamite topped NXT in every demo except people over 50, where NXT had a 0.35 rating to Dynamite's 0.29. In the other categories, Dynamite either doubled or tripled NXT in most. In females 12-34, Dynamite's 0.22 rating more than quadrupled NXT's 0.05.

Year-over-year, Dynamite was up 27.9 percent in overall viewership and up a huge 60.7 percent in 18-49. NXT was down 15.3 percent in viewership and down 29.2 percent in 18-49. This week last year, the shows actually tied in overall viewership.
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
AEW grew among women 18-49 by 21 percent this week, followed by women 12-34 increasing by 16 percent, and the 50+ demo was up by 11.5 percent. The latter demo still belonged to NXT, which scored a 0.35 rating.

NXT didn’t suffer any significant declines, including a major rebound in its 18-34 audience. Last week, they hit a terrible 0.04 rating in that demo but were up to a 0.09 this week. The show increased by 55 percent with men 12-34 and increased by 25 percent with women 12-34.

AEW scored its highest 18-34 rating since August 5th with a 0.29.

The last two weeks have made it crystal clear that the story is not about AEW vs. NXT but rather, AEW catching fire and becoming more competitive with RAW. This week RAW and AEW tied among women 12-34 while RAW narrowly edged out AEW with women 18-49 by 0.01.

When you consider what the ceiling for AEW would have been over the past two weeks without the NXT competition, it illustrates the role NXT is playing by capping that ceiling on Dynamite.

The next question is whether AEW can sustain this level of viewership? The company is gearing up for several themed episodes of Dynamite over the holiday season and won’t be taking any weeks off.
Originally Posted by Observer
Ring of Honor has revealed some more information about Final Battle 2020.

It was announced today that Final Battle Hour One will air for free on HonorClub, Best on the Planet, STIRR City, Facebook, and YouTube. Final Battle Hour One will air from 8 p.m. Eastern time to 9 p.m. Eastern on Friday, December 18, with the Final Battle main card then airing on pay-per-view and HonorClub immediately after. ROH PPVs are now included with all HonorClub subscriptions at no extra cost ...

Final Battle will be a four-hour broadcast in total. Here's the updated card for the show:
  • ROH World Champion Rush defends his title against Brody King
  • Jay Briscoe vs. EC3
  • ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham defends his title against Flip Gordon
  • ROH Tag Team Champions Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham defend their titles against Mark Briscoe & PCO
  • Matt Taven & Mike Bennett vs. Vincent Marseglia & Bateman
  • ROH Television Champion Dragon Lee defends his title against the winner of the four-way match from Final Battle Hour One
  • ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions Bandido, Flamita & Rey Horus defend their titles against Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery (Moses & Kaun)
  • Pure Rules tag match: Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus vs. Fred Yehi & Wheeler Yuta
  • Danhausen vs. Brian Johnson
  • Final Battle hour one: Tony Deppen vs. Dak Draper vs. LSG vs. Josh Woods (winner will challenge Dragon Lee for the ROH Television Championship later in the night)
Originally Posted by PWI
As part of their Investor Day presentation, Disney just announced that former WWE Raw Women's Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey will host a new forthcoming series for ESPN+ -

Peyton's Places is back – & growing! Produced with @NFLFilms, Season 2 is available now on ESPN+ & Season 3 is coming Fall 2021. Plus the show is expanding to tell the stories of other sports with series hosted by @davidortiz ??, @AbbyWambach ??, @RondaRousey ???? & @EliManning ????.
— Disney (@Disney) December 10, 2020

There was no further information announced. Rousey last appeared for WWE at Wrestlemania 35 and according to a WWE statement last year, her deal was slated to expire in April 2021.

Originally Posted by PWI
During today's Investor presentation, Disney announced that their Disney+ streaming service will feature the first-ever Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, featuring the cast of the GOTG films in a new live-action special that will be filmed concurrently with the third Guardians of the Galaxy film for a winter 2022 release. The special will feature Dave Bautista reprising his role of Drax. The third GOTG film will be released in 2023.

It was also announced that there will be an animated series spinoff to Moana, which featured Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as demigod Maui. Johnson was not (yet) announced for the series, but it's certainly possible that at least his character will return.
Originally Posted by PWI
Major League Wrestling ("MLW") today announced World Middleweight Champion Myron Reed vs. Lio Rush as one of its main events for KINGS OF COLOSSEUM on January 6 at 7pm ET available on YouTube, Fubo Sports, Pluto TV.
Originally Posted by PWI
Bobby Fish stated he had surgery to set his triceps muscle back in place following Wargames.
Originally Posted by PWI
Kenny Omega is now entering from the heel entrance on AEW's stage. Don Callis will be a regular with him in AEW going forward ...

Darby Allin personally produced his Rorsach Test vignette on last night's edition of AEW Dynamite.

Snoop Dogg coming in for the 1/6/21 episode is in part to promote the TBS' Go Big Show variety show, in which he and Cody Rhodes will each be judges. There's already been conspiracy theorists that have claimed the Snoop-Undertaker collaboration merchandise was pulled by WWE because of the AEW appearance, but that limited edition merch was actually only scheduled to run through 12/6, so it had already pulled removed by WWE. After his hilarious performance on commentary for the recent Mike Tyson fight, hopefully AEW will utilize him in that manner.

The Dark Order offering Dustin Rhodes the number seven slot was a reference to his ill-fated WCW character of the same name.

Jim Ross' second autobiography Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond will be released in paperback form on 3/2/21.
Originally Posted by PWI
MLW began teasing matches for their 1/6/21 Kings of Colosseum broadcast this week and it appears the top bouts will be:

*MLW Middleweight Champion Myron Reed vs. Lio Rush.

*MLW National Openweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone vs. Mads Kruger (Logan Creed in a new role).

There is talk of that special episode having an expanded run-time beyond 60 minutes.

The Salina de la Renta "produced" episode of FUSION has been postponed. MLW teased the debut of the former Mil Muertes in Lucha Underground, now billed as Pascal Mendoza.

What is @salinadelarenta up to?#MLWFusion

???? ???? ???? YouTube | Fubo Sports | Pluto TV

— MLW FUSION | Wed. 7pm (@MLW) December 10, 2020

Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Dark Order’s John Silver and Alex Reynolds joined Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards on the AEW Unrestricted podcast. Silver and Reynolds did enhancement work for WWE prior to signing with All Elite Wrestling but were never offered more than that. Silver shared that when they officially signed to AEW, WWE contacted him about a tryout.

“No [they didn’t try to sign us] but after I signed here, they hit me up to do a tryout,” Silver said.

Elsewhere during their chat, Alex Reynolds further spoke about the incident on Dynamite when he was knocked out during a tag match in October. He stated that he was awake the entire time and was just selling the double team move that he took from Private Party.

“But what many people online don’t know, obviously because they weren’t in the situation. I wasn’t knocked out, I was awake the whole time. I remembered everything, knew where I was, knew what was going on in the match.

I literally did like a self-check of myself. Fingers, toes… I was like, ‘Okay.’ The big thing everyone was complaining about was Pepper, The Blade like dragging me to the corner. That was all called. What people aren’t understanding is I just took a double team move, whether I got hurt or not, off the top rope, in a way four-way tag. So, in order to win the match, you have to be legal so Pepper just drags me to his corner so he can become legal and try to win the match, and then yeah, people were upset then yeah, I was just laying there because I was selling this incredible — but also, I was rocked but I was kind of making sure I was okay.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
WWE’s Armageddon pay-per-view from the year 2000 was the focus of the latest Grilling JR podcast. While speaking about R-Truth’s arrival and eventual success in WWE, Ross talked about the racism that existed in the territory days of wrestling and how during the early 2000s time period, WWE attempted to incorporate more talents of color into the fold.

“I think his [R-Truth’s] ethnicity in that era helped him, because the company wanted to become, as they should’ve probably 20 years before, wanted to become more diverse. But that was the trend in the wrestling business. You got to remember Conrad [Thompson], when I got in the wrestling business, the territory ran by white promoters had an unwritten rule that there could only be so many African-Americans on their roster, or people of color and I heard that. I’m not just bullsh*tting [or] I made that up. I mean I’ve heard those conversations. Bill Watts’ famous remark to one of the NWA people was, ‘My favorite color is green. I don’t care who they are, what they are. My favorite color is green so this Black thing don’t work in my territory’ and we had a lot of African-Americans. Top babyface, top heels, booker. Whatever, who can do the best job, as it should be. The best people, no matter their skin color should get the jobs and so, no quotas.”
Originally Posted by Fightful
According to a report from Cassidy Haynes of, Sting reportedly signed a contract with AEW "about a month ago."
Originally Posted by Fightful
Major lawsuit in the lucha libre world.

According to Luchablog, Lucha Libre Factory Made Ventures, the production company primarily known for being behind Lucha Underground, has filed a lawsuit against Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide in the state of California, claiming they own the rights to any money AAA makes outside the borders of Mexico.

The lawsuit accuses AAA of "breach of written contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith & fair dealing, copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition."

According to the lawsuit, LLFMV was given the exclusive rights to distribute AAA events outside of Mexico, the exclusive right to sell AAA merchandise outside of Mexico and the exclusive right to otherwise exploit and monetize AAA outside of Mexico.

LLFMV claimed AAA violated the agreement by beginning deals with Marvel, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Watch, Turner International and Pluto TV.

LLFMV is arguing these are worldwide deals, and so all proceeds should be going to them. They are seeking all the money from the agreements (at least $2.5 million), statuary damages, and lawyer’s fees.
Originally Posted by Fightful
An update on Penta El Zero M following AEW Dynamite.

Before the six-man tag team bout that pitted The Lucha Bros and Lance Archer against Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, and The Blade on AEW Dynamite; Penta El Zero M was taken out of action when The Butcher put him through the timekeeper's table.

Penta was helped to the back following the spot, turning things into a handicap match.

According to Cassidy Haynes of, Penta suffered a leg injury while training a few weeks ago and the spot was designed to keep him out of action for the time being.

It is unknown how long Penta will miss due to the injury.
Originally Posted by Fightful
CM Punk had plans to enter the world of MMA before his first fight in 2016.

In December 2014, Punk announced he signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC. Nearly two years later, Punk competed in his first MMA fight at UFC 203 in September 2016. The fight lasted two minutes and 14 seconds with Punk tapping to Mickey Gall.

Speaking to Renee Paquette on Oral Sessions, Punk discussed his decision to jump into the Octagon and his original plan before he was given an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I always wanted to do it and being on the road for how long WWE people are on the road for, I could never train consistently. I had planned on leaving when my deal was up at the end of 2010 or 2011. If I was going to train, it was never going to be just a hobby for me. So, I was going to leave, I needed time off anyway, and I would devote full-time to training. I wasn't a big enough name to where I thought everyone would be like, 'it's a spectacle and everyone wants to watch you fight.' So, I was going to do it 'the right way' (where I would) train and do amateur fights. The way I did everything was 100% backward. It's easy for someone to say, 'this bum went right to UFC, he didn't deserve it,' but they often don't understand the business, let alone the fight business. People say, 'Oh, I'll get beat up for $1 million.' My retort to that is 'do the work I did to get to the point where someone would offer you that money to see you fight.' 73 Twitter followers doesn't equate to a million-dollar payday. I got hot at the end of my WWE run and was faced with an opportunity; re-sign for three more years even though I was already shot and mentally and physically exhausted. I obviously re-signed and had to wait another three years. The idea was to do it before I got too old. Turns out, I was too old," he said.

Punk returned to the octagon at UFC 225 in June 2018, losing a lopsided decision to Mike Johnson.

Since losing his second fight, Punk has done commentary work for Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
Originally Posted by WrestlingInc
Celebrity WWE Hall of Famer Snoop Dogg reportedly has some heat within WWE for his upcoming AEW Dynamite appearance.

AEW announced last night that Snoop will be appearing on the January 6 Dynamite episode on TNT, to promote the "Go-Big Show" talent competition series that is set to premiere on TBS the next night, featuring Snoop and AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes as two of the judges. January 6 is the same night that the WWE NXT New Year's Evil special airs on the USA Network.

It was noted by Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Radio that there are people within WWE who are "very upset" over Snoop appearing on AEW TV.

Snoop has appeared on WWE TV a few times over the years and was inducted into the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016, by John Cena. He recently partnered with WWE for a limited edition merchandise collection with The Undertaker.

Regarding the collaboration with The Undertaker, there were rumors on WWE pulling the merchandise over Snoop's upcoming AEW appearance. That is incorrect. It should be noted that the limited edition merchandise was only scheduled to run through Sunday, December 6, and had already been pulled before AEW announced Snoop's Dynamite debut.

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Old 12-11-2020, 04:49 PM   #1524
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

Callis pushed himself as the architect of two things that changed wrestling history, putting together the Omega vs. Jericho match at the Tokyo Dome, which they noted Tony Khan has said is in many ways spawned AEW and this angle. He pushed himself as knowing Omega since Omega was ten years old, because his original manager on Winnipeg independents, The Golden Sheik, was Omega’s uncle. Josh Matthews went in a luxury trailer and Callis said that he didn’t get back into the business to do a podcast or to announce for New Japan Pro Wrestling, but that this has been the plan for 27 years. From most accounts, he laid out this idea in December 2019.

Callis has adopted the gimmick of “The Invisible Hand,” with the idea he’s the guy who worked behind the scenes to change the business.

There is a lot of reality in this gimmick. Callis really did manipulate behind the scenes a situation that made Impact more relevant than any other possible angle. Everyone knew this angle would move Impact into a spotlight it hasn’t had for years. The gut reaction right now is that it’s the best wrestling angle in a long time. What it means is hard to say because wrestling is so different. The promo on Impact did feel like the birth of an 80s world champion Ric Flair/Bockwinkel type of guy in Omega. It had the feel of being a game changer for AEW as well, the dynamic of the executive from the rival company stealing the best wrestler and the champion but leading to a feud. Time will tell regarding the results. There is the force of social media allowing people to be more into wrestling than before, combined with fragmented media and two decades since the last boom period and fans run off that aren’t quick to come back, a majority of the fan base growing up with one major league and nothing else can be important, versus an out of the box angle that could be the best angle in wrestling in a long time.

The actual idea was suggested by Callis when Omega and Adam Page started their team and while Page was to come out as the heel at one point, that changed based on the early reaction to Page. A combination of the team getting over as more than just a thing to break up and elevate Page, and the idea of waiting to split them up, along with COVID, delayed the start.

There is the loose-end storyline in the sense the Omega/Page breakup dynamic has a second payoff when they are put back together. This run as a heel will make the Omega eventual run as a babyface that much stronger, yet this heel run with the Callis dynamic may have some long legs. It’s so early and there are so many unknowns and variables, between interpromotional matches and such, that nobody can really tell how long it goes. You kind of ride it but you also have to make sure it’s not WCW where you have no follow-up, no ending and you ride it all the way up and then even farther down.

Interpromotional angles, historically, when done right and particularly at first, almost always work. While AEW has done tremendous for a start-up company, it’s very different from an era when the mainstream popularity and penetration of wrestling was so much larger. And while TV ratings are a measure, the real test of this would be live attendance and see how strong it is and when to make changes. The reality is, this is the one and only time in wrestling history where you don’t get that instant feedback regarding how well this is working.
AAA: Dorian Roldan did an interview on the Mas Lucha podcast talking on a number of subjects, as transcribed by The Cubs Fan. He said he’s learned it’s very important to always have a good main event because that’s how people end up viewing the show. He said some shows with good matches underneath but a so-so main event get worse reviews. When asked about the AEW/Impact relationship, he said to ask him again in a month and said he hopes to talk to AEW soon. He said he’s negative about bringing foreign wrestlers to Mexico as regulars now due to the AEW/WWE promotional war, as anyone they bring in that does well will immediately get taken. He said they’ve had a ton of great foreign wrestlers over the years but then lost them. He noted that they debuted Cain Velasquez and he got over great but then WWE signed him. He also said regarding foreign stars coming in for one-shots, that in many of the cities they ran, the local fans don’t even know who the foreign stars are. He brought up when they had an A.J. Styles vs. Mesias match that he thought was great, but the crowd didn’t care. He was more positive on Kenny Omega. He said the AAA/Twitch relationship was canceled months ago because the company wanted more exposure and instead went with YouTube and Facebook. He noted the company dropping a lot of the music where they were like the 80s in the U.S. and play classic rock and other classic music. Really, AAA in the 90s was born on familiar music at the shows. He said they had to change because their YouTube channel kept getting strikes ad the videos were getting de-monetized and categorized it as throwing money in the trash, but said he knows the fans preferred the old music. He said they had a plan for an AAA Training Center, but COVID put the plans on old.
NEW JAPAN: We’re not sure what is going on regarding the Super J Cup. The show was scheduled for 12/12 at Thunder Studios in Los Angeles. It’s possible it was already taped in which case it’s fine. Thunder Studios have shut down due to the pandemic and with the restrictions in Los Angeles, they would have to move out of the city most likely. NJPW has not commented on this. It will be an eight-man one-night tournament with wrestlers from multiple promotions, which is the historical theme of the Super J Cup. The first round has Chris Bey from Impact against Clark Connors of the New Japan California base crew, TJP of Impact vs. ACH, who has been working for New Japan’s U.S. group, Rey Horus from ROH vs Blake Christian and Lio Rush of MLW vs. El Phantasmo of New Japan Pro Wrestling, who was the 2019 winner. The show also has KENTA & Hikuleo vs. Karl Fredericks & Ren Narita
Nielsen will be changing its methodology of ratings once again, with all digital viewing being monitored the same as television, because advertisers are pushing it. The plan is to have this up and running by the fourth quarter of 2022
There will be a documentary released on Kurt Angle on 12/12 on the 411Mania YouTube page
IMPACT: Right now the belief is that Ethan Page isn’t re-signing. Page has pushed for his new Vlog as possibly his last one from Impact. The company and his friends are of the belief he’s finished up. That seems to end The North tag team at least for now. Josh Alexander has a long time left on his deal. We were told nine months. The North was the company’s flagship heel tag team for more than a year
Madison Rayne is apparently leaving her position as color commentator with husband Josh Matthews, who remains the lead voice. They [Impact] are looking for somebody new for the color spot
AEW: The 12/23 episode of Dynamite called Holiday Bash, is being moved due to TNT airing an NBA game at 7:30 p.m. Dynamite will air immediately after the NBA game which would be around a 10 p.m. start time at this point. So NXT will get the night unopposed as far as head-to-head goes and while AEW is not going to be in a good time slot, it probably will get a good lead-in because it’ll be the first night of the season. I don’t know the game will do usual first night numbers because the season feels like it just ended, but it’ll still be five to ten times the lead in, and even more with younger viewers, that AEW gets at 8 p.m., although obviously a 10 p.m. start isn’t as good an 8 p.m. start on a weeknight. But it is beneficial because of the bigger lead-in that they will at least for the first five to ten minutes get a lot of people sampling the show for the first time. It’s imperative they start off with something hot to build for something big later. The show will be taped on 12/17. The 12/30 and 1/6 shows will be a two week themed New Year’s Smash show with Snoop Dogg announcing on that show. There are those who associate Snoop Dogg with WWE and see this as breaking ranks but that’s silly. Snoop Dogg has worked with WWE, done WrestleMania, helped Banks, who he’s related to, with her entrance music and even did a T-shirt collaboration with Undertaker just recently. But he’s working for WarnerMedia, and has a new show on TBS (“Go Go Big Show” where Cody Rhodes is also a judge) that his appearance will likely promote
One of the many factors in Sting’s return is that Tony Khan made a deal with him that he can leave on his own terms, which WWE was not going to let him do. Khan also wanted Tony Schiavone to take the lead in calling when Sting showed up last week because of the idea it’s TNT and Schiavone was the announcer for WCW in Sting’s biggest years. He’s going to have to be protected given his age and the condition of his neck, but there are things he can do and there is the nostalgia thing. How long that is viable depends on the storyline, but writing last week about El Santo at 61 with Bobby Lee, and granted Sting is no Santo, but he doesn’t have to be to help AEW and the key is to use Sting to elevate younger talent
There have been some rumors regarding the idea that The Butcher (Andy Williams) leaving [AEW] because his band, Every Time I Die, is scheduled to tour this summer. At this point it’s very much up in the air whether they do them and nothing is certain. Williams has played rhythm guitar for the band of Buffalo, which he helped form, consistently since its inception in 1998, long before he was into pro wrestling. He’s actually 43, but has only been pro wrestling a little more than four years. The band has put out eight albums and has a reputation for great live shows. They have actually finished a ninth album but have held off on its release until they can tour to support it
UFC: Dana White told TSN that the company has conducted 26,300 COVID tests and the cost to the company to safely put on shows and screen for COVID has been $17 million
The latest on the TLC show on 12/20 is both main title matches, Reigns vs. Owens for the Universal title and McIntyre vs. Styles for the WWE title will be TLC matches. This comes two weeks after ladders used on two straight NXT main events and in one of the War Games matches. It is working short-term but this direction will turn TLC into the Texas Death match gimmick that went from sellouts to oblivion. Stips have not been announced for four other bouts officially on the show, which are Orton vs. The Fiend, Banks vs. Carmella for the Smackdown women’s title, Kingston & Woods vs. Alexander & Benjamin for the Raw tag titles and Baszler & Jax vs. Lana & Asuka for the women’s tag titles. They are doing Zayn vs. Big E this week in a match that if E wins, that leads to an IC title match. They are pushing Street Profits either against Roode & Ziggler or a three way adding Cesaro & Nakamura, and Lashley vs. Riddle has also been teased a few times
Regarding the direction of Roman Reigns for WrestleMania, as of right now, in December, there is no name on the books, which some note is mind-boggling since in the past much of the Mania card would be done and all booking on television and PPV would be based on leading to that direction. Sometimes there would be a change, but usually the top stuff has a direction. That’s the key when PPV revenue doesn’t ebb and flow by millions of dollars in either direction based on having the right formula for Mania, the pressure for a direction isn’t there and stuff feels thrown together as opposed to stories with a natural climax. Considering the two big names are Reigns and McIntyre, and McIntyre vs. Reigns is very much a possibility given McIntyre cutting the promo after losing to tease a return, and thus it also means McIntyre’s match isn’t locked in. What we do know is that as of right now, and this was also reported by Ringside News, that Dwayne Johnson is not scheduled. According to those very close to the situation, Johnson has brought up the possibility of doing a match with Reigns in 2022 but that’s a long way away and he’d be 49 by that time. Obviously this is all up to him, he wants in this year tomorrow, or next month, and he’s in. But on the creative side they’ve been told he’s a no go. The two most likely names are McIntyre and Bryan right now. Bryan was originally talked about for TLC, but with so few guys possible because of how few top babyfaces Smackdown has, you’ve only got Bryan, Big E, Owens and you can always turn back Uso, but Owens is being done now, Uso was just done, and Big E is at this point not under consideration. Goldberg as a name makes sense since that’s the match scheduled for last year’s show and he’s a bigger star as a special attraction and hasn’t been abused like Bryan. As of last week he was not high on the list of candidates but given he was on The Bump and directly issued the challenge, and Vince McMahon doesn’t like people hyping up a match that won’t be delivered, one has to think he’s higher on the list than even those in creative were aware. Goldberg cut a promo on Reigns saying, “He backed out on me at WrestleMania, he stole my move God knows how long ago, he continues to perform at a subpar level (this latter statement makes it clear it’s a promo gunning for the match). Let’s be perfectly honest, I’m the dude who delivers the spear and I don’t think he understands what it’s like until I deliver one to him. So Roman, it’s coming and I’m coming for you. I may be old, I may be grey, but I’m still Goldberg.” The feeling is Bryan has the ability to do incredible promos if put in that situation and that two of them can have a classic match. But from the outside, Bryan at Rumble and Goldberg at Mania does allow Mania to have the dream match that has never been done before which they like to do. McIntyre is the most protected guy other than Reigns. The one thing about Bryan, and really McIntyre as well, is that you should be confident in having a great match. The Fiend was also being set up for a program with Reigns on two separate occasions but one fell through when Vince changed his mind and the other fell through after the draft.
For the 12/25 Smackdown show, right now it will be taped either 12/22 or 12/23, most likely the latter day but it’s not official right now. Ringside News was the first to report it being a taped show
This is a long time in the future, but this will likely hurt the Wednesday shows if things continue as they are. Nielsen is going to start monitoring second-by-second ratings during commercial periods in 2024. They do minute-by-minute right now. Where it will hurt on Wednesday is with a very substantial number of viewers switching to the other show during both commercial and picture-in-picture, the second-by-second number may indicate less viewers of the ads, and it is the ad price that is one of the key factors in the value of the show. AEW in particular shares in the ad revenue during the show, which NXT and WWE shows do not, although the ad revenue is a key part of the value of those shows to the station
The WWE Network is debuting a documentary on 12/13 on Bill Goldberg’s 1997-98 WCW winning streak. A lot of people have taken credit for it over the years and as I’ve mentioned many times, I know the story because while not my idea, it was a phone call with me where Mike Tenay pitched the idea before WCW greenlit the idea for broadcast. During the past week I mentioned it in several places largely joking that I wonder if the documentary about the streak would actually give credit to the person who came up with the idea. After I’d done so, WWE on 12/8 contacted Tenay about the story. Whether they can or will try to get it on the documentary just a few days before release I don’t know, but it is clear that someone there wanted to do an accurate story rather than a bullshit story and probably felt bad they had this finished product and somehow either didn’t know where the entire idea came from or attributed it incorrectly. It’s not a secret, as I’ve told the story several times. But this is the full detailed version. Tenay grew up in Los Angeles and as a kid, you had the 88 game UCLA basketball winning streak in the Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) years that ended in the most famous game of the era against Elvin Hayes and Houston. He also had the 33 game winning streak of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1971-72 season that is still a record nearly 50 years later. Goldberg got a push on Nitro and a few months into the push Tenay called me up and asked me what I thought about the idea of a legit Goldberg winning streak, which I thought was a great idea. I don’t remember the number when it started, maybe 20s or low 30s, but it would have been the week before Tenay on the air brought the number up and we both looked back on WCW results to get the actual real number from the start. For several months, every Monday before Nitro, he’d call me up because as silly as this sounds, nobody in the company knew anything about the house shows but I had all the results, so he’d ask how many matches did Goldberg have that week and he’d update it with the real number. Eric Bischoff can rightfully take credit in the sense that he okayed the idea and he was the guy in charge. As for others, no. I don’t recall when it got fake other than they had already passed 100 and the Hogan-Goldberg match when the decision was made. But for a long time, it was just something Tenay and best friend Bobby Heenan would push on the air every week and Bill’s 90 second matches would usually add 400,000 to 450,000 viewers every week out for the distinctive entrance and explosive spear and jackhammer combination. At one point management got involved and for whatever reason, never understood that all the signs with the number at all the shows were from fans who actually also paid attention on the Internet, in its infancy, and knew the house show results and knew it was real. Eventually, management decided to script the number for Tenay, Tony Schiavone and Heenan and the rest of the announcers to say on television and it became a fake number. Their mentality was that wrestling was fake anyway and the number wasn’t far off. At that point, the signs in the crowd disappeared because people knew it was a fake number. Between that and the fake Goldberg chants that they started piping in (made more embarrassing and uncool when WWF called attention to it), when people realized that, that’s when turning on Goldberg started becoming this cool thing. He went from no boos to some boos, not a lot, but they were there, to a few more. Management had no clue one of the keys to the streak was the authenticity aspect, in the sense wrestling was fake but the streak was real. On the night of the streak ending with Kevin Nash, Tenay and Bobby Heenan told Tony Schiavone leaving the MCI Center in Washington, DC that the handwriting was on the wall for a company collapse. Schiavone thought they were overreacting. 1999 was the year of one of the biggest one-year collapses of a company in pro wrestling history. Two years after a year where WCW grossed $230 million on $185 million in expenses, they were sold to WWF for $2.5 million in cash and an agreement by WWF to spend $2 million over the next ten years in advertising WWF on Turner properties. The Goldberg gimmick later led to Undertaker’s streak, which got bigger because the Mania streak was something the company couldn’t fake and no doubt never tried to. Then, due to being booed (not all that much, but enough that everyone noticed), management got the idea that they had to end the streak, and they did. Goldberg had thanked Tenay many times for it, and once Jeff Jarrett, who knew about it, tried to get Tenay to call Goldberg about coming to TNA. Goldberg’s reaction at the time was that he probably wasn’t interested (Goldberg also had another of his closest friends in wrestling, Ross Forman, working at TNA) but out of respect for Tenay, he’d talk to the company, but nothing ever transpired
Sonjay Dutt has been moved from the Raw/Smackdown producers to producing to NXT
For the most-watched shows on the WWE Network for the past week: 1. NXT Takeover War Games; 2. WWE 24: Keith Lee; 3. Best of Keith Lee; 4. NXT Takeover War Games pre-show; 5. Uncool with Alexa Bliss with Jon Heder; 6. 2020 Survivor Series; 7. NXT Takeover War Games 2019; 8. TLC 2009; 9. TLC 2019; 10. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions with Undertaker. Talking Smack was No. 17. Raw Talk was No. 19. NXT from 12/2 was No. 20. NXT U.K. 205 Live or any indie stuff didn’t crack the top 25, which was filled with old TLC shows since that’s what the network was pushing all week

WWE Ratings, Impact Ratings, AEW vs. NXT Ratings:

Raw on 12/7 averaged 1,737,000 viewers and 0.51 (661,000 viewers) in 18-49, which is the usual level.

The first two hours did well and we were back to a significant third hour drop with a third hour built around Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs. The Miz & John Morrison & A.J. Styles, Bobby Lashley vs. Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt.

There was nothing that significant past men were up and women were down from last week, which had an unusually low men’s audience and an unusually high women’s audience.

Raw placed 19th overall, much higher due to the decline of the news channels since the election has pretty much been settled. It was fourth in 18-49, behind only three NFL-related shows on ESPN ...

As compared to last week, the show was down 0.2 percent in viewers and 2.8 percent in 18-49. As compared with the same week last year, the show was down 19.2 percent in viewers, 26.1 percent in 18-49 and 27.9 percent in 18-34. The declines were lower than usual.

The NFL game with the Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers aired on both ABC and ESPN at the same time, and did 14,174,000 viewers, which is the second best of the year. But it also meant ABC and ESPN individually did far lower than in a normal week.

The first hour did 1,852,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,775,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,583,000 viewers.

The show did 130,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 68.8 percent from the unusually low number last week), 86,000 in women 18-34 (down 25.2 percent from last week), 302,000 in men 35-49 (down 1.9 percent) and 143,000 in women 35-49 (down 20.6 percent).

The first-to-third hour decline of 14.5 percent was higher than has been the case of late. The drops were 20.5 percent for women 18-49, 11.4 percent for men 18-49, 35.5 percent in girls 12-17, 25.4 percent in boys 12-17 and 11.4 percent in over 50. The only real notes is that women and teenagers tuned out of the show in hour three at much higher than usual levels.
Smackdown on 12/4 did a 1.29 rating and 2,130,000 viewers (1.36 viewers per home) and an 0.59 (768,000 viewers) in 18-34.

The number has to be a disappointment because it was in the same ballpark as the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend. The show was up 1.6 percent in homes, down 0.5 percent in viewers and down 1.4 percent in 18-49. 18-34 was up from 0.4 from the prior week’s 0.3.

Smackdown tied with Shark Tank on ABC for first in 18-49, and also had more viewers in 18-49 than any show on cable and aside from Gold Rush on Discovery, nothing on cable even figuring in the cable/network difference would have been more impressive. It was first among all shows on television in 18-34. However, it was last place among the four networks and aside from rerun programming nothing on the other three major networks did less than 3,084,000 viewers. Gold Rush and a number of cable news shows beat it for viewers.

As compared to the same week last year, the show was down 15.7 percent in homes, 13.1 percent in viewers, 18.0 percent in 18-49 and stayed even in 18-34.

Smackdown did 182,000 viewers in male 18-34 (up 24.7 percent from last week), 100,000 in women 18-34 (up 29.9 percent), 299,000 in men 35-49 (down 13.8 percent) and 197,000 in women 35-49 (down 5.7 percent) ...

The first half hour with the Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso segment with Kayla Braxton and Kevin Owens, plus Bayley vs. Natalya did 2.16 million viewers. The second half hour with Daniel Bryan & Rey Mysterio & Big E vs. Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura in the tribute to Pat Patterson match did 2.14 million viewers. The third segment, which is usually a high point, but this week was the low point, was the Reigns interview, the Sasha Banks/Carmella split screen interview and Murphy vs. King Corbin that did 2.07 million viewers. And the main event segment with Reigns & Uso vs. Otis & Owens did 2.14 million viewers.
Impact did 221,000 viewers and 0.08 in 18-49 (98,000 viewers), an increase of 38.1 percent in viewers and 77.8 percent in 18-49. Impact’s prior record on AXS was 207,000 viewers for its first show. What’s notable is that with television viewers, the peak was quarter four at 239,000 and quarter eight, with the Omega/Callis interview, did 215,000, actually below the average for the show. However, in 18-49 they did 111,000 for the interview, or 51.6 percent of the audience, which was by far the high point of the show. The last quarter had a usual AEW type of audience as opposed to the much older audience that watches Impact. One would have expected this to blow away the prior record, but it was a different audience because they’d never topped 58,000 in the 18-49 demo so it appears to have barely moved the 50+ number which previously had been the bulk of Impact’s viewers. Impact has been the oldest skewing of all the national wrestling shows probably because AXS itself skews so old with all the 70s and 80s rock stars and Dan Rather. This week, Impact will be the youngest skewing by a wide margin except for AEW and the Omega interview could skew younger than any sports event of the week aside from AEW based on last week’s numbers. Even with those percentage increases I think some would find the overall television number to not be as impressive as expected.

It was elsewhere that the show blew up. On the first night alone, through the different channels the show’s two hours averaged about 583,000 viewers and the Omega/Callis promo did another 770,000 viewers and those figures all continued to climb throughout the rest of the week. By early 12/10, the full two hour show’s average when it came to television, YouTube, Twitch and Facebook was more than 750,000 viewers for the two hours. The Omega/Callis interview did an additional 904,000 viewers through social media meaning 1.67 million for the segment minimum (since the segment likely did well over 770,000 since that was a two hour average).

The live Twitch feed, which has done as low as 800 viewers but usually does about 1,500 to 2,500 (which is actually considered very strong numbers for Twitch live sports) and the record for live viewers was 15,000. It was already ahead of that figure well before the show started. It was at 30,744 to start the show, and it continually grew throughout the show. The Omega interview started at 50,934 and ended at 55,396. Where Impact was really happy was the two-hour average was 42,953, the fourth largest of anything on Twitch that night. It beat the Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys NFL game head-to-head which also had a Twitch live feed and peaked, not averaged, 30,000 viewers as compared to 10 million on FOX.

The key for Impact was that while people obviously were tuning in for Omega, far more watched the entire show than expected because on a social platform people are less likely to spend a long time watching then on a television platform but the quarters show most people watched early.

After the show ended, a Facebook replay of the two-hour show averaged 70,000 viewers and YouTube did 190,000 in the first 12 hours, numbers far beyond anything Impact would have done in years. The 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. replay of Impact did 23,000 viewers.

It wasn’t even advertised until the afternoon of the show that the show would air on a two hour delay on Facebook and YouTube. Within 12 hours, a later that night release of just the Omega and Callis interview did 142,000 views on Facebook (over 197,000 by Thursday morning), 253,000 on YouTube (342,000 by Thursday morning), 120,000 on Instagram (146,000 on Thursday morning) and 219,000 on Twitter.
Originally Posted by Observer Newsletter
A show filled with major hooks coming off Winter is Coming, including the first interview by Sting, the first interview by Kenny Omega & Don Callis since winning the AEW title and the debut of Shaquille O’Neal led to AEW increasing from last week with 995,000 viewers and an 0.45 rating in 18-49, putting it in second place on the cable charts for the night.

The show beat Winter is Coming, which had been promoted for weeks and the Jon Moxley vs. Omega match that was the company’s biggest television match to date. Granted, this week was the given with the three big segments plus the Inner Circle segment and a Young Bucks match. But Dynamite with competition was head-to-head with Raw numbers in women under 50 (Raw was ahead 229,000 to 220,000 in 18-49 women) and in 18-34 women tied Smackdown at 100,000, even though Smackdown has the huge advantage of being on network television. It beat Raw in women 18-34 but not with men 18-34.

Sting’s debut interview really didn’t establish much. He interacted with Cody Rhodes, and pointed in the stands at Darby Allin, indicating that’s who he came for, more as an alliance than a rivalry.

Shaq did a taped sitdown in a studio with Brandi Rhodes, where Shaq told Rhodes, who had her arm in a sling, that she should watch and learn from wrestling from Jade Cargill, which she took as an insult given Cargill has almost no experience. She threw a drink that Tony Schiavone had in O’Neal’s face. O’Neal said he was just having fun on Twitter with Cody. What happens from here is anyone’s guess but it could lead to Cody & Brandi vs. Shaq & Cargill based on the segment, if Shaq really wants to wrestle.

From the quarters, it appears Sting and Shaq were the keys. Prior to the 12/2 Winter is Coming show, the biggest opposed demo figure of the year was 523,000 for the Young Bucks vs Top Flight match. Every single quarter this week beat that figure, with Sting’s first advertised appearance doing 1,069,000 viewers and 645,000 in 18-49, the latter in the same ballpark as most Raw shows. Shaq and Brandi Rhodes did 1,063,000 viewers and 618,000 in 18-49.
AEW had its best opposed numbers of the year for a show that should have done well given Sting, Shaq and coming off the title change.

AEW did 995,000 viewers and an 0.45 (584,000 viewers) in 18-49. The audience didn’t skew quite as young as the prior week, but far younger than the show usually does. The number is more significant than last week because it shows what came out of last week, but next week without all the firsts will give a better idea of leveling off. If next week does better than 0.32, it’s solid and better than 0.36, it’s great.

AEW was No. 2 behind Challenge Double Agent on MTV (900,000 viewers but 0.51 in 18-49) on the charts and beat College Basketball on ESPN (896,000 viewers; 0.24) head-to-head. Lio Rush is on the MTV show this season and featured for a long period on the first episode.

NXT, coming off a Takeover show, was No. 37 overall with 659,000 viewers and 0.17 (217,000 viewers) in 18-49 ...

AEW was up 9.0 percent in viewers and 8.3 percent in 18-49. NXT was up 0.2 percent in viewers and up 3.3 percent in 18-49.

When compared to last year on the same date, AEW was up 27.9 percent in viewers, 60.7 percent in 18-49 and 61.1 percent in 18-34. NXT was down 15.3 percent in viewers, 29.2 percent in 18-49 and 35.7 percent in 18-34.

AEW more than doubled NXT in every key demo, the first time that has ever happened. AEW did 104,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 1.0 percent from last week) to 40,000 for NXT (up 185.7 percent). AEW did 100,000 viewers in women 18-34 (up 28.2 percent) to 20,000 for NXT (up 17.6 percent). AEW did 260,000 in men 35-49 (up 3.2 percent) to 101,000 for NXT (down 7.3 percent). AEW did 120,000 in women 35-49 (up 13.2 percent) to 56,000 for NXT (down 20.0 percent).

As far as total viewers for the night, in men 18-34 it was 182,000 for Friday, 144,000 for Wednesday and 130,000 for Monday. In women 18-34, it was 117,000 for Wednesday, 100,000 for Friday and 86,000 for Monday. The men 35-49, it was 361,000 for Wednesday, 302,000 for Monday and 289,000 for Friday. In women 35-49, it was 197,000 for Friday, 176,000 for Wednesday and 143,000 for Monday.

While it was Sting and Shaq that were the big difference makers, every AEW quarter was strong. In both of those quarters, not only did AEW triple the 18-49 numbers of NXT, but the AEW 18-49 numbers were more than the total viewers of NXT

In the main event battle, AEW did 971,000 viewers and 563,000 in 18-49 with MJF vs. Orange Cassidy. NXT did 665,000 viewers and 225,000 in 18-49 for Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon.

In 18-34, the Sting segment’s 229,000 went head-to-head with 50,000 for NXT. Shaq’s edge was 221,000 to 60,000.

In the first quarter, AEW did 934,000 viewers and 531,000 in 18-49 for Young Bucks vs. Jack Evans & Angelico. NXT, with its big lead-in, started at 782,000 viewer and 231,000 in 18-49 for a Finn Balor promo with Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, Damien Priest and Scarlett, plus a backstage brawl with Dunne and Killian Dain.

In the second quarter, AEW did 1,069,000 viewers and 645,000 in 18-49 for a Darby Allin video and the Cody Rhodes and Sting segment. NXT did 615,000 viewers and 183,000 in 18-49 for Jake Atlas vs. Isaiah Scott, a Tommaso Ciampa interview and Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Ever Rise vs. Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner.

In the third quarter, AEW did 1,022,000 viewers and 593,000 in 18-49 for FTR vs. Griff Garrison & Brian Pillman Jr. and Adam Page at the bar with Alex Reynolds and John Silver. NXT did 654,000 viewers and 214,000 in 18-49 with the ending of Grizzled Young Veterans vs; Ever Rise vs. Barthel & Aichner, a War Gams video and a Toni Storm brawl with Io Shirai.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 1,063,000 viewers and 618,000 in 18-49 for Dustin Rhodes vs. 10 and the Schiavone backstage segment with Shaq and Brandi Rhodes and the beginning of the Inner Circle segment. NXT did 600,000 viewers and 206,000 in 18-49 with Ciampa vs.; Cameron Grimes.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 1,010,000 viewers and 593,000 in 18-49 for The Inner Circle in-ring, an FTR & Tully Blanchard interview and the beginning of Butcher & Blade & Eddie Kingston vs. Penta & Rey Fenix & Lance Archer. NXT did 638,000 viewers and 216,000 in 18-49 for the ending of Grimes vs. Ciampa, a Gonzalez promo and Boa and Xia Lee being tortured.

In the sixth quarter, AEW did 926,000 viewers and 547,000 in 18-49 for the ending of Butcher & Blade & Kingston vs. Penta & Fenix & Archer. NXT had 675,000 viewers and 231,000 in 18-49 for Karrion Kross attacking Priest and Killian Dain vs. Pete Dunne.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 963,000 viewers and 581,000 in 18-49 for Omega & Callis. NXT did 644,000 viewers and 224,000 in 18-49 for Dain vs. Dunne.

In the final quarter, AEW gained 8,000 viewers and lost 18,000 in 18-49 for Orange Cassidy vs. MJF. NXT gained 21,000 viewers and lost 9,000 in 18-49 for Gonzalez vs. Moon.

AEW did an 0.18 in 12-17 (same as last week), 0.29 in 18-34 (up 12.7 percent), 0.61 in 35-49 (up 6.1 percent) and 0.29 in 50+ (up 11.5 percent) ...

NXT did a 0.10 in 12-17 (up 11.1 percent from last week), 0.09 in 18-34 (up 93.5 percent), 0.25 in 35-49 (down 12.2 percent) and 0.35 in 50+ (same as last week).
AEW, with the Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega title change Winter is Coming show, ended up second for the night in 18-49 by a very slim margin behind West Virginia vs. Gonzaga college basketball (549,000 to 543,000, an that game pitted two of the top teams in the country, with both averaging 0.42), but it was the women’s audience that made it second as it was well behind ESPN’s prime time game with men.

It was both the youngest skewing sports show of the week as far as age was concerned with nothing really even close. It was also first in the sports category with 1.57 viewers per home. The CBS NFL game did 1.50. NBC Football was 1.45. Monday Night Football was 1.41. Alabama vs. LSU was 1.49. The UFC main card was 1.47 and prelims were 1.52. Duke vs. Michigan State basketball was 1.41.

AEW was sixth for the night in women 18-49, which is much higher than usual, second in men 18-49, third in 18-34, fourth in women 12-34 (far better than usual) and fourth in males 12-34.

NXT was No. 40 for the night overall, No. 28 in male 18-49 and did terrible (0.04) in the 18-34 overall demo.

Some other highlights. The last four minutes of the Battle Royal topped 1 million viewers. Aside from the commercial break, Chris Jericho vs. Frankie Kazarian averaged 980,000 viewers and more than 560,000 in 18-49 and that built to the Young Bucks interview that did nearly 1.1 million viewers at its peak and 620,000 in 18-49 while NXT was in a break. Britt Baker vs. Leyla Hirsch was the big surprise of the night averaging 960,000 viewers and 550,000 in 18-49 when not during the commercial break. The Baker-Rosa angle topped 1 million viewers, helped by NXT being in a break. Cody Rhodes & Darby Allin vs. Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs averaged 910,000 viewers and 535,000 in 18-49 but grew and when Sting was out, they averaged 1,050,000 viewers (725,000 men and 325,000 women) and 600,000 in 18-49 (400,000 men and 200,000 women), when NXT had the Pat McAfee promo and then a commercial break. The Hikaru Shida and Jon Moxley promos were about 915,000 viewers and 565,000 in 18-49. Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley averaged 970,000 for the match, and were right under one million the entire time other than during commercial breaks. Omega vs. Moxley averaged likely in the same ballpark as the Raw main event of Orton vs. Wyatt this week. Orton vs. Wyatt was ahead but they were basically tied (AEW up 210,000 to 209,000) if you look at each show’s final 15 minutes in 18-34. It’s not clear which would be higher but the number was probably about the same. While there are obvious reasons this is not a fair comparison–on both sides–it would be the first time in 2020 the Dynamite main event did about the same as the Raw main event. The Sting reveal and Young Bucks promo likely both beat the Raw main event, and that’s with a competitive show against it.

The last five minutes were at 985,000, averaged 590,000 in 18-49. The match hit 600,000 five different points including the last five minute stretch. The Young Bucks and Sting segments were partially during commercial breaks while the Omega match was during NXT’s hottest match (the ladder match with Raquel Gonzalez vs. Shotzi Blackheart) where its demo number approached 240,000. The combined 840,000 is way above what Raw does and above what Smackdown does except in its best weeks.

A big key is the huge increases in younger women. Women 18-34 were up 143.8 percent and Women 12-17 were up 200.0 percent from the weak numbers where it seemed women were sitting out the night before Thanksgiving and watching live for whatever reason.

AEW did a 0.18 in 12-17 (up 100.0 percent), 0.26 in 18-34 (up 70.8 percent), 0.58 in 35-49 (up 54.7 percent) and 0.26 in 50+ (down 10.3 percent). The audience was 66.1 percent male in 18-49 and 57.0 percent male in 12-17.

NXT did a 0.09 in 12-17 (up 80.0 percent), 0.04 in 18-34 (down 35.4 percent), 0.28 in 35-49 (down 12.7 percent) and 0.35 in 50+ (down 7.9 percent). The audience was 58.6 percent male in 18-49 and 82.8 percent male in 12-17.
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Originally Posted by Observer
Raw last night set its all-time record low with both 1.53 million average viewers and a 0.41 rating in 18-49.

For the first time ever, not only did last week's AEW Dynamite beat an hour of Raw, but it beat all three hours in 18-49 and 18-34. It is not a lock AEW will beat Raw's numbers tomorrow but it would be a surprise if it doesn't beat this Friday's SmackDown numbers on FS1. AEW has only beaten 0.41 twice this year, both times in the last two weeks.

Raw had its lowest first hour, the lowest second hour, and the lowest third hour, so this was not people tuning out, as the people leaving the show as it went on was at average levels. This was people not tuning in to see it in the first place.

Raw finished ninth in 18-49 ...

As compared to last week, Raw was down 12 percent in viewers, 20 percent in 18-49, and 29 percent in 18-34.

As compared to the same week last year, Raw was down 26 percent in viewers, 32 percent in 18-49, and 48 percent in 18-34.

The NFL game last night with the Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens was a big culprit, as it did 12.42 million viewers and a 3.57 in 18-49. Still, it had fewer viewers than many weeks this season including last week's game as an ABC/ESPN simulcast.

Male viewers in particular were shockingly low, especially in WWE's usual 35-49 strongest point. Raw beat Dynamite slightly with women 18-49, they tied with women 12-34, and Raw was slightly ahead .27 to .25 in males 12-34. But Dynamite won in 35-49 by a .57 to .46 margin, which made the difference

As far as tuning out, women 18-49 tuned out from hour one to hour three at a normal 15 percent clip, men 18-49 at a 10 percent clip, teenage girls and boys both gained during the show, while people over 50 dropped nine percent.

The three hours were:
  • 8 p.m. 1.63 million viewers
  • 9 p.m. 1.51 million viewers
  • 10 p.m. 1.44 million viewers
Originally Posted by Observer
EC3 has confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

He revealed his positive diagnosis to Chris Van Vliet. As a result, he will not be a part of Ring of Honor’s Final Battle event this Friday ...

Others that have been removed from this weekend's event include Bandido, Flamita, and Kenny King.
Originally Posted by PWI
The Monday Night Raw episode that aired last night was very much the show as it was originally written, although specific placement of segments and where they would fit into the show changed over the course of the day. There was also a lot of re-writing of dialogue as the day went on, but this was very much a Vince McMahon vision described by one source as "the writers giving him what he wants."

One major change that happened over the course of the day was originally Keith Lee vs. The Miz was penciled in as a singles match but that changed to a handicap match over the course of Monday. Lee was not slated to go over before the change, either.

Retribution pushing Ricochet to join their group is something that will continue to play out in the weeks ahead ...

As you may have seen by the way Raw went off the air, the show had numerous segments run long, which management was not happy about.
Originally Posted by PWI
Since some readers have asked, here is the WWE taping schedule for the holiday season.

Raw will remain live every Monday.

WWE NXT will remain live every Wednesday

Friday Night Smackdown will remain live every Friday with the exception of Christmas week. The Christmas episode of Friday 12/25 episode will be taped on 12/22.

Smackdown on New Year's Evening 1/1/21 will broadcast live.
Originally Posted by PWI
Anthem Sports and Entertainment, Inc. launched AXS TV in Canada on 12/10, available on Bell TV and Virgin TV.

Although Impact Wrestling was not mentioned in their press release, it is listed on their Canadian schedule lineup, so now Impact Wrestling airs on 3 stations in Canada (Live on Fight Network and AXS TV, tape delay on Game TV)
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Former IMPACT X Division and World Tag Team Champion Jake Crist officially announced his free agency as he is no longer a member of the IMPACT Wrestling roster. Several days ago, Crist tweeted out that he would become a free agent on January 1st of 2021 but he shared on Twitter today that his free agency is now official ...

Crist last appeared on IMPACT programming in early June and his last TV match with the company was against Crazzy Steve. Throughout the months, Crist competed in IWA Mid-South, AAW and several more independent promotions.
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
VICE has an extensive feature up with longtime WWE composer Jim Johnston whose tenure with the company ended in 2017. Johnston detailed the creative process and broke down the meaning behind WWE themes that he’s created. One of those was D-Generation X’s theme.

“A lot of people tell me this is a Rage Against the Machine type of song, but it was always a straight-up funk groove to me. It’s a complete swing rhythm and I guess an ode to people like James Brown in terms of my chord progression.

I think it was Chris Warren’s brilliant vocal that gave the song this counterculture punk-rap vibe. He really symbolized what D-Generation X was all about in terms of upsetting the order of things. I remember we were in the studio and I held up a big sign with phrases that I wanted him to say in his iconic wise guy voice. I had written down, ‘You think you can tell us what to do?’, ‘You think you can tell us what to wear’ and like hundreds of other phrases, which I then cut down to what you hear on the intro. The long introduction of this track was a big risk as it went against the instant glass-shattering chaos that so many of the other themes had. I was worried Vince was going to shut it down quickly because, boy, the intro is so long! But there’s just something about it. Chris’ voice has this magnetic quality and he creates this anticipation in the arena. I feel like the song’s sound inspired a few nu-metal bands. That line: ‘Are you ready?’ caught on as well, as it was used on adverts for holidays, insurance and all kinds of things.”

Johnston came up with Vince McMahon’s theme song because he had been upset with McMahon in a work-related sense. His thought process was, “You’ve got no chance with this guy.”

“When I was writing Vince’s No ‘Chance In Hell’ entrance theme, I had been really upset with him about something at work. I found myself thinking: ‘You’ve got no chance against this guy!’ He’s got the power, the money, and in terms of pro-wrestling, he was pretty much the only game in town. I had written the guitar groove much earlier, and I found myself singing ‘No Chance…No Chance’ over that groove. Rather than a song about one man, I wanted it to be about ’The Man’.

The song is about the work system that imprisons us all. It’s got a thrust of someone who’s kind of like marching like they’re the kind of ‘big I am’. What I loved about Vince was how he liked to be surprised. He let me take risks and if I surprised him with something and it was good then he would be delighted. But if it wasn’t good then boy he would tell you about it! I will always class him as a friend. We were creating something entirely new as the business Vince had bought from his dad didn’t have any music for the wrestlers. Our work together radically changed things and made it so much more theatrical. I’ll always be proud of that.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
JTG was the focus of Pro Wrestling Junkies’ latest virtual meet-and-greet session. He recounted his match against Santino Marella from the fall of 2013 where he uniquely sold Santino’s ‘Cobra Strike’ finisher. The way JTG sold the move was not well received by some backstage and it turned out to be his last match in WWE for the foreseeable future.

“Well I got two different reactions. From my peers, they loved it. This never happened in my career before where I had a great match and my peers got up and clapped for me. Like I’ve had a lot of great matches in WWE but with that sell, when I came back through that curtain, everybody got up and started clapping and laughing and we’re like, ‘That was amazing,’ and then the other reaction was from the office. My agent of the match, he was like, ‘That was pretty creative but you know, I don’t know if you did that to pop the boys or yourself but you got some — you might have a little heat with some people in the office’ and I’m like, ‘Why would I have heat with somebody in the office? The finisher is ridiculous.’ So, I was just having fun out there. He was like, ‘Eh… okay’ and then that happened to be my last match. That was my last match in WWE.”
For some reference:

Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Joey G at Wrestling Headlines interviewed former IMPACT X Division Champion Chris Bey. Bey was asked about the working relationship between IMPACT Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling and he feels it’s great for both sides. He added that the dream match scenarios are there and he has a few of his own that he wants to make a reality.

“I think that this is a great thing for the business. I think that whenever we can make that excitement and break that fourth wall so to speak and take what everyone thought they knew about the business and switch it up…because this is an era nowadays that is pulled back so far that a lot of the people who have never taken a bump or who have never actually done this feel like they know. It’s okay to know, but they feel like they really know. The greatest part about moments like these…those same people who think they really know, they see this and they go, ‘Oh I didn’t know this was possible. If this is happening I bet this can’t happen,’ then the next week that same thing they say can’t happen happens. They start to learn we can switch it up on them at anytime. I think this is great because it’s going to provide a lot of dream scenarios and give a lot of people to be seen on different platforms. A lot of people who watch AEW don’t watch IMPACT, a lot of people who watch IMPACT don’t watch AEW. So this will give a lot of different fans someone new to tune into, who they might like or relate to, or find their new favorite wrestler. I think it’s great. Now we talk about the dream matches. I’ve seen a lot of people post stuff like they wanted to see me versus Kenny, then they wanted to see me versus Darby Allin, or they think because of the charisma through the roof they wanna see me and Ricky Starks. There’s one in particular that stands out to me that I need to check off my bucket list personally because it all started a little over a year ago, but I need…for the sake of my story…I need Dashing Chris Bey versus Dashing Cody Rhodes. That’s the one that I need.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Stone Cold Steve Austin was featured on ESPN’s ‘Monday Tailgate’ program and he shared his thoughts on Pat McAfee’s run in the NXT brand so far:

“He puts it all on the line, he’s going for it. Basically, I think his verbal skills, he’s slaying everybody but he’s not afraid to go out there and put it all on the line so you know, you wouldn’t expect that from a guy who kicks the football but no, Pat McAfee’s badass. I think he’s doing a really, really good job. I give him a solid A.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Bill Goldberg and his undefeated streak was the latest subject covered on the WWE Untold series.

The rise of the former football star within WCW was nothing short of lightning in a bottle and a phenomenon that kept WCW business strong through the duration of 1998 even though creatively, the company was stifling ...

In the documentary, the streak was acknowledged as the brainchild of Mike Tenay and influenced by other famous streaks within sports. The addition of Tenay’s influence was a late call after Dave Meltzer spoke of Tenay’s influence and being on the phone with Tenay when the idea was hatched. This led to a call from WWE to Tenay last Tuesday and his involvement was not ignored. It appears they used WWE host Matt Camp as the talking head to explain Tenay’s involvement and spliced it into the finished documentary, which is extra attention to care that is noteworthy from the producers.

In 1998, the narrative is often that WWF overtook WCW and the company limped its way out of business from that point onward. However, in 1998, WCW had its best year ever financially with revenue of $188 million and up 68 percent from 1997. Their arena business was phenomenal, and nothing emphasized that strength greater than the four week period that included the decision to end Goldberg’s streak.

While Kevin Nash cited the growing chants of “Goldberg sucks”, which were popping up, the business told another story.

Nitro drew 32,067 to the Astrodome in Houston on December 7th, which was followed two weeks later with 29,000 at the TWA Dome in St. Louis and culminated with 38,809 at the Georgia Dome on January 4, 1999, for the infamous “finger poke of doom”. WCW business was red hot and while ending the streak in a vacuum wasn’t going to kill WCW, the combination of Goldberg’s loss, poor follow-up, and a wretched booking idea at the Georgia Dome set the stage for a money-losing year in 1999 ...

Goldberg sputtered throughout 1999 from uninspired programs with Scott Hall, Bam Bam Bigelow, and a rematch with Nash at the April pay-per-view before a break to shoot the movie Universal Soldier: The Return. His return on the July 5, 1999, episode of Nitro from the Georgia Dome outlined the damage done the prior January. Attendance fell to 25,338 with the paid amount reported at under 20,000. It was the last time WCW ran the domed stadium ...

While WCW squandered a lot with Goldberg, they at least developed him to the point that he did make a gigantic difference in 1998. When Goldberg finally arrived in WWE in March 2003, the template was written, and you could poll the audience and they would tell you the accurate way to book Goldberg. Instead, the ’03 experiment was a disaster with rare instances of the version that had its most success. It was fascinating to watch the company get it right thirteen years later when Goldberg returned for the program with Brock Lesnar.
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Brandon Thurston and former co-host Chris Harrington of AEW had a fascinating discussion and breakdown of last week’s AEW Dynamite television figures. Harrington provided access to his Excel sheet going through the minute-by-minute ratings of the show displaying the total viewers and P 18-49 figures throughout the night for AEW compared to NXT. While Harrington acknowledged that this was a good week for Dynamite to share such data, it is a remarkable amount of transparency for a company official to talk about this information in a public space. I’d highly recommend listening or watching the entire discussion as Harrington doesn’t just present the numbers but shares his analysis and trends he has learned along the way as well as lessons to be following if you’re interpreting the data.

Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Lavie Margolin looks at the availability of several smaller networks in the U.S. that carry professional wrestling. It notes that AXS TV is currently is 58 percent of homes in the country with 51.8 million while Game TV (which also carries IMPACT) is only in nine million homes.

Originally Posted by WrestlingInc
Monday Night RAW Superstar Riddle might have a big supporter in Vince McMahon, according to Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer Radio.

Meltzer noted that McMahon really likes Riddle and thinks The Original Bro is "very funny in his own weird way." He added that although McMahon doesn't understand Riddle's gimmick which is inspired by Sean Penn's character in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, he really likes Riddle's character and thinks its unique and funny.

"He just doesn't get The Bro thing, but he thinks he's funny 'so we gotta keep him on TV,'" said Meltzer.

It was also noted while McMahon might not see Riddle as a main event star, he does see him as someone worthy of regular TV time ...

Riddle was first called up to the WWE main roster in May earlier this year. In his debut match on SmackDown, he defeated then-Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles in a non-title match. In October, Riddle was moved to the red brand as part of the 2020 WWE Draft.
Originally Posted by
AJ Styles reportedly liked the recent Impact Wrestling segment where World Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson debuted Hornswoggle as The Wee-nomenal One, a spoof of Styles.

The angle aired last month and Fightful Select reports that AJ didn’t know it was coming, but he seemed to think it was great, according to those close to him.

There were apparently no issues with Swoggle using the old TNA theme, which the company still has the rights to, or the gear and likeness of AJ.

The segment was also said to be a big hit among the Impact and WWE locker rooms.
Link to the video:

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Old 12-16-2020, 06:51 PM   #1526
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Originally Posted by Observer
AEW has announced a change to the lineup for tonight's episode of Dynamite.

It was announced this afternoon that Wardlow couldn't travel to tonight's Dynamite due to a family matter. He was supposed to take part in a 14-man tag match on tonight's show.

With Wardlow off the show, AEW has removed Brandon Cutler from the other side of tonight's tag match. It will now be a 12-man tag match with The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, MJF, Jake Hager, Santana, Ortiz & Sammy Guevara) facing Best Friends (Trent & Chuck Taylor), The Varsity Blondes (Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison) & Top Flight (Darius & Dante Martin).

Jake "The Snake" Roberts also tweeted today that he won't be able to appear on Dynamite tonight. Roberts noted that his absence is due to an illness that isn't COVID-19: "Unfortunately, I won’t be able to appear tonight due to illness (not COVID). These days we all have to be on point. Looking forward to seeing everyone in two weeks. In the meantime, keep an eye on Lance [Archer] for me on #AEWDynamite LIVE TONIGHT 8/7c on TNT"
Originally Posted by Observer
NJPW has confirmed the stipulation options and opened voting for Toru Yano and Bad Luck Fale's upcoming KOPW 2020 match.

Yano is defending the KOPW 2020 title against Fale at NJPW's Road to Tokyo Dome show at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Wednesday, December 23. This is the last NJPW show of the year, meaning that the winner of Yano vs. Fale will be crowned the KOPW 2020 Champion ahead of the title being reset at the start of the new year.

Fale's chosen stipulation is a body slam match. The first person to body slam their opponent will win. Yano's chosen stipulation is a body slam or last corner pad removed match. The first person to either body slam their opponent or remove the final corner pad once all others have been removed will get the win. Voting to determine the stipulation is now underway.

Originally Posted by PWI
Impact Wrestling Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson tweeted the following, teasing the idea he could be on AEW tonight:

.. @AEW tonight at 8 pm EST , who knows what will happen in Jacksonville..@KennyOmegamanX@The_BigLG@TheDonCallis
— The Machine Gun (@MachineGunKA) December 16, 2020

Given the Good Brothers' alliance with Kenny Omega, certainly its just a matter of time until it happens.
Originally Posted by PWI
Ring of Honor Champion Rush and TV Champion Dragon Lee will return to Ring of Honor action this Friday at the ROH Final Battle 2020 PPV, their first appearances for the promotion since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rush's current ROH deal is expected to expire at the end of the year and Dragon Lee's work has brought considerable interest from other promotions as well.

In regard to their future with the promotion, Ring of Honor Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff exclusively told this morning that "conversations are ongoing" with both Rush and Lee about their future in ROH in 2021 and beyond.
Originally Posted by PWI
AEW issued the following:


-- AEW Star Scorpio Sky and Funhaus Creator James Willems To Co-Host Series Launching Jan. 18 --

December 16, 2020 — Rooster Teeth and All Elite Wrestling announced a new weekly lifestyle podcast, Wrestling With The Week, hosted by AEW sensation Scorpio Sky and Funhaus co creative director James Willems. Each 30-minute episode gives wrestling and gaming fans insider looks at the week in wrestling, gaming, sports, movies and more.

Produced by Eric Baudour (The Rooster Teeth Podcast, Mega64), the premiere episode of Wrestling With The Week debuts in audio and video streaming formats worldwide on Jan. 18, 2021. Wrestling With The Week is represented by Rooster Teeth’s The Roost Podcast Network, and is executive produced by Activist Artist Management and Tony Khan, CEO, GM and Head of Creative of AEW. Fans can visit for more information, watch the official podcast trailer at this LINK, and follow @WWTWpod for more information.
Originally Posted by Fightful
Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department plan to file charges against the man accused of cyberbullying Hana Kimura.

According to Asahi Digital, investigators believe an Osaka man in his 20s sent several bullying and threatening messages to Kimura via social media. The posts were deleted following her death on May 23, but images were taken and sent to the police. Nearly 1200 posts from 600 accounts were are being investigated.

The accused has since apologized to Kimura's family via email.

Police will continue to investigate other messages sent to Hana.

Kimura received the threats and bullying messages following an episode of reality show "Terrace House" where she was portrayed as aggressive during a confrontation with a housemate who ruined her wrestling outfit.

Hana's mother Kyoko filed a complaint with the Broadcast Ethics & Program Improvement Organization in Japan, blaming Terrace House for pressuring her daughter into uncomfortable situations, which ultimately led to her being bullied online.
Originally Posted by Fightful
Fans can consume The Best of NJPW Strong on Christmas.

NJPW announced a special "Best of NJPW Strong" will air for free on Christmas Day. Fans can watch the special on NJPW World, FITE TV, or YouTube.
Originally Posted by Fightful
After being released by WWE in April, Serena Deeb has become one of the most featured females in wrestling as she won the NWA Women's Championship and appeared on AEW television.

Deeb captured the NWA Women's Championship from Thunder Rosa on the October 27 episode of UWN Primetime Live and has gone on to defend the title multiple times in an AEW ring.

Speaking on The Hashtag Show, Deeb discussed the crossover between AEW and NWA.

"Doing this work with NWA and AEW, it's something special because cross-promotion hasn't been done in wrestling in awhile. To be part of that and someone who represents this historic company in the NWA and now bringing that title to Dynamite and defending it against AEW women, I'm super excited about that," she said.

Along with NWA, AEW has had crossover with IMPACT Wrestling. Deeb believes cross-promotion between all companies is a good thing and she hopes New Japan Pro-Wrestling will be involved in the future.

"This stuff with IMPACT is exciting as well. That's another cross-promotion where we can do some special things. New Japan is on that list as well. It's always been a dream of mine to wrestle on a New Japan show. It hasn't always been a promotion that showcases women, but the way that wrestling has moved and evolved, more places that, historically speaking, didn't have a lot of women's action are more open to it. I would love to wrestle for New Japan," she said.

As for the near future, Deeb noted that the National Wrestling Alliance will probably begin taping shows again in the coming months.

"For the foreseeable future, I'm really excited. NWA is probably starting back up again with some tapings in January or early next year. My intention as champion is to defend it all over the world. I would love to be a platform to showcase other women. The possibilities are endless," said Deeb.

The NWA shutdown during the pandemic, suspending its Powerrr tapings in March. Along with AEW, the promotion has partnered with UWN to run events. NWA currently airs matches from past events each week on its Shockwave series.

It is unknown when NWA will resume again.
Originally Posted by Fightful
Triple H shows off the theme song for NXT's New Year's Evil show.

Originally Posted by Fightful
Four years ago on December 15, 2016, Matt & Jeff Hardy teamed to take on all of the greatest tag teams who dared come to the Hardy compound for Tag Team Apocalypto.

At the end of night, Broken Matt and Brother Nero were victorious, staking their claim as The Greatest Tag Team in All of Space and Time.

The IMPACT social media account celebrated the moment by tweeting out highlights from the bout. IMPACT Digital Producer Garrett Kidney noted on Twitter that Hardy almost deleted all of TNA to end the match.

Matt would respond to the tweet, confirming that the pitch was made, but obviously did not go through.

TNA was eventually rebranded months later in March 2017 when Anthem purchased the company, changing the name to IMPACT Wrestling.

Originally Posted by Fightful
Stephanie McMahon believes stars are bigger than the brand.

With social media becoming the way to consume content, WWE is often touting its YouTube and Twitter numbers to highlight the amount of engagement with the brand. Most individual superstars have a Twitter account while others have explored avenues such as Twitch, Cameo, TikTok, and more.

Speaking to David Meltzer on The Playbook podcast, Stephanie McMahon discussed how WWE promotes and highlights individual stars in the company.

"One of the things that we understood early on is star power. It's about the attraction, it's about the draw. Whether it's a live event or you're trying to drive television ratings or social media engagement, you have to have star power. For us, we try to amplify the individual stars so we can create the biggest moats around them. They need to have individual voices. They need to be their own personas. Now, in the digital and social age, the audience wants to engage with these stars on a personal level. 'I know you play this particular character, but who are you in real life? Do you have pets? What do you like to eat?' People want to relate. At the end of the day, the audience might not relate to a brand, to the WWE or another league, but they might relate to a team or an individual star. More and more, you're seeing that in the media space. Whether it's content creators on TikTok or Twitch, you see these consumers and people getting behind the content creators and influencers individually because they relate to them. It's different ways for every person. if you can create the opportunities for engagement, then the rising tide will raise all boats," she said.

WWE started to crackdown on superstars using third-party platforms this year, shutting down Cameo and Twitch accounts for the time being.
The BS meter must have gone through the roof during that interview. WWE pretty much acts the opposite way when it comes to the idea of stars being bigger than the brand and them being supportive towards talent using social media and third party services without WWE's involvement.

Originally Posted by WrestleVotes
Recently a group of writers were asked to make a list of underutilized talents they felt could shine if given the proper opportunity. Those lists ranged wide, but nearly ALL of them included: Cesaro, Angel Garza, Chad Gable, Carmella & Peyton Royce.

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Old 12-17-2020, 07:32 AM   #1527
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Stephanie McMahon believes stars are bigger than the brand.

With social media becoming the way to consume content, WWE is often touting its YouTube and Twitter numbers to highlight the amount of engagement with the brand. Most individual superstars have a Twitter account while others have explored avenues such as Twitch, Cameo, TikTok, and more.

Speaking to David Meltzer on The Playbook podcast, Stephanie McMahon discussed how WWE promotes and highlights individual stars in the company.

"One of the things that we understood early on is star power. It's about the attraction, it's about the draw. Whether it's a live event or you're trying to drive television ratings or social media engagement, you have to have star power. For us, we try to amplify the individual stars so we can create the biggest moats around them. They need to have individual voices. They need to be their own personas. Now, in the digital and social age, the audience wants to engage with these stars on a personal level. 'I know you play this particular character, but who are you in real life? Do you have pets? What do you like to eat?' People want to relate. At the end of the day, the audience might not relate to a brand, to the WWE or another league, but they might relate to a team or an individual star. More and more, you're seeing that in the media space. Whether it's content creators on TikTok or Twitch, you see these consumers and people getting behind the content creators and influencers individually because they relate to them. It's different ways for every person. if you can create the opportunities for engagement, then the rising tide will raise all boats," she said.

WWE started to crackdown on superstars using third-party platforms this year, shutting down Cameo and Twitch accounts for the time being.

This supposed to be damage control for being knobs about social media accounts? Right..... poorly done. Never listened to any Meltzer podcast or whatever, but he should have asked the hard follow-up question about them forcing talent to relinquish their social media accounts.
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Old 12-17-2020, 09:08 AM   #1528
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It’s a different David Meltzer, Drave. Lol.
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Old 12-17-2020, 11:19 AM   #1529
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goes to show I really don't pay attention
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Old 12-17-2020, 11:46 AM   #1530
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nor make the connection in your brain that steph would never agree to an interview with meltz
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Old 12-17-2020, 12:18 PM   #1531
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I don't follow closely enough to know that.

I've not watched a weekly episode in years. I don't sub to the network. I get PPV's via the network from a family member who still enjoys it, but doesn't have access to a PC, or other device to stream, nor reliable internet.They come over for every PPV and just enjoy it.
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Old 12-17-2020, 08:33 PM   #1532
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Originally Posted by The Dastardly One View Post
It’s a different David Meltzer, Drave. Lol.
Not going to lie but I almost got fooled as well the first time I read that bit of news from Fightful.

Saw the name and my first thought was being surprised he got an interview with someone that high up in WWE. Then I read the rest of the sentence and quickly realized it wasn't him but instead some other guy with a similar name.
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Old 12-17-2020, 09:38 PM   #1533
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The Sheets:

Originally Posted by Observer
Following a week in which they did their best ratings of the year, AEW Dynamite averaged 806,000 viewers last night, down 19 percent from the previous week.

NXT had an overall audience of 766,000 viewers, a 16.2 percent increase over last Wednesday.

In the 18-49 demo, Dynamite finished third on the cable charts with a 0.32 rating. That's down 28.9 percent from the 2020 high that the show recorded last Wednesday. NXT finished 34th on the charts with a 0.19 rating, up 11.8 percent from last week.

NXT actually won a demo this week apart from the usual people over 50. That demo was males 12-34, where NXT drew a 0.13 rating to Dynamite's 0.11. NXT drew a 0.37 rating to Dynamite's 0.30 in people over 50.

Dynamite finished first on all of cable in men 18-49 with a 0.49 rating. In people 18-34, where Dynamite was second on cable with a 0.29 rating last week, the show dropped almost 50 percent to a 0.15 rating this week.

The combined Wednesday wrestling audience of 1.571 million viewers and the combined 0.51 rating in the 18-49 demo were the lowest since November 25. Those combined totals both beat Raw this week, but Raw's 0.41 rating in 18-49 topped Dynamite's 0.32 rating. Last week's Dynamite drew a 0.45 rating in the 18-49 demo.

Year-over-year, Dynamite was up in overall viewers for the fourth straight week. For last night's show, the increase was 18 percent from the same week in 2019. In 18-49, Dynamite increased 28 percent over last year, the third straight week of an increase in that category.

NXT was down 3.7 percent in overall viewers year-over-year and down 29.6 percent in the demo.
AEW being down big this week takes a lot of heat away from WWE needing to seriously fix their RAW woes. Instead of feeling the pressure of record low RAW ratings and AEW breathing down RAW's neck in key demo, now WWE can just try to spike the ratings for a week or two and go right back to not bothering doing any real long-term changes for the better.

Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
To assess where AEW stands compared to its programming prior to “Winter is Coming”, the show averaged 774,000 viewers and a 0.31 in the 18-49 demo in October, and 760,000 viewers with a 0.31 demo rating in November.

The demographic numbers for AEW didn’t paint a great picture as adults 18-34 dropped 48 percent this week (its lowest in that category since November 11th), men 12-34 were down 56 percent and its female audience dropped 35 percent with women 18-49 and 45.5 with 12-34s.

Each key demo was down double digits except for adults over the age of 50, which grew 3 percent.

The closest category between RAW and AEW this week was among men 18-49 with RAW registering a 0.46 and AEW at 0.43.

In Canada, AEW averaged 120,000 viewers on TSN 2 and was the #1 sports program in Canada, although the competition was minimal. The second-most-watched sports program was a UFC replay with 40,200 viewers and a 2016 World Cup of Hockey game between Canada and Finland with 38,400 viewers.

The Canadian number was strong considering “Winter is Coming” did 108,500 earlier this month and was heavily hyped ...

Even though NXT fell 7 percent among men 12-34, they topped AEW with a 0.13 to a 0.11. As usual, NXT won among adults over 50 and lost the other key demos.

In overall viewership, it was NXT’s best performance since Halloween Havoc on October 25th and the highest demo figure since November 25th.
Originally Posted by Observer
WWE has officially unveiled a new addition to the NXT UK roster.

During this week's NXT UK episode, a video aired announcing that Ben Carter is coming to NXT UK. Dave Meltzer had confirmed this October that Carter had signed with WWE.

The video on this week's NXT UK featured footage and pictures from early in Carter's career, along with comments from William Regal, Ashton Smith, Wolfgang, Nigel McGuinness, Seth Rollins, and Sid Scala. McGuinness called Carter a can't-miss prospect and Scala said Carter could have signed anywhere but decided to sign with NXT UK. The video also covered how Carter trained at Rollins and Marek Brave's Black and Brave Wrestling Academy. Rollins said the way Carter moves in the ring reminds him of Dynamite Kid and Eddie Guerrero.

The 22-year-old Carter is from the United Kingdom. He made multiple appearances on AEW programming this year, including a match where he lost to Scorpio Sky on Late Night Dynamite this September.
Originally Posted by Observer
On this week's MLW Fusion, the finals of the 2020 Opera Cup tournament were made as "Filthy" Tom Lawlor advanced to a showdown with Low Ki.

Lawlor defeated Rocky Romero and then ACH on his road to the finals while Ki defeated 2019 Cup winner Davey Boy Smith Jr. and then Richard Holliday to put the match into motion. Lawlor has faced Ki twice in MLW singles matches, winning both of them.

The finals will be on next Wednesday's Fusion in addition to the return of The Dirty Blondes in their first MLW action since 2018.

Also announced on Fusion was a new match for their January 6th Kings of Colosseum event as National Openweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone will face Mads Krugger of CONTRA Unit.
Originally Posted by PWI
WWE has officially announced that Carmella will indeed get another shot at Sasha Banks and the SmackDown Women's Championship at TLC.
That makes last week's booking of the title match even more dumber considering Carmella was the one who demanded that her title shot be used up early and not have to wait till TLC.

Originally Posted by PWI
Former WWE developmental talent Brett DiBiase admitted today in court that he was guilty of making fraudulent statements for the purposes of defrauding the government according to reporter Anya Wolfe of Mississippi Today:

BREAKING: Brett DiBiase is pleading guilty to making fraudulent statements. He is the former pro wrestler charged within what @MSStateAuditor calls the largest public embezzlement case in state history. His luxury drug rehab stay was allegedly paid for with #TANF welfare dollars.
— Anna Wolfe (@ayewolfe) December 17, 2020

The charge deals with $48,000 he received under a contract with @MS_DHS for work he didn’t complete.

In pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy charge is dropped. He’s agreed to help the state in its remaining cases. Sentencing delayed. He also presented $5k in restitution today.
— Anna Wolfe (@ayewolfe) December 17, 2020

Back in May, findings were released from an audit into the Mississippi Department of Human Services after arrests were made this past February in one of the largest embezzlement scandals ever in the history of that office, a scandal that saw direct connections the DiBiase wrestling family.

Brett DiBiase was among those indicted several months ago as part of the scandal, which saw the former director of the state welfare agency and five others charged in one of the biggest embezzlement scandals in the history of the office. As reported at the time, it was alleged that Brett was given funds to go to a drug treatment facility in Malibu that was earmarked for Mississippi's welfare programs. DiBiase admitted that was true today in court.

The Associated Press later ran a follow-up story on the DiBiase family connection based on a revelation that WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase Sr.'s non-profit religious organization, Heart of David Ministries, had reportedly received more than $2.1 million in welfare from the state of Mississippi after his son Brett began working for the State. The organization had received just $5,000 in grants in 2013, but pulled in $271,000 in welfare money, the same year Brett was hired as a senior official at the Mississippi Department of Human Services. DiBiase’s group received as much as $900,000 one year. According to the article, Heart of David Ministries spent all $2,126,739 it had received from May 2017 through earlier this budget year.
Originally Posted by Observer
Cameron Grimes is facing some time out of action.

On this Wednesday night's episode of NXT, it was said that Grimes will be out of action for 4-6 weeks. Dave Meltzer has confirmed that timetable is legitimate.

The storyline explanation for Grimes' injury was the angle where his leg was attacked by Timothy Thatcher on last week's NXT ...

PWinsider reported today that Grimes underwent surgery last week: "While has not confirmed the nature of the issue, we can confirm that Grimes underwent a surgery last week, and is out of action until he is cleared to return."
Originally Posted by PWI
WWE has announced that the match between "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton at this Sunday's TLC will be a "Firefly Inferno Match."

Unless this is planned to be a cinematic match, it would be the fifth Inferno match in WWE history. The last time WWE held one was Summerslam 2013, featuring Kane against Bray Wyatt.
Originally Posted by PWI
Q - Did Jim Ross ever wrestle or was he always involved in management and commentating?

A - Jim Ross once headlined Raw in Madison Square Garden vs. Triple H, but he was never a full-time professional wrestler and that was a case of Ross being booked into a situation he probably wouldn't have chosen for himself. Before announcing, Ross did work as a referee in the Mid-South territory before he segued into announcing and management roles for Bill Watts, WCW and WWE before becoming a consultant and announcer for All Elite Wrestling.
From PWI's weekly Q&A articles on Jim Ross' in-ring career.

Originally Posted by PWI
In regard to rumors making the rounds about Melina debuting for NXT, which made the rounds over the last week, can confirm that the original plan when we reported her planned return back in September was for her to debut and be managed by Robbie E on that brand, not for Melina to return to Raw or Smackdown. E began building to that after Mercedez Martinez left his stable, noting he would move on to "bigger stars." Melina was brought into Orlando that week for NXT TV, but the company had a bad COVID-19 breakout and the debut never happened. The idea was for Melina to work with younger talents and help them learn how to showcase themselves better as stars.
The rumors originated from Johnny Fairplay who revealed what was WWE's original plans for Melina for her return to the company.

Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
n the mist of their on-screen partnership with All Elite Wrestling unfolding, along with the build to their Hard To Kill pay-per-view on January 16th, IMPACT Wrestling is also setting up matches for their IMPACT Plus special titled ‘Genesis’ on January 9th. The 1/9 show will see the return of the Super X Cup tournament which has only had three of its kind. The first was in 2003 and won by Chris Sabin, followed by the 2005 winner Samoa Joe and Dezmond Xavier won the tournament in 2017.

The talents of IMPACT’s X Division will be a part of the tourney and participants will be announced soon. This announcement is coming off the heels of former IMPACT X Division Champion Chris Bey competing in New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Super J-Cup that was won by El Phantasmo.
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Former WWE producer Shawn Daivari was let go from the company this past April as a part of their mass releases/furloughs. The 36-year-old Daivari is active in the ring as he recently competed for IMPACT Wrestling at their Bound For Glory pay-per-view. He was a guest on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast and spoke about his experiences working with Vince McMahon on the production side of the spectrum ...

Daivari talked about the build to Kofi Kingston versus Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35. He stated that had Kofi and Bryan not had that moment at Elimination Chamber, Kevin Owens versus Daniel Bryan would have been the direction for that year’s WrestleMania.

“Elimination Chamber, the last one where like the last two was Kofi Kingston and Bryan Danielson before they went to their WrestleMania match. That WrestleMania thing wasn’t supposed to happen. The electricity from that, them being the last two in the Elimination Chamber [in] an arena in Houston. I literally couldn’t watch it on the monitor anymore. It was so electric. I walked out in the crowd, watched it from behind the curtain because I wanted to feel — you literally feel vibration when you’re standing in front of a speaker at a concert. You feel the vibration of the crowd reaction when something’s rumbling and I don’t get reactions like that anymore so I’m trying to steal pops from the other guys,” Daivari laughed. “I went out there. I wanted to get the goosebumps and feel that. But without that electricity, that whole Kofi Mania run would not have happened. The next SmackDown, Kevin Owens would’ve come back and Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan would’ve wrestled at WrestleMania. It might’ve been good, it might’ve been bad, it might’ve been indifferent. Probably would’ve been great. The audience, that electricity made Kofi Mania happen and as we know, that turned out f*cking amazing.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Mike Bennett is scheduled to have his first match back in Ring of Honor at their Final Battle pay-per-view. While speaking to TV Insider to promote the PPV, he stated that he’s working on a per-appearance deal with the company.

“It’s per appearance [while] everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on with the world. I’m there. That’s my home. I love it there. I love my family there. It will take a lot for me to leave again. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Originally Posted by Post Wrestling
Wrestling Inc. ran another portion of their interview with longtime WWE official Mike Chioda. He talked about the differences between how WWE treats their officials and how AEW does so. Chioda did not want to speak negatively about WWE but did recount them removing him from one of their video games after he asked about royalties for his likeness being in the game.

“I was amazed about that. I was like, ‘You can sell shirts, 8 x 10’s, do a podcast and do that?’ I felt like I was in this bubble for so many years. I’m not gonna knock Vince, Linda, Shane and Stephanie, they gave me a hell of a run, 35 years. Had a hell of a run with them and I appreciate all they’ve done for me. Talking about from the referee standpoint, they let the referees have their own character. They let them do other shows, do other things, have their own shirts, video games [and] all that. You’re tied down at WWE. You couldn’t get royalties off of video games because they wouldn’t let us in the video games. They let me in for a little while, and then once I was talking about, ‘Okay, where’s my royalties?’ They took me right out of the game. I was in the SmackDown video game, and I was talking to Johnny [Ace] about it. I said, ‘Johnny, I’ve been here for quite a while. It’s not like I’m just a referee that came in here for two years or three years,’ and he’s like, ‘Nah just not doing the referees.’ And I said, ‘Wow.’ It’s a little uncomfortable because when you hear all the boys are making a lot of money off the royalties, which so be — I mean, I own my own name.

You got to think about guys that don’t own their own name [and] what they go through if they leave the company. I think the referees get really locked down at the WWE. There’s enough to go around everywhere, especially with the WWE. Take care of the referees. If you have 60 talents, 17 refs, take care of the refs too.”

As far as his business dealings go with AEW, Chioda is currently under a part-time deal.

“Right now, it’s not a done deal, a full-time deal. Right now, it’s part-time deal, which is great for me right now. I love the vibe there. AEW has a fantastic vibe with Cody Rhodes, and Chris Jericho and a lot of guys, Jake Hager over there and stuff. You got some good old school talent, FTR, and you got some young talent that is amazing there. It was kind of weird.

I feel green sitting around looking at all this talent that’s upcoming because I’ve been watching the show on TNT, of course, before I started. I think they really got a good thing going on there with Tony Khan, and Cody Rhodes and them guys.”
Originally Posted by Fightful
Otis addresses reports that he was sent to do extra training at the WWE Performance Center.

On December 11 it was reported by The Wrestling Observer that Vince McMahon "threw a fit" over the working ability of certain main roster guys. McMahon was reportedly "mad in particular about some of the big guys."

PWInsider later reported that Otis, Keith Lee, Dabbo Kato, Dio Maddin and AJ Styles' bodyguard Omos were among the names WWE was looking to "refine" inside the ring. Those talents were reportedly taking part in training sessions at WWE Performance Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Speaking to Ryan Satin of Fox Sports, Otis addressed the report that he and others were called to do extra training at the Performance Center.

"It's always been there. It wasn't like we told this and that. The Performance Center is a tool for us to get better. If someone wants to come up to me and work on stuff or vice versa -- we're always working. That report was kind of funny. We're never not working, especially not when we don't have live events so we can't really get our stuff out, it's just bottled inside. We're not getting that stuff out there, so we'll find more and more ways to get in the ring. Nothing beats a crowd and that's one thing I miss. There hasn't been set dates or anything, it's just when you want to come in. It's always been there, I don't know why it became a big report gimmick," he said.

Otis noted that he found out the report from his father and called it a "misinterpretation."

Fightful Select gathered more on the report and said about Otis that he is "well liked backstage, but we were told of a couple of spots in recent months that got the attention of people at Gorilla Position that believed Otis could also be safer in the ring. There wasn't said to be heat in association with that."
Originally Posted by Fightful
Salina de la Renta is bringing Mil Muertes to Major League Wrestling.

Since The Restart, de la Renta has stated that she's looking for new clients in her battle with Konnan. Last Wednesday, she traveled to the Aztec Ruins and told the same origin story associated with Mil Muertes. This week it was confirmed that Mil Muertes is headed to MLW with Salina making the big reveal.
Really hope MLW ends up selling Mil Muertes masks since that was the one mask I wanted to buy the most during his time in LU but they never sold it officially and other wrestling merch sellers were charging too much for non-official replicas and way more than I was comfortable paying for.

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Old 12-18-2020, 04:23 PM   #1534
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter):

New Japan Pro Wrestling has at least the top matches announced for its biggest shows of the year, WrestleKingdom 15, taking place on 1/4 and 1/5 at the Tokyo Dome.

No exact number of tickets released has been announced, but the latest word has the figure well under 20,000. The shows are not sold out which, like the 12/11 Budokan Hall show, highlights the difficulty in getting people to attend live events under these circumstances.

Both shows are scheduled for 2 a.m. Eastern time starts and the shows will likely be with fewer total matches and shorter time than in previous years when the usual five hour shows usually seemed too short ...

The belief is that the Evil vs. Sanada winner would get a shot at whoever emerges as IWGP & IC champion, with it being on one of the New Beginning shows. Thus far announced for post-Dome big shows are New Beginning shows on 1/30 in Nagoya at Dolphins Arena, and 2/10 and 2/11 in Hiroshima at the Sun Plaza Arena.

With the inability to use major name foreigners due to the fact everyone on the show has to be in Japan by 12/20 for quarantine reasons, and a huge decline in interest due to so many factors related to COVID, the events on paper look lackluster compared to the past when this was been one of the best, if not the best show of the year.
Judge Richard Boulware on 12/10 ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in granting class action status to the Cung Le lawsuit against the UFC.

This gives the case far more power as it moves forward. The nature of the case, that UFC used its power to subvert competition and buy up competitors and in doing so, kept the salary structure down, would, if successful, serve as a scary warning for WWE. Because everything that applies to UFC in this scenario also applies to WWE.

The ruling means that every fighter who fought in UFC from 2010 through 2017, when the suit was filed, would be considered a plaintiff in the suit. In doing so, that could lead to a scary level of damages, which plaintiff lawyers claim would be almost $5 billion to 1,200 fighters.

Keep in mind that WWE pays a lower percentage to talent than UFC, which has been at around 20 percent the past several years and Dana White claimed UFC would be paying $200 million to talent this year. WWE has been closer to eight percent in recent years and may be lower this year since so much of talent pay had to do with live attendance which didn’t exist, while they are not bonused for television revenue, which did exist, and television production and travel costs are down, meaning profits are up, but talent doesn’t share in those unless they’ve gotten a recently done high downside contract. WWE revenues are generally slightly higher per year than those of UFC.

The plaintiffs claimed that fighters were deprived of $1.6 billion over the seven year period because of UFC keeping the salary structure for talent at just under 20 percent. A similar case against WWE if UFC’s fighters suing can get a ruling on a percentage would lead to far more.

As part of the suit, the fighters are asking for a ban of long-term contracts, claiming that if fighters were available to negotiate new deals constantly it would open them to higher bidding and perhaps end up with more companies because there would be more access to top fighters. But the other reality is that nobody other than UFC, and to a smaller level Bellator due to the DAZN deal that is now ending, has been able to be profitable at any level to be able to afford top level fighters. Because of UFC’s huge advantage of being the incumbent major league brand and much higher revenues, the ability to compete is very difficult.

While UFC and WWE both underplay talent greatly as a percentage of revenues compared to major sports, whether this should be a case where fighters or wrestlers need to form a union, like athletes did in other sports, and negotiate from more power to up pay, as opposed to being something a court should order is a problematic question. WWE has competition from AEW, but they are on fixed revenues and unless they want to go deeply in debt, adding new talent at bidding war prices, unless it’s somebody key that would affect their own demographic and cut of ad revenue, doesn’t make economic sense.

There is no real precedent case for this. But if UFC can’t get the case thrown out, it would appear to need to settle. With a potential of nearly $5 billion based on treble damages, it simply can’t afford the risk of a trial where a jury could be sympathetic to fighters when seeing the huge profits the company has made annually that haven’t tricked down and fighters suing who were stars and didn’t make a similar to percentage of money that athletes in other sports make ...

The key to the argument is that UFC either bought out competition (Pride, WEC, Strikeforce) or controlled so much of the top talent that others wanting in couldn’t compete.

With pro wrestling if this suit gets results, the situation would have been similar pre-AEW. AEW, like Bellator, was hoped to be the saving grace of proof there is competition. That may be why UFC seemed happy to let some talent go to Bellator or made the deal with ONE to get rid of Demetrious Johnson, getting rid of older fighters who were good but not at the top of the marketing food chain.

Historically, most settlements in antitrust cases are 19 percent of what the suit is for, which, in this case would be $300 million. If there is a settlement anywhere near that level, it would seem very possible if not likely WWE wouldn’t get hit at some point with a similar lawsuit. It going to trial, which I can’t imagine this case doing, and a verdict against UFC would be a nightmare for WWE because then a case precedent would be set and at that point they would be a sitting duck for a suit and a huge settlement unless some nature of the ruling is made unique to UFC and in specific wouldn’t apply to WWE, but I have no idea what that could be from a legal standpoint.
Mostly included this news piece because of the major implications it could have on wrestling should the lawsuit succeed.

AAA put off TripleMania as long as it could, hoping to be able to have fans. Given that even more than American style, Lucha Libre is reliant on fan response or the entire thing looks kind of stupid, you have to consider what they did as a huge success ...

We don’t have television numbers for Mexico. There were 106,900 viewers at the peak on YouTube and Facebook while the show was live, with only Spanish language commentary, although Hugo Savinovich did speak some English with knowledge a lot of English speaking people were watching. That number was up from 49,300 live on Twitch with both English and Spanish feeds for last year’s show that had tons more mainstream pub with the debut of Cain Velasquez, and also included Omega, The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Tessa Blanchard and a stronger main event from a star standpoint with Blue Demon Jr. putting up his mask vs. the hair of Dr. Wagner Jr. The 2018 show did 40,600 live in both languages with the four-way mask match with Pentagon, Psycho Clown, L.A. Park and El Hijo del Fantasma (now Santos Escobar, who lost), plus Cage, Jeff Jarrett, Sammy Guevara, Rich Swann and ACH. The 2017 show did 73,200 for the Psycho Clown vs. Wagner Jr. mask vs. mask match.

With all the positive comments, by the next day, the viewer count for the show had reached 1.8 million when it was taken down by the promotion. It’s not clear why but it was likely flagged for music played during the show. There were a couple of bands, including Molotov, who played on the show. They are a big deal in Mexico and Latin America, having won a number of MTV Latin America and Latin Grammy Awards between 1998 and 2014. By 12/17, the entire AAA YouTube channel and page was gone.

Last year’s show was 2.2 million but that was after a year. When matches were then put up without music, the Pagano vs. Chessman match was clearly the star match with the most views well ahead of Omega vs. Laredo Kid, even if the latter match would have been bigger in the U.S.
IWGP and IC champion Tetsuya Naito, 38, as was largely expected, was named Tokyo Sports Pro Wrestling MVP on 12/14.

In winning, Naito became the eighth wrestler to win the award three times, as he had previously won in 2016 and 2017. It also marked the tenth straight year that a New Japan wrestler had won the award.

Based on the fact the award usually goes to the IWGP champion, Naito becoming the first person to hold both titles at the same time and merge them, plus ending the year as champion, made it pretty obvious he would win.

Naito joins Antonio Inoki (six times), Giant Baba (three), Jumbo Tsuruta (three), Genichiro Tenryu (four), Keiji Muto (four), Hiroshi Tanahashi (four) and Kazuchika Okada (four) as three-time winners. The last time a non-New Japan wrestler won the award was 2010 when Takashi Sugiura took it ...

The award usually goes to a high profile world champion and always to somebody Japanese, with the long exception to this rule being Bob Sapp in 2002. Generally foreigners aren’t even considered seriously for the award, even the few times one deserved it.
Due to the increase in COVID cases, the state of Mexico has ordered all businesses closed by 5 p.m. from 12/14 to 12/28, meaning no wrestling shows. That doesn’t affect Mexico City itself but does affect the surrounding area such as Naucalpan. Some area promotions are moving up the start time of the shows a few hours to be finished by 5 p.m. I have no idea why a wrestling show that ends at 5 p.m. is any safer than one that ends at 10 p.m., but it’s more about the curfew on being outdoors. The bad thing is that Christmas and Christmas week are one of the biggest periods of the year for house shows and Mexico is a house show business. There are far fewer shows this year
MLW: They are teasing the arrival of the Mil Muertes character. Salina de la Renta is bringing him in and mentioned the name Pascual Mendoza, which was supposed to be the real name of Muertes (Gilbert Cosme is his real name even though most know him as Ricky Banderas) in his Lucha Underground storyline. They used the Lucha Underground backstory and teased the character but have not used the actual Mil Muertes name. Cosme did have permission from Lucha Underground in his deal to use the Muertes name on independent shows, which others did not have
ROH announced that Bandido, Flamita, EC 3 and Kenny King were both off the television tapings that took place this past weekend as well as the 12/18 PPV show due to COVID testing issues. All four must have tested positive in some form before getting on the flight from where they were flying in front to Baltimore. Everyone else booked tested negative before they flew in and again when they arrived and were put in a bubble environment for several days before the tapings

As noted, Bandido’s situation was from remnants of having it in September it appears. Flamita and King haven’t addressed it. EC 3 said he has COVID, telling Chris Van Vliet, “I’ve been quarantined for a week to 10 days. At this point, I have COVID, and I’m at the tail end of it. It sucked a little bit. Some of it wasn’t bad. I’m healthy so I was fortunate. It infected my parents who were visiting me, whoops, so they had to stay longer so I’ve had no alone time. I would say I’m at 90 percent. This is the tail end of it. I’ve had none of the respiratory issues. It felt like the flu and a moderately bad cold some of the time.

These changes affect two PPV matches, the Flamita & Bandido & Rey Horus six-man title defense against Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery and Jay Briscoe vs. EC 3. How the card will be changed will be announced on the one-hour pre-show before the PPV. Really they should have done it this week as soon as they refigured it. With Marty Scurll being out of the company, at least for the time being since nothing has been officially said, Hunter “Delirious” Johnston is pretty much the creative force. He’s had to rewrite most of the PPV show and the TVs after the PPV multiple times because every change means it affects multiple other pieces of the puzzle the way he strategizes. The plan is to gear the TV for the changes so that there is a story for whatever is changed.
The 12/22 and 12/29 [Impact] TV shows will be “Best Of” shows and the next new show will be on 1/5
People have asked about Ace Austin, since he’s been off [Impact] television. There’s no real story to it. He just hasn’t had a feud on the books and rather than just have him lose to the people who are in the current mix, he’s sitting it out. He’s been to all the tapings and will be back in the mix soon
The 12/23 [AEW] Holiday Bash show, which will air at about 10 p.m. (directly after the NBA game) has Young Bucks vs. The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) for the tag titles, a match with Hikaru Shida (likely to build to something with Abadon), Pac vs. The Butcher, Chris Jericho & MJF vs. Top Flight, Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt vs. Alan Angels & Preston Vance & Colt Cabana and Dustin Rhodes vs. Evil Uno. AEW usually gets weak lead-ins, like 300,000 or 350,000 viewers while NXT usually gets closer to 1 million, which is why NXT often wins in total viewers in quarter one. However, AEW is probably getting around a two million viewer lead-in here, so even though late in the show is not advantageous for drawing viewers, they may start out stronger than usual. The one thing for sure is that they will start out with more non-regular fans watching than any show they’ve done, because they’ve never once had a lead-in like this, so it’s imperative in the first 15 minutes to do something compelling. It’s been given a tag of Holiday Bash, although unlike with NXT, giving a show a fancy name doesn’t seem to necessarily bring in casual viewers for AEW. There won’t be a lot to learn from the ratings next week. If AEW does great numbers due to the lead-in, like UFC sometimes does with a great sports lead-in, it’s nice but means nothing. If it does badly because of the late start, that means little as well. NXT will do better than usual unopposed, but all that does is tell us what we already know, that NXT would do far better if moved to another night. But we’ve known that since day one and the fact it isn’t moved tells you the prime reason NXT is on USA is not to draw ratings but to keep AEW from doing ratings
Cody Rhodes will be part of Snoop Dogg’s virtual New Year’s Eve special at 11 p.m. Eastern that night live streamed from his home. He will be promoting “Go Big Show,” with the cast of the show, which includes Rhodes (the reason Rhodes and WWE made a series of deals where Rhodes gave up attempted claims for some of his fathers’ conceptions but to get the rights back to the Rhodes name had to do with this show because it would have been awkward for him to be a show host without a last name). Snoop Dogg’s appearance on the 1/6 AEW show is also to promote the new show, which starts on TBS on 1/7
The last major WWE show of the year is TLC on 12/20 from St. Petersburg, FL. At press time there are six matches announced and one would think there are two possible additions on Smackdown based on a last show angle–Street Profits vs. Roode & Ziggler (or three-way with Nakamura & Cesaro) for the tag titles and Zayn vs. Big E. Both have been promoted and neither is on television this week. The Lashley vs. Riddle U.S. title that’s been pushed at least during the middle of the week was slated for the Rumble, and not TLC, but everything changes every day. McIntyre vs. Styles and Reigns vs Owens for the WWE and Universal titles respectively are both TLC matches. Orton vs. The Fiend is a Firefly Inferno match, which usually makes for a great visual spectacle but is terribly limiting in what you can do. Banks vs. Carmella for the Smackdown women’s title and Kingston & Woods vs. Benjamin & Alexander for the Raw tag titles are announced. There will also be a Baszler & Jax women’s tag title defense against Asuka & ?. It was to be Lana, and for months they seemed to build to Lana putting Jax through a table (and maybe that even happens) but did an injury angle to take Lana out. Asuka will pick a partner. Rose did do a run-in on Jax and Baszler to get involved. Others have noted that it’s about time for Charlotte Flair to return, and everyone is keeping very quiet about her
Post Wrestling reported the launch of a new NXT India show in 2021. The report was that the series would begin filming in January, starting out with an eight-man single elimination tournament that will be taped at the Performance Center. The idea is for the show to air on regular television in India starting on 1/26, as well as on the WWE Network. They are also talking about another new one hour show on the WWE Network weekly, but while very much in the talking stages, we were told it’s premature to say for certain
The wrestlers who have been sent to classes twice a week with Adam Pearce and Drew Gulak as far as Vince McMahon feeling they needed to improve their work were Keith Lee, Otis, Dabba-Kato, Dio Maddin and Omos. Part of it is Vince wants more monsters in the ring, as historically whenever WWE business is bad, Vince blames smaller guys on top, but right now, his thought process is he doesn’t have big guys who can work at that level. I mean, having Lee do absolutely nothing that got him over and instead focusing on everything that he does that doesn’t stand out could have something to do with all this. The thing that isn’t talked about is that Lars Sullivan is not on this list. As best we can tell, Sullivan is the latest three week project as they put him over as a monster on both Raw and Smackdown, including squashing Jeff Hardy. Then he did an interview which in its own weird way was supposed to be a heel interview but the scripting almost made him come across as a babyface. And he hasn’t been booked on a show since. Another issue is that the top star on the brand is a heel they don’t want to beat, so it’s not really a good thing to have another top heel they don’t want to beat on the same brand
Benjamin Carter was given the okay to announce his WWE signing that we had noted weeks ago. This came after he had two very impressive showings with AEW in matches with Scorpio Sky on television and Lee Johnson on Dark. His situation was unique because he was in the U.S. without a visa, so AEW couldn’t sign him if they wanted to without going through all the visa stuff which is very difficult right now. To show how difficult, he’s being sent back to the U.K. by WWE to work for that brand rather than in the U.S
There was a regular NXT fan who tested positive for COVID. He noted that he had only been to two locations outside in the previous weeks, a theme park and NXT, noting one was outdoors with people spread apart and the other was indoors with people crammed together. He was at the tapings the day before Thanksgiving, then tested positive on 12/1 and not allowed to attend the 12/2 tapings. NXT fans have noted to us while fans to have to be tested to come, that fans often get tested the day before, then go out to area restaurants and bars after testing, so even if they did test negative, they could pick it up that night and attend the show
The top ten shows for the week on WWE Network were: 1. WWE Untold: Bill Goldberg’s streak; 2. Day of Survivor Series 2020; 3. NXT Takeover War Games 2020; 4. Best of TLC; 5. Lilian Garcia’s Chasing Glory with Elias; 6. TLC 2009; 7. Survivor Series 2020; 8. TLC 2019; 9. NXT from 12/19; 10. Smackdown from 11/16. Raw Talk was No. 11 and Talking Smack was No. 13. There were no other actual wrestling shows, whether it be NXT U.K., 205 Live, Main Event, or indie shows that cracked the top 25

WWE Ratings, AEW vs. NXT Ratings, Impact Ratings:

Raw on 12/14 set its all-time record lows with both 1,527,000 average viewers over the three hours and 0.41 (530,000 viewers) in 18-49.

It broke the prior record low of 1,561,000 viewers set on 7/13, when they bottomed out running at the Performance Center. The 0.41 broke the prior mark of 0.46 set on 5/4, also at the Performance Center, and that’s very staggering to break your previous record low by 10.9 percent. While Raw did beat AEW this week, Raw’s number in 18-49 was lower than the two previous weeks of AEW. Considering AEW has grown significantly from this point last year and WWE has fallen significantly, unless WWE reverses these losses or AEW collapses, this doesn’t bode well for down the line.

The first hour of 1,627,000 viewers was the second lowest first hour in history, beating only the 1,580,000 on 7/13. The second hour did 1,512,000 viewers, the all-time low for the hour. The third hour did 1,441,000 viewers, the lowest hour in the history of Raw, beating the 1,463,000 viewers on 7/27. All the previous low marks were from the Performance Center where they ran with no atmosphere . All three hours broke the show’s all-time 18-49 lows, with hour two and hour three being the lowest second and third hours in show history.

Raw placed ninth in 18-49, trailing four NFL-related shows on ESPN, Below Deck on Bravo and three CNN shows, although head-to-head it was third behind ESPN and Bravo ...

The Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens game went down to the wire and that didn’t help, but football numbers were down from last week, not up, and there have been other games this season doing similar numbers. The game did 12,422,000 viewers, 3.57 in 18-49 and 2.63 in 18-34.

The key is that the first hour was so low, as the drop during the show was normal, so it wasn’t the excitement of the game hurting the third hour. It was that less people tuned in to watch Raw from the start of the show, and those that did stayed in normal numbers.

The weak spot on the show was men 18-34 and women 35-49, while really the other demos weren’t far off last week’s numbers. But as noted, the men weren’t there in hour one to begin with so it wasn’t the show that was the turnoff but for whatever reason, a lack of interest that night in the product.

Raw was seventh in males 18-49, ninth in women 18-49, seventh in 18-34, fifth in males 12-34 and sixth in women 12-34.

It was down 12.1 percent in viewers from last week, as well as 21.2 percent in 18-49 and 30.0 percent in 18-34.

From the same week last year, it was down 25.7 percent in viewers, 31.7 percent in 18-49 and 47.6 percent in 18-34.

The show did 69,000 in Males 18-34 (down 46.9 percent), 82,000 in women 18-34 (down 4.7 percent), 294,000 in men 35-49 (down 2.6 percent) and 85,000 in women 35-49 (down 40.6 percent)

The drops from hour one-to-three were normal, with women 18-49 down 15.4 percent, men 18-49 down 10.2 percent, teenage girls down 20.4 percent, teenage boys up 17.8 percent (so this show did work with that age group) and 50+ down 8.6 percent.

The show did a 0.26 in 12-17 (down 3.7 percent from last week), 0.22 in 18-34 (down 30.1 percent), 0.60 in 35-49 (down 14.8 percent) and 0.77 in 50+ (down 8.3 percent).
Smackdown on 12/11 was the closest it has come to the prior year in viewers, ending with a 1.32 rating, 2,206,000 viewers (an above usual 1.38 viewers per home) and 0.58 (755,000 viewers) in 18-49.

As compared to 12/4, it was up 2.3 percent in homes, 3.6 percent in viewers, down 1.0 percent in 18-34 and down 25.0 percent in 18-34.

The numbers were down 9.6 percent in homes from the same week last year, but just 5.3 percent in viewers, down 11.0 percent in 18-49 and down 25.0 percent in 18-34.

Smackdown tied with Shark Tank for first in 18-49 and tied Shark Tank and McGyver for first in 18-34. College Football on ESPN did 1,023,000 viewers and 0.33 in 18-49. In 18-49, Smackdown would have tied for first in 18-49, although the 0.51 for Gold Rush on Discovery is really far more impressive given the difference in network vs. cable. Among network shows, Smackdown was the least watched overall, by far the lowest in 50 plus, first in males 18-49, tied for third in women 18-49 and tied for fifth of eight in 25-54.

The show did 144,000 in men 18-34 (down 20.9 percent), 73,000 in women 18-34 (down 27.0 percent), 352,000 in men 35-49 (up 17.7 percent) and186,000 in women 35-49 (down 5.6 percent) ...

The first half hour with the Sasha Banks/Carmella contract signing and Montez Ford vs. Dolph Ziggler match did 2.30 million viewers. The second half hour built around Sami Zayn vs. Big E and the in-ring with Kevin Owens and Jey Uso and the Reigns and Paul Heyman promo with Uso that preceded it did 2.18 million viewers. The Reigns backstage attack on Owens, Riott Squad vs. Natalya & Billie Kay and Otis & Chad Gable vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro did 2.19 million viewers. The Banks vs. Carmella women’s title match did 2.15 million viewers.
Some more notes on the AEW show on 12/9, which was its most successful show of the year considering having head-to-head competition.

AEW set its record with 1.68 viewers per home, breaking the old mark of 1.67 and being first among all sports in that category. It was also had the youngest median viewer page of any sports program for the week.

There were seven segments that averaged more than 1 million viewers not including commercial time. The high point was Shaquille O’Neal and Brandi Rhodes averaging 1,161,000 viewers and 667,000 in 18-49. As far as viewers went, the second highest was Dustin Rhodes vs. 10 at 1,129,000 viewers and 630,000 in 18-49. Cody and Sting averaged 1,097,000 viewers an 661,000 in 18-49. FTR vs. Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison averaged 1,091,000 and 631,000 in18-49. The Inner Circle segment averaged 1,049,000 and 621,000 in 18-49. The Abadon squash averaged 1,039,000 and 591,000 in 18-49. And the Kenny Omega & Don Callis interview averaged 1,014,000 viewers and 611,000 in 18-49.

Because of the lead-in, the first minute of NXT did 1,125,000 viewers but lost 210,000 viewers in the first minute and was below 800,000 by minute No. 8. AEW topped NXT by minute two and remained on top the rest of the night. The Young Bucks match started at around 900,000 and peaked at about 1,070,000. The last five minutes of the match averaged 1,046,000 and 603,000 in 18-49. The Sting segment peak was 1,201,000 and 695,000 in 18-49. The Shaq peak was 1,220,000 and 676,000 in 18-49. Inner Circle segment peak was 1,157,000 viewers and 646,000 in 18-49. The Omega/Callis peak was 1,052,000/618, and the last five minutes of MJF vs. Orange Cassidy did 1,039,000/597 and post match with Miro got up to 1,098/625.
The 12/16 head-to-head numbers were back to being closer as AEW in doing a show designed by feature new characters, but still had a Kenny Omega main event and a Sting appearance, did 806,000 viewers and 0.32 in 18-49 (420,000 viewers), which is about what the show was doing for normal weeks prior to the last two. The show was third for the night behind the MTV Challenge show that features Lio Rush (839,000 viewers and 0.45) and Real Housewives of Orange County (1,004,000 viewers and 0.35 in 18-49).

NXT did 766,000 viewers (its best since 10/28, which notably was AEW’s best week for DVR viewership in months) and 0.19 in 18-49 (252,000 viewers), with a huge increase in the 35-49 demo for a show built around some solid wrestling, most notably Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne and Toni Storm vs. Rhea Ripley. The show had a four-minute overrun so head-to-head was 762,000 and 250,000.

It would indicate the big pops coming off the 12/2 show with Sting and Omega’s title win were not game changers as much as just strong weeks. In particular, the audience was terrible for AEW among teenagers, particularly guys, a group that was way above usual the week before.

A key to this is AEW used a lot of acts that haven’t had much TV time. They did have stars in the ring, Omega, Cody and Jericho, but at the end of the day, none of them were in matches people wanted to see that badly and the novelty of Sting was like all nostalgia and now they have to get him in a story.

A lot of the show was setting up future matches and at times you do sacrifice numbers when introducing new characters or giving people wins. In the end, it wasn’t a bad number and being No. 1 in 18-49 men for the night makes it an overall success, even if I was still somewhat a disappointment.

But it’s never good when you open huge and drop hard and this show did just that with a viewership pattern with over 50s similar to a bad Raw. The reality is the show started great for the six-man tag opener with Adam Page & John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. Matt Hardy & Private Party, so the viewers were there. But they didn’t stay. The most unusual thing was the Omega vs. Janela match which was both the second best quarter in 18-49 and 18-34 of the night, but also the fewest total viewers of the night for either show with the exception of one quarter of NXT. Omega is unique in that he’s a major difference maker in 18-49 and often does not do well among 50+ at all. But even though the talking while commenting on a match by Don Callis and Omega has been done before and is remembered fondly for Don Muraco, Jerry Lawler and The Rock, it clearly didn’t work to the older 50 audience.

NXT won the entire second hour in viewers, although at no point was 18-49 close. The main event battle saw Omega vs. Janela do 718,000 viewers, 419,000 in 18-49 and 113,000 in 18-34. Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm did 772,000 viewers, 241,000 in 18-49 and 50,000 in 18-34.

After AEW went off the air, for the overrun, NXT gained 115,000 total viewers, 38,000 in 35-49 and 20,000 in 18-34.

AEW was strong in males by usual standards in males 35-49, but aside from No. 1 in men 18-49, their other demo numbers weren’t as high as most weeks. They fell to 18th in women 18-49, eighth in 18-34 overall, 12th in females 12-34 and 13th in males 12-34.

NXT was 17th in males 18-49, but sixth in males 12-34 and way down the list everywhere else.

Overall AEW was down 19.0 percent in viewers and 28.1 percent in 18-49 from last week. NXT was up 16.2 percent in viewers and 16.1 percent in 18-49 from last week.

As compared to the same week last year, and that was the only week in history where NXT won in 18-49, AEW was up 18.0 percent in viewers and 28.0 percent in 18-49. That basically means the audience over the past year aged downwards, as when your 18-49 number increases at a higher level than overall, you’re generally drawing a younger skew. And the opposite is the opposite. NXT was down 3.6 percent in viewers and down 29.6 percent in 18-49.

AEW won all the key demos, but did poorly with teenagers and way way down from last week in key demos.

AEW did 51,000 in men 18-34 (down 51.0 percent from last week) to 29,000 for NXT down (down 27.5 percent). AEW did 54,000 in women 18-34 (down 46.0 percent) to 17,000 for NXT (down 15.0 percent). AEW did 224,000 in men 35-49 (down 13.8 percent) to 134,000 for NXT (up 32.7 percent). AEW did 91,000 in women 35-49 (down 24.2 percent) to 72,000 for NXT (up 28.6 percent).

The craziest thing is the open, where NXT usually does well because of the lead-in. AEW did one of its best first quarters ever, but for whatever reason, the audience left huge after the opening match. They didn’t switch to NXT either. However the big turnaround point for older viewers as well as regular AEW viewers was Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne which it is pretty clear was the key point of the night. So it was the promise of a great working match with title implications that was the key to getting a large number of AEW fans to switch.

The first quarter saw Adam Page & John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. Private Party & Matt Hardy, which did 1,010,000 viewers and 512,000 in 18-49. NXT opened at 743,000 viewers and 230,000 in 18-49 for Kushida & Leon Ruff vs. Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory.

In the second quarter, AEW had 826,000 viewers and 410,000 in 18-49 for an Inner Circle interview segment, the Cody & Brandi Christmas video and the beginning of Cody vs. Angelico. NXT had 734,000 viewers and 247,000 in 18-49 for a Legado del Fantasma promo, a Shotzi Blackheart promo and the beginning of Tyler Rust vs. Tommaso Ciampa.

In the third quarter, AEW had 843,000 viewers and 405,000 in 18-49 for the end of Cody vs. Angelico, the post-match with Team Taz, Sting and Darby Allin plus interviews with Miro and Eddie Kingston and a brawl with Kingston’s group vs. Pac, Lance Archer, Penta and Fenix. NXT had 695,000 viewers and 223,000 in 18-49 for the end of Rust vs. Ciampa and a Grizzled Young Veterans promo piece.

In the fourth quarter, AEW had 835,000 viewers and 413,000 in 18-49 for a Dustin Rhodes promo and Inner Circle vs. Best Friends & Varsity Blonds & Top Flight. NXT had 742,000 viewers and 246,000 in 18-49 for the first half of Dunne vs. O’Reilly.

In the fifth quarter, AEW fell to 726,000 viewers and 400,000 in 18-49 for the rest of the 12-man tag match plus the Thunder Rosa/Britt Baker segment. The second half of Dunne vs. O’Reilly did 843,000 viewers and 293,000 in 18-49, so a gain from start-to-finish of 148,000 viewers and 70,000 in 18-49, which, given the skew, is very clearly mostly an AEW audience.

In the sixth quarter, AEW had 746,000 viewers and 399,000 in 18-49 for Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. The Acclaimed, post-match and a Top Flight promo. NXT had 801,000 viewers and 271,000 in 18-49 for a Rhea Ripley interview, the Xia Li & Boa segment and Blackheart vs. Indi Hartwell and the post-match.

In the seventh quarter, AEW had 741,000 viewers and 406,000 in 18-49 for Ivelisse & Diamante vs. Big Swole & Serena Deeb and the post-match. NXT had 764,000 viewers and 251,000 in 18-49 for Karrion Kross vs. Desmond Troy plus interviews with Isaiah Scott and Ever Rise.

In quarter eight, Omega vs. Janela lost 23,000 viewers while gaining 13,000 in 18-49. Ripley vs. Storm gained 8,000 viewers while losing 10,000 in 18-49.

AEW did a 0.06 in 12-17, which is abysmal (down 66.7 percent from last week), 0.15 in 18-34 (down 48.5 percent), 0.49 in 35-49 (down 17.1 percent) and 0.30 in 50+ (up 3.4 percent).

The audience was 65.5 percent male in 18-49 and 47.0 percent male in 12-17, which tells you just how bad the teenage boys number was, as it was down 85.9 percent from the prior week..

NXT did a 0.11 in 12-17 (up 10.0 percent and nearly doubling AEW in that demo), 0.07 in 18-34 (down 23.3 percent), 0.41 in 35-49 (up 31.2 percent) and 0.37 in 50+ (up 5.7 percent).
Some DVR viewer notes. Over the last eight weeks, AEW averages a 31 percent increase over the regular viewership via DVR viewership. Prior to the pandemic it was 41 percent and has steadily dropped. The 12/2 show, with the Omega vs. Moxley match, only had a 19 percent increase by day seven, so up from 539,000 to 648,000 in 18-49 and the 12/9 show had a 22 percent jump from 584,000 to 710,000. The average week adding in DVR viewership is 521,000. So including DVR viewers, the 12/2 was up was up 24.3 percent from usual and 12/9 was up 36.3 percent. However the night before Thanksgiving that did the bad number at 340,000 live, only increased 112,000 so they did not even come close to normal numbers adding in delayed viewing. NXT on 12/2 had its usual range number (30 percent) so it increased from 210,000 to 273,000. AEW used to blow away NXT in percentage increase on DVR but now both are pretty steady at around the same range. It’s more added actual viewers for AEW since the 30 percent increase starts with a larger base number most weeks and NXT base number of late has been at a lower range than it has been doing most of the year, so basically of the wrestling fans who watch both shows, more and more are going from NXT first, AEW later to AEW first and NXT later. NXT increased 63,000 on 12/2 and AEW increased 119,000, so actually almost double, but on a percentage basis it was 19 percent for AEW and 30 percent for NXT
Impact on 12/15 did 177,000 viewers, down 19.9 percent from the first week built around Omega appearing. Aside from last week, it was the best number the show had done since 9/22. It’s still above the usual average but not by much. It did an 0.04 in 18-49, down 50 percent from the prior week, so they were back to their usual older skewing audience.
The second week of Impact on Twitch with Omega averaged 12,397 viewers on Twitch and peaked at 14,663, down from 43,000 and 53,000 the prior week. But it was still up from the normal levels of 800 to 2,500

* Smeat's note - Taking all of next week off except for Friday, assuming next week's Observer Newsletter is released on time, as a holiday break from these sheets reports. Someone else can do them next week if they want.
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The Sheets:

WWE’s last PPV show of the year, TLC, was a unique show, great on performance, good on drama, and weird on ending ...

General public interest in the show was way down, as it had 100,000 searches, the same as the UFC the day before. That’s about half of the usual number for a B show.
With New Japan having finished up its year with the 12/23 show at Korakuen Hall, the final lineups for both Tokyo Dome shows have been announced, along with the match orders ...

Both shows will have seven matches and likely be capped at four hours or less, a far cry from previous years. In addition, due to another COVID outbreak in Tokyo, with an all-time record 888 cases on 12/23, the government is requesting no events take place with more than 5,000 fans. This came across on Christmas Eve in Japan, and thus, it may be a few days before everything is processed but New Japan isn’t going to do anything that would defy recommendations. Originally they were looking at about 40 percent capacity, which would have been 16,000 to 20,000. From a financial standpoint, a drop from 16,000 to 5,000 between tickets and merchandise could be as much as $3 million in lost revenue from the show, which is gigantic for a company of that size ...

The 1/5 show starts at 2 a.m. Eastern with a Stardom match. The participants have not been named. There has been talk of one match, or two matches. Last year this match was not available on New Japan World and it appears that will be the case this year as well.
Ring of Honor finished its year with a taped Final Battle PPV show. The show itself aired on 12/18, but was taped about a week ahead of time, at the same time the company did its massive television taping.

The show was very good, although I don’t know how much interest there was in it. The biggest news coming out of it is that it appears Rush and Dragon Lee, whose contracts expired at the end of the year, must have re-upped. They were both pursued by WWE. Not only did they both retain their respective ROH and ROH TV titles, but ROH also hired their father, Bestia del Ring, who gave Brody King a chair shot to the head to lead to Rush’s title defense in the main event. The three, along with Kenny King, will make up the ROH version of Los Ingobernables. Bestia is far better off as a manager than a wrestler, as he was not good in CMLL, and that’s his style, and would be terrible in the ring past a managers role in ROH. Rush had gotten a high contract from ROH, believed to be second only to Marty Scurll, so this is also an indication even with revenues cut badly due to the pandemic that Sinclair hasn’t ordered major cost-cutting when it comes to contracts.
AAA has removed its U.S. Facebook and YouTube pages. This is likely a result of the lawsuit filed that was reported on last week. FMW is claiming the rights to all revenue earned outside of Mexico, so AAA is trying to make sure no revenue is being generated outside of Mexico. AAA is still on Twitter, but they don’t make any money on Twitter. This is also likely to affect the PlutoTV streams that were broadcast outside of Mexico
Regarding the women’s match at TripleMania, the original plan was Taya Valkyrie vs. Lady Shani. But Taya pulled out of the show out of concerns of travel to Mexico with the COVID situation being as it is. The next idea was a six-woman tag using Faby Apache, Shani, Lady Maravilla, Chik Tormenta, Hiedra and Hades. But there is pressure on all promotions to do things that sometimes make the shows worse, or are things that hurt ratings, but they have to do it in a way that pro wrestling has never faced in the past. It’s in both the U.S. and Mexico, but not in Japan at all. There was pressure to use Big Mami because she’s not like most girls and they had Exoticos on the roster so used them on the big show in this match as well. Another problem is the top rope was high and some of the women didn’t want to bump over the top to the floor, so they all bumped to the apron and went to the floor. But the match wouldn’t have been good with so many in there, going that long, even with the quick entrances and Rumble rules
There were only a few wrestling notes in the latest Bushiroad quarterly report. They had $12.1 million in the August to October quarter in sports business, which would be Stardom and New Japan. It was down from $14.2 million from the same quarter last year which was only New Japan because they didn’t own Stardom. Really, for a house show and merch company to be down only 14.9 percent right now isn’t mad, but the quarter did include the entire G-1 tournament. The May through July quarter only grossed $7.5 million and the company was in the red, but they did turn a profit the last three months, which is good considering everything. New Japan World subs were up to 110,000 during G-1
In the original COVID relief bill the legislature tacked on a law that illegally streaming copyrighted material for financial gain is now a felony punishable by a maximum ten years in prison
[MLW] Rich Bocchini and Jared St. Laurent are the permanent announcing team with Alicia Atout doing the interviews. Tony Schiavone, who is still under contract, is said to be under consideration for doing some interview segments like he did in 2017 ...

The hope is with the vaccine out to do a show with fans sometime in quarter two of 2021 but everything is up in the air
ROH: In an interview with Fightful, PCO said he had signed a new two-year contract here.
AEW on 12/30 has Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix for the AEW title, Wardlow vs. Jake Hager, Hikaru Shida vs. Abadon for the women’s title and the return of Jon Moxley. The 1/6 show has Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage for the TNT title, FTR vs Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus and Cody Rhodes vs. Matt Sydal. .; . The situation with Pac is that he is still living in the U.K. which makes using him tricky. Right now there is no problem getting him into the U.S. There are flights in and there are no quarantine rules coming into Florida. But going back, he has to quarantine for two weeks. So he can’t fly in for tapings and then fly home, they have to do periods where he’ll be around for several; shows and then he goes home and it makes no sense to go home for two weeks and then come back. So we’ll basically have on and off cycles unless he moves back to the U.S

For the 12/30 show, there were about 130 tickets left at press time and they were opening up to PPV levels and not usual TV levels because of the Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix title match
The comedy-based DDT Iron Man Heavymetalweight championship found its way to AEW over the summer and is now held by a copy of the Young Bucks book, “Killing the Business.” It’s their 24/7 title except inanimate objects can win it if a referee is there. Joey Janela had won the title from Nate Webb on 8/3 when Janela pinned Webb as Webb was dropping him off at the Indianapolis Airport. Janela then submitted to Dean Malenko, who was pinned while he was sleeping by Orange Cassidy. Janela got it back, but lost to Jungle Boy in a match on Dark. Marko Stunt and then Britt Baker got the title after pins while the other person was sleeping. Baker fell asleep reading the book, which then fell on her and a referee counted to three. None of this is acknowledged anywhere but in Japan.
With the Reigns vs. Owens cage match plus having an NFL lead-in directly to the show on FOX, the 12/25 Smackdown should do a huge number even with it being on Christmas. Usually Christmas night would hurt it badly, but not with the NFL lead-in. If anything, it should be the highest rated Smackdown episode in a long time, or at least the first hour should be. But with the big lead-in they are going for the big number with three title matches on the show and they open directly after the football game with the Universal title cage match. The show was taped on 12/22 so talent wouldn’t have to work Christmas day ...

Viewers per home should be the highest in its FOX history since an NFL Christmas game should be getting big numbers based on families being together and even a wrestling show on that night due to people being together in theory should be big
WWE has been making overtures now toward some of the top level Impact talent to find out when contracts expire
Right now, as far as WrestleMania is concerned, the plan is to do the Hall of Fame ceremony with the planned 2020 inductees, which were John Layfield, Dave Batista, Davey Boy Smith, Jushin Liger, The Bella Twins and the NWO of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman. It’ll probably be a virtual ceremony but those decisions depend on a number of factors
While Raw and Smackdown are famous for last-day rewrites and driving the writing team crazy, NXT is being written with the long-term booking in mind and there are almost never late changes the day of the show. And if there are, they are usually forced based on someone booked being pulled for COVID or other reasons

We’re told McAfee will be off TV for a while. It was WWE’s call, not his. No exact time frame was said, but we’re told he was given the impression it’ll be the spring. He’s such a natural at this and really, if the main roster creative wasn’t such a mess, he should be there. Plus, his affiliation would get far more sports media talk if it was on Raw or Smackdown and unlike most celebrities, you don’t have to worry that his segments or his physical end will come off looking bad
Regarding the fan who tested positive in trying to attend the NXT show a few weeks back, he contacted us and said he believes he got COVID from attending Disney World and not from NXT. This is his timeline. He attended the 11/18 show and then went to Disney World on 11/19. He skipped the 11/25 NXT show. He doesn’t attend every week. He believes it came from Disney World because everyone in the pod with him on 11/18 tested negative when they came back for the 11/25 show. He was going to attend the 12/2 show and got tested on 12/1 and it came back positive, and noted that all of the people in his pod on 11/18 also tested negative on 12/1. The reason he believes it was from Disney World and not NXT was because Disney World had lines for indoor attractions with people removing their masks as they were in the line with him. WWE for NXT does do a good job in the sense everyone who attends the NXT tapings live as fans, and there are only about 100 allowed, have to pass tests the day before. AEW doesn’t test fans, but the shows are outdoors and the fans are far more spread out and thus far AEW hasn’t had any fan related outbreak as far as we are aware and I don’t know that such a thing would be able to be kept quiet. WWE hasn’t either. But there have been fans who have expressed to us being worried because of the fear some people have been tested the day before and then go to bars after being tested. We’re also told that if that happens it would be the exception to the rule, and thus far it hasn’t been a problem and the one positive test that the fans know about was this one
The most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network were: 1. TLC PPV; 2. Broken Skull Sessions with Drew McIntyre; 3. Best of the Holidays; 4. TLC Kickoff show; 5 WWE Icons: The First look (preview of the series); 6. WWE Chronicle: Kevin Owens; 7. Survivor Series 2020; 8. Raw Talk for 12/21; 9. WWE Untold: Bill Goldberg’s streak; 10. NXT for 12/16. The War Games Takeover was 13th this week and NXT U.K. was 24th. None of the other wrestling shows or indie stuff was in the top 25

WWE Ratings, AEW vs. NXT Ratings:

The ratings for the 12/30 and 1/6 NXT and AEW shows will not make it by press time the next two weeks. We will have Raw and Smackdown ratings, while delayed, in the issues. The 1/6 date will be the last one affected by the holiday delays.
Raw on 12/21 coming the day after the PPV bounced back to normal levels after last week’s record lows, and actually for the first time in a long time, saw 18-49 beat the same week last year and men under 50 increase throughout the show.

Raw did 1,691,000 viewers and 0.53 in 18-49, numbers up 10.7 percent in viewers and 29.3 percent in 18-49 from the prior week. As compared to the same week last year, which set the all-time record non-holiday low at the time, the show was down 7.8 percent in viewers, but up 1.9 percent in 18-49 and down 3.2 percent in 18-34. Generally those declines are 20 to 50 percent from a year back. Last year’s show didn’t have the advantage of coming the day after a PPV show.

Raw was fourth for the night in 18-49 and 20th overall, trailing three NFL-related show and 16 news shows.

Raw was fourth in males 18-49, fourth in 18-34 and fourth in males 12-34, trailing only football related programming.

The first hour did 1,841,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,701,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,531,000 viewers.

The first-to-third hour decline was 16.8 percent, which is more than usual. However, the declines were mostly older viewers and women. Women 18-49 dropped 15.9 percent from hour one to three. Men 18-49 gained 4.8 percent. Girls 12-17 fell 27.5 percent. Boys 12-17 gained 15.8 percent. Over 50 dropped 25.6 percent. The third hour of the show did 0.67 in over 50, which would be the lowest hour in that age group in the history of the show.
Smackdown on 12/18, moved to FS 1 due to the Pac-12 college football championships airing on FOX, did 1,030,000 viewers (1.47 viewers per home, the highest for any WWE program of the year in fact) and 0.30 (389,000 viewers) in 18-49, roughly half of what the show does on FOX.

The actual conversion rate as compared to last week is down 53.3 percent overall and down 48.5 percent in 18-49 ...

The numbers were the best of the three Smackdown shows on FS 1 of the last 14 months. That’s probably because the prior two went against World Series games, so this is probably a more realistic look at what Smackdown would do on cable on Friday nights and also of the true value of FOX vs. cable when it comes to Smackdown on a regular (non-World Series) night.

Smackdown was fifth on cable for the night in 18-49. The football game on FOX did 3,847,000 viewers and an 0.9 in 18-49 and 0.6 in 18-34, all numbers significantly up from what Smackdown would do, but that’s to be expected.

Smackdown was fourth for the night in males 18-49, 12th in 18-34 and sixth in males 12-34.

The show did an 0.15 in 12-17, 0.13 in 18-34, 0.47 in 35-49 and 0.50 in 50+. The audience was 66.7 percent male in 18-49 and 54.7 percent male in 12-17.
The 12/23 numbers, because AEW and NXT didn’t go head-to-head except for three minutes, aren’t really indicative of anything past changes where NXT had no wrestling competition, while AEW got a far better than usual lead-in but a worse time slot.

AEW did 775,000 viewers and 0.32 in 18-49, which was fifth place for the night behind two NBA games, Challenge: Double Agent on NXT (with Lio Rush that did 790,000 viewers and 0.42), and Montgomery Bowl college football game (1,271,000 viewers, 0.35). AEW was second in its time slot behind the second NBA game on ESPN that did 1,215,000viewers and an 0.52.

NXT, going unopposed by wrestling, but against the NBA and College Football, finished No. 40 with 698,000 viewers and 0.19. Those numbers had to be major disappointments but the competition was far tougher than usual on cable, although networks were all reruns.

For AEW, viewers were in the middle of expectations given the late time slot but better lead-in. 18-49 was probably higher than one would expect, but who would really know, given the second hour airing 11:04 p.m. to 12:04 a.m. was expected to be much lower than usual and the first hour much higher given the lead-in. As expected, the women’s AEW audience which hasn’t followed to new slots, didn’t here either. It was a far stronger male skew, as expected, because the NBA skews more male than AEW. Basically the audience was going to be a combination of AEW regulars that would follow it to a new time slot and NBA fans, heavily male, who would sample for the first time.

AEW was fourth in males 18-49 behind the football game and two NBA games, and second in the time slot. In 18-34, AEW was fifth, and second in the time slot. In Males 12-34 AEW was fourth, and second in the time slot.

NXT was No. 20 in Males 18-49 and didn’t rate high anywhere else..

AEW came off a Bucks-Celtics game that came down to the wire and did 2,003,000 viewers and 0.80 in 18-49 and 0.77 in 18-34. It went head-to-head with the Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns game that did 1,215,000 viewers and 0.52 in 18-49 and 0.41 in 18-34.

With the holiday, we don’t have full comparisons. But it was a more-male audience, slightly more in 18-49, but with teenagers it went from 47.0 percent male last week to 69.6 percent this week, although last week was unusually low and this week was very unusually high which is time slot and NBA related as opposed to anything we can read from the programming.

AEW did a 0.16 in 12-17 (up 166.7 percent from last week’s unusually low number, but this is higher than most weeks but not two weeks ago), 0.23 in 18-34 (up 53.3 percent from last week, 0.41 in 35-49 (down 16.3 percent) and 0.28 in 50+ (down 6.7 percent. It was 68.8 percent male in 18-49 and 69.6 percent male in 12-17.

AEW did 0.08 in 12-17 (down 27.3 percent from last week), 0.09 in 18-34 (up 28.6 percent), 0.29 in 35-49 (down 6.5 percent) and 0.36 in 50+ (down 2.7 percent). The audience was 60.5 percent male in 18-49 and 47.0 percent male in 12-17, likely the key being sports taking away from the male audience.
Impact on 12/22, for a year-in-review show, was down to 133,000 viewers and 0.03 in 18-49, falling out of the top 150 after three weeks in. It was down 24.9 percent overall and 25.0 percent in 18-49 from last week.

Smeat's note: Seeing as this week was mostly slow for news due to the Christmas holiday period and next week likely will be the same with New Year's holiday, skipping all of next week except for Friday for sheets report posts.
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:59 PM   #1536
king of sucks
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erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)
so when is news comeing back
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:17 PM   #1537
I hate you
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Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Destroychuk makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)
Yeah they had some Canada thing in the Observer I wanted to read.
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Old 02-05-2021, 04:55 PM   #1538
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

As was widely expected, even with the pandemic, the increase in television revenue led to the WWE’s most successful year financially in history, with $974,207,000 in revenue and $131,892,000 in profits, the first time the company has ever topped $100 million in profits during a given year.

The profit margin would have been higher but there was money spent from a contract in 2019 regarding leasing new headquarters, a loss of $4.4 million from an equity investment and normalized profits would have been $141,600,000.

Of that income, $868,200,000 came from media, which would be mostly rights fees for content and WWE network revenues. $19.9 million came from live events in the early part of the year before the pandemic and $86.1 million came from consumer products.

As far as profitability went, the media department had $409.9 million in profitability in the division while the live events department, because of the lack of shows, lost $14.0 million and the consumer product department had $28.8 million in profits.

Between WWE Network revenue and PPV revenue the company took in $185,667,000 in 2020 as compared to $184,553,000 in 2019 and $199,318,000 in 2018.

With no merchandise at live events for most of the year, the web site merchandise increased greatly this year. Total orders increased from 619,700 at $47.36 per order, or $29,349,000 in 2019 to 772,300 orders at $56.72 per order, or $43,805,000, an increase of 49.3 percent in revenue ...

However, television rights fees for Raw, Smackdown and NXT on a worldwide basis increased from $348,593,000 in 2019, where only quarter four was under the new U.S. deals, and $269,793,000 in 2018 on the old deals, so $538,334,000 in 2020.

Licensing dropped from $43,197,000 in 2019 to $41,675,000 in 2020, but there are so many variables, the key being no new major video game this year.

On 12/31, the WWE Network had 1,469,700 worldwide subscribers, with 1,080,900 in the U.S. and 388,800 outside the U.S. At the end of 2019, those numbers were $1,391,000 worldwide, 997,300 in the U.S. and 393,700 worldwide. The gains were during the pandemic as a number of streaming services gained more popularity, but it was more the introduction of the free tier, which led to a substantial rise at first earlier in the year before declines at close to usual rates from that point.

During the fourth quarter, network subscriptions in the U.S. declined by 56,000 and outside the U.S. declined by 23,000. During the fourth quarter of 2019 the declines were 66,000 in the U.S. and 11,000 internationally, so while the markets were different, the overall decline was 79,000 subscribers this year as 77,000 last year, or nearly identical ...

At the 2/4 investors call, WWE President Nick Khan noted the entire network content would be moved over to Peacock, and consumers will get it at a lower price. The hope is that on a bigger platform that has 33 million subscribers in the U.S. as opposed to 1.1 million, that more will sample the product and become fans. By that same rationale, WWE’s popularity should have gained significantly with the move to FOX, and while we don’t have complete evidence given COVID took away the places you could tell that, there is no indication of growth from last year past the mid-year network growth that has since followed usual patterns.

The fourth quarter numbers fell shy of predictions. The consensus among analysts was $245.04 million in revenue and $25 million in profits. The actual figures were $238.2 million in revenue and $13.6 million in profits. The decline in profits from expectations was largely due to increasing the costs of producing Raw and Smackdown in moving it to the Thunderdome set-up.

This led the stock in after-hours trading from closing at $56.00 per share and giving the company a $4.356 billion market value to a decline to $53.00 and a $4.123 billion market value ...

The key reasons are that the company made great savings this year during the pandemic in furloughing and getting rid of a number of employees and the costs of production of shows at the Performance Center was very low. Many, although far from all of those employees have been brought back, and in moving Raw and Smackdown to the Thunderdome, not only are costs way up for each show than at the Performance Center, but they budget 25 percent more than for a regular arena set up with fans which is probably over the course of a year about $26 million more in costs from a normal year. In addition, there was one Saudi Arabia show in 2020. Right now it’s uncertain whether there will be a show in 2021, although they certainly hope for one by the end of the year ...

Vince McMahon said they hoped to return to producing live events with fans but could not say when. Later in the call, when talking about selling tickets to WrestleMania, Khan said that it would be the only event the company would be selling tickets to until at least the third quarter (July). McMahon said that once they get to go-ahead that they can run, they can implement a regular schedule in six weeks ...

Khan said that while growing ratings is important, the company’s No. 1 priority is getting new subscribers for Peacock, meaning essentially the biggest matches and attractions will remain no PPV and on Raw or Smackdown itself ...

Khan talked about the success of the Superstar Spectacle on Sony in India. He said it was viewed by 20 million people on all the different platforms (this can be misleading because YouTube measures viewers who may only watch 30 seconds or less) and that it did five times the numbers that Raw and Smackdown do in that market. He said they are looking at more content.

Khan and Stephanie put over the usage of Bad Bunny, saying he was an authentic Latin American talent who resonates big in that market. He was the most streamed musical artist in the world in 2020 and they pushed Damien Priest (who is being linked to Bunny in storylines and is expected to tag team with him at WrestleMania) as their planned next major Puerto Rican star to the Latin American audience. They also noted that the Bad Bunny WWE merchandise in recent days has become the hottest selling merchandise in the history of WWE shop ...

Stephanie said that the landscape has changed, with the streaming behemoths investing heavily in content and they are there to provide that content. She said they are needing to pivot and allocate our resources to content creation production and storytelling and that the new deal gives people greater access to the company’s key content like WrestleMania.

The one given out of the Peacock deal is that more people in the U.S. will watch WrestleMania this year than any other year in history. In fact, it shouldn’t even be close. WrestleMania itself will also generate less actual money than ever before, but WWE will derive more revenue this year off the deal, but far less than in the PPV era ...

They estimated total revenue would have been about $90 million more without COVID, from presentation of live event, the Saudi Arabia show, and venue merchandise. Salen estimated that profits would be 15 to 20 percent higher after COVID because of adding revenue from tickets and merchandise and lowering the production costs of television.

Between those who got it as part of a subscription at one point during the fourth quarter, and those who got the free tier, there were 2.2 million worldwide people who watched the WWE Network. Even though you can get key content for free, that 2.2 million worldwide figure is actually tiny compared to the television audience. It’s impossible to know how many people at one point tuned into Raw or Smackdown at one point in the quarter on television but it would have to be more than 10 million easily in the U.S.

The company generated $292 million in cash flow in 2020 as compared to $52.6 million last year. They had $593 million in cash and short term investments on 12/31 and $100 million in debt. In January, they paid off that $100 million in debt so they are essentially back to being debt free.

They are planning to restart building a new headquarters in late 2021. They had planned to build it but shut down plans due to the uncertainty of the pandemic last April. They expect to spend $65 million to $85 million between construction and enhanced technology for the headquarters.

They said first quarter profits would be down from last year due to no Saudi Arabia show and higher production costs for television, offset by money being paid by Peacock that is new money.

In quarter four, Raw went from an average of 2,180,000 viewers last year to 1,733,000 this year, or a 20.5 percent decline. If you factor out the three hours of Raw each week, the USA Network went from averaging 605,000 viewers in prime time last year to 573,000 or a decline of 5.3 percent during the same period. So Raw’s decline was far greater than that of the network itself.

If we then factor out NXT, which fell from 829,000 to 686,000 post-election, you have a 577,000 prime time average in 2019 and a and a 559,000 average this year, or a non-wrestling USA Network decline of 3.1 percent. Overall cable viewing was up 0.2 percent in quarter four from the previous quarter four, but that was largely because of the giant news numbers leading up to the election and that networks shows, which draw the most viewers, were in reruns far more this year than last year, when the season started across the board in October.

Smackdown’s average fell from 2,467,000 viewers to 2,105,000 a decline of 14.7 percent. That is far better than the overall FOX decline of 5,208,000 (5,497,000 if you eliminate Smackdown taking down the average) to 3,580,000 (3,735,000 if you eliminate Smackdown taking down the average). But that is also misleading because Smackdown was live and new each week and FOX was still airing reruns far longer and more in the quarter with the pandemic shutting down the production of new shows. The same can be said for the 21 percent drop of the four networks from last year, due to far more rerun programming. If anything, with the less competition, the Smackdown numbers should have increased. The Smackdown number didn’t include the two FS 1 shows, but did include the Christmas show directly after the NFL which inflated the average from a normalized (taking that show out and the FS 1 shows out) of 2,014,000 or a more real decline of 18.4 percent, which is closer to the decline of Raw. However, Smackdown in recent weeks has not been down as compared to last year at the level of decline of Raw or NXT.
Edge and Bianca Belair won the men and women’s Royal Rumbles in WWE’s second biggest annual event on 1/31 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

The win puts both in key WrestleMania matches. At press time, while not announced, one of the WrestleMania main events will be Edge challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal title. Edge winning was for the storyline that Edge retired as champion and now that he’s come back, is looking to regain the title as the culmination of his return. Right now there is no plan regarding who wins this match.

It is notable the difference with Edge and Daniel Bryan on the creative team. It was notable that they were the two people who got substantial interview time leading to the match, but Edge, at 47, was pushing for a main event title shot, while Bryan, at 39, in his position was pushing constantly to get other people over.

Belair’s opponent was not 100 percent locked in at least as of her Rumble win. The women’s Rumble, which was fairly messy work wise, had an exciting last few minutes when Belair was left with Rhea Ripley and eventually won.

Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart, Toni Storm, Santana Garrett, Dakota Kai and Ember Moon from NXT were in the women’s match because they needed 30 bodies. For Ripley, this was supposed to be the start of a Raw or Smackdown run as her loss to Raquel Gonzalez was meant as her NXT blow-off several weeks ago. It’s not yet clear which brand Ripley would be on, past that she should be pushed strongly. The other women were to remain in NXT, although Garrett’s usage was interesting because she’s not even pushed on NXT television while there are plenty of women who are that could have been in the spot.

Damien Priest was the only NXT performer in the men’s match. He debuted on the Raw side the next night. It appears Priest is set for a big showcase as Bad Bunny’s partner at WrestleMania in a tag match against John Morrison & The Miz. That match isn’t confirmed at this point, but it looks likely since Bunny is scheduled to wrestle on the show and this seemed to be the angle set up. And it makes sense since Miz & Morrison are the comedic foil heels who always lose, so a celebrity beating them doesn’t hurt. The idea is Priest will get the rub in the Latino community in particular of being Bunny’s tag team partner.
While the show itself was entertaining, the Rumble match pointed to a real problem with the company on the men’s side. The average age of a men’s participant was 39.0 years old, making it the oldest Rumble in history. While you always have a few people from the past brought back to skew the age a little, that number is still scary old. Worse, there were only two men in the Rumble who were under the age of 30, Dominik Mysterio and Otis, who were in for a combined 2:53 and both were largely treated as jokes in the match. This is for a company that spends upwards of $20 million per year on a developmental system. And of the 30 men in the Rumble, the only ones who were trained in that system, which has been eight years of the big money system were Elias, King Corbin and Otis, essentially three guys nobody even notes or calls good or great wrestlers. If you include the lower budgeted Florida Championship Wrestling from 2007 to 2013, the only one you can add is Big E. If you add OVW and even lower budgeted, which now brings you back to 1999, you can add Orton, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, John Morrison and Bobby Lashley. It’s scary that guys trained at OVW 15-20 years ago when they would only have about 20 guys in camp are more prominent today than the last seven years with more money spent on recruiting and training, as in like 40 times as much money and 100-200 wrestlers being trained and this is the output of it ...

If you look at the roster among the men and go ten years deep, Angel Garza, a last minute cut from the match, could still be a star although Garza’s trajectory isn’t in that direction. Otis and Dominik have chances but Otis seems more like a one-note gimmick right now that won’t stand the test of time and the WWE has a habit of totally botching guys like Dominik ...

Jey Uso was advertised for the show but wasn’t medically cleared. Mia Yim (Reckoning of Retribution) tested positive for COVID on 1/30 and thus couldn’t compete the next day. There was a weird irony in the sense she denied that she had COVID at 10:30 a.m. that day, a rumor that spread over her missing the 1/18 TV show (but she was back 1/25). Then after posing that she got a test result back saying she was positive and updated her own story. She was the only person scheduled who came out and said it but there were at least three people scheduled originally who had to be pulled due to testing positive.

Another late change was Otis replacing Angel Garza. Otis had been advertised. Garza was there and was supposed to come in, do a comedy spot tearing off his pants, and then get eliminated right away. At the last minute, Otis was put back in, in the spot Garza was in. Trent Baretta told a story similar on Twitter that day saying that one year he was supposed to be in. He was at the meeting waiting to find out his spot and what he was supposed to do. Then they went through the match and nobody brought him up and he realized that he had been pulled from the match ...

For those asking about Rey Mysterio and the Victoria beer promotion, that was a deal WWE and the beer company put together and since they wanted Mysterio as the face of the deal, that’s the situation. It wasn’t a deal Mysterio did on his own, because if he had, he would have had to have dropped it, similar to the women having to drop all of their sponsorship deals in October.
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced on 2/4 that its new television deal, as rumored for weeks, would be with the Roku Channel, and would cover the U.S., U.K. and Canada ...

The Channel claims to stream to 61.8 million U.S. viewers, but it can be accessed for free by anyone. There were other stations that had interest in the property but would not have been as beneficial to the company from a long-term basis because the key is providing data that shows within the universe of viewers that the show has popularity, and thus, down the line, can build its platform.

The deal is likely disappointing to many on the surface hoping for a pick-up by a major sports channel. A key aspect is that New Japan was hampered in making a deal based on lack of provable data, because AXS didn’t subscribe to Nielsen when New Japan was on the station (they started after the sale to Anthem) and thus there were no numbers with the Nielsen stamp of approval on them to try and sell the television popularity of the product. Doing house show business, including a one-day Madison Square Garden sellout in 2019, is not language in and of itself that would get a major station to air the product. It is true that All In played a part in TNT broadcasting AEW, which also had no television track record when they signed a two-year deal in 2019. But that had to do with personal connections that Tony Khan had and that people in New Japan or helped negotiate the deal for New Japan didn’t have at the same level ...

There had been talks with ESPN and Vice, among others, but the lack of proof of viewership numbers of the show on AXS didn’t lead to a deal. There was interest by CBS Sports Network, which airs Bellator. The problem there was that there would have been no money offered, just an advertising split, and CBS Sports Network no longer subscribes to Nielsen, so whatever they drew wouldn’t have any stamp of approval.
AAA and the Mexican Department of Tourism announced a year-long deal at a press conference on 2/2. AAA will be taping television at tourist locations around the country starting 2/4 to 2/6 in Tlaxcala at a bullring. These events will have no fans and the deal includes shows in 11 different states. The idea is the government will be using the shows in picturesque locations to promote tourism to those locations, just as WWE did with the Saudi Arabia shows and UFC did with the Abu Dhabi shows
Jun Akiyama, who has been working full-time for DDT after a deal made with All Japan, did note that All Japan didn’t renew his contract and he’s technically a free agent.
Game Changer Wrestling ran a 24-hour live show for free on FITE and YouTube asking for donations for tons of wrestlers who due to COVID had bookings cut way back and for a time eliminated. In that sense, the show was a big success, raising $53,000. If there was big news, it was Blake Christian lost a match where he’d have to leave the promotion. He’s worked with ROH and New Japan of late and had been one of the few independent guys in recent months who had built a name. Alex Zayne, who he had worked with a lot and they made their names together, is now with WWE. The show also featured a two-hour match with Tony Deppen vs. Jordan Oliver. It was billed as a one-hour Iron Man match, but the two ended tied, and they went a full second hour. That was probably the longest match on television/streaming in recent memory if not ever. They billed it as the longest match ever in the U.S., but that wouldn’t be the case as in the early days of wrestling the biggest matches with the top names often exceeded two hours. The longest match we know of in the U.S was the Strangler Lewis vs. Joe Stecher match on July 4, 1916, which went more than five hours to a draw. Oliver ended up winning the Iron Man match seven falls to six.
IMPACT: The company has lost its television deal with Freesport and they are now pushing the shows being available on Facebook and YouTube in that market. They will go up on Wednesday night so the positive they are pushing is that fans in the U.K. will get to see the show faster than in the past. They were on a trial with Freesport and Freesport wasn’t offering anything monetarily to continue, so they are looking for a new station to go along with a new deal with Pluto TV
AEW: The Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill vs. Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet match was announced for the 3/3 television show, which should draw a good rating for Shaq wrestling. The key isn’t even the rating, although that is definitely part of it, but in getting the AEW name out to the public through the media based on this match. The match couldn’t take place on the 3/7 Revolution PPV since it looks like the NBA All-Star game is that day, meaning O’Neal has to work at his regular job covering it
The most-watched shows on the WWE Network this past week: 1. Royal Rumble; 2. WWE Icons-Yokozuna; 3. Best of the APA; 4. Royal Rumble kickoff show; 5 Royal Rumble 2020; 6. WWE Icons Revisited-Yokozuna; 7. Elimination Chamber 2020; 8. Day of Royal Rumble 2014; 9. WWE Chronicle: Bianca Belair; 10. Raw Talk. What’s notable is that Talking Smack, NXT, NXT U.K. and 205 Live all didn’t place in the top 25 for the week
Ratings stuff:

The Raw after the Royal Rumble on 2/1 did what has to be considered a very disappointing number with 1,892,000 viewers and 0.58 (744,000 viewers) in 18-49.

For comparison of recent years, the 2020 version of the show did 2,402,000 viewers and 0.76 in 18-49. In 2019, it did 2,703,000 viewers and 0.95. In 2018, it did 3,315,000 viewers and 1.14. In 2017, it did 3,615,000 viewers and 1.37. In 2016 it did 4,098,000 viewers and 1.51. In 2015 it did 4,420,000 viewers and 1.43. So the drop over five years has been 53.8 percent in viewers and 61.6 percent in 18-49.

While Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair drew a bigger number for the legends returning on 1/4, and a Dwayne Johnson appearance would as well if that was to happen, the show the day after Rumble and the day after Mania are usually the two most sure things for a big number that WWE has.

The show was headlined by Edge’s first television match in nearly a decade, against Randy Orton. But for reasons I can’t even possibly comprehend, this was never advertised in advance. It wasn’t even advertised at the start of the show when the audience figured to be at its highest. Well into the show, it was mentioned as the main event. It was strong enough that hour three held up better and actually beat hour two in the 18-49 demo, which is rare. But it was only with men, as the women’s 18-49 drop from the start was bigger than usual, but in a rare case, men peaked in hour three which almost never happens.

Raw did hold the top three spots for the night on cable in 18-49, and even beat NBC (no reruns) and CBS (all reruns) on the networks, losing only to ABC and FOX on all of television. Raw was 18th in viewers on cable, trailing 17 news shows.

The first hour did 1,981,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,895,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,811,000 viewers

As compared to the day after Mania last year, it was down 21.2 percent in viewers, 23.7 percent in 18-49 and 38.9 percent in 18-34.

As compared to last week, the show was up 4.0 percent in viewers, 11. 11.5 percent in 18-49 and 6.5 percent in 18-34.

The show did 136,000 in men 18-34, 97,000 in women 18-34, 343,000 in men 35-49 and 168,000 in women 35-49.

In looking at the first-to-third drops by category, you can see who Edge vs. Orton appealed to and who it didn’t. The show did a 21.7 percent drop in women 18-49. It did a rare 2.6 percent gain in men 18-49, it increased 22 percent with teenage girls and increased 12.4 percent with teenage boys while falling 10.2 percent with those over 50.
Smackdown on 1/29 did a 1.41 rating and 2,304,000 viewers (1.34 viewers per home) and a 0.62 in 18-49, slightly down from the week before but still not far off last year’s numbers.

Only one other network show, 20/20, did less than three million viewers and that did 2,908,000 so it was last in viewers, but first in 18-49, beating a rerun of Shark Tank that did 0.58. It was also first in 18-34 at 0.38. It also beat everything on cable so it was No. 1 in those demos for the night, although in a fair comparison Gold Rush and the two NBA games on cable really did better.

Among network shows it was first in Males 18-49 and second in women 18-49 behind the Shark Tank repeat.

It was up 1.4 percent from last week in homes watching, down 3.3 percent from last week in overall viewers due to the decrease in viewers per home, down 1.6 percent in 18-49 but up 11.8 percent in 18-34. As compared to last year, it was down 6.0 percent in homes, 4.8 percent in viewers, down 10.5 percent in 18-49 and down 24.0 percent in 18-34.

Smackdown did 134,000 in men 18-34, 133,000 in women 18-34, 320,000 in men 35-49 and 210,000 in women 35-49. The audience was 57.0 percent men in 18-49.

In the half hours, the first half hour with the Daniel Bryan interview and the first part of Bayley vs. Bianca Belair did 2.41 million viewers, which is very strong. The second half hour with the second part of Bayley vs. Belair, King Corbin vs. Dominik Mysterio did 2.34 million viewers. The third half our with a Kevin Owens interview and Bryan vs. A.J. Styles did 2.29 million viewers. The final half hour with Bryan & Big E & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Cesaro & Styles & Sami Zayn, which turned into a ten man with Otis & Sheamus on one side and Miz & Morrison on the other fell to 2.17 million viewers.
For the 1/27 Wednesday shows, the demos showed some incredibly strange patterns. This way the show where some cable systems and all U.S. streaming systems didn’t air much of the first 30 minutes, and in some places it wasn’t cleared up as long as an hour. This helped NXT a lot as shown in the comparisons from last week show.

An interesting note is that AEW was down to 1.41 viewers per home, so it wasn’t as if the homes stopped watching as match as one of the viewers in the home switched. It actually had an identical number of homes watching (520,000) as the week before when the numbers were considered great, so it was all about the decline in viewers per home, which was likely more the outage early on caused the second person in a number of the homes to switch to something else.

AEW was the third youngest skewing sports show of the week behind Liverpool vs. Tottenham from the EPL on NBC Sports Network which was on a Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. which is advantageous to drawing a younger audience, and a Tuesday night prime time NHL game on NBC Sports Network with the New York Islanders vs. Washington.

The basic numbers saw AEW do 67,000 viewers in males 18-34 (down 19.3 percent) to 38,000 for NXT (up 52.0 percent). AEW did 32,000 in women 18-34 (down 38.5 percent) to 37,000 for NXT (up 146.7 percent). AEW did 191,000 in males 35-49 (down 18.4 percent) to 109,000 for NXT (up 18.5 percent). AEW did 90,000 in women 35-49 (down 7.2 percent) to 94,000 for NXT (up 46.9 percent).

The swings were far larger with women in the direction of NXT. In males 18-34, AEW with the blackout had only 30,000 first quarter and 78,000 last quarter while NXT also drew from 38,000 to 58,000 for the main event. In women 18-34 never got the audience back, having just 30,000 in the first quarter and the main event only got to 35,000. NXT went from 64,000 when AEW was down to 19,000 for the main event. In males 35-49, AEW had 184,000 during the first and last quarter, while NXT had 146,000 when AEW was down but just 75,000 for the main event. In women 35-49, this was the crazy one, AEW had 132,000 when so much were blacked out and declined to 63,000 for the main event. NXT had 115,000 for the first quarter and 75,000 for the main event.
In a sense, both AEW and NXT did disappointing numbers on 2/3, although I’d categorize AEW as mildly disappointing but impressive in other ways, and NXT as more of a disaster given the show was built around Edge coming off his Royal Rumble win and teasing revealing that he would challenge for the NXT title.

Edge coming to NXT wasn’t pushed on Raw, which was a big mistake, but was pushed hard for two days on social media. The result was shockingly bad as AEW more than doubled NXT in the key demo.

AEW placed third for the night with 844,000 viewers and 0.32 in 18-49 (408,000 viewers) and 0.14 in 18-34.

NXT placed 51st with 610,000 viewers and 0.15 (197,000 viewers) in 18-49. Because it finished out of the top 50 we don’t have the 18-34 number. The head-to-head numbers because NXT had an overrun were 609,000 viewers and 195,000 in 18-49.

On the positive side, AEW beat the NBA game head-to-head with them, which only happens on rare occasions, as the early ESPN game did 701,000 viewers and an 0.23. The NHL game on NBC Sports Network did 633,000 viewers and 0.18, meaning on a weaker station the NHL beat NXT which is something to follow. AEW finished behind Challenge Double Agent on MTV (920,000 viewers and 0.54) and the late NBA game on ESPN (984,000 viewers; 0.33).

AEW skewed its oldest in a long time, which wasn’t good. AEW also had a themed show, Beach Break, featured Kenny Omega & Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Rey Fenix & Jon Moxley & Pac in the main event, a bout that had both Omega and Moxley in it, a tag team Battle Royal for a title shot, an appearance by Shaquille O’Neal (taped from Inside the NBA not advertised) and the Kip Sabian/Penelope Ford wedding. Weddings historically do very strong numbers in wrestling. The wedding was the strongest thing of the night, but overall the show should have done better in 18-49 given everything on it.

AEW was up 15.0 percent from last week where the production snafu on the streaming side killed them early, but were only up 7.4 percent in 18-49 and just 1.0 percent in 18-34.

NXT was down 15.3 percent in viewers and 29.1 percent in 18-49 and 46.7 percent in 18-34 from last week’s show that was clearly boosted by AEW’s misfire.

But as compared to last year, AEW was down 9.1 percent in viewers, 12.8 percent in 18-49 and 36.3 percent in 18-34, the latter drop in a year along similar lines as Raw and Smackdown.

It was only a few months ago when Dynamite was beating Raw and Smackdown in women 18-34 and on part with them overall in 18-34. This past week, the numbers for overall were 267,000 for Smackdown, 233,000 for aw and 100,000 for AEW, so they’ve badly lost ground. With women 18-34, it was 133,000 for Smackdown, 97,000 for Raw and 35,000 for AEW.

NXT was down 20.8 percent in viewers from last year and 31.6 percent in 18-49 and 58.3 percent in 18-34. So while AEW is skewing older, NXT is badly skewing older.

Where AEW is really hurting as compared to late last year is women. In 18-49, AEW was only 21st for the night in women. It was second in men 18-49 behind only the late NBA game and was first in its time slow. It was only 13th in 18-34, and sixth in men 18-34.

As far as the key demos went, AEW did 65,000 in men 18-34 (down 3.0 percent from last week) to 20,000 for NXT (down 44.4 percent). AEW did 35,000 in women 18-34 (up 9.4 percent) to 20,000 for NXT (down 45.9 percent). AEW did 205,000 in men 35-49 (up 7.3 percent) to 101,000 for NXT (down 7.3 percent) and AEW did 103,000 in women 35-49 (up 14.4 percent) to 56,000 for NXT (down 40.4 percent).

In the main event battle, AEW with Omega & Anderson & Gallows vs. Moxley & Fenix & Pac did 804,000 viewers and 409,000 in 18-49. NXT with Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Adam Cole & Roderick Strong in the Dusty Rhodes tag team tournament did 519,000 viewers and 183,000 in 18-49.

NXT also had a seven minute overrun and after AEW went off the air NXT gained 109,000 viewers and 53,000 in 18-49 from AEW.

AEW opened with 952,000 viewers and 417,000 in 18-49 for the tag team Battle Royal. NXT had 713,000 viewers and 205,000 in 18-49 for the tag tournament match with Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter. It was the high point of the show in total viewers for both AEW and NXT and high point with both shows in women 18-49.

In the second quarter, AEW did 866,000 viewers and 400,000 in 18-49 for a Jade Cargill video, and Sting & Darby Allin and Team Taz in an interview segment. NXT did 652,000 viewers and 199,000 in 18-49 for a Toni Storm interview, Edge & William Regal and the beginning of Austin Theory vs. Leon Ruff.

In the third quarter, AEW did 868,000 viewers and 401,000 in 18-49 for Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa and a Matt Hardy & Adam Page promo. NXT did 612,000 viewers and 191,000 in 18-49 for the second half of Theory vs. Ruff, a Legado del Fantasma video, a Tian Shan video and the beginning of Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde vs. Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 771,000 viewers and 391,000 in 18-49 for Page & Hardy vs. Luther & Serpentico, the women’s tournament announcement and the Inner Circle backstage. NXT did 594,000 viewers and 190,000 in 18-49 for the second half of Mendoza & Wilde vs. Metalik & Dorado and MSK out.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 868,000 viewers and 427,000 in 18-49 for the Sabian/Ford wedding. This popped big for women 35-49. NXT did 618,000 viewers and 202,000 in 18-49 for the Balor, Dunne and Edge interview segment, the Johnny Gargano/Kushida segment and Toni Storm vs. Jessi Kamea.

In the sixth quarter, AEW did 855,000 viewers and 436,000 in 18-49 for Eddie Kingston vs. Lance Archer in a lumberjack match and the FTR promo. This was AEW’s high point of the show in 18-49 and men 18-49, NXT did 577,000 viewers and 173,000 in 18-49 for the Curt Stallion interview and Santos Escobar vs. Stallion for the cruiserweight title.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 770,000 viewers and 384,000 in 18-49 for the Joey Janela interview, next week’s card and ring entrances for the main event. NXT did 586,000 viewers and 213,000 in 18-49 for the end of Escobar vs Stallion, Karrion Kross challenging Escobar and Edge and Kross having a face-off. This was NXT’s high point of the show in 18-49. This was the high point of the show for NXT in men 18-49.

In the final quarter, AEW with Omega & Anderson & Gallows vs. Moxley & Pac & Fenix gained 34,000 viewers and 25,000 in 18-49. NXT with Thatcher & Ciampa vs. Cole & Strong lost 67,000 viewers and 30,000 in 18-49.
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

With just ten days left, the Chamber show only has three official matches.

The main events as things stood on 2/11 was to be two men’s Chamber matches for the two key WWE titles The Raw match has Drew McIntyre defending against Sheamus, The Miz, Randy Orton, A.J. Styles and Jeff Hardy. This match has been criticized, not because of a Chamber match for the title, but who is in it.

At press time there was to be a Smackdown match with Roman Reigns defending the title. We don’t know the participants, other than Kevin Owens is an obvious one.

The key is it continues the pattern of pushing guys who have been around and have seen their peaks, rather than going with younger people to give them main event credibility for the future. The Chamber style is very physically punishing, and that it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce new people to the main event scene.

With the exception of McIntyre, everyone in the match is over the age of 40. Sheamus is in a program with McIntyre, so that makes sense, and Orton and Styles are always kept strong. Neither needs to be in there but one of the two probably should and even two. Miz makes no sense, past the tiglon of McIntyre defending against five people who have held the title. Miz just lost on TV to Damien Priest and was beaten over and over in singles, tags and handicap matches on television. Hardy does make sense because it is a stunt style match and he’s good at that, but they’ve done nothing to build him either, having had Bobby Lashley (the second most protected guy on the brand and long-time U.S. champion can’t make the top six, although he’s also past 40) and Styles submit him and he’s even lost in recent weeks to Jaxson Ryker. It again emphasizes the problems of results not mattering and not building to the future, which has killed so many companies of the past.

The other matches announced on Raw this past week are Asuka vs. Lacey Evans for the Raw women’s title, set up when Evans beat Charlotte Flair via DQ, and a three-way for the U.S. title with Lashley defending against Keith Lee and Riddle. Riddle’s involvement doesn’t make sense unless he’s winning it, since Lashley beat him multiple times, and usually booked as almost squashes, and he just lost clean to Lee this past week.

There will likely be three or more Smackdown matches announced on 2/12. Based on angles last week, Sasha Banks was still seemingly programmed for Carmella, but after two straight clean wins on the last two PPV shows, that doesn’t seem to make sense. One would think they’d add a women’s chamber match, but as of midweek those in creative and outside of creative indicated negative on that at that point in time, and quite frankly, two of those matches on the same show is plenty. There is a Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs. Street Profits Smackdown tag title match being built up, as well as Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Naomi & Lana for the women’s tag titles. Big E vs. Sami Zayn for the IC title is another match that looks to happen soon, whether on TV or PPV.
2/5 was a unique day in wrestling, and not just because it is every year, as the 37th anniversary of the death of El Santo, which is always a major deal in Mexico and for years was almost like an unofficial national holiday.

It was also the 33rd anniversary of the match watched by 33 million Americans, Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant in their WrestleMania III rematch from Indianapolis. The match aired live on a Friday night in prime time on NBC, the first time pro wrestling had aired in network prime time since 1954 with the folding of the Dumont Network.

WWE promoted that 33rd of 33 million during the day and pushed that they would air highlights of the match and have Hulk Hogan on Smackdown that night.

Andre won the title briefly when Earl Hebner was secretly hired from Jim Crockett Promotions to do an angle pretending to be twin brother Dave Hebner and fast counted Hogan’s shoulders to the mat, ending Hogan’s four-year undefeated reign as WWF champion. Andre then sold the belt to Ted DiBiase, and then it was ruled you couldn’t sell a title belt which led to the 1988 WrestleMania tournament for the title, which Randy Savage ended up winning.

WWE ran clips on Smackdown that night and claimed it to have been the most watched pro wrestling match in history. It is probably the most-watched match ever in the U.S. As far as anything verifiable that we have, it would have been the record and by a large margin, for this country. It was definitely not the most-watched pro wrestling match in history, even if you figure in other countries because WWE didn’t have anywhere near the worldwide exposure it has today ...

Hogan vs. Andre did a 15.2 rating, and in the early days of television, wrestling’s ratings every week on network TV blew that number away, but far less Americans owned televisions. It’s possible shows back then beat it, because pro wrestling was the No. 10 show in 1951 on network television over the course of the year, so its biggest peaks were probably top five for the week. If everyone had television, that number would have been broken every single week. But that wasn’t the case.

While 33 million today sounds unbelievable, except for NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, maybe the Emmys, nothing is coming close to a number like that now.

But in 1988, the Hogan & Andre special was only No. 32 in prime time for that week. I had thought with Hogan vs. Andre they’d hit the top 15 for the week, but most TV experts pegged the number as being in the 30s going into the week, figuring even the biggest pro wrestling match with probably the two most famous pro wrestlers in the country had its limitations.

Still, under any circumstances, far more watched Ali vs. Inoki on television worldwide in 1976 and the Japan number alone was over 40 million. Rikidozan vs. Destroyer in 1963 was a 64.0 rating and 60 million viewers and that would be the biggest live television audience for a pro wrestling match in history virtually for sure.

The biggest ratings I know of were the first Thesz vs. Rikidozan on October 7, 1957, at the old Korakuen Stadium located not too far from today’s Tokyo Dome, and a Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Kim Ill & Kim Duk (Tiger Toguchi) match on November 7, 1977.

Thesz vs. Rikidozan drew an 87.5 rating, but television was relatively new in Japan. The number of viewers for that ratings was not close to what Rikidozan and Destroyer did.

Baba & Tsuruta vs. Kim Ill & Kim Duk (Tiger Toguchi) on November 7, 1977, did an 88.0 rating which was 31.7 million viewers in South Korea. This was amazing because the population of the country at the time was less than 37 million. If that match aired on television in Japan, and one would think it did but I don’t have proof it did, then it surely with Japan would have been well over 40 million in those two countries.

In the mid-60s, Toyonobori and Destroyer and Toyonobori and Fred Blassie approached 50 million ...

The Inoki vs. Leon Spinks pro wrestling match on October 9, 1986 drew 30 million viewers in Japan, and keep in mind the population of Japan was maybe 40 percent of the U.S. Koji Kitao’s debut against Bam Bam Bigelow topped 25 million.

New Japan during its early 80s television peak with Inoki and the first Tiger Mask as the big draws, frequently topped 20 million on Friday nights. All Japan women, on weekend afternoons on the Fuji Network, during the peak of The Beauty Pair and later The Crush Gals, hit 15 million as a regular number. It should be noted that with the smaller population, the actual ratings for a normal weekly show of these promotions during their heyday was higher, and with New Japan, much higher than Hogan vs. Andre did. But it’s a smaller country and didn’t hit 33 million most likely since 1976 with Ali vs. Inoki.

But for the U.S., as far as anyone can verify, the Hogan vs. Andre match not only set the record, but because of how television viewing has changed and pro wrestling not having a Hogan character with that level of crossover appeal, it is likely that no match ever again will do even 25% of that number as even with a network special of WrestleMania, which isn’t in the cards, I can’t see it even possible to hit eight million viewers in this era.
AAA: The company started back in action for the first time this year as part of their new government deal, running in Tlaxcala and Tlaxco with no fans. They taped on 2/4 in Tlaxcala and the Plaza de Toros (bullring) and again on 2/6 in Tlaxco at the Hacienda de Santa Maria Xalostoc. That’s basically on an historical plantation. Until they can get back into arenas, they will be taping on historical sites with the idea of showing them and promoting tourism to those areas, similar to the commercials that air on UFC shows in Abu Dhabi and appeared on WWE shows in Saudi Arabia showing beautiful scenes in the country and pushing how great the hotels are. Several weeks of television were taped both nights. Maybe three TV tapings per night but that’s not official, but that’s a long day with two hour shows. There were photos of Rey Fenix working the 2/6 show. The belief is they will start airing in two weeks.
New Japan is debuting a new wrestler, Yuto Nakashima, on the 2/14 show at Korakuen Hall, against Yuya Uemura. He’ll be doing singles matches against Uemura, Yota Tsuji and Gabriel Kidd on shows the rest of the month. Nakashima started training in Tokyo in June, but went to New Zealand to train at Bad Luck Fale’s New Japan gym in that country as well. He’s 5-foot 10 ½, 209 pounds and has sports background includes MMA, judo, jiu jitsu and water polo.
PRO WRESTLING NOAH: They are doing a storyline for the 2/14 show in Saitama for the Tetsuya Endo KO-D title defense against Jun Akiyama. Endo is said to be training with Kenta Kobashi, a longtime rival and also at one point a regular tag team partner with Akiyama. Endo had announced on 1/31 that he had a secret trainer for the match. Shunma Katsumata defends the DDT Extreme title on 2/28 at Korakuen Hall against Mao. In addition, the Ironman heavymetalweight comedy title is coming back from AEW. While never talked about in AEW, they’ve had people, and objects trade the title back and forth which has been publicized and videotaped for Japan. The current champion is the Young Bucks “Killing the Business” autobiography. Given a book doesn’t have to quarantine, they are able to get the title back from AEW as the book arrives for the 2/28 show to0 defend against Danshoku Dino, Antonio Honda, Kazuki Hirata and Saki Akai
Shaul Guerrero Rehwoldt, 30, announced she was leaving pro wrestling and any appearances in conjunction with wrestling due to what she called a very scary mental illness issue. She said that she’s been advised by her loved ones and professionals not to participate in high stress events at this time. She said she will be seeking the health she needs, getting more treatment for her eating disorder and hopefully get answers and solutions for her to be able to reach a healthy mental state. Rehwoldt, who is the daughter of Eddy & Vickie Guerrero and wife of Matt Rehwoldt (the former Aiden English) was with WWE from 2010 to 2014 in developmental when she left for similar reasons, citing issues with an eating disorder. She had done well as a manager
Quote: ran a story this past week on the proposed Jerry Lawler vs. Elvis Presley match in Memphis. It’s been known, and at least in wrestling accepted as accurate that such a match was in the planning stages when Presley died at 42. Presley was a wrestling fan, more of women’s wrestling, but when he was young people remember him being sneaked into the old Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, which is where the matches were held prior to going to the Mid South Coliseum in 1971. People we know in Los Angeles said Presley would on occasion be snuck into matches there ... Otis Gibbs did a recent video on the backstory. In the spring or summer of 1977, Lawler and his manager Mickey Poole, were driving to a show and talking about Presley going on television and showing off his kung fu. Lawler talked about how great it would be if they could get Presley to do a match and all the publicity it would get them. Keep in mind Presley was multiple times a bigger star than Andy Kaufman. Poole then responded saying, “I’ll have my brother ask him if he wants to do that.” Lawler didn’t know what he was talking about and Poole said that his brother was the President of the Elvis International Fan Club and had known Presley personally for years. Lawler then told Poole to set it up, apparently more calling his bluff than really believing it was possible. The next day Mickey Poole told Lawler that his brother would talk to Vernon Presley, Elvis’ father. He said if Vernon liked the idea, they would take the idea to Elvis. Eventually Vernon called Lawler about details of it, saying Elvis loved the idea of doing a wrestling match. But Vernon said they couldn’t do it now because Elvis wasn’t in good shape. Vernon said that Elvis had a tour coming up. He said Elvis was about to start training to get in shape for his tour and when the tour was over, they would put the match together. But Presley shockingly passed away on August 16, 1977. Lawler said he’s thought many times what the two of them would have done. He said he’d have done whatever Presley wanted to do.
Cody Rhodes suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and damage to his left trapezoid in the match that aired on 2/10 and was taped six days earlier. The injury is legit. There was a spot in the match where Cezar Bononi gave him a pump handle slam and he landed on the left shoulder, immediately winced in pain and started selling it, but that was the story of the match. We were told that was the spot of injury by multiple people even so. They showed the replay and then Bononi and Peter Avalon started working on the left shoulder like it was a planned spot to build the heat. “Going to rehab with Bryce (Remsberg) and Doc Sampson at TV (next tapings on 2/17 and 2/18). It should have zero effect on my work 3/3 and onwards. Right now the expectation is he will be back for the 3/3 match with Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill
While this is fairly common among women pro wrestlers, for obvious reasons, you perform in skimpy attire and especially at the top, you’re judged heavily on your body and real healthy bodies are often not good enough. It’s the same with guys, although not as bad. I’ll give you an example, I’ve seen people talk about Cash Wheeler saying that he needs to lift weights, and he’s more jacked than 95 percent of the guys who train hard in a gym of his or any age. I think the steroid era totally screwed up people’s understanding of what a body should look like. But Dax Harwood noted that he’s battled bulimia in the past. “Getting real for a second, I’ve always struggled with my weight,” he wrote in a post this past week. “At one time, I was actually bulimic. My highest weight was 282 lbs, which on a 5-10 frame is not very `attractive,’ nor healthy. I’ve tried every diet, but they rarely worked because I’m so afraid of food. I was scared of going backwards.
Strowman is back out of action dealing with an infection that he said has spread to his bloodstream. He said that he got the infection over the past weekend and is undergoing IV treatment to eradicate it s he can return. Strowman said he’s lost 15 pounds but feels like he’s gained 50 pounds of bloating in his joints and that the antibiotics seem to be working
Paul Levesque had a conference call on 2/11. He said that Edge wants to work with the young talents in NXT and that he loves talking to the younger talent. He said he could see Edge coming to NXT after WrestleMania. He said he’d love NXT talent at WrestleMania but didn’t say that it would happen. On Parker Boudreaux, he noted he looks a lot like Lesnar but “we will see what he can do and whether he is ready to be a performer.” He also brought up Bronson Rechsteiner, the son of Rick Steiner, who was a college football star running back at Kennesaw State and came to WWE after being cut in camp by the Baltimore Ravens. He was asked about adding another women’s title to NXT. He said he doesn’t like having too many titles but didn’t dismiss the idea either. When asked about Velveteen Dream, he said he’s got nothing more to add, and that he’s still training, had a physical thing but is still training. He said Pat McAfee told him that he just got married and will wait until after the Super Bowl. He also said Bad Bunny is training at the Performance Center right now. He was asked about NXT running shows on Peacock. Actually all the Takeovers are on Peacock live but he just said he didn’t know and to ask Nick Khan or Stephanie. When asked about the release of Steve Cutler, he said he had no knowledge of the situation or why it went down. He said he knows what he’s read but he hasn’t asked anyone
Bliss is the latest of WWE women stars to have trouble with social media stalkers. Bliss is reportedly dealing with someone who has used multiple Twitter accounts and harassed her and fiancé Ryan Cabrera. The person has threatened to show up at her house. In most cases these are deranged guys who won’t do anything, the Sonya Deville case shows that there are real dangers with some of these nutcases. Paige has also had to deal with things like this, and most likely a number of the women have kept it private. Recently Bliss wrote to him, “Sir, once again for the one millionth time, you do not know me. I do not know you. We have never spoken and we have never met. Stop making multiple accounts every time I block you, and stop harassing my fiancé. I really don’t know how many more times I can say this.” The person at one point on his Twitter account claimed to be Bliss’ husband. On 2/6, the person wrote, “Hello everyone who thinks I’m a troll, I’m not. I’m dead serious about getting rid of that piece of shit Ryan Cabrera so stop calling me a f***ing troll. I’m not a stalker. I’m a lover of Alexa Bliss. I will be at her house in Orlando, FL and pay her a little visit #LetMeIn.
After Jax said “Oh my hole” after missing a leg drop on the apron against Lana on Raw on 2/8, a company called Tushy, which makes bidets, made an offer to Jax to be a brand ambassador. Due to the WWE’s ruling about talent taking third party endorsements, this would have to go through WWE. The company, through founder Miki Agrawai, also wanted to send her a free bidet to install in her home. The company thought the injury was legit based on the letter Agrawai sent her. But it was a good publicity move on their part
Some notes regarding the Thunderdome set up and the audience from someone who has been on virtually every show since the start. 1) There are a few "Event Coordinators'' (at least 1 male and 1 female) that help guide fans to have the right camera angles, lighting, etc. They are really nice and helpful; 2) There is a host, who tells you who to boo and cheer, and interact with the matches; 3) The Event Coordinators helps fans much more than the host does, by a landslide; 4) The main way to get to the front row is to be animated (moving hands, clapping, booing, cheering, etc); 5) WWE NXT & WWE 205 Live reuses old footage from past Thunderdome events. (They do not tell you if you're going to be on those shows, it's done at random). NXT has used a live virtual audience once (via 1iota on January 13th, 2021), which I was also at. I've spotted myself several times on NXT, despite working and watching AEW Dynamite; 6) There are about 900-1,000 screens in the thunderdome. 7) During the breaks of RAW & Smackdown, there's WWE Community videos (stuff regarding the troops, Covid Relief, guest appearances on talk shows, etc). There are also sometimes bumper songs. On average two times a show, we get to see the wrestling action during the break, which is a really nice touch; 8) Regarding the crowd sounds, It's completely piped in. No audio from the thunderdome is live from the fans
Kacy Catanzaro got bad pub this week when somebody created a video showing her telling everyone to be careful and to stay inside except for essential things. And then, you guessed it, they showed her out partying with other WWE stars in another video
Zack Gibson and James Drake have shut down their Fighting Spirit Wrestling School in Maghull, England, north of Liverpool, since both have moved to the U.S
The top ten most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network were: 1. WWE Untold: The APA; 2. Royal Rumble 2021; 3. Best of John Cena; 4. WWE Icons: Yokozuna; 5. Elimination Chamber 2020; 6. Elimination Chamber 2010; 7. NXT from 2/3 (did far better than usual); 8. Raw on 1/4; 9. Elimination Chamber 2019; 10 Smackdown on 1/8. Talking Smack finished at No. 11 and Raw Talk was No. 13. NXT U.K., 205 Live and indie shows all didn’t crack the top 25
Ratings stuff:

Raw on 2/8 did 1,715,000 viewers and an 0.49 in 18-49 (628,000 viewers), the lowest number since the end of football season.

The big take was this was a show that women viewers 12-49 didn’t stay for. Men and older viewers actually held up well. The reason isn’t clear as to why there would be such a great dichotomy. The overall drop was entirely women based, as men held up better than usual. The main event pushed was Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton, but the women’s drop was from the start of the show and was big in hour two and even bigger in hour three. The women’s 18-49 demo did an 0.41 in hour one, 0.32 in hour two and 0.25 in hour three.

It was the lowest mark outside of the football season except for shows done at the Performance Center.

Raw was first in 18-49 and 19th overall. It was fourth for women 18-49 even with the huge drops, first by a wide margin in men 18-49, first by a wide margin in 18-34, first in women 12-34 even with the drop, and first in men 12-34.

It was going to drop from last week, since that was the show the day after the Royal Rumble. The declines from last week were 9.4 percent in viewers, 15.6 percent in 18-49 and 12.1 percent in 18-34.

From the same week last year, the declines were 26.6 percent in viewers, 38.8 percent in 18-49 and 45.3 percent in 18-34, so again aging.

The first hour did 1,821,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,735,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,589,000 viewers.

The show did 119,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 12.5 percent from last week), 83,000 in women 18-34 (down 14.4 percent), 298,000 in men 35-49 (down 13.1 percent) and 128,000 in women 35-49 (down 23.8 percent).

The story is basically told in the declines by demo, which speak well for men and not for women. The first-to-third hour declines were 39.0 percent in women 18-49, which is the largest figure I can recall, but just 4.5 percent for men 18-49, which is much lower than usual. The same dichotomy with teens showed a 20.3 percent decline in teenage girls but a 17.4 percent increase with teen boys and a 10.5 percent decline in 50+ viewers.

These patterns are unusual, but they were almost the same last week, so whatever it is on the show that teenage boys like and adult and teenage women don’t, was also a part of the show last week.

The two suggestions have been the portrayal of Alexa Bliss as a schoolgirl, but that’s been around for some time and I’ve monitored the women’s numbers. I feel like it’s been a negative since they started most weeks compared to men. But the big thing in recent weeks that has changed is the Ric Flair/Lacey Evans/Charlotte Flair storyline. That makes the most sense. Teenage boys are stronger and Flair, no matter what his age, always did well with that audience. Women 18-49 could find that one a real turnoff. Anyway, those are the two leading theories.

The show did a 0.27 in 12-17 (down 27.0 percent from last week’s day after Rumble show), 0.29 in 18-34 (down 13.3 percent), 0.69 in 35-49 (down 16.6 percent) and 0.82 in 50+ (down 2.4 percent).
Smackdown on 2/5 did a 1.34 rating with 2,257,000 viewers (1.39 viewers per home, which is a strong showing for this show), an 0.65 (841,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.34 in 18-34.

Overall it’s fine. People jumped on the lower viewers than last week, but the 35-49 viewers were way up. As compared to the previous week, the rating was down 5.0 percent, viewers were down 2.0 percent, 18-49 was up 5.5 percent and 18-34 was down 10.5 percent.

As compared to the same week last year Smackdown was down 11.1 percent in viewers, 13.8 percent in 18-49 and 32.0 percent in 18-34, so again they are still aging.

Smackdown was second for the night in 18-49, behind Shark Tank at 0.78 and right ahead of 20/20 at 0.64. In total viewers, it was in last place among all network shows with all but two shows topping four million. Smackdown was second to Shark Tank in 18-34, fourth in women 18-49, first in men 18-49 and obviously last by a wide margin in over 50. Smackdown in 18-49 and 18-34 beat everything on cable, the strongest being two NBA games.

Smackdown did 145,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 8.2 percent from last week), 96,000 in women 18-34 (down 27.8 percent), 345,000 in men 35-49 (up 7.8 percent) and 255,000 in women 35-49 (up 21.4 percent). The audience was 58.3 percent male in 18-49.
On 2/10, as expected, wrestling numbers fell due to the impeachment hearings, as news channels had 19 of the 20 highest rated shows of the day.

AEW placed second among non-news shows to Challenge Double Agent in 18-49, beating NBA games and the NHL, but was still down significantly from the prior week, with 741,000 viewers and an 0.29 (376,000 viewers in 18-49).

NXT fell to the No. 62 spot for the night with 558,000 viewers and a near record low 0.12 in 18-49 (159,000 viewers) in 18-49.

As compared to last week, AEW was down 12.2 percent in viewers, 7.8 percent in 18-49 and up 7.1 percent in 18-34. So even though the numbers were down, the audience skewed younger than last week.

NXT was down 8.7 percent in viewers and 19.3 percent in 18-49, so the audience skewed older this week.

Comparisons to last week or last year aren’t as valuable as usual because last year didn’t have the news level. But AEW was 9.3 percent in viewers, 3.3 percent in 18-49 and 6.3 percent in 18-34, but it was still a younger audience than last year.

NXT was down 26.3 percent in viewers and 50.0 percent in 18-49, skewing older. We don’t have an 18-34 number because NXT didn’t finish in the top 50.

NBA games on ESPN did 780,000 viewers and 0.27 for the late game which started after the wrestling shows ended. The game head-to-head with the wrestling shows did 729,000 viewers and 0.24, with both games hurt significantly by news. The only non-news show to beat AEW, MTV’s Challenge Double Agent did 974,000 viewers and 0.56.

AEW did more than quadruple NXT in men 18-34, almost doubled in women 18-34, more than doubled in men 35-49 and basically doubled in women 35-49. Still, AEW continues to be well down with women as compared to a few months back. NXT’s numbers were bad, but the truth is you can throw the numbers out as far as meaning much because you can’t find that level of news.

AEW did 71,000 in men 18-34 (up 9.2 percent from last week) to 17,000 for NXT (down 15.0 percent). AEW did 33,000 in women 18-34 (down 5.7 percent) to 18,000 for NXT (down 10.0 percent). AEW did 185,000 in men 35-49 (down 9.8 percent) to 80,000 for NXT (down 20.8 percent). AEW did 87,000 in women 35-49 (down 15.5 percent) to 44,000 for NXT (down 21.4 percent).

AEW doubled NXT every quarter in the key demo but the main event numbers were really strange. AEW’s final quarter with KENTA & Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley & Lance Archer only did 692,000 viewers and 335,000 in 18-49. NXT with Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grizzled Young Veterans did 536,000 viewers and 164,000 in 18-49.

NXT had an overrun and to show how little AEW viewers cared, the switch over was only 41,000 viewers overall and 8,000 in 18-49, the lowest on record.

It opened with AEW doing 860,000 viewers and 415,000 in 18-49 for Joey Janela vs. Darby Allin. This was the high point of the night in viewers, 18-49 and Men 18-49. NXT only did 499,000 viewers and 162,000 in 18-49 for MSK vs. Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde, its weakest first quarter history.

In quarter two, AEW did 716,000 viewers and 369,000 in 18-49 for a Jon Moxley promo, MJF & Sammy Guevara’s angle, and the beginning of Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson vs. Peter Avalon & Cezar Bononi. NXT did 554,000 viewers and 149,000 in 18-49 for a Mercedes Martinez feature, a Xia Li squash and Scarlett in William Regal’s office.

In quarter three, AEW did 721,000 viewers and 373,000 in 18-49 for the ending of Rhodes & Johnson vs. Avalon & Bononi, The Young Bucks with Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson, Adam Page & Matt Hardy and Pac vs. Ryan Nemeth. NXT did 586,000 viewers and 149,000 in 18-49 for the Johnny Gargano and The Way promo and angle with Kushida.

In quarter four AEW did 780,000 viewers and 405,000 in 18-49 for Miro & Kip Sabian & Penelope Ford interview, Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor interview and wedding recap, The Inner Circle promo and Chris Jericho & MJF vs. The Acclaimed. This was AEW’s best segment with women 18-49. NXT did 591,000 viewers and 151,000 in 18-49 for Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart.

In quarter five, AEW did 743,000 viewers and 383,000 in 18-49 for the Jericho-Guevara in-ring, Alex Marvez with Guevara, Sting and Team Taz and Omega golfing. NXT did 586,000 viewers and 160,000 in 18-49 for a Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza segment and video packages building up Finn Balor and Pete Dunne.

In quarter six, AEW did 713,000 viewers and 372,000 in 18-49 for Thunder Rosa vs. Leyla Hirsch and a Jungle Boy promo. NXT did 553,000 viewers and 156,000 in 18-49 Kushida vs. Austin Theory and a Toni Storm video.

In quarter seven, AEW did 704,000 viewers and 355,000 in 18-49 for the beginning of Moxley & Archer vs. Omega & KENTA. NXT did 548,000 viewers and 176,000 in 18-49 and an Imperium video, a Cameron Grimes promo and a Johnny Gargano promo. This was the highest segment for NXT in men 18-49.

The final quarter with the main events saw AEW lost 12,000 viewers and 20,000 in 18-49. NXT lost 12,000 viewers and 12,000 in 18-49. However it was the best NXT segment for women.
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

Tom Cole, a key name from one of the most sordid public pro wrestling stories, committed suicide on 2/12, at the age of 50.

Cole was a key accuser in the WWF ringboy scandal, which was part of coverage of the company that involved media heavyweights of the time including Phil Donahue, Larry King and Geraldo Rivera. It also greatly involved New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick ...

Cole passed away due to his hanging himself. His older brother Lee, 60, who talked extensively to the media at different points and appeared on a number of radio shows in the early 90s on the topic, announced the news and immediately blamed Vince and Linda McMahon. Cole left behind a wife and three daughters. He tried to leave behind his past, at times seemed to do so, but things would trigger him and it would bring back the part of his life that he never forgot, but that he tried to not let consume him.

Cole had claimed that when he was a teenager, Mel Phillips, a WWF television and arena ring announcer who also headed the ring crew, sexually abused him while he worked for the ring crew, largely fondling his feet. Phillips was known to have a foot fetish which was not a secret, hence the joke in wrestling, “What’s Mel Phillips favorite kind of vehicle? A toe truck.” ...

Later Cole claimed that a WWF Vice President, Terry Joyal (better known as Terry Garvin, a veteran wrestler and booker who worked with Pat Patterson in talent relations) had propositioned him twice, once at the age of 16, and the second time at the age of 19. He said he rebuffed Garvin both times, but ended up being fired from his job with the company working at their warehouse shortly after the second incident.

He had kept the incident repressed in his mind for about two years, before confiding to his older brother Lee the story. His older brother then read an article by Mushnick that was critical of WWF and the steroid use by wrestlers in that era. Lee Cole called Mushnick, and left a message on his answering machine, fully expecting to never get called back. Instead, Mushnick called him back very shortly after and Lee Cole told Mushnick about what happened to his brother and claimed he wasn’t the only one in that situation.

This began decades of Tom and Lee being close, and then being at odds, often coinciding with Tom being friendly, and then being at odds with key WWF people including Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon and attorney Jerry McDevitt ...

While Mushnick was credited with breaking the story, it was actually first reported on by Jeff Savage, a reporter in San Diego, and then Mushnick reported it in New York and it became a tabloid field day ...

Before long there were a number of accusations against WWF. Some talked, and then disappeared. There were different ringboys who gave statements to Cole’s attorney, alleging Phillips with a foot fetish, fondling boys toes, rubbing them in his crotch, and worse.

Vince McMahon, Bruno Sammartino and Barry Orton, a prelim wrestler with the company a few years earlier who is the uncle of Randy Orton, appeared on The Larry King show. McMahon claimed Mel Phillips had never worked for the WWF past being a day laborer, that Murray Hodgson, an announcer who briefly worked for the company and was fired, and later sued the company, was not a WBF (World Bodybuilding Federation) announcer when Sammartino brought his name up, even though he was the lead announcer at the first event. Those statements led people to believe Sammartino didn’t know what he was talking about. McMahon also said that the media was keeping them away from Cole, when, at the time, they were already negotiating a settlement with him.

A few days later, the same cast of characters, along with several others, including Hodgson, myself, radio host John Arezzi, Superstar Billy Graham and former wrestler Tom Hankins were on the Phil Donahue show in a memorable episode.

In the weeks leading up to the show, Orton had gotten close with both Tom and Lee Cole. Sammartino and Graham did depositions for Cole’s lawsuit. A few hours before the show started Orton came to me and said that something was fishy and that he wasn’t able to get in touch with the Cole’s for a few days. He told me, and I don’t know who else he told this to, that it would probably be best not to mention Cole’s name. I don’t know that Donahue was told this or not, but on the show, Donahue never brought the name up either.

Over the previous few days, the McMahons put Tom and Lee Cole up in an expensive New York hotel and reached an out-of-court settlement. Lee Cole claimed that they asked for $750,000 and Vince McMahon said that was ridiculous and he would fight them hard publicly. Eventually Tom Cole received $55,000 and his job back. Tom Cole said he told Vince McMahon it wasn’t about the money, and later claimed that was the dumbest thing he ever did ...

While it was known McMahon was invited to be on the show, those at the show indicated as late as the morning of the show that he was not going to be there. Then, they got word that he was coming, although insisted on several stipulations.

Before the show, the producers put together the seating chart. Sammartino and McMahon, who they perceived to be the two biggest stars, would be in the middle. Sammartino said that after what happened on the King show, where McMahon was live with King but Sammartino was doing the show on remote from Pittsburgh, Sammartino told the producers that if McMahon lied one more time he didn’t know if he could help himself to not punch him. So they ended up seating me next to McMahon because I joked there’s no way I’m punching him no matter what he says, and put Sammartino on the side as far away from him as they could.

Just minutes after the show ended, the lead producer came up to me and was shocked. He told me you’re not going to believe this, but somebody came up to him and said how the wrestlers on the panel were full of it and that he’s Tom Cole and the only one who cared about him was Vince McMahon. Later Cole had told me that he was brought there and sat with Linda McMahon and Elizabeth Hullette-Poffo (The Lovely Elizabeth, who was something of an iconic television wrestling character of the 80s). In fact, during the show, there was a crowd shot of Cole and Elizabeth. The idea was that somebody would bring up his name, McMahon would reveal he was there, and he’d back McMahon and have the “Perry Mason” ending to the show. But then the show ended, nobody mentioned his name, and McMahon’s scripted finish never transpired ...

Cole said in the settlement that Garvin and Phillips would never work for the company again. Patterson’s name was mentioned as well, but it was not that he would never work for the company again.

“So they knew from the beginning, which I didn’t realize being young and not looking at the document,” Cole said. “I was young. Pat Patterson wound up coming back a couple of weeks later. I was up in the office with Vince and they were going over a bunch of stuff about how to handle things and I, was sitting at a board meeting, which I did for like two months straight. Vince goes to me one day, `Can you come here for a second, Tom?’ I’m like, `Sure.’ So we walk into this comer of the corporate meeting office up there and he goes, `Pat Patterson is in the building. You don’t have a problem with that, do you? Because if you do, I don’t want you to run into each other and you get all upset.’ I was like, `Whatever, man, nah, I don’t.’ What was I going to say? He goes, `Good, maybe you guys can have a talk and work this out.’ But that never happened.”

Lee Cole claimed to have gotten $19,999 in cash between two different payments, which he believed was go-away money, basically for him to leave Utica, NY, disappear from the media, and move to Boston. He never moved, and within weeks, Tom was working for WWF and he and his brother had a falling out, and Lee was back doing radio shows talking about what happened with Tom and other boys.

Savage’s story never mentioned any names of WWF officials but described different things. Immediately after the story broke in New York, Vince McMahon announced that Phillips, Garvin and Patterson had all voluntarily resigned from the company out of loyalty to the business.

McMahon at first defended Patterson and Garvin to me, but not Phillips, again saying that they had resigned out of loyalty to the company. He told Cole that he had fired the three. In a later conversation with McMahon a week later, he no longer defended Garvin, but said that Patterson had done nothing wrong and termed it a media witch-hunt against gays, and insisted that as unfair as it was, Patterson would never work for the WWF again. I remember saying to him that if Patterson really did nothing wrong, why is he gone. And he said Patterson resigned out of loyalty to the company, told me I didn’t understand the pressure on the company and that Patterson would never work for the company again.

While many believe Patterson never actually left the company and was always around, he always insisted that wasn’t the case. He indicated being broken-hearted that wrestling, his life, had been taken away and felt he never did anything wrong. What backs that story up is that Patterson started attending school to learn to be a bartender and that he believed that would be his next job ...

Regarding Garvin, he said Garvin took him to his home, said his wife and kids were there, but when he got here, his wife and kids weren’t there ...

He said Garvin propositioned him ...

After the settlement, Tom Cole and WWF had a falling out. As part of his agreement with them, he was to attend community college and get decent grades. In fact, he never went to class, saying that all the pressure was too much. After failing his classes, Linda McMahon fired him ...

Tom had said on many occasions, that the only person out of the situation he fully respected was Mushnick, bringing up he was the only person from the ordeal he invited to his wedding. At times he was favorable in speaking about Linda McMahon, and McDevitt, who he respected as a great lawyer even though he was in an adversarial role to him at different times. He would bring up that McDevitt had told him that if he believed Vince knew what was going on, he couldn’t represent him because he had children himself. But his feelings on both changed at other times. His feelings on Vince McMahon were always negative. He felt Vince tried to manipulate him to bury Phil Mushnick after McMahon sued Muchnick and Geraldo Rivera among others for reporting the stories. McMahon later dropped all the lawsuits well into the deposition phase. Cole never had anything good to say about Rivera and his crew ...

He had also spoken to Jamie Hemmings with Slam! Wrestling over the past year, first calling Cole months ago when a number of women had come forward about being groomed or abused or having been taken advantage while trying to make it in the business.

It was that article that may have triggered this, and in particular the death of Patterson. One person who knew him noted that two incidents in recent years brought back his nightmares.

The first was when he learned in 2019 that Phillips had died. It had been rumored for years that Phillips had quietly died, which it was later revealed happened in 2012, but Cole didn’t know about it until years later.

Shortly after he found out, he attempted to kill himself, but somehow was found and saved, but he had left a suicide note, which said that he decided to do this to confront Phillips over what Phillips had done to him. There was no indication that he left a suicide note explaining his motives this past week.

The second seems to have been the death of Patterson in December. At that point, all three people involved in his claims were gone, and Cole never claimed Patterson did anything to him past squeezing his ass once. Barry Orton spoke negatively about Patterson and Garvin claiming Garvin tried to perform oral sex on him in a car ride in 1979 when he, Patterson and Garvin were in a car that also included Ted DiBiase while working in the old Amarillo territory when he was 19. But years later, while never recanting the story, did say that he felt he was unfair to Patterson.

However, Cole was bitter toward Patterson because he believed Patterson was aware of the stuff with Phillips and Garvin and allowed it to happen. He believed others were as well. Patterson always claimed he knew nothing about it ...

In 1988, Vince McMahon fired Phillips, but brought him back a few months later, before firing him for good in 1992. Cole believed it was Patterson who went to bat for Phillips to McMahon. The first firing, which McMahon told both me and Mushnick about after he fired Phillips the second time, was curious because he still brought him back.

Cole later texted Hemmings writing, “Make zero mistake!! Pat Patterson used his position to further his sexual wants and desires!”

Those who knew Patterson in the latter stages of his life believed Cole really did believe that, but they didn’t believe it was true.

Most of the Patterson stories were because Patterson had a unique sense of humor and would make fun of the fact he was gay and make comments regarding it, sometimes for laughs and sometimes getting a kick out of seeing people’s uneasy reactions. But as far as awareness of what Garvin or Phillips did, in wrestling you will have people argue both sides of that issue and it was a very different world when it came to how issues like this were handled, as any study of Hollywood backstage and who knew what and how flagrant things were would show ...

At times he called me. He seemed to have put the past behind him and chalked it up to life experiences, but also knew he had been treated badly in a sleazy business.

During the period when he did work for WWF after the settlement, he had to work with people who hated him. In that era of wrestling, very different from today, speaking out on those subjects was seen very differently. Wrestling was a very insecure business and whether true or not, you never said anything negative about it to the outside world. Cole wasn’t see in WWF as a victim of sexual abuse, but as someone who tried to hurt the business and the idea was he used what happened to get money, but was willing to hurt the McMahons and the WWF. Cole was furious when Bobby Heenan knocked him in his book.

He feelings toward people in WWE changed over the years, and he’d get triggered at something, such as an old photo that would show up with Phillips as a ring announcer ...

But things would come up at different times to make him relive what he was trying to put behind. An example was a Bobby Heenan autobiography with a line that infuriated him.

“As for the molestation, there were young guys who wanted to get into the business like I did,” Heenan wrote. Tom Cole, the ring attendant who started all these accusations, was a troubled soul. When I first saw him, I could tell he had a lot of problems. I put up the ring, too, when I was a kid, and I carried jackets as well. But I never had a relationship with another man to get ahead in the business or keep my job. At least Crusher didn’t kiss like he was gay. No one ever propositioned me. I knew Mel Phillips, the ring announcer, was a little odd because of stories I had heard about him and a foot fetish, but that’s all hearsay. I don’t know the personal lives of the rest of the WWF staff and whether they were gay or not.”

Cole was furious when that came out ...

Cole did later talk to Heenan.

“He said he didn’t mean anything personal,” he said. “I asked him if accusing me of being gay and having a relationship with another man wasn’t personal. I asked him where he got off stating something like that. I told him that he slandered my name. It just wasn’t true.”

Mitch Rogat of Triumph Books, which published the Heenan book, said, “We all feel badly that this has come up and that Tom feels as badly as he does,” Rogat told Mooneyham. “Our intent in book publishing is never to hurt anyone or make anyone feel badly in any way. Through my conversations with Bobby and getting to know Bobby through the process, my sense is that Bobby, if we could do it over again, would probably have done it differently because he wouldn’t want anyone to be hurt ...

Lee Cole later made up with his brother. One person claimed after he found out Phillips had died and had gone into depression, he asked McDevitt if WWE could help him with therapy, and was turned down. Lee Cole was on the Boston Wrestling podcast and told the same story. McDevitt didn’t address the story but said it had been some time since he had been in contact with Tom Cole.

He also had health issues this past year. Right after the pandemic started, he suffered a bad case of Diverticulitis, and needed surgery, that left him with a stoma. That required reversal surgery a few months later.
With just a few days before the show, the WWE Elimination Chamber card on 2/21 from St. Petersburg, FL, only has four matches announced, and one of them is still in question.

Aside from matches for the Universal title and WWE title, there is actually not one confirmed finalized match.

The WWE title match in the Elimination Chamber had a minor change, with a late storyline change-based angle where Kofi Kingston replaces The Miz in the six-person chamber match. The others remain the same, champion Drew McIntyre and challengers Randy Orton, A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy and Sheamus.

The Universal title, at one point up in the Chamber, is now a six-man Chamber match with Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, King Corbin, Sami Zayn, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro. The winner of that match will then immediately face Roman Reigns in a Universal title match. One would seem to favor Cesaro in this situation, or possibly Owens or Bryan. Corbin, Zayn or Uso don’t really make storyline sense at this point. They’ve been trying to feature Cesaro of late. It is notable that they made Shinsuke Nakamura into a babyface star in the gauntlet and didn’t use him here, choosing Cesaro, who was originally to be the star of the gauntlet until that was changed because he hadn’t signed a new deal. There had been talk of Reigns vs. Bryan since Reigns’ return, but with Bryan losing so often, it would make sense to do the match, since it would be great, without a build just to get it done.

Bobby Lashley is still defending the U.S. title. Riddle will be one opponent. Keith Lee is advertised as the other, but Lee was still questionable at press time. WWE has not said why Lee is questionable. He had been off several weeks, but did return on 2/8 and was in the angle to build to the match, but was off the 2/15 show. He just got engaged to Mia Yim, who tested positive for COVID the day before the Royal Rumble.

The scheduled Asuka vs. Lacey Evans match for the Raw women’s title is off since Evans told management on 2/15 that she was pregnant, and they worked that into a storyline.

Women’s tag champs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler have done angles to set up matches with Lana & Naomi on Raw and with Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair on Smackdown, as well as on NXT with Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai. The NXT match was announced for the title on 3/3 but nothing was announced regarding the other matches and the show needs a few more matches. Both Chamber matches are likely to be in the 30 minute or longer range.
58-year-old Keiji Muto won the GHC heavyweight championship and signed a two-year contract with Pro Wrestling NOAH on 2/12 in the company’s first show at Budokan Hall in nearly eight years.

Muto ended the 405-day reign of Go Shiozaki. Shiozaki won the title on January 4, 2020, from Kaito Kiyomiya. When Kiyomiya won the title, he was 22, the youngest champion in the belt’s history and among the youngest major world champions of all-time. Shiozaki lost to Muto, the oldest, by more than a decade, champion in the belt’s history. Muto is believed to be, with the exception of when Lou Thesz was UWA champion in 1977, the second oldest major world champion in pro wrestling history.

A few days after winning the title, the announcement was made of Muto signing his deal and Jun Akiyama, who won DDT’s KO-D title on 2/14, signing a one year deal with that promotion. NOAH and DDT are both owned by CyberAgent, AbemaTV a Japanese streaming service.

Naomichi Marufuji, the Vice President of CyberFight, said that he had tried to sign Muto and the decision was made because NOAH wants to expand globally and Muto is far better known worldwide than anyone else on their roster.

There are teases of Muto coming to the U.S. to defend the title. Scott D’Amore of Impact wrote a congratulations and brought up the idea of maybe Muto coming to Impact to defend against Joe Doering, who was a big star at one point with All Japan, and who Muto used to be tag team partners with ...

Exactly what the booking idea is would be unclear. But they told a viable story, with Muto becoming the third wrestler in history to win all three major Japanese world titles, the Triple Crown of All Japan, the IWGP title of New Japan and for the first time this title. It does get the title on the most recognized name available to them in Japan, and worldwide. The person who beats him will have beaten a legitimate legend, as opposed to Shiozaki, a great modern pro wrestler but who is hardly a major name in Japan or worldwide. While some will claim this is similar to WWE, and even WWE hasn’t gone with anyone quite this old in the top position, NOAH and WWE are entirely different companies and in different situations.
The WWE saga with social media continued this past week as talent was informed that not only could they not do third party advertising or make money through their social media accounts as many of the women have earned well into six figures on, but now they are no longer allowed to tweet or promote anything similarly on their Twitter or Instagram accounts.

Wrestling Inc. first reported that WWE has banned talent tweeting or promoting any business or charity through Twitter or Instagram, although WWE officials say limiting charitable initiatives is not part of this, and in specific noted to us that things like Sami for Syria (Zayn raising money for a mobile medical clinic in Syria) is still allowed ...

The company claims that in their contracts there are clauses that would give the company ownership of social media accounts which would be where WWE has exclusive ownership of their likeness . They noted that the company has said they have the right to be more restrictive if they want to be on this.

WWE clarified this policy to us saying, “This is about a formal relationship where talent is monetizing WWE IP (the WWE claims that all social media accounts of talent, whether they go by their birth name or their stage name, is WWE IP) with third parties. Not dissimilar to what we have said over the past few months.”

One person noted to us that if they had a photo taken while eating, say an Oreo cookie, and Oreo is mentioned, it would be a violation. If they shot a photo while eating at Olive Garden, or Sizzler, and somehow the name comes up and is tagged, that would be a violation. WWE said that such things would not be violations unless it was a formal relationship that involved monetizing the plug. It’s not clear where things like promoting a restaurant or bar in exchange for not money, but free drinks would fit in.

The first break of the rules would be a warning, the second would be a fine and the third would be a suspension.
Konnan (Charles Ashenoff, 57) was hospitalized this past week with a serious kidney issue after testing positive for COVID-19. He had been very cautious because of his weakened immune system regarding COVID-19. He had a kidney transplant in July 2007 and at the time had major side effects from anti-rejection drugs. He said after returning from the hospital that he was feeling better now but had a bad previous week. “Was very sick last week was bedridden for three days, I got Covid went to hospital and my kidneys were failing.” For a while, besides his family, he pretty much spent no time in contact with anyone aside from the Mysterio family, since Dominik is his godson. But in recent months he did go to Las Vegas to do the AEW TV skit with the Inner Circle, had attended Impact TV tapings and was recently in Mexico for the AAA tapings. He was released from the hospital on 2/18
There are significant talks involving New Japan returning to AXS television. AXS was wanting the programming back, and it would likely involve more dealings with New Japan and Impact, as the Juice Robinson & David Finlay debut as regulars show. There’s no deal at this time but the talks are enough to where the odds are considered decent a deal ends up being reached. This also coincides with Impact on its history shows on AXS featuring more New Japan talent, including recently showing an A.J. Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi match from TNA (yes, that happened, and was no big deal at the time because it was from 2006 before Tanahashi became the star he’d become a few years later)
Stardom announced the top matches for the biggest show in company history on 3/3 at Budokan Hall. It’s too bad they weren’t able to do it under normal conditions but you can say that about everything. Even though she asked, Kairi Hojo (Kairi Sane) was unable to get WWE permission to do the show. They had left it up to WWE. They wanted her in a big singles match but also offered WWE having her do a Rumble with legends. Sane is still under contract to WWE and works as a Japanese ambassador. There had been talk of her working for Stardom when she returned to Japan after getting married but she still has time on her deal.
Dylan Miley, the former Lars Sullivan, is now doing boxing training with the idea of working for one of the Bare Knuckle promotions. He’s 32, which is old to start boxing training. Also, you don’t see a lot of 330 pound boxers or MMA fighters. The story is that he has no illusions about his age being a factor and just starting out, but is planning on competing in that sport
Sammy Guevara was supposed to be at these tapings at one point. The deal was he would appear here while he quit the Inner Circle. Obviously he’s coming back as a babyface to feud with the Inner Circle. They were taping 2/9 to 2/11 and Guevara came. The basic details were that he didn’t like the creative. One person in Impact said the creative wasn’t very good and he shouldn’t have liked it. It appears, since Black Taurus was put in his spot that his debut would have been in a six-man tag with Ace Austin & Chris Bey vs. Willie Mack & Josh Alexander & Trey Miguel, but that’s not confirmed. Taurus was put in his spot and Taurus is scheduled to team with Austin & Bey as a heel on next week’s show, but that doesn’t lock it in. We don’t know the details of the creative past he was going to win three matches at the tapings that just took place. Guevara suggested winning the X title. One story is that he wanted to win the title, and then return to AEW as having just won the title in Impact. He’d never lose it and it would go up in a tournament. Impact didn’t like that idea. Chris Jericho was the one who put the angle together with Don Callis. It made Jericho look bad to Impact because he and Callis came up with the idea and then Guevara didn’t want to do it. Scott D’Amore told Guevara that they didn’t need him when he arrived in Nashville if he doesn’t follow the plans that had already been agreed to. Impact was really mad about AEW sending talent over, them putting plans in place and then the talent wouldn’t do what was planned. Everything appears to be smoothed over now but there are those in Impact who said that the company was not happy at first with how it went down and could have impacted relationships. Guevara isn’t expected to be coming back here. When he didn’t like the idea, they put Black Taurus in his spot, so whatever Taurus is doing on the next TV’s would be close to what they wanted Guevara to do. It was only to be a short term deal for Guevara to begin with, just on the current tapings to give the idea he was with Impact and getting a push likely to lead to a “surprise” babyface return on AEW
Chris Jericho retweeted a photo of his wife, Jessica, at the 1/6 Capitol break-in. The photo was her with a group of other women behind a banner that read “Women for Trump.” She wasn’t part of the actual breaking in, which would a whole lot bigger deal if that was the case. He wasn’t there as Impact taped that night in Jacksonville. If he would have been there, it would not have been very good P.R. wise. The photo actually first surfaced earlier in the day when she put it up on her Jessica Lockhart Irvine Instagram page. Pat Miletich was there, granted he was posing in a photo next to someone with an RWDS patch (Right Wing Death Squad) and lost his job as an announcer for the LFA over the furor from the fan base
There were several meetings this past week which wound up with employees being told that a lot of bonuses, raises and promotions that some were expecting were not going to happen. Christine Lubiano, who just started, was told by Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard to tell the writing staff on their conference call on 2/11. This went over horribly since she’s no new with the company and others told the writing team it was Vince’s decision (obviously) along with Nick Khan, Brad Blum and Prichard. Mark Carrano then held a meeting with producers on 2/12 before the Smackdown tapings. Vince was not at the show since his brother Rod’s funeral was this past week. The producers, many of whom took pay cuts last year, were not happy because they were expecting to be bonused as part of their annual review. The feeling is they all worked a year straight having to fly into a COVID hot spot every week and when the annual review and bonuses were expected, they were told they weren’t getting them. The idea seems to be to keep costs low and build the profit margin up because of the decline of the stock value when investors heard expenses would be higher in 2021 because of building the new office and the added costs of Thunderdome production. Not all employees are getting this, but many are getting 64 shares of WWE stock, worth $3,000. Of late, at least some wrestlers whose contracts were coming due of late had been told no more raises due to the pandemic. From a WWE standpoint, when contracts were signed with talent, it was based on the idea they’d mostly be working four shows a week traveling around the country and instead they are doing one show a week. With a lot of talent based in the Tampa area, the travel costs are way down. That said, when it comes to a percentage of revenue going to talent, WWE talent pay is minuscule (even though the top stars almost all earn in excess of $1 million annually) as compared to all other sports with that level of revenue and even many with less revenue. That’s where the lack of union representation and collective bargaining comes in, because that’s where athletes in other sports often get 50% of the revenue. If that was the case with WWE, and WWE is different in the sense it does have a larger front office, but with the exception of UFC, there’s no other sport of that size with such a high profit margin and some of that is keeping talent costs down. If you treat the non-main roster talent as $100,000 per year guys (and a few make more and most make less) and say there are 150 of them, that’s $15 million per year. If you take that out of the $487 million pie for 50%, or even $292 million for 30%, your average main roster salary should be and 96, it means if this was like any major sports league the average salary would be roughly $4.92 million but if you want to, and rightly claim, there is a difference because of the large office, you could work out he average at $2.89 million. And that’s multiple times the actual average. Even UFC at, let’s say 18 percent, and they don’t have quite as large an office but it is similar, you would still be talking an average of $1.7 million which is still way above the average. Anyway, while we know of talent told that, it’s obviously, like everything, not a hard and fast rule. Rey Mysterio obviously got a raise given AEW topped his WWE pay in its offer and WWE had to top the AEW offer to keep him
WWE has been going on a signing spree with about 25 newcomers about to start up. Some of the new names include the former Taya Valkyrie, the former Eli Drake, Blake Christian, Millie McKenzie, the former Harlem Bravado, and Christian Casanova. In addition, another U.K. wrestler, Adam Maxted is rumored to be coming soon, and Davey Boy Smith Jr., is another name that while not confirmed signed, is believed to be a good shot at coming in ...

The one thing coming out of all this is the U.K. independent scene, when it can start up is going to be nothing like it was before. It will create opportunities for others to get in featured roles, but with almost all the stars that carried those companies being signed to a U.S. company and unable to appear except for a few promotions, the crowds will likely be much harder to draw (and they were already on the downslide over the prior two years from when the scene was very healthy and top U.S. indie guys, virtually all now signed in WWE or AEW or New Japan, were making money there seemingly every other weekend). So there will be far fewer shows
Carlito is not under contract at this point. WWE used him for the Rumble and the next day and people put over his new physique, but at this point he is still a free agent and has said he’s open to work anywhere
Regarding Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda), who is under contract but never used, he is not even brought to TV to sit in catering. He’s still getting paid and has a farm living with Liv Morgan and they’ve started a family real estate business and studying that to prepare for life after wrestling
The most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network were: 1. NXT Takeover Vengeance; 2. Best of Elimination Chamber; 3. Day of Royal Rumble 2021; 4. Royal Rumble 2021; 5. Elimination Chamber 2020; 6. WWE Untold APA; 7. NXT Vengeance pre-show; 8. Elimination Chamber 2019; 9. Elimination Chamber 2010; 10. WWE Superstars December 4, 1993. Talking Smack was 12th. Raw Talk was No. 13. NXT from 2/10 was No. 22. NXT the week of a Takeover usually doesn’t do numbers on the network. No other current product shows were in the top 25
Ratings stuff:

Raw on 2/15 averaged 1,810,000 viewers and 0.57 in 18-49, substantial increases from the prior week’s lowest number of the year.

There wasn’t a lot to note. The audience drop in 18-49 women was at normal levels as compared to record numbers the prior two weeks. However, teenage boys, which had shown growth in hour three in recent weeks, had a big decline, and teenage girls were way down. The show opened with a good first hour, but putting most of Raw’s biggest names, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Randy Orton, A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy and Kofi Kingston in a gauntlet during hour three didn’t stave off the usual decline at all.

Raw was helped by a lack of competition. News shows were way down, as Raw finished 12th place in total viewers, much higher than the show normally does. Also there was no sports competition of note, with the head-to-head college basketball game on ESPN doing 636,000 viewers and 0.15. The growth from last week was among women in particular in the 35-49 age group.

The show was up 5.5 percent in viewers, 16.3 percent in 18-49 but stayed even in 18-34 from last week.

As compared to the President’s Day show last year, which does historically above usual numbers, the show was down 25.7 percent in viewers, 27.8 percent in 18-49 and 53.2 percent in 18-34.

The first hour did 1,935,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,806,000 viewers. The third hour, taken up by the gauntlet, did 1,690,000 viewers.

Raw was first in 18-49, male 18-49 and male 12-34. It was fourth in women 18-49, second in 18-34 and fourth in women 12-34.

Regarding where the first-to-third hour drops came from, women 18-49 declined 17.0 percent, men 18-49 declined 8.2 percent, teenage girls declined 49.0 percent, teenage boys declined 26.4 percent and over 50 declined 11.2 percent.

The show did a 0.25 in 12-17 (down 7.4 percent from last week), 0.29 in 18-34 (identical to last week), 0.86 in 35-49 (up 24.6 percent) and 0.84 in 50+ (up 2.4 percent).
Smackdown on 2/12 fell to a 1.23 rating and 1,990,000 viewers (a more normalized 1.34 viewers per home), with an 0.57 (732,000) in 18-49 and 0.35 in 18-34.

The total viewers being under two million was the first time that’s happened since moving to the Thunderdome. Because it was still a big news day (of the top 22 shows in 18-49 on cable, only the NBA, SportsCenter right after the NBA and Gold Rush were non-news shows) with impeachment hearings coverage, that probably explains the big weekly decline given the show has been consistently doing a higher level. If next week’s show is at a similar level, it would be cause for concern, but to me, this is like the Wednesday shows of the past week where you really just have to look at it as a fluke because you can’t beat the news.

Smackdown finished last in total viewers among network shows but was third behind Shark Tank (0.71) and 20/20 (0.59) in 18-49 and second to Shark Tank (0.36) in 18-34. It placed sixth of eight in Women 18-49 and was first in men 18-49, and dead last by a wide margin (less than half the viewers of the second to last place show) in over 50. The NBA game on ESPN head-to-head did 1,037,000 viewers and 0.35.

As compared to the prior week, the show was down 8.2 percent in homes, 11.8 percent in viewers, 13.0 percent in 18-49 but was up 2.9 percent in 18-34.

As compared to one year earlier, and keep in mind that was not a huge news day, homes were down 19.6 percent, viewers were down 19.2 percent, 18-49 was down 22.6 percent and 18-34 was down 30.0 percent, which again shows an aging audience from the prior year.
With it being President’s Day, we only have limited info on the 2/17 ratings.

It was not a big news day, but AEW had what I’d consider a weak marquee show in the ring (by that I mean drawing power matches, not match quality as the AEW show match quality was very high) and it did 747,000 viewers and an 0.31 in 18-49 (400,000 viewers). The most obvious thing is viewers were below average and 18-49 was normal, meaning it was young skewing.

NXT, coming off a Takeover show where Adam Cole turned on Kyle O’Reilly, and back with the NCIS lead-in that hands them more than 1 million viewers at the start, figured to be up and it was, doing 713,000 viewers but only an 0.16 in 18-49 (202,000 viewers), and to do that you’re skewing very old, although not much older than the prior week.

As compared to last week, which went against major news, AEW was up 0.8 percent in viewers and 6.4 percent in 18-49. NXT was up 27.8 percent in viewers and 27.0 percent in 18-49.

As compared to the same week last year, AEW was down 16.3 percent in viewers with the show where Cody vs. Wardlow had their heavily hyped cage match, but they were identical in 18-49, showing a much younger audience than a year ago. NXT as compared to that same week last year was down 10.2 percent in viewers and 36.0 percent in 18-49, which tells you they are skewing that much older. Last year’s show was on a huge news night with the Democratic debates so even though things like they dropped a lot, realistically they probably dropped more. Also, both shows had limited viewing in the state of Texas due to power failures this year which also skews things.

AEW doubled NXT in every key demo except 35-49, where it was close. Something notable is that last year on the same week, NXT had 2.3 times more women 18-34 viewers than AEW. This year AEW had 4.3 times the women 18-34 numbers as NXT. And it’s more the giant decline in that demo of NXT that gains by AEW.

AEW had 73,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 2.8 percent from last week) to 34,000 for NXT (up 100.0 percent from last week). AEW had 43,000 viewers in women 18-34 (up 30.3 percent) to 10,000 for NXT (down 44.4 percent). AEW had 199,000 viewers in men 35-49 (up 7.6 percent) to 95,000 for NXT (up 18.8 percent). AEW had 85,000 viewers in women 35-49 (down 2.3 percent) to 73,000 for NXT (up 65.9 percent).

NXT won the first 30 minutes in viewers due to a huge NCIS lead-in, which gave them the biggest first quarter in a long time, with 997,000 viewers and 319,000 in 18-49. An amazing stat was that in quarter five, NXT had more viewers than AEW but AEW more than doubled NXT in 18-49. AEW doubled NXT in the last five quarters.

In the main event battle, AEW with Jon Moxley & Lance Archer & Rey Fenix vs. Butcher & Blade & Eddie Kingston did 741,000 viewers and 394,000 in 18-49. NXT with Finn Balor & Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch & Pete Dunne did 617,000 viewers and 163,000 in 18-49.

For the NXT overrun, they picked up 81,000 viewers and 39,000 in 18-49.

AEW opened with Matt Hardy & Adam Page vs. Jack Evans & Angelico and the post match angle at 772,000 viewers and 427,000 in 18-49. It was AEW’s high point with women 18-49. NXT had an O’Reilly interview which later involved Strong & Balor and the attack by Lorcan & Burch & Dunne, and William Regal and Santos Escobar talking that did 997,000 viewers and 319,000 in 18-49. It was NXT’s high point across the board.

In the second quarter, AEW did 763,000 viewers and 428,000 in 18-49 for The Inner Circle interview plus the first half of Riho vs. Serena Deeb. This was the 18-49 peak for AEW. NXT did 772,000 viewers and 235,000 in 18-49 for Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon.

In the third quarter, AEW did 789,000 viewers and 396,000 in 18-49 for the second half of Riho vs. Deeb and Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill shooting hoops. NXT did 703,000 viewers and 219,000 in18-49 for a Pat McAfee video, Kushida talking to Bronson Reed and Isaiah Scott vs. Leon Ruff.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 775,000 viewers and 389,000 in 18-49 for Orange Cassidy vs. Luther and the angle with Sting being attacked by Team Taz. NXT fell to 648,000 viewers and 177,000 in 18-49 for Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs. Aliyah & Jessi Kamea and the post-match wit Catanzaro and Xia Li.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 699,000 viewers and 376,000 in 18-49 for the first part of Young Bucks vs. Ortiz & Santana for the tag titles. NXT did 702,000 viewers and 184,000 in 18-49 for the Dusty Classic segment with Wesley Lee & Carter Nash, Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai and Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax.

In the sixth quarter, AEW did 708,000 viewers and 387,000 in 18-49 for the end of Bucks vs. Ortiz & Santana and the post match angle, the baby reveal and the first part of FTR vs. Matt & Mike Sydal. NXT did 631,000 viewers and 157,000 in 18-49 for Toni Storm attacking Io Shirai and Kushida vs. Tyler Rust.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 728,000 viewers and 403,000 in18-49 for the ending of FTR vs. Matt Mike Sydal, the post-match angle with Jurassic Express and a Moxley interview. This was the high point of the show in males 18-49. NXT did 614,000 viewers and 162,000 in 18-49 for Zoey Stark vs. Valentina Feroz and a Karrion Kross & Scarlett video.

In the eighth quarter, AEW had Moxley & Fenix & Archer vs. Butcher & Blade & Kingston and gained 13,000 viewers, but lost 9,000 in 18-49. NXT had Balor & Strong & O’Reilly vs. Lorcan & Burch & Dunne and gained 3,000 viewers and 1,000 in 18-49.

In 18-49, AEW would be 68.0 percent male, so they are still down from a few months ago with women and around the same with men and NXT was 63.9 percent male.
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Old 02-20-2021, 02:43 AM   #1541
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Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)Volare got the bus to Rep Town and repped it up real bad at the rep shop (100,000+)
Holy shit Bo got Liv Morgan?? Daaaaamn.
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Old 02-20-2021, 06:30 AM   #1542
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erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)erickman has a good deal of rep (10,000+)
Originally Posted by Volare View Post
Holy shit Bo got Liv Morgan?? Daaaaamn.
yeah i can't bo-live that, but then she has been with the jersy clown. it is like bubba ray getting vel sky.
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Old 02-26-2021, 05:09 PM   #1543
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Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)Emperor Smeat makes a lot of good posts (200,000+)
The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

A funny thing about the Chamber matches. The Smackdown Chamber which opened the show had the 5:00 intervals generally go long. At one point, because King Corbin was to tap out to Cesaro before Kevin Owens came in, and it took so long to get there, an interval went 7:36. In the Raw Chamber match, the decision was made to speed it up and have people in at 4:00 intervals. The last person in the Smackdown match, which should be at 20:00, was 23:10 in the Smackdown match and 16:00 in the Raw match.
CMLL will start back with Friday night shows on 3/26 that will stream via TicketMaster Live! as iPPV shows. The first show will be the Copa Junior VIP plus the fourth try to get the Volador Jr. NWA middleweight title defense against Bandido after two postponements over COVID and one when the promotion was shut down after announcing the match due to COVID. If you notice, 3/26 is also the ROH PPV show and Bandido is under contract to ROH. But ROH is likely taping the PPV show ahead of time so he can do both. This is basically the card they had scheduled for 12/25

They were also back taping empty arena matches to fill television time this past week. They have taped so much it is believed they are months ahead but there are no angles or anything.
Konnan survived a real scare as noted last week. It got to the level that the doctors asked him about his wishes if his heart or kidneys stopped as both were in danger of failing, and his kidneys were going into failure. A chaplain was even sent to pray with him. Remdesivir pretty much saved his life. Even now being home he has an in-home nurse to give him his medications
NJPW: Regarding the talks with AXS, the company is in talks right now with a number of U.S. stations, AXS being one of them
Marty Scurll appeared and evidently did an angle with Rocky Romero on the 1/22 tapings of New Japan Strong in Port Hueneme, CA according to Fightful. Notes on NJPW Strong are hard to come by because all people involved have signed NDA’s regarding everything that takes place
The NDA stuff is interesting since depending when it was put place, it could explain why NJPW officials were very pissed over some spoilers being leaked by talent since it could have blown the big surprise of KENTA showing up in AEW and the AEW-NJPW partnership.

CyberFight, the fighting arm of Abema TV and parent company of DDT, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling and Genbare Pro, has announced a 6/6 date at the Saitama Super Arena as a joint show with the top stars of all four groups. Each company’s top championships will be defnded and there will be interpromotional matches.
Joseph Hudson, who was best known as Jocephus, Jocephus Brody and more recently as The Question Mark on NWA Powerrr, passed away on 2/24 from what was called an undiagnosed medical condition. Dutch Mantell, who knew him, tweeted that it appeared to be a stroke or a brain aneurysm.
Local pro wrestling returns to Memphis television on 2/27 for a weekly Noon Saturday show on CW-30 with Championship Wrestling from Memphis. It’s been almost 15 years since the last attempt to do pro wrestling in the city that has historically drawn the biggest ratings for pro wrestling consistently for the last 50 years. Dustin Starr and David Marquez are behind the new show. The first set of tapings were done on 2/14 where they taped three shows, using local talent that has mostly never been on television, as well as Derrick King and Alan Steel, who were featured on Randy Hales’ Power Pro Wrestling about 20 years ago and King actually started in the 90s with Jerry Jarrett’s promotion. Longtime Observer reader and correspondent Brian Tramel and Twitch content provider RynoJB will be doing a weekly live podcast on the STSPOD YouTube channel called Rollins into Memphis which will also air on the Memphis wrestling website. They had limited seating for the first show, which sold out, and also sold out the second set of tapings on 3/7. They will also tape on 4/11. They will open with the promotion of the Cobra Cup, named after local star King Cobra, which starts on week one and the finals will be taped on 4/11. Starr had approached both Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee about being part of the show, but said he didn’t want them wrestling. He got some heat from older wrestlers when he said that he didn’t want Lawler, who is 71, and Dundee, who is 77, in the ring any longer. Lawler still wrestles locally for Bert Prentice’s USA Championship Wrestling in Jackson, TN, which does a local access television show in that city and they want to run in Memphis. Some of the local people involved in wrestling don’t like the idea they are using the name Memphis Wrestling or pushing the slogan Memphis Wrestling is back. Dustin Starr is the guy who booked the independent show where Dana White performed as a pro wrestler a few years back for a taping of White’s Lookin for a Fight series
Regarding the Sammy Guevara stuff here, there were losses proposed and beatdowns scheduled and while he was to win his last match, it involved a post-match beatdown that he wasn’t coming back to get revenge for. One version of the story is that he was going to lose in a three-way with Ace Austin and Chris Bey in the plans. Black Taurus took his spot, so it appears week one was Taurus & Austin & Bey over Trey Miguel & Willie Mack & Josh Alexander where he would have won. Then the winners were put in a three-way for the second week, where the winner of that was to face TJP for the X title. One of the issues is that with the Guevara turn, if he’s not going to be pushed as a high-level babyface and I don’t know if he will be or not, it would be kind of a waste because he should have a high-level program with MJF. So if he worked elsewhere it should be in the position of gaining momentum for his program with MJF as a top level deal. Guevara did propose to Impact that he win the X title which they didn’t plan for. Really, Tony Khan and Impact should have had everything worked out beforehand and there was no point in having Guevara on the show and just being a guy on the show given this is either his make or break being when it comes to being a guy on the show in Impact
Right now Impact’s head of creative is Jimmy Jacobs. Jacobs reports to Scott D’Amore who has the final say but the television is mostly done by Jacobs, Robert Evans and Tommy Dreamer
Regarding the explosive barbed wire match, this was Kenny Omega’s idea from more than a year ago. Tony Khan said Omega suggested at some point doing this match in late 2019, in the same conversation he first brought up going heel with Don Callis as his manager. Omega has said to us that if you really think you’re the best in the world, you have to prove it by wrestling at a high level in every type of style and situation as opposed to just one way. That’s why he did the lights out match with Jon Moxley the way he did it in 2019. He pitched Tony Khan on the idea a long time ago. The deal is that you really have to do that kind of a match either at a huge stadium or better outdoors. Khan felt that Moxley was the guy and this was the time, and presented the idea to Moxley, who was very happy as he’s wanted to do that kind of a match himself
The Wednesday night war has moved to Canada with SportsNet 360 adding live NXT from 8-10 p.m. NXT had been airing in one hour form at 7 p.m. on Friday, not live, before Smackdown. SportsNet and TSN 2, the usual home of AEW (sometimes it’s bumped to TSN 1, which is actually the weaker station than TSN 2 since ratings are always lower when they move) are comparable. The move started on 2/24. The show will also stream live on SN Now. My gut is that this will end up more competitive than the U.S. for a variety of reasons. First, WWE is more popular per capita in Canada by far, particularly Raw. Smackdown is not quite as popular in Canada because it’s on cable rather than network. AEW going unopposed has done well in Canada, but not knocked them dead and unlike in the U.S., AEW is down from its peak. Early on AEW at times beat Smackdown and came close to Raw and that is no longer the case. Even WCW at its peak really was never as popular as WWE in Canada. The other is that if you follow Canadian ratings, you see wide variations as compared to the U.S. Canadian ratings and U.K. ratings, while the best we have to go by, are not nearly as accurate as Nielsen, for all the criticisms Nielsen gets, in the U.S. So when there are bigger swings, there will be in theory weeks with the swings where one or the other would win. Anyway, this should take a percentage off the AEW Canadian numbers even if NXT never actually wins, so that accomplishes its goal to begin with. And I think NXT will win at times even in the key demo because of the wild swings of the key demo number in Canada as compared to the U.S. WWE had been trying to get NXT in that time slot since October 2019. The reason it didn’t was because the two sides were far apart on money terms for the show, but they’ve come to an agreement. The deal is through the end of 2024, which would be the end of the current ten-year deal with SportsNet and WWE
Regarding Peacock, the plan for Fast Lane on 3/21 is to be on both Peacock and the WWE Network. The original plan was for the WWE Network to be switched over to Peacock on 3/18. The complete switch is still scheduled prior to WrestleMania for the U.S. only where Peacock will be the only way to get the show. It’s been noted to us that Peacock is now well suited for live sports and at least at first, that will be the case with WWE as well. One person noted to us their EPL coverage is not good, since if you watch live, it has to be live, you can’t join in and start at the beginning, or pause or rewind during the live broadcast. The service has also had issues with getting replays up in a timely fashion. Sometimes they are immediate once the game is over and sometimes it takes hours. Also, originally I was told your WWE Network account would transfer over, but now it appears you will have to sign up with Peacock to move your account over. But all this changes and will likely continue to change until the launch
There have been some new developments in the Vince McMahon and Olivier Luck lawsuits back-and forth. McMahon now claims that Luck repeatedly gave confidential XFL information to his brother-in-law, William Wilson, an NFL agent with the Wasserman Media Group. He is accusing Luck of sharing XFL requests for proposals, meeting notes, presentations, draft contracts and analysis of players and other attorney-client privileged information. McMahon is accusing him of disclosing company trade secrets and sensitive material without his consent. There have been two other key things in the case since the start of the year. Judge Victor Bolden ruled in favor of Luck on his request for all documents and communications, including emails, from Alpha Entertainment (XFL) related to Luck. McMahon is claiming that Luck went incommunicado when the pandemic started, but Luck is trying to show that McMahon wasn’t available for communication to begin with. They are also claiming that McMahon and the other executives never issued any warnings or notice to Luck regarding his job performance before he was fired. Luck is trying to show there was no communications showing they were unhappy, and none to him, before he was fired and the reasons McMahon gave were created after the firing which was done because the league folded. However, McMahon had personally guaranteed Luck his money even if the league didn’t make it, and was owed $23.8 million more on his deal. They argue that unless there is evidence McMahon or Alpha ever talked about his performance being mad, and never warned him, or put him on notice, Luck can argue that the charges against him either weren’t real or never considered serious enough until the league folded. Bolden also made a ruling this month in favor of McMahon, ordering Luck to reveal his passcodes for his company iPhone and that Alpha can access his phone contents which is likely where he newest charges comes from. Luck acknowledged using the phone for both work and non-work related reasons, and argued against that, saying there was attorney-client privileged information on the phone. McMahon’s side was ruled by Golden to develop a system to segregate and not use any privileged information
The top ten shows for the week on the WWE Network were: 1. Elimination Chamber; 2. Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions with Sasha Banks; 3. Best of Elimination Chamber; 4. Elimination Chamber pre show; 5. Raw Talk; 6. Royal Rumble 2021; 7. Elimination Chamber 2020; 8. Talking Smack; 9. Ultimate Elimination Chamber; 10. The Bump. NXT was No. 14 and the Progress return was No. 22. It was NXT U.K., Heat and 205 Live among others

Raw on 2/22 did 1,890,000 viewers and 0.57 in 18-49.

The number was up 4.4 percent in viewers but the same in 18-49 and down 10.3 percent in 18-34, so it was up but an older overall audience. Basically whatever was gained by the PPV bump and changing the title was mostly with viewers over the age of 50.

Raw was first for the night in 18-49 and 13th place overall, trailing 12 news shows, which is higher than the show usually ranks but about the same as last week. It was second in women 18-49, first in men 18-49, first in 18-34, second in women 12-34 and first in men 12-34.

It had much easier competition than usual. The only sports were an ESPN college basketball doubleheader where the 7 p.m. game did 827,000 viewers and 0.22 and the 9:30 p.m. game did 590,000 viewers and 0.14.

As compared to one year ago this week, Raw was down 14.5 percent in viewers, 20.0 percent in 18-49 and 44.7 percent in 18-34, so again an example of an aging audience.

The first-to-third hour drop was normal. The first hour did 1,978,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,926,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,765,000 viewers.

I think the key thing is that the women’s drop that had been really bad of late was normal and the teenage girl drop that had been terrible saw a huge gain as the show went on. The two angles that were believed to be hurting women from staying were the Lacey Evans/Charlotte Flair angle and the Alexa Bliss portrayal, and the younger women’s audience with neither on the show were a lot stronger as far as sticking with it.

The first-to-third hour drops were 15.0 percent in women 18-49, 8.8 percent in men 18-49, a 20.0 percent growth in girls 12-17, but a 29.0 percent decline in men 18-49 so there was something on this show that didn’t keep guys in hour three, and 8.8 percent in over 50. Really, nothing would be negative by usual standards except teenage boys.

The show did a 0.26 in 12-17 (up 4.0 percent), 0.26 in 18-34 (down 10.3 percent), 0.88 in 35-49 (up 2.3 percent) and 0.88 in 50+ (up 4.8 percent).
Smackdown on 2/19 did a 1.33 rating and 2,217,000 viewers (1.38 viewers per home) with an 0.59 (762,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.35 in 18-34.

So as expected, last week’s low number was largely if not almost entirely due to news coverage since this week bounced back to usual levels.

Smackdown was second among network shows in 18-49, trailing Shark Tank (0.72). It was also second to Shark Tank in 18-34. As far as overall viewers, it was last again with it being the only network show on the night to do less than three million viewers. It beat everything on cable in 18-49 as far as viewers went, but if you factor in network advantage, it pretty much still beats everything but Gold Rush and the NBA.

In women 18-49, Smackdown was sixth out of eight shows. With men 18-49 it was first and in over 50 it was last.

As compared to last week, it was up 8.1 percent in homes watching, 11.4 percent in viewers watching (based on more viewers per home), up 4.1 percent in 18-49 and even in 18-34.

As compared to one year ago in the same week, homes were down 14.2 percent, viewers were down 10.7 percent, 18-49 was down 20.0 percent and 18-34 was down 30.0 percent.
Some more notes on the 2/17 ratings.

AEW placed fourth for the night, behind Challenge: Double Agents, the late NBA game and Real Housewives of New Jersey with an 0.31 and 400,000 viewers in 18-49. NXT was at 0.16 and 202,000 was No. 39, skewing older than ever. Viewership across the board was way down from a usual Wednesday due to Texas blackouts, but AEW still did well with men and NXT did super strong with over 50 viewers even with the limitations.

AEW did 1.54 viewers per home. It was second among sports for the week behind the U.S. vs. Canada women’s soccer in the She Believes Cup which did 1.58 on FS 1. AEW was also the youngest skewing sports television show of the week, although it was only by percentage points from the Monday afternoon Newcastle vs. Chelsea EPL game at 3 p.m., in a time slot that is going to skew young.

AEW was second in male 18-49 behind the late NBA game, but first in its time slot on cable. It was ninth in 18-34, and fifth in males 12-34.

The NBA game that went head-to-head with AEW and NXT did 749,000 viewers and 0.25, and only beat AEW in 18-34 and Males 12-34. The NHL game was No. 66 with 439,000 viewers and 0.11.

AEW did a 0.12 in 12-17 (down 7.7 percent from the previous week), 0.17 in 18-34 (up 7.4 percent), 0.45 in 35-49 (up 4.4 percent) and 0.25 in 50+ (down 7.4 percent) ...

We don’t have NXT comparisons in all categories because the show didn’t chart the week before, but the show did a 0.10 in 12-17, 0.06 in 18-34 (up 25.7 percent from last week), 0.26 in 35-49 (up 35.5 percent) and 0.40 in 50+.
Both AEW and NXT showed increases for a normal week, with no hotshot matches, but no huge news numbers or Texas blackouts like with the previous week.

AEW did 831,000 viewers and an 0.35 (452,000 viewers) in 18-49, putting it in fifth place for the night behind two NBA games, Challenge: Double Agents on MTV and Real Housewives of New Jersey.

NXT did 734,000 viewers and 0.18 (233,000 viewers), putting it at No. 24 for the night.

For AEW, that would be up 11.2 percent in viewers and 13.0 percent in 18-49 from last week’s show that was hurt by the Texas blackout. NXT would be up 2.9 percent in viewers and 15.3 percent in 18-49, so it skewed younger than the very old skewing show last week.

As compared to one year ago, AEW was down 3.9 percent in viewers, up 16.7 percent in 18-49 and down 19.0 percent in 18-34. Essentially as far as the important numbers, the decline in 18-34 was overridden by huge increases in 35-49.

NXT from one year ago was up 2.4 percent in viewers, but down 21.7 percent in 18-49 and down 53.8 percent in 18-34, so it skews much older than it did one year ago.

AEW was 10th for the night in women 18-49, third in men 18-49 (trailing two NBA games), eighth in 18-34, 14th in women 12-34 and eighth in men 12-34.

The NBA game that went head-to-head with AEW and NXT did 1,138,000 viewers and 0.37 in 18-49. The NHL game did 569,000 viewers and 0.17 in 18-49.

AEW won all the key demos and doubled NXT in all of them except women 35-49.

AEW did 66,000 viewers in men 18-49 (down 9.6 percent from last week) to 22,000 for NXT (down 35.3 percent). In women 18-34, AEW did 50,000 (up 16.3 percent) and NXT did 23,000 (up 130.0 percent). In men 35-49, AEW did 236,000 viewers (up 18.6 percent) to 118,000 for NXT (up 24.2 percent). In women 35-49, AEW did 100,000 viewers (up 17.6 percent) to 70,000 for NXT (down 4.1 percent).

AEW won seven of eight quarters overall, and all eight in 18-49. It doubled NXT in 18-49 from 8:45 p.m. until to 9:30 p.m.

In the main event segment, AEW with Lance Archer vs. Rey Fenix did 827,000 viewers and 457,000 in 18-49. NXT with Santos Escobar vs. Karrion Kross did 743,000 viewers and 241,000 in 18-49.

NXT’s actual main event with the angle with Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Finn Balor came after AEW ended its show, with the overrun. NXT picked up 50,000 viewers and 27,000 in 18-49 at that point.

AEW opened with 832,000 viewers and 407,000 in 18-49 with Jon Moxley vs. Ryan Nemeth, a Moxley interview and an Archer & Fenix interview. NXT opened off its big lead-in at 800,000 viewers and 232,000 in 18-49 for Dexter Lumis vs Johnny Gargano.

The second quarter saw AEW at 765,000 viewers and 389,000 in 18-49 for The Young Bucks and family at the truck, and Ricky Starks & Brian Cage vs. Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison. NXT had 781,000 viewers and 250,000 in 18-49 for an MSK video package, Grizzled Young Vets beatdown on MSK, Tyler Rust vs. Leon Ruff and William Regal with Zoey Stark. This was much closer than usual for NXT in 18-49, winning overall, and was the high point as far as a competitive quarter in 18-49 for NXT.

The third quarter saw AEW rise to 840,000 viewers and 460,000 in 18-49 for the Sting, Darby Allin and Team Taz angle, interview with Miro & Kip Sabian & Penelope Ford and Jake Hager vs. Brandon Cutler. NXT did 745,000 viewers and 235,000 in 18-49 for Io Shirai vs. Stark.

The fourth quarter saw AEW do 835,000 viewers and 475,000 in 18-49 for the angle where Papa Buck was bloodied up, a feature on the Shaquille O’neal mach and beginning of Adam Page vs. Isaiah kassidy. NXT had 706,000 viewers and 213,000 in 18-49 for the end of Shirai vs. Stark, Toni Storm challenging Shirai, The Way promo and a Cameron Grimes vignette.

The fifth quarter saw AEW do 841,000 viewers and 482,000 in 18-49 for most of Page vs. Kassidy and a promo with Kenny Omega & Don Callis. This was the high point of the show for AEW in both 18-49 overall and women 18-49. NXT did 729,000 viewers and 236,000 in 18-49 for Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro and a women’s tag team title match preview video. This was also the high point for NXT in women 18-49.

The sixth quarter saw AEW do 866,000 viewers and 479,000 in 18-49 for the women’s tournament video and Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose. This was the high point of the show in men 18-49. NXT did 623,000 viewers and 207,000 in 18-49 for another Grimes video and Drake Maverick & Killian Dain vs. Grizzled Young Veterans. This was the most one-sided segment of the night.

The seventh quarter saw AEW do 838,000 viewers and 464,000 in 18-49 a package building Jurassic Express vs. FTR & Tully Blanchard and the beginning of Archer vs. Fenix. NXT did 709,000 viewers and 233,000 in 18-49 for the beginning of Kross vs. Escobar.

In the final quarter, AEW lost 11,000 viewers and 7,000in 18-49 for Archer vs. Fenix. NXT gained 34,000 viewers and 8,000 in 18-49 for the ending of Kross vs. Escobar. As far as competitive quarter, this was NXT’s best in men 18-49.

AEW did an 0.11 in 12-17 (down 8.3 percent from last week), 0.17 in 18-34 (identical to last week), 0.53 in 35-49 (up 18.3 percent) and 0.29 in 50+ (up 16.0 percent) ...

NXT did an 0.10 in 12-17 (identical to last week), 0.06 in 18-34 (up 2.3 percent), 0.30 in 35-49 (up 11.9 percent) and 0.40 in 50+ (identical to last week).
In Canada for the first night of the Wednesday night wars on 2/24, we don’t have any numbers. Neither show made the top ten, due to the Raptors and the Maple Leafs doing huge numbers (Maple Leafs vs. Calgary numbers were gigantic at 1,342,900 and to get a U.S. equivalent multiply by nine). No. 10 for sports was 137,800 and I wouldn’t expect either show without competition to hit that, let alone with another wrestling show and the NBA and NHL. Raw on 2/22 did 246,500 viewers and 126,700 in 25-54
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:17 PM   #1544
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

This is not official but this falls into one of those things that has been confirmed by numerous people that dating back to 2/24, it has been talked about internally that NXT may move to Tuesdays in April, with the talked about switch being right after WrestleMania, with 4/13 the first Tuesday date.

This has been discussed internally over the last week within WWE as well as NBC Universal.

The only thing we could officially confirm is that it’s been something discussed at different times of late, more in recent weeks (after the decision to shutter NBC Sports Network and move key sports programming to USA) and was part of very significant discussions last week. Multiple people at WWE, when asked, have not commented or denied the story that the move is taking place. Others have confirmed talks of other moves in play that would seem to indicate NXT not being on Wednesday. Those who work in NXT, both talent and others, had not been informed of anything at the time the story broke.

It’s notable because I’m not sure why you would start in Canada on a Wednesday just last week to start a wrestling war if you’re seriously thinking of moving that soon less than two months later. But it could be one deal being done before knowledge of the other thing having a shot at happening.

Whether this is USA or WWE that is in front of these talks wouldn’t be known. The timing is such that what makes sense would be if USA is expecting to air hockey on Wednesdays starting next season or even in the latter stages of this season to get ready for next season, that move would make sense.

From the day of NBC Sports Network closing the idea that USA would have Wednesday night hockey came immediately. It was just logical. The NHL doesn’t draw the viewership of NXT on a weekly basis, but draws much higher ad rates and as a real sport in a major league would be considered a priority. In addition, come playoff time, it would outdraw NXT.

If this does happen, it’s good for NXT itself, as its audience will rise significantly, particularly in 18-49, which would be expected to rise to around the 300,000 to 325,000 viewers (0.25) level from the recent 150,000 to 235,000 range for normal Wednesday without a fluke occurrence due to not going head-to-head with wrestling competition that is strong in the key demo.

The negative is that it helps AEW, which a key reason why NXT was put on TV at the time it was to begin with. For USA it’s a ratings benefit because an unopposed NXT will do far better in the key demo and thus help the station’s overall figures, and the NHL and other USA Network Wednesday programming won’t be hurt by AEW on TNT ...

AEW will gain in total viewers with NXT being gone, but most of the increase in theory would be over 50, the demo NXT was the strongest in. When AEW has gone unopposed on Wednesdays, total viewership was up substantially but 18-49 gains were minor, and NXT had been reaching such a smaller number in that demo and most of those are likely people who wouldn’t be AEW fans to begin with. But there still should be some minor gain. The irony is that AEW’s status of being, along with select NBA and EPL games, the youngest skewing sports television property in the U.S., could be at jeopardy with this move, because the viewers the show would add would be more likely older, since NXT’s average viewer age has been around 58 years old.
In addition, PWInsider reported that WWE is considering a two-night Takeover on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to WrestleMania, on 4/7 and 4/8. Sources in NXT confirmed that is the current plan. This would seem to indicate issues with a Hall of Fame ceremony. If those two nights are Takeovers, and 4/9 would be a live Smackdown, with 4/10 and 4/11 WrestleMania and 4/12 Raw, that would either mean Hall of Fame on either the Tuesday before or Tuesday after. It’s also notable that at this point nothing has been said at all regarding the Hall of Fame, and usually at this point most members would have been announced. We do know that the families of last year’s inductees were told it would take place virtually this year over Mania week. But things are always changing.

The report stated that the Wednesday night Takeover would be live on the USA Network, which would be the attempt to get a “win” on the last night before the move so it wouldn’t look like the company had a lengthy losing streak and then moved. Even though the move would be due to the NHL, there would be a perception by some that NXT picked a fight, lost every week but one over more than 18 months, including the entire year of 2020, and then moved away. The report would be that the Thursday Takeover would air on the WWE Network.

The next part of the story, if this happens, would be what happens with Impact, which runs 8-10 p.m. on Tuesdays on AXS, which would be the new NXT time slot on USA. AEW also puts Dark on YouTube Tuesday and with AEW putting stuff on YouTube every Monday and Tuesday, even though both will be designed to primarily promote Wednesday, you don’t know how that will work in practice.

Impact has always moved its day when WWE has moved onto its day, as in prior periods when a WWE television show would go against Impact, it would cut its audience greatly, sometimes in half. Since Impact is the highest rated show on AXS, the station would open up its schedule for it. The reason Anthem bought AXS in the first place was to be able to showcase Impact. This would leave Thursday as the only open night of the week. If New Japan was able to make a television deal, whether with AXS (and has noted the odds of that were better than 50 percent a few weeks ago) or another station, that would leave only Saturday night (against UFC and boxing), Sunday (against the NFL every fall) or perhaps better go with a 7 p.m. Monday (although AEW is trying to establish that for YouTube) or maybe 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (which if it was AXS what would make the most sense is a time slot right after Impact to replace the Impact in 60 show and move that show after the Impact replay). The Friday at 10 p.m. slot after Smackdown has been talked about by a number of companies for a potential one-hour time slot show with the idea a large number wrestling fans are at home watching a wrestling show.
[AEW] Revolution tickets were put on sale on 2/26 and sold out the 1,095 (give or take a few) tickets immediately, with paid being a little less than that. Then on 3/1 they put 125 more tickets on sale and when word got out they were gone instantly. Tony Khan said that they are going with 25 percent capacity and there will end up being 1,300 in the building, which would be the second largest crowd for pro wrestling in the U.S. since the pandemic.
For WrestleMania, the lineup has Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal title and Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the women’s title as official matches. The Miz & John Morrison vs. Damien Priest & Bad Bunny was scheduled. Randy Orton vs. The Fiend, likely in a wacky gimmick match, would seem to be a sure thing since it was set for Royal Rumble and moved back. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair looks to be on the show. It could be Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon. The WWE title match certainly looks like Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre. However, Vince McMahon decided this week that the show needs to be bigger and to blow up the original ideas and how else can we use everyone, so there people are expecting changes this coming week from the original lineup and direction.

Other title programs in play right now are Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Naomi & Lana (and perhaps Natalya & Tamina), Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the IC title, Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs. Street Profits for the Smackdown tag titles and Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali for the U.S. title.
Stardom ran the biggest shows in its history on 3/3 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, with its top star, Giulia, getting her head shaved after losing her Wonder of Stardom title to Tam Nakano.

The show drew 3,318 fans for a four-hour long show with five title matches and two title changes. Besides Nakano’s win, Natsupoi won the High Speed title from AZM in the opener.

The show, a worldwide PPV event, went well as most of the matches were strong, all were different both in content and stories. It was the most successful PPV show that the company has done to date and 25 percent of the PPV buys were from outside of Japan.

Both Kairi Sane and Io Shirai, who first made their names in Stardom, sent video messages that aired at the start of the PPV. Shirai had her NXT title belt and they aired a video feature with highlights of Shirai from her Stardom days. Sane, who had asked to appear on the show but was denied by WWE, just sent a message, but was also at the show backstage. Hiroshi Tanahashi also sent a message congratulating the promotion on ten years.
AAA: Konnan’s condition is improving from his bout with COVID but there are still issues with his kidneys. He’s going to be getting a biopsy on them because there are issues that have come up.
NEW JAPAN: The reason Kazuchika Okada has been largely kept out of the title and main event scene, and worked more basic in his matches the last several months is that he’s working with two slipped discs in his lower back. It’s legitimately crippling, which is why he takes it easy when he’s in prelims but when he’s in a main event, he still delivers like in the match with Evil this past week, and I’d bet with Shingo Takagi this coming week. But backstage, he’s hurting bad
IMPACT: Hard to Kill did the second highest PPV number since the company lost Spike TV. Slammiverary, based on the tease of so many WWE wrestlers appearing and the question on who would debut, actually did more
Notes from the AEW women’s tournament. The 2/28 show on Bleacher Report ended up a misfire. It was fine in the U.S. but AEW was told it would air worldwide, and then it was geoblocked outside the U.S. There were 125,000 people watching live on Bleacher Report from the U.S. and just under 200,000 by early the next day. It was an issue on Bleacher Report where somebody made a mistake. Tony Khan immediately put the entire show up on YouTube so it was available worldwide. YouTube views were 137,000 over the next 21 hours but that’s a different stat and it was never advertised for YouTube although it was pushed for those outside the country.
Notes from the [AEW Dynamite] 3/3 show. With Shaquille O’Neal, they sold out opening up more seats the last two days. There were more than 1,000 paid, roughly 100 comps and just over 1,100 in the building
Regarding the Thunderdome location, they will be in St. Petersburg until just before WrestleMania. The ticketing department still is arranging flights to Tampa for Monday and Friday after WrestleMania, so the new location right now would appear to be somewhere in the Tampa market
There was a very interesting ruling made in Bill Nye’s lawsuit against Disney as far as a legal precedent. Nye had sued Disney over royalties on Disney +, believing that he should be entitled to 50 percent of the revenue value of streaming his shows. Disney had argued he was entitled to 20 percent, arguing the streaming was not broadcast television but the evolution of home video, so the royalty fees would be based on home video. Disney won the case this past week. But in the ruling, the judge ruled that streaming content is the natural progression of VHS and later DVD, and that the royalties should be the same. This ruling would seem to open up WWE, and every pro wrestling company that has a streaming service, that talent should be paid royalties for the shows with them airing the same as they would be in the days of VHS and later DVDs. That’s actually very significant. For this to apply, one would have to take WWE, or Impact, or New Japan, to court over these royalties. It is notable that New Japan has pulled all matches of certain people over the years over questions as to royalties they would want
The WWE is very aware of the aging aspect of the roster and developmental. We were told there has been a new doctrine when it comes to new signings that unless it is a special situation where somebody is really good or has potential, or if they have a name from elsewhere, they want to limit new developmental signings to those under the age of 30. This comes after signings of late 30s people like Taya Valkyrie and the former Eli Drake, who both would fit into the category of people with names in the business
Right now the plan is to introduce NXT women’s tag team titles
There was a story going around that WWE was fining wrestlers for “thigh slapping” when throwing kicks for sound effects, a practice that has been in wrestling as far back as I can remember. Mr. Wrestling II was famous for hard back slaps on the kneelift for sound effects and dating back to the 50s there was the stomp your foot hard on the mat at the moment of connection of the punch. The thigh slap superkick dates back to Chris Adams from when he came over from the U.K. It’s one of the silliest things to worry about because the perfectly timed moves garner great crowd response generally. But it became a buzzword for people who are mad it’s used so frequently (as if punches weren’t far more frequent doing the same thing in the 70s and punches worked fine in those days). Anyway, from what we’ve been told there was one memo sent to talent in NXT about doing it and nobody has said a word about it since. The irony of a group where Shawn Michaels is one of the main instructors, who grew up watching Adams, getting mad because Internet trolls who hate the Young Bucks complain about thigh slapping is the ultimate in silliness. The only time I can recall it even being notable was once when Nikki Bella came off the top rope with a kick that missed, and because her body was so programmed on delivering a kick motion she slapped her thigh in mid-air which was obvious on a kick that was supposed to miss. Yes, that spot should be taught not to do
In Canada, the 2/26 Smackdown show did 164,300 viewers and 96,100 in 25-54. NXT and Main Event didn’t crack the top ten in sports for the night. Raw on 3/1 did 218,000 viewers and 122,700 in 18-49. The second head-to-head AEW vs. NXT went strongly for AEW. AEW aired on both TSN 1 and 2, so it split the audience. The TSN 2 audience was 88,100 viewers and 42,300 in 25-54. We don’t have the TSN 1 audience, but it was lower than 73,600, since that was the cutoff for the top ten. NXT did 48,000 in its second week on Sportsnet 360, not making the top ten. It actually did worse live on Wednesday than it usually does taped on Friday
With no major new shows this past week the most-watched shows on the WWE Network ended up like this: 1. WWE 24 Big E; 2. Elimination Chamber 2021; 3. Raw Talk on 3/1; 4. Talking Smack on 2/27; 5. NXT; 6. Broken Skull Sessions with Sasha Banks; 7. Royal Rumble 2021; 8. WrestleMania 28; 9. WrestleMania 25; 10. Smackdown on 1/29. NXT U.K. cracked the top 25 at No. 13. The second Progress show on 2/27 cracked it at No. 21. So Progress and NXT U.K. both beat 205 Live

Raw on 3/1 averaged 1,883,000 viewers and 0.58 in 18-49 for a show built around stalling the Bobby Lashley vs. The Miz match until the end, with two false starts, and then delivering the title change.

There are a lot of ways to look at it. Viewers were down 0.4 percent, and 18-49 was up 1.8 percent, although 18-34 was up 50.0 percent (which conversely means 35-49 was way down). However, the retention of viewership from the start-to-the finish of the show was the best since a show in July, so the creative of stalling the match out worked big for the night. Overall viewers and 18-49 weren’t really different from the week before, but the week before was a healthy post-PPV number, so this number for this show was a success.

Raw was first for the night in 18-49 by a wide margin (second place was 0.34). It was second in women 18-49, first in men 18-49, first in 18-34, first in women 12-34 (doubling all but one show in that demo) and tied for first in men 12-34 with ESPN’s late-night SportsCenter.

But that’s comparing a show the day after a PPV. But this show also promised a WWE title match at the top of the second hour, the top of the third and the end of the third hours.

Raw finished eighth in total viewers for the night, its best showing in a long time, which more speaks of the decline of cable news, which was the only show that beats Raw for viewers now that football season is over.

The key is the retention, as the first-to-third hour drop was only 5.2 percent.

In studying, as far as keeping the viewers throughout the show, it did far better than usual, biggest in the 12-34 age group, and men under 35, far more with women, stayed with the show until the end. However when it comes to viewers there at the start, the show was way up with teenage girls, who did decline at close to usual rates, but there were so many more of them at the start than usual.

The first hour did 1,916,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,918,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,817,000 viewers.

The key stat as far as who this didn’t and didn’t work for is the audience that stayed and didn’t stay. Most audiences stayed at a better rate than usual, but women weren’t all that different. Men under 35 in particular did, so they either cared more about the belt and/or the two characters.

Women 18-49 dropped 15.6 percent. Men 18-49 grew 7.0 percent, which is far different than the usual 10-15 percent drop. Women teens dropped 16.6 percent. Male teens gained 9.2 percent. Over 50 fell 5.6 percent that’s better than the usual roughly 10 percent drop.

As compared to the same show one year ago, Raw was down 16.5 percent in total viewers, 21.6 percent in 18-49 and 27.8 percent in viewers 18-34.

Raw did a 0.31 in 12-17 (up 19.2 percent from last week’s show), V), 0.39 in 18-34 (up 50.0 percent), 0.77 in 35-49 (down 12.5 percent) and 0.88 in 50+ (same as last week).
Smackdown on 2/26 did a 1.33 rating, 2,145,000 viewers (1.33 viewers per home), an 0.54 (699,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.29 in 18-34.

The number of homes watching was identical to the prior week, but the lower numbers were based on fewer viewers per home.

Smackdown finished third among network shows in 18-49 and the NBA game doing 0.49 on ESPN really considering the differences in homes beats it as well among cable shows. It was also third in 18-34 among network shows and lost significantly to the NBA on ESPN in that category. In women 18-49 it was third, beating first run NBC programming and CBS reruns. In men 18-49 it was second. It was last in over 50 and also last in total viewers.

Smackdown was even in ratings with last week, down 3.2 percent in viewers, down 8.3 percent in 18-49 and down 17.1 percent in 18-34.

As compared with one year ago, the drop was 22.2 percent in ratings, 20.2 percent in viewers, 31.0 percent in 18-49 and 42.0 percent in 18-34.
There were a lot of notable things about the 3/3 ratings battle, which saw AEW draw its largest total audience of the year, but even with Shaquille O’Neal, the 18-49 demo was actually down from a show last week that had a Lance Archer vs. Rey Fenix main event.

The big key is that the O’Neal & Jade Cargill win over Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet drew 1,113,000 viewers, the largest average mach number on a head-to-head night in more than a year. But the problem is, the match was the opener. The people who tuned in to see Shaq got it right away and then left, and AEW did closer to normal numbers for the rest of the night. It’s a lesson that if you have a big attraction, he should be in the main event spot. However, the swelling of the audience for Shaq was largely over-50. Because you often build the audience, while Shaq was No. 1 for 35-49, in 18-34, it was the seventh ranked out of the eight quarters which likely says that a as big as the number was, a lot of people figured it would be the main event, and in some cases if they tuned in late, left. It was the first time in recent memory that AEW beat NXT in over 50, but it was also far closer in 18-49 than it would have been expected to do.

AEW got plenty of mainstream stuff from sports radio and early morning talk shows the next day due to Shaq, but his going through the table didn’t get on SportsCenter and it didn’t crack the top 20 Google searches for the day, which Paul Wight did crack the week before.

AEW finished sixth place for the night with 934,000 viewers and an 0.33 (425,000 viewers) in 18-49, actually down from last week. The key is that men were up but women were way down. In fact 35-49 women were so down that NXT slightly beat AEW in one of the four key demos.

NXT finished No. 19 with 692,000 viewers and an 0.20 (259,000 viewers) in 18-49.

As compared to last week, AEW was up 12.4 percent in viewers, but actually down 6.0 percent in 18-49 and up 6.9 percent in 18-34. The 18-49 number was a major disappointment but in hindsight, it’s because the main event was put on first. From an age standpoint, they skewed much older this week after being the youngest skewing sports event on national television last week.

NXT was down 5.7 percent in viewers but up 11.2 percent in 18-49 and up 22.2 percent in 18-34, so from an age standpoint, they skewed much younger.

As compared to one year ago, AEW was up 3.1 percent in viewers, down 5.7 percent in 18-49 and down 25.0 percent in 18-34. Unlike the recent trends of skewing much younger than last year, this show with its huge over 50 viewers, that wasn’t the case.

As compared to last year, NXT was down 3.6 percent in viewers, down 21.7 percent in 18-49 and down 50.0 percent in 18-34, so skewing way older than a year ago.

AEW only finished 23rd in women 18-49, but tied for second in men 18-49 behind the late NBA game. AEW was third in males 12-34 behind the two NBA games.

The head-to-head NBA game against both shows did 1,087,000 viewers and 0.36. The late game did 1,324,000 viewers and 0.43. The NHL game did 549,000 viewers and 0.16.

NXT was 10th in males 18-49.

In the key demos, AEW did 88,000 in males 18-34 (up 33.3 percent from last week) to 29,000 for NXT (up 31.8 percent from last week). In women 18-34, AEW did 36,000 viewers (down 28.0 percent) and NXT did 26,000 (up 13.0 percent). In males 35-49, AEW did 229,000 (down 3.0 percent) and NXT did 129,000 (up 9.3 percent). In women 35-49, AEW did 72,000 (down 28.0 percent) and NXT actually won with 75,000 (up 7.1 percent).

In the main event spot, AEW did 853,000 viewers and 398,000 in 18-49 for Adam Page & John Silver vs. Matt Hardy & Marq Quen. NXT did 597,000 viewers and 245,000 in 18-49 for Finn Balor vs. Roderick Strong. I actually would have thought with those two going against each other that viewers would have been close, and they weren’t.

After AEW ended, the pickup in viewers to NXT for the last seven minutes were 93,000 viewers but only 13,000 of them were in 18-49.

In the first quarter, AEW did 1,133,000 viewers and 451,000 in 18-49 for the Shaq match. NXT did 713,000 viewers and 254,000 in18-49 for Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa.

In the second quarter, AEW did 975,000 viewers and 428,000 in 18-49 for the end of the Shaq match, the ambulance spot with him and Pac & Rey Fenix vs. D3 & John Skyler. NXT did 734,000 viewers and 267,000 in 1849 for the ending of Lorcan & Burch vs. Ciampa & Thatcher, Finn Balor and Roderick Strong’s angle and the first Gargano family skit.

In the third quarter, AEW did 976,000 viewers and 454,000 in 18-49 for the Chris Jericho/MJF press conference with the Young Bucks attack and the Atsushi Onita explosive barbed wire video. NXT did 701,000 viewers and 250,000 in 18-49 for Cameron Grimes with William Regal, Aliyah vs. ember Moon and a Thatcher & Ciampa interview.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 911,000 viewers and 416,000 in 18-49 for FTR & Tully Blanchard vs. Jurassic Express. NXT did 743,000 viewers and 271,000 in 18-49 for a Toni Storm/Io Shirai video and most of the Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez title match.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 903,000 viewers and 444,000 in 18-49 got the Paul Wight interview, the women’s tournament video and the first half of Nyla Rose vs. Ryo Mizunami. NXT did 747,000 viewers and 269,000 in 18-49 for the rest of Baszler & Jax vs. Kai & Gonzalez, the second Gargano skit and Isaiah Scott promo.

In the sixth quarter, AEW did 881,000 viewers and 411,000 in 18-49 for the end of Rose vs. Mizunami, and the Sting & Darby Allin vs. Team Taz segment. NXT did 643,000 viewers and 253,000 in 18-49 for the L.A. Knight interview and Bronson Reed vs. Grimes.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 836,000 viewers and 400,000 in 18-49 for 10 vs. Max Caster. NXT did 663,000 viewers and 255,000 in 18-49 for the Kayden Carter/Xia Li build, the third part of the Gargano skit and Legado del Fantasmo attacking Ever Rise and Breezango.

The main event quarter saw AEW gain 17,000 viewers but lost 2,000 in 18-49 for Page & Silver vs. Hardy & Quen. NXT lost 66,000 viewers and 10,000 in 18-49 for Balor vs. Strong.

AEW did a 0.13 in 12-17 (up 18.2 percent), 0.18 in 18-34 (up 6.9 percent), 0.48 in 35-49 (down 10.4 percent) and 0.38 in 50+ (up 31.0 percent).

The AEW audience was 74.6 percent male in 18-49 and 75.6 percent male in 12-17, the highest in recent memory. The real story from August is that AEW has gone way up with men, but way down with women.

NXT did an 0.10 in 12-17 (same as last week), 0.08 in 18-34 (up 22.2 percent), 0.32 in 35-49 (up 8.5 percent) and 0.32 in 50+ (down 20.0 percent).

NXT was 61.0 percent male in 18-49 and 58.5 percent male in 12-17. What is notable is that last week NXT was 88.8 percent male among teenagers and that changed greatly this week with the women, across the board from 12-49 coming to NXT and away from AEW.
The AEW Countdown show did 347,000 viewers and 0.12 in 18-49, putting it at No. 51 for the night. That number was also disappointing. It was a great show, and was another argument for putting the Shaq match last because it would have been a better lead-in.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:31 PM   #1545
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Meltzer has only noticed one thigh slap?
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Old 03-12-2021, 04:49 PM   #1546
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

If ever there was proof that the last second of a show can override almost everything that happened before, it was the AEW Revolution PPV on 3/7 from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville.

Everyone knew going in that a show built around an explosive barbed wire match in the main event was going to be judged on the explosions. It’s a match invented by FMW in Japan, popularized by the May 5, 1993 Atsushi Onita vs. Terry Funk match at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium before 32,000 fans (announced as 41,000 in case you read the inflated number elsewhere). It’s been copied multiple times in the U.S., in a number of independent promotions and twice (once in 1993 and again in 2000) by ECW. The end result was always the same. The fart in church ending when the last big explosion of pyro to climax the match lays an egg.

With history behind it, Kenny Omega came up with the idea more than a year ago, and Jon Moxley was picked as the opponent. The idea is that those matches have been successful in Japan based on explosions, but the body of work in the matches was rarely good. The idea going in was to have the greatest and most spectacular match of its kind, with both believing the other was the perfect opponent for that job ...

The interference was a negative but the match itself up to that point was close to a classic. But the grand finale was to be at the 30:00 mark when the ring would explode. Anderson, Gallows and Omega continued the beatdown. They handcuffed Moxley’s hands behind his back. Omega hit Moxley with a barbed wire bat to the back of the head. Then he followed with the bat to the chest and back. Finally, with seconds before the explosion, Omega, Gallows and Anderson ran off, leaving Moxley in the ring. With seconds left, Eddie Kingston ran out to cover and protect Moxley. It was the same spot Onita did to protect Funk after beating him. Everyone knew this would be the perfect spot for the Kingston babyface turn. And then the explosion failed. Kingston still sold it like he took a bullet for his former friend. The failed climax undermined the entire show. Fans booed live, and even chanted refund. For better or worse, the show will be remembered not for the great matches, the end of the Battle Royal, or the main eventers achieving their goal as far as in-ring bell-to-bell went, and will instead be remembered for the lack of the explosion at the end. It also may not be remembered for the fact the show generated more money than any non-WWE show in the United States in almost 22 years, and aside from WWF/WWE and the 1994-99 era of WCW, more than any other wrestling show in U.S. history ...

The finish was tested out multiple times, and it worked great every time. Then the time it counted, it didn’t. Anyone who has dealt with pyro knows there are duds, and the wrestlers didn’t have the backup plan. Kingston selling it the way it was supposed to be but not how it was only made it worse. Khan acting like it wasn’t a misfire and doing storyline at the press conference wasn’t the right thing in that situation. Ultimately, it was a bad ending to what had started out as a great day for the AEW owner, with Fulham beating Liverpool in Liverpool for the second time since 1875, a great reaction to the surprise debut of Maki Itoh, two great tags to open, a spectacular ending to the tag team Battle Royal and then getting early buy numbers from B/R Live at that point in the show.

The end of the day was the most negative feedback to an AEW show in history.

The PPV numbers look to be the strongest not only in AEW history, but the strongest for any non-WWE show in the U.S. since 1999, grossing in excess of $6 million and likely will end up closer to $7 million. Of that, AEW will take in a percentage likely around 50 percent because there is a split with distribution partners.

There are no television PPV numbers in at press time, but the B/R Live streaming numbers were up more than 50 percent from Full Gear in November and by far the highest of any show in AEW history, and these days that’s the primary number. Streaming numbers outside the U.S., depending on the service, were up 20 to 40 percent from the last show. Based on that, even if regular television PPV numbers don’t increase from the last show, and it’s hard to conceive that could be the case, they would be above the record 120,000 buys for the 2020 Double or Nothing show. Khan has publicly said it was the biggest PPV number in history, and privately within the company, being conservative with no TV numbers, it’s very likely that will be the case. If the television PPV numbers increase like the streaming numbers did from what they did in November, they’ll end up a lot higher than anything done previously. In theory, one would expect the television PPV gain to be similar to the streaming gain from November, but you can’t discount a large migration of people who ordered the last show on television and decided to order this show on B/R Live. It would also mark the fifth show in a row (sixth if you consider the 2019 All Out to be the follow-up of 2018 All In, which took place before the promotion started but in many ways was the real debut of the concept) where the PPV beat the number of the corresponding show the year before. That streak may end because the third Double or Nothing takes place on 5/30 in Jacksonville, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and to continue the streak they’d have to top 120,000.

The show also was broadcast for the first time on closed-circuit in theaters around the country. We don’t have any numbers, nor did AEW at press time, but did get reports of sold out theaters from fans who attended ...

As noted last week, tickets sold out instantly, but that was to be expected given the limited amount of tickets being sold. The final numbers were just over 1,300 in the building, the second largest pro wrestling crowd since the pandemic started, with just over 1,150 paid.
WWE announced WrestleMania tickets priced from $35 to $2,500 per night will go on sale on 3/16. They said only a limited number of tickets will go on sale.

A few months ago the hope was to put 30,000 in the stadium but based on a meeting this past week it looks like the goal now is 45,000 each night.

On 3/10, the city of Tampa had a meeting with some local hotels and the hotels were told that WWE is pushing to run Raymond James Stadium on 4/10 and 4/11 at 75 percent capacity. The capacity for a WrestleMania with the stage would have been 60,000, which is where 45,000 comes from. Based on WWE’s usual exaggerations, one would have expected an announced number between 70,000 and 75,000, and depending on what they deem is best for P.R., they could announce a number significantly larger than 45,000 but that was what they were requesting.

Because sales at that level aren’t a certainty, since people are less willing to travel and Europe and Japan would have quarantine periods for those attending to be able to return, the feeling is they will draw minimally from overseas. WrestleMania has generally sold 15,000 to 25,000 tickets from the home market, and not every WrestleMania sells out so it’s not like those numbers in many cases are with people turned away. A Tampa WrestleMania was not a given to be a sellout, as opposed to a New York or Dallas which did sellout ...

The key matches at WrestleMania appear to be a lock, with Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal title, Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE title, Randy Orton vs. The Fiend in some kind of a gimmick match, Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon, Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the Smackdown women’s title all either announced or a clear direction.

Nothing has been done in recent weeks with Miz & John Morrison vs. Damien Priest & Bad Bunny, but that’s because Miz has been busy getting Lashley ready for his main event and Bunny is getting ready for his performance on the Grammy Awards on 4/14. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw women’s title will take place unless Asuka can’t get cleared in time from her concussion. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs. The Street Profits for the Smackdown tag titles is also likely. However as noted last week, Vince McMahon has wanted to change up everything so besides the stuff they were still pushing on TV this week, all prior plans are up in the air.

An interesting thought for Orton vs. Fiend. The one thing we’ve pretty much learned loud and clear is that an explosive match (and you don’t need barbed wire or blood for it if Vince is against that sort of thing) is a draw in 2021. The vast majority of WWE fans don’t watch AEW or are even aware much of what happens in AEW, so it’s still the first time and we’ve seen full blown it’s a draw. They could show up AEW and all if the explosion at the end is spectacular, which really isn’t what this is about, but simply that there are so few things proven today so really move numbers and this was proven just this past week to do so. Yes, it would seem copying, but if they pull it off and the explosions work, it would not have the negative of outright copying but instead the aura of doing it better.
In a story that may have ramifications on pro wrestling, the NHL and ESPN reached a seven-year deal, but it’s been reported that it’s one of two major deals the NHL will be signing starting with the 2021-2022 season.

The belief is the second deal will be with NBCU, which is in talks. The positive is that, like with so many sports, the NHL did not have a big ratings year, but their rights fees for what the NHL called is the A package, which will include four Stanley Cup finals over the next seven years, was a seven-year deal for $2.88 billion, or $411 million per year. They are looking to get another package for close to the same number which would have the other three Stanley Cup playoffs, the once NBCU is currently bidding for, although right now the two sides were considerably apart on price. There is also interest by FOX and Turner, although Sports Business Journal indicated Turner wasn’t interested at the current asking price.

NBCU was paying the NHL $200 million per year on the old deal for exclusive national televison rights. This would show that a lower rated sport, as NHL numbers, except for the Stanley Cup finals, rate far lower than either WWE or AEW, is likely to get $650 million to $750 million on its new deal for television rights, which is significantly more than WWE ($465 million) and UFC ($300 million) got in their most recent deals although with the upgrades of selling the network WWE’s total take is $665 million and UFC’s is $500 million.

A lot of the spending is earmarked for adding the NHL product to ESPN+ to build up the subscriber number. Essentially, as shown with the WWE/Peacock deal (and Peacock suffered $914 million in losses this past year) is that media companies are willing to spend huge money and overspend based on what they can make back, to build a major company by securing reliable sports franchises ...

A key reason for the NXT proposed move to Tuesday was because USA would be airing NHL on Wednesdays during hockey season. It didn’t make sense to run NXT half the year on Wednesday and half the year on another day and change that, so the decision was to go to Tuesday.

But if NBCU doesn’t get the other half of the deal, NBCU’s main reason for moving NXT is gone. If they do, NBCU will likely keep the Wednesday night game because ESPN carries the NBA on Wednesday nights, so there is no time for NHL games ...

Before this deal was announced the plan was for NXT to move to Tuesday starting on 4/13, which would mean a nine-straight night period WrestleMania week of live WWE events ...

The NXT move to Tuesday could still take place even if NBCU doesn’t sign up with the NHL and keep the Wednesday night game. It does benefit the NXT brand to move as they will draw more viewers and in particular much higher 18-49 numbers without AEW competition. It benefits USA for the same reason. But the move also benefits AEW, and the fact we know all this and this move never happened after NXT on Tuesday numbers were so much higher spoke volumes.
The plans by owners Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia to start the XFL in the spring of 2022 are now up in the air as they are now in talks of a working agreement with the Canadian Football League.

In many ways, part of the conception of the first XFL was Vince McMahon’s grudge against the CFL in the late 1990s when he wanted to acquire the league and was unable to do so. The idea was that his new league would draw the player pool that otherwise would have been in the CFL, basically talent not quite good enough to make NFL rosters but who still wanted to keep alive their dreams of playing pro football, and were willing to do so for relatively little money.

Johnson and Garcia have opened talks with the CFL regarding working together rather than against each other. As part of that, they have paused the planned restart of the league, which had been scheduled for February 2022.

Regarding the nature of the talks between the sides, a statement by the XFL didn’t go into any detail ...

The CFL, which canceled its 2020 season, is set to resume during its normal playing time, with its new season starting in June and running through the end of October.
CMLL: Fantasma, who heads the Box y Lucha commission in Mexico City, said he’s talking to people about allowing crowds back but capped off at 30 percent capacity. This isn’t his call, as local health officials will be making those calls
AAA: The lawsuit filed by Lucha Libre FMV (the people who ran Lucha Underground) and Lucha Libre AAA is now in mediation. They haven’t reached terms but according to The Cubs Fan, they had a 13 ½ hour settlement conference on 3/10
Patrick Shea, who used the name Colin West, the promoter of the New Jersey based Synergy Championship Wrestling, was revealed as a convicted pedophile. He had been going by the Colin West name until it was discovered. The promotion he ran was beginning to get popular. They had planned to be part of The Collective group of shows this year at WrestleMania. It was noted to us that he presided over a wedding, was friends with all the area indie guys and more. Wrestler Tessa Callaway found out about his real name. According to The Wrestling Estate, he was convicted in 1999 of sexually assaulting three boys between the ages of six and ten. He was 16 at the time. In 2004, when he was 21, he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy, causing or permitting him to send nude photos as well as images of himself masturbating. Synergy Pro Wrestling was founded by Dan and Heather Funkenstein, who owned a wrestling store in Englishtown, NJ. They hired West as creative director. West handled creative until taking over the company in May 2019. West deleted his Facebook account and closed the company Twitter account. He made a statement about being abused as a teenager for what he did
Heel By Nature reported more details of Kelly Klein’s contract. She was suing based on gender discrimination as well as being labeled an independent contractor rather than employee. It should be noted that she worked for a multitude of different companies at the same time she worked for ROH, so there is a better case for her actually being an independent contractor as compared to a WWE wrestler or wrestlers from companies that restrict outside appearances (and really only WWE does that completely). Klein’s contract for 2018 was for only $12,000 per year, and she would get her transportation (flights) paid for and a double occupancy hotel room, plus 20 percent of any merchandise and DVD royalties from her stuff and 50 percent of any outside appearances ROH would book for her. In 2019, she was offered a $20,000 deal to renew, asked for $24,000, and was turned down. The claim is that in 2019 the highest paid male wrestler was getting $186,000 and single occupancy rooms covered. Obviously the high number in 2020 was considerably more than that.
John Laurinaitis, 58, is back in charge of talent relations. Laurinaitis’ official title is the new General Manager of Talent, a newly created position. Basically talent relations is now being split into talent management and talent branding. There will be someone as head of talent branding, whose job it will be is book WWE talent for outside appearances, commercials, movies and third party engagements. Laurinaitis was brought into WWE in 2001. He had been the top agent at WCW, responsible for laying out matches from his experience as a booker and agent for Giant Baba and All Japan. He left Japan, where he was part of the golden era, just as All Japan was about to collapse. He was hired by Jim Ross as his assistant in talent relations after WCW closed down. The idea from the start was that he would learn from Ross and take over at some point when Ross would slow down after moving back home and just become an announcer again. In 2004, McMahon made the call to have Laurinaitis replace Ross before Ross made the call to leave, although Ross had moved back to Oklahoma by that point. Eventually Laurinaitis was moved out of the position for Paul Levesque, and in 2012, was removed completely. Usually in that situation you would let someone go, but with Laurinaitis, they kept him as a road agent since that time. Mark Carrano will remain in the role of the guy who gets all the heat and bears all the bad news to talent which Laurinaitis, Jim Ross, J.J. Dillon and others played forever. But Carrano will now report to Laurinaitis. It was described that Laurinaitis always has a smile for Vince and won’t challenge him, and like with the hiring of Bruce Prichard, Vince is right now a guy who wants to be told everything is great, which is funny because he’s so much not the old Vince in that way. So he’s more and more surrounding himself with people who won’t challenge him and will feed the idea the company is more popular than ever and television ratings don’t mean what they used to. Without live show attendance (which if it was bad they’d find a way to excuse that) or PPV numbers, and with the network being dropped, there’s really no metrics past ratings and the new thing is to tout social media numbers, which as in most entertainment companies, the sign of a con because those numbers never go down, and always rise unless you piss people off and talk political views, which WWE is smart enough as a company to avoid
Andrea Listenberger, one of the writers, just quit the company. She had been with the company since December 2019. This was first reported by Ringside News. They also reported that Ed Heller had joined Ed Koskey and Ryan Callahan as head writers. Both of these have been confirmed. Heller was with the TV show “Ridiculousness” and the Betty White show “Off their Rockers.” Heller was brought in by Christine Lubrano. I don’t know if the two items are related but two people have indicated that they appeared to be. What we do know is many of the writers were upset because the company had told them (like people in every position) that there was no money for raises, promotions or bonuses, and then they brought in somebody new. They did get $3,000 worth of stock, but the stock needs to vest before they can sell it
Regarding the thigh slapping, there was a sign this past week backstage at the shows that read “Do not slap leg when kicking” so the “ban,” if that’s the word, of slapping thighs when kicking is a real thing. Jey Uso still did it in the Bryan cage match. For so much of the talent, it’s just a natural body movement. The reaction I got from people internally was mostly along the lines of with all the different problems, why is this of all things an issue. The story going around is that a big wrestler did this sloppily on Smackdown and Vince reacted by wanting it banned. It’s one of those things (remember the no wrestling during commercial breaks ban) that most figure will be forgotten about soon enough. The weirdness was some old-timers, where the sound effects for hitting your own chest throwing a punch was considered part of the art, or before that, stomping your foot when throwing a punch, were acting like this sort of thing was exposing the business. I mean, if it is, it dates back probably 70 years and for the superkick and thrust kick about 40 years
Asuka is out with a concussion from the kick by Shayna Baszler. The problem with a concussion is that she could be fine next week or she could not be cleared for a long time and you never know. There’s enough time left that she probably would be back for Mania but that’s not a sure thing. It’s tough because they counted on Ric Flair weekly for Raw through Mania and now Charlotte Flair’s second Mania direction has a chance of also being in jeopardy
Benjamin Carter’s new ring name on NXT U.K. is Nathan Frazier
Heaven,” the first non-pro wrestling documentary put on the WWE Network, about Heaven Fitch, the North Carolina high school girl who beat all the boys last season to win the 106 pound weight division state championship, was the most-watched show on the WWE Network this past week. That is really notable because they went out of the box, and they also debuted a Bill Goldberg doc on the same day. Granted, in a week with no major shows, nor no big releases other than Goldberg, the overall viewership of the network appeared down (shows like NXT and NXT U.K. placed much higher than usual, but it still wasn’t enough for Main Event of 205 Live to place). But no matter how you slice it, finishing first and beating a new Goldberg doc is a real accomplishment. Stephanie McMahon to promote it hard and the company did send out a special press release about a week ahead of time. The top ten were: 1. Heaven documentary; 2. Goldberg at 54 documentary; 3. Raw Talk; 4. WWE 24 Big E; 5. NXT from 3/3; 6. Elimination Chamber 2021; 7. Royal Rumble 2021; 8. Fast Lane 2015; 9. Talking Smack; 10. Smackdown from 2/5. NXT U.K. with the Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura match finished 11th. No other wrestling shows or indie wrestling shows placed in the top 25

Raw on 3/8 held up in the ratings and was slightly down in the key demos, promoted around a Bobby Lashley vs. The Miz title rematch. Obviously this was a decision made late, since they had advertised a Lashley celebration. The show last week did well in the ratings, which likely led to the rematch, even though the booking of the match as a quick squash was exactly what you wouldn’t do to build a rematch. But the novelty of a WWE title match on television worked, because they had a big first hour. The show was helped by no NBA games, but that’s a very minor aspect.

Raw did 1,897,000 viewers on average with an 0.55 (719,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.32 in 18-34.

On cable, Raw was first in 18-49 by a wide margin (No. 2, Below Deck Sailing on Bravo was at 0.36). It was third in women 18-49, first by a large margin in men 18-49 (more than doubling second place Street Outlaws), first in 18-34, second in women 12-34 and first in men 12-34.

It was ninth in total viewers, behind eight news shows, which is the best finish the show has done.

The first hour, which featured the Lashley vs. Miz title match, did 2,031,000 viewers. It was the first time any hour of Raw topped two million viewers since 1/11. The second hour did 1,921,000 viewers and the third hour did 1,736,000 viewers.

The first-to-third hour drop of 14.5 percent was larger than usual, but that’s because of the high first hour.

As compared to last week, the show was up 0.7 percent in viewers, down 4.6 percent in 18-49 and down 17.8 percent in 18-34. Keep in mind last week’s 18-34 number was unusually big.

Something to look at for a pattern next week or whenever he returns is that Bad Bunny wasn’t on the show this week that the under 34 numbers were way down, but the drop was mostly women . The key is that the over 50 audience was up, so just looking at total viewers, it hides that fact. Last week’s numbers under 35 were way up from usual, particularly with women, and that was the key audience that they lost this week. It could be just a fluke based on other programming but it’s a trend to look out for in the next few weeks.

As compared to the same week last year, the show was down 12.3 percent in viewers, 20.3 percent in 18-49 and 37.3 percent in 18-34. So the show skewed much older this year than last year.

The show did 143,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 3.4 percent), 78,000 in women 18-34 (down 35.5 percent), 324,000 in men 35-49 (down 2.1 percent) and 174,000 in women 35-49 (up 13.0 percent).

As far as the first-to-third hour drops, the declines were big with teenagers, particularly boys, as well as those over 50, while males 18-49 did stick around for the three hours. The drops were 14.3 percent for women 18-49, 6.7 percent for men 18-49, 23.7 percent for teenage girls, 24.5 percent in teenage boys and 12.2 percent over 50.
WWE booked a double count out last week and not have the Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan Fast Lane main event announced, so they could do a Bryan vs. Jey Uso cage match that Bryan had to win to get a title shot for the 3/5 Smackdown show.

Putting a cage match with that stip on television led to increases as the show did a 1.36 rating with 2,252,000 viewers (1.37 viewers per home) and a 0.60 (771,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.37 in 18-34.

Smackdown placed second for the night in 18-49 behind Shark Tank at 0.71. It placed first in 18-34, with Shark Tank in second was 0.33. It was helped by no NBA due to it being All-Star weekend and the cage match led to very strong gains in men 18-34..

Smackdown tied for fifth among the eight network shows in women 18-49, won with men 18-49 and finished last in over 50. It also finished last in total viewers with the second worst mark being a rerun of a Dateline episode on NBC that did 2,662,000 viewers.

As compared to last week, the show was up 5.0 percent in viewers, 10.3 percent in 18-49 and 26.0 percent in 18-34, so skewed much younger.

The show did 162,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 32.8 percent from last week), 95,000 in women 18-34 (up 15.9 percent), 299,000 in men 35-49 (up 4.2 percent) and 215,000 in women 35-49 (up 3.4 percent).

In 18-49, the audience was 59.8 percent male.

As compared to one year ago, we don’t have the household number, but it was down 8.3 percent in viewers, which is a very low year-to-year-drop for a WWE show, 14.3 percent in 18-49 and 7.5 percent in 18-34, again much lower drops than is usual.
A few more notes on the 3/3 head-to-head. As noted last week, AEW skewed the oldest it has all year and NXT skewed the youngest, which was mostly due to AEW taking away a lot of the usual NXT over 50 audience that wanted to see Shaquille O’Neal early, but also with the main event already airing, some of the younger audience then went with NXT the rest of the show.

AEW was also down from usual with 1.43 viewers per home, as another thing Shaq did was bring a ton of new homes to the show, but they were one viewer homes. Actual homes watching were up 25 percent from usual, and they were mostly single viewers over the age of 50, very similar to the NXT audience. AEW still had the most viewers per home among wrestling shows, but they were way below all the NBA All-Star activity when it came to viewers per home and younger skewing audience. AEW skewed older than UFC and UFC had more viewers per home. AEW had an older audience than most soccer and NBA as well as UFC.

The Rhodes & Red Velvet vs. O’Neal & Jade Cargill match averaged 1,162,000 viewers and peaked at 1.3 million, which has a good chance of being the biggest numbers for each that AEW will have all year. However, the 469,000 in 18-49 was small.

Both AEW and NXT had more than one million viewers, numbers almost identical, when the show started. NXT got that based off its lead-in and AEW had it likely because of O’Neal. AEW gained from there while NXT’s opener with Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch was mostly in the 750,000 range, although NXT fell as low as 575,000 during the commercial break. NXT would go ahead in every AEW commercial break except n the last 30 minutes where even AEW’s commercials were getting more viewers than NXT’s wrestling.

The O’Neal match started at 400,000 in 18-49 and ended up at about 560,000. No AEW segment averaged 500,000, but there were a number of points in the show over 1 million viewers and a few over 500,000 in 18-49. However the only other segment that for its entirely that averaged over 1 million was the Chris Jericho/MJF press conference with the Young Bucks run in that did 1,004,000 viewers and 465,000 in 18-49 over 12 minutes. The FTR & Tully Blanchard vs. Jurassic Express match averaged 957,000 viewers and 448,000 in 18-49. The Paul Wight interview averaged 954,000 viewers and 469,000 in 18-49 and Nyla Rose vs. Ryo Mizunami averaged 931,000 viewers and 448,000 in 18-49.

NXT’s high point in 18-34 was Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed. In 35-49 it was Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai for the regular show and Finn Balor vs. Roderick Strong as the unopposed overrun. The unopposed overrun only did 48,000 viewers in 18-34 for NXT, actually the low point of the show, but did 221,000 in 35-49, the high point.

For AEW, the high point in 18-34 was the Wight interview and Rose vs. Mizunami, which is shocking it wasn’t the O’Neal match, but that’s likely because it was first and AEW usually peaks later. The O’Neal match was first in 35-49.

As noted, AEW skewed significantly older and more male than usual. NXT skewed significantly younger, but not more female, as the split was not significantly different from a lot of weeks, but it wasn’t as if it was the night that made a difference or the MTV show, because that would have affected NXT’s skew and didn’t. It was definitely women not interested in AEW at usual levels for whatever reason, and men more interested. Both would likely have to do with Shaq.

AEW was still the youngest skewing audience of the five national wrestling shows, although the O’Neal match and the Raw average were basically identical. Raw was second, with NXT very close to Raw while Smackdown skewed significantly older and Impact was still the oldest of all.
With AEW coming off a PPV and NXT advertising two title matches as part of angles built up for weeks, including one with the two biggest stars on the brand, the Wednesday numbers figured to be up.

And they weren’t. AEW was way down in viewers, but almost the same in 18-49, even though very strong in 35-49. They lost all the older single-home viewers brought in by Shaquille O’Neal last week, but were stronger than last week in three of the four key demos. They were also down in under 35 viewers.

NXT, pushing Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole and Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm should have had a big improvement over last week and they were actually the same in viewers and down in the key demo, with them picking up the over 50 audience they lost last week, but losing the younger audience they had last week.

The key takes are that the first TV appearance of Christian Cage appeared to mean nothing for the ratings. But for NXT to do what they did with Balor vs. Cole, who were both major ratings draws for the company in big matches in 2020, the numbers were even worse.

AEW did 743,000 viewers and 0.32 in 18-49 (415,000 viewers), good for fourth place for the night.

NXT finished in 25th place, with 691,000 viewers and 0.18 in 180-49 (229,000 viewers).

The NBA wasn’t on ESPN as is usual for Wednesday, and that should have helped AEW in particular because they have more similar demos. But the night on cable was dominated by South Park (1,740,000 viewers, 0.82 in 18-49 and 0.70 in 18-34, which are monster cable numbers). Challenge Double Agent did 927,000 viewers and 0.53 in 18-49. Between that and Real Housewives on Bravo, Married at First Sight, House Hunters and Farmhouse Fixers, there was a night with shows that did huge with women, which was the key component with the wrestling shows both being down.

AEW was second to South Park in Males 18-49, ninth in 18-34, and down to seventh in males 12-34.

The other sports were a Big 12 College Basketball tournament doubleheader on ESPN (560,000, 0.15 for the late game, 409,000, 0.13 for the game against the first 96 minute of wrestling), San Antonio vs. Dallas NBA on NBA TV (307,000 viewers; 0.12) and NHL on NBC Sports Network (Las Vegas vs. Minnesota doing 356,000 viewers and 0.11). So overlooked to a degree seems to be that the sports audience was way down across the board.

AEW was down 20.4 percent in viewers from last week’s show with Shaq, but only down 2.4 percent in 18-49 but down 18.5 percent in 18-34.

NXT was down 0.1 percent in viewers (a drop of 1,000), but down 11.6 percent in 18-49 and up 5.5 percent in 18-34.

Comparisons with last year are misleading because the Wednesday last year was the night Tom Hanks tested positive and the NBA shut down. AEW was still down 3.0 percent in viewers, but up 22.8 percent in 18-49 which again shows how much younger the audience is this year. But like I said, you can throw out that comparison. NXT from last year was down 0.9 percent in viewers but down 14.2 percent in 18-49.

AEW did 60,000 viewers in males 18-34 (down 31.8 percent from last week) to 36,000 for NXT (up 24.1 percent). AEW did 41,000 in women 18-34 (up 13.9 percent) to 22,000 for NXT (down 15.4 percent). AEW did 231,000 in men 35-49 (up 0.9 percent) to 114,000 for NXT (down 11.6 percent). AEW did 83,000 in women 35-49 (up 15.3 percent) to 57,000 for NXT (down 24.0 percent).

AEW won all eight quarters in total viewers, but a few were close, and obviously in 18-49, it wasn’t close. AEW doubled NXT in the first 45 minutes but not after that point.

In the main event battle, AEW with the show closing angle with Chris Jericho, MJF, his new group and the Inner Circle did 742,000 viewers and 391,000 in 18-49. NXT with Balor vs. Cole did 631,000 viewers and 213,000 in 18-49. However, when AEW went off the air the Balor vs. Cole match gained 183,000 viewers, the best gain since NXT went back to having an overrun.

AEW opened a 756,000 viewers and 462,000 in 18-49 for Matt Jackson vs. Rey Fenix. It was not only the highest number in 18-49 this week, but beat the Shaq match and everything else last week. NXT, with the big lead-in, did 740,000 viewers and 210,000 in 18-49 for William Regal’s two announcements and the presentation of the women’s tag team belts.

In the second quarter, AEW did 751,000 viewers and 441,00 in 18-49 for the end of Matt Jackson vs. Fenix, a Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston interview, Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Gargis and the Cody/Penta angle. NXT did 729,000 viewers and 219,000 in 18-49 for Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm and a Finn Balor promo.

In the third quarter, AEW did 757,000viewers and 445,000 in 18-49 for a Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy interview, Sting & Lance Archer & Jake Roberts, QT Marshall interview and the beginning of Lee Johnson vs. Ethan Page. NXT did 679,000 viewers and 224,000 in 18-49 for the L.A. Knight interview and confrontation with Bronson Reed, Pete Dunne vs. Jake Atlas, a Dunne promo and an Imperium promo.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 719,000 viewers and 418,000 in 18-49 for Johnson vs. Page, the post-match. The first part of the quarter and end of the prior quarter was the sound problems that likely hurt the quarter. The rest of the quarter had Adam Page & Dark Order and Kenny Omega & Don Callis & Good Brothers out. NXT did 683,000 viewers and 227,000 in 18-49 for a Leon Ruff interview and Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart for the tag titles.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 758,000 viewers and 413,000 in 18-49 for the Omega, Good Brothers, Callis brawl with Eddie Kingston and debut of Christian Cage and the beginning of the women’s six-person tag match with Nyla Rose & Britt Baker & Maki Itoh vs. Hikaru Shida & Ryo Mizunami & Thunder Rosa. NXT did 685,000 viewers and 245,000 in 18-49 for the end of the women’s tag title match, a Cole interview and The Way interview. That was NXT’s high point in 18-49.

In the sixth quarter, AEW fell to 697,000 viewers and 364,000 in 18-49 for the end of the women’s six-person match, Matt Hardy introducing Butcher & Blade & Bunny to his stable and the beginning of Darby Allin vs Scorpio Sky. NXT did 685,000 viewers and 242,000 in 18-49 for Xia Li vs. Kayden Carter, the post-match, a Jordan Devlin promo and a Zoey Stark piece and a Santos Escobar promo.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 766,000 viewers and 385,000 in 18-49 for Allin vs. Sky for the TNT title. This was the high point in viewers for AEW. NXT had 639,000viewers and 225,000 in 18-49 for Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza, the post-match, Shirai challenging Gonzalez, a Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher interview and the beginning of Cole vs. Balor.

In the final quarter with The Inner Circle blowing up going against Cole vs. Balor, AEW lost 24,000 viewers but gained 6,000 in 18-49. NXT lost 8,000 viewers and lost 12,000 in 18-49.
We’ve gotten the WWE ratings from the U.K. for the past several weeks from Raw on 2/1 did 109,100 viewers, which was a great number. This was the day after Rumble show headlined by Edge vs. Orton. It was the first time a WWE show had topped 100,000 since March 9, 2020 (which was also the last show before an arena crowd). NXT and NXT U.K. didn’t chart and smackdown did 67,700 viewers. For 2/8, Raw fell to 56,900 while the other shows didn’t chart. For the week from 2/15 to 2/19, Raw did 44,900 viewers. NXT did 35,900 which is the first time NXT charted since 9/16. NXT U.K. didn’t chart. Smackdown did 50,500 viewers. AEW on 2/19 did 145,000 for an 11:20 p.m. start. A correction. ITV doesn’t stream Dynamite prior to the Friday night airing any longer. But the hardcore fans watch Dynamite on FITE for $5 per month and get access to it live (or the next morning if they prefer rather than waiting for Friday night)
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Old 03-19-2021, 03:35 PM   #1547
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

The Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon match was announced for Raw, then became an angle, and then was announced for Fast Lane. Then there was talk it was off Fast Lane for Mania, but nothing could be confirmed at press time past it has simply stopped being advertised for the show after it was announced on Raw for the show.
NXT had a COVID outbreak this past week. A number of people scheduled for the 3/17 show were pulled, some for testing positive and some or being exposed to someone who had tested positive.

The biggest name involved was Paul Levesque. His situation is being kept secretive but it was said he was quarantining, but not that he has COVID. He missed Raw on 3/15 and also wasn’t at NXT on 3/17, with Shawn Michaels and Brian James running the show.

Also not in the building included referee Drake Wuertz, Pete Dunne, Timothy Thatcher, Alexander Wolfe, Wes Lee, Carter Nash, Zack Gibson, James Drake, Leon Ruff, Isaiah Scott, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. I believe Cameron Grimes wasn’t either as they just showed stiff photos of him rather than doing a vignette with him as they had been doing, but I didn’t get hat name confirmed. Ruff’s fiancé, Aja Smith, was there. Lee, Nash, Gibson, Drake, Gargano and LeRae were on the show in segments that were zoomed in. Dunne should have been part of the interview segment with Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch but wasn’t there. Gargano & LeRae did a Zoom from home trying to explain why they weren’t there for Austin Theory for his match with Dexter Lumis, saying they wanted him on his own. Indi Hartwell also didn’t appear on television but we didn’t hear if she wasn’t there, but it wasn’t like there was an obvious sport for her on the show without Gargano and LeRae. The TV main event was scheduled originally as Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Imperium, but Ciampa did an interview saying Imperium took out Thatcher but you’ll find that Wolfe isn’t around, implying he took Wolfe out. At the time word of the outbreak came, both the Scott vs. Ruff and Ciampa & Thatcher vs. Imperium matches were pulled from advertising. Ciampa ended up doing a singles match with Marcel Barthel which set up a future singles match with Walter, likely on one of the two Takeover shows. Those not there could have tested positive, been exposed to those who tested positive, or in some cases, not been booked to be there because the person they were doing a match or angle with tested positive, or weren’t needed. Wuertz not being there allowed WWE to promote the show as the first one in company history where all four referees working the show were of color.

Regarding the COVID positives, one of the things people were saying is that on 3/11, they were building and moving rings in the building next to the Performance Center and some of the people working weren’t following protocol and wearing masks. Now it’s been noted to us that the belief is some got it from that, but the issue came earlier because there were people who were sick on 3/12, and the belief is it takes two days from exposure to sickness, so that at least some people got it prior to 3/11.
PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Go Shiozaki, who carried the company last year and placed seventh for Wrestler of the Year and had two of the year’s best bouts with Takashi Sugiura and Katsuhiko Nakajima in GHC title matches while battling a significant shoulder injury, will be undergoing surgery for the injury. He’ll be out of action for several months
The Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk and Lindaman) announced that they were joining the new GLEAT promotion. GLEAT is also trying to do a working relationship through Cima with AAA. Cima has said that before the pandemic, the idea was for all three of them to base themselves in Mexico City, work for AAA, and Mexico City would lead to easier travel to AEW as well. Ryuichi Kawakami of Big Japan has also signed with GLEAT and finishes up with Big Japan at the end of the month and starts with the new group on 4/1,.
The combined NFL contract which are now all signed went for $10 billion annually over a new 11-year-deal. Most of the stuff remains the same, with ESPN getting Mondays, NBC getting Sunday nights and CBS and FOX on Sundays as well. FOX didn’t get the Thursday shows, which will air on Amazon Prime as an exclusive for $1 billion per year. The key is that Amazon Prime did bid giant money for a premium sports franchise. The belief is that the NFL and NBA would get big money deals but that would limit the cash the networks that bid on these new deals would have for secondary sports, which is where pro wrestling and MMA can fit in. The contract covers the seasons from 2023 to 2033. ESPN+ and Peacock will each get one exclusive game, plus Paramount (CBS), ESPN+ (ABC/ESPN) and Peacock (NBC) will simulcast a number of television games. The biggest part of the story as it relates to pro wrestling is that Monday nights will be getting tougher. ABC/ESPN is expanding from 17 to 23 games, and also will be getting better gams than in the past in the last several weeks as it used to be a locked in schedule and now they can pick games based on what they think will draw from week 12 on. In addition, there will be three weeks where ABC and ESPN will air different games, which will cut into each others’ audience, but two different NFL games against Raw will hurt Raw numbers. The NHL having a huge increase was a positive sign for WWE and AEW. With the NHL, it’s as much prestige of the brand as a major sport that you can charge high ad rates for, which WWE and AEW don’t bring to the table. But except for the Stanley Cup finals, don’t do ratings as big as either wrestling company

For pro wrestling drop comparisons, this is how college basketball regular season ratings did as compared to last season (the regular season ended before COVID was a factor). CBS was down 9.7 percent. FOX was down 9.2 percent. ESPN was down 21.3 percent. ABC was up 60.7 percent. ESPN 2 was down 12.3 percent. FA 1 was down 10.0 percent
Josh Barnett said of Bloodsport that he would love to have Brock Lesnar on a show but that it would be impossible to make that work financially. He said he did inquire with the management of Cain Velasquez to be on an upcoming show but they couldn’t make that work either. They also announced Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Rocky Romero for the next show on 4/8 at the Cuban Club in Tampa
Leyla Hirsch has signed a regular deal here. She had been working on a per event deal and signed a full-time guaranteed money contract. Hirsch, originally from Moscow, wrestled amateur at 121 and 131 pounds from 2013 to 2017 and then started at CZW in 2017. She debuted in Stardom in 2020 and started in AEW on Dynamite on 10/21 somebody to lose a TV match to Hikaru Shida and did so well they booked her for NWA title match the next day to lose to Serena Deeb, and she’s been used ever since
Brandon Thurston had some figures on the last PPV and noted that the promotional cut of the total gross of revenue is actually lower than 50 percent. For B/R Live and television cable in the U.S., where most of the buys come from, AEW gets 45 percent of the total gross and the hosting company gets the rest. For FITE TV and other overseas distributors, the promoter cut is 40 percent. Right now Revolution, depending on the television PPV buy numbers and late buys, figures to do between 122,000 (if the television PPV numbers are the same as Full Gear) and 137,000 buys (if television numbers in the U.S. increase at the same percentage that the streaming numbers did, which would theoretically be the case but not for sure). Generally in PPV the early reported television number will increase 10-15 percent although AEW is probably less than that average because of more hardcore and less casual fans. Even in recent years with WWE it’s been the same. Because FITE charges so much less than B/R and Cable, the total gross would fall closer to $5.3 million to $5.6 million for the PPV end along with $74,750 for the live gate and $20,700 for merchandise so it’ll will end up around a $5.4 million to $5.7 million not including the closed-circuit revenue. That would still be the largest for any non-WWE pro wrestling show since 1999 and no promotion in history except WWE, WCW and New Japan would have ever taken that much in for one night for any show. The actual AEW cut of this would be in the range of $2.3 million to $2.5 million from PPV. However, the value to a streaming company that would buy the rights would be $4.0 million to 4.9 million just for the U.S. because they wouldn’t have to share the split. That’s how ESPN+ can pay UFC like it’s McGregor and Rousey in their primes and in a down year still more than make out, because UFC previously was getting 50 percent while ESPN+, by removing television PPV, gets 100 percent (it actually gets less than that depending on the method of ordering but in most homes it would be 100 percent). We also haven’t factored in the closed-circuit numbers for the show, but given the pandemic, and social distancing limiting capacity and fewer people going out, even though anecdotal reports on attendance were higher than expected, that figure probably isn’t all that significant. In the end, the key is the explosive barbed wire match drew big and even if it had worked, they can’t do it again. And actually this was a bad day, with the NBA All-Star game, the Oprah interview and the day after a huge UFC event, so that almost magnifies how big the main event stipulation was. But all you learn from this is that it drew the first time, but because of what happened, it’s hard to think it would a second time, and best case scenario you couldn’t do it again for at least a year anyway and given what happened it may be a lot longer than that before they’d try it again. It appeared more than half of the new customers were leaning toward buying the next show but a very significant percentage also are not willing at all. But the business end has evolved to where it’s more about coming up with gimmicks for the main event than matches or grudge matches or promos building matches, and outside entertainment factors in. AEW’s first PPV after they got television, with Cody Rhodes vs. Chris Jericho, had a big stip with Cody vowing to never challenge if he lost, and the best promos to build such a match you could hope for, and I don’t know that any of that mattered as far as the number went
Tony Schiavone has put together a graphic novel of his life called “Butts in Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story.” He was looking for $20,000 in crowd funding for the project and got $29,000 the first day
When the “live” feed went up for the debut of Dark Elevation on 3/15 they were averaging about 30,000 viewers, which isn’t a ton at all but YouTube shows rarely have big viewership at the moment. But the key interesting stat is they were doing 30,000 before Raw started, and after Raw started, they were doing about 29,500 and for a show like that, you’d expect numbers to drop even more than that on the first feed as it goes along to begin with. It’s the same thing regarding the homes that buy WWE on PPV, the percentage of those homes who buy an AEW show is shockingly small. One would expect a serious drop when Raw starts and that not happening has to be considered a shock, but also tells you just how different the two audiences are. It also tells you the difference between television and streaming. When WWE was doing similar live streaming with a Smackdown-lead in and promotion on the show they were doing 35,000 to 65,000 viewers and with no lead-in would have done lower. Basically all the talk of streaming getting a new younger audience that TV doesn’t reach is not the case. Even worldwide views (which measure a few seconds of viewing) vs. domestic television numbers (which measure an average of viewers over two hours) have domestic television numbers dwarfing streaming. Keep in mind the 30,000 in worldwide and until that number (not the final streaming but the live streaming) is probably around 1 million or more worldwide, that would be comparable to the reach of television
This is the A&E schedule for shows that will be airing on Sunday nights from 8-10 p.m. It will be Steve Austin on 4/18, Randy Savage on 4/25, Roddy Piper on 5/2, Booker T on 5/9, Shawn Michaels on 5/16, Bret Hart on 5/23, Mick Foley on 5/30 (which will go head-to-head with the next AEW PPV show), and Ultimate Warrior on 6/6. I was interviewed for the final three episodes although that doesn’t mean I’ll be on them. I was told the Hart episode is really good and I was a big part of that one
Once again not a lot of new WWE network content as far as the most-watched shows, given how high NXT placed. The top ten this past week as far as viewing goes were: 1. The Best of Fast Lane; 2. The Making of Stone Cold; 3. Fast Lane 2015; 4. Heaven (the documentary on high school wrestler Heaven Fitch that was No. 1 last week); 5. NXT from 3/10; 6. Smackdown 2/12; 7. Elimination Chamber 2021; 8. Raw Talk; 9. Talking Smack; 10. Royal Rumble 2021. NXT U.K. was 13th. No other current wrestling or indie wrestling (and they are airing new Progress shows) cracked the top 25. It’s notable the only shows actually pushed on television were No. 8 and No. 9, and the top two, if I didn’t have a list, I wouldn’t have even known of them

Raw on 3/15 did an average of 1,843,000 viewers and 0.56 in 18-49, but the biggest story was that the 18-49 audience that usually drops greatly, rose throughout the show.

That led to just a 4.9 percent decline from hour one to hour three, the lowest in a long time. The key to this is partially the first week of Daylight Savings Time. During the winter months, the first hour is almost always the highest. During daylight savings time, very often the second hour is the highest and the level of declines lower. While the first hour was the highest in overall viewers by all of 1,000 viewers, with people arriving to the show late, the third hour doesn’t drop as much.

The first hour did 1,874,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,873,000 viewers. And the third hour did 1,782,000 viewers.

But for women 18-49, the three hours, in order, were 0.39, 0.40 and 0.43, and with men they were 0.66, 0.72 and 0.74, the reverse of normal. The big growth over last week was with teenage girls which were up 40.3 percent from last week.

Raw won the night in women 18-49 (rare), men 18-49, placed second in 18-34 (behind one NBA game), won in women 12-34 (even rarer) and was third in men 12-34 (behind both NBA games).

The biggest competition was the NBA, which saw the late game (starting just before Raw ended) doing 1,285,000 viewers and 0.47 in 18-49 and 0.40 in 18-34, and the game mostly against Raw doing 1,125,000 viewers, 0.38 in 18-49 and 0.32 in 18-34.

Overall, Raw placed eighth for the night, tying its best showing in recent months, finishing behind seven news shows.

Raw was down 2.8 percent in total viewers, but up 0.8 percent in 18-49 and 4.1 percent in 18-34. So it held steady and grew with the Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus main event, which was never said to either be for or not for the title until the match started.

As compared to last year’s show, which was a show replaying old PPV matches with little new content as it was week one of the pandemic, the show was down 21.1 percent in viewers, 21.1 percent in 18-49 and 36.5 percent in 18-34. Raw did 123,000 viewers in male 18-34 (down 14.0 percent), 107,000 in women 18-34 (up 37.2 percent), 335,000 in men 35-49 (up 3.4 percent) and 160,000 in women 35-49 (down 8.0 percent).

As far as the first-to-third hour, there was growth in 18-49 but the other demos shows normal level declines, actually teenage declines were worse than usual and over 50 declined, but not quite at the usual level. Women 18-49 grew 10.3 percent. Men 18-49 grew 12.1 percent. Teenage girls dropped 20.6 percent. Teenage boys dropped 26.8 percent.
Smackdown on 3/12 did a 1.31 rating and 2,171,000 viewers (1.37 viewers per home) and an 0.61 (795,000 viewers) in 18-49. It also did a 0.35 in 18-34.

Smackdown was second to Shark Tank in 18-49 (Shark Tank at 0.64) and second in 18-34 (Shark Tank at 0.40). For overall viewers, Smackdown was sixth among the seven prime time shows only beating a rerun show on CBS. CBS had all rerun programming while ABC and NBC had first-run.

There was nothing on cable that beat Smackdown, although College Basketball on ESPN, including a game that started at 11:33 p.m. in the Pac-12 tournament, did very close (0.30 and 0.31) in 18-34, which being on ESPN, is far more impressive than what Smackdown did on FOX. Those games did 0.39 and 0.27 in 18-49, so the 11:33 p.m. game actually saw 18-34 way higher than 35-49, which is a rarity.

As compared to the week before, with the Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso cage match, the households were down 3.7 percent, viewers were down 3.6 percent, 18-49 was actually up 3.1 percent while 18-34 was down 5.4 percent. Most number drops except in 35-49 with the big increase would be expected at that level coming off a show with a cage match.

As compared to the same week last year, Smackdown was down 17.6 percent in homes watching, down 12.1 percent in total viewers, down 15.6 percent in 18-49 and down 30.0 percent in 18-34.

Smackdown did 157,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 3.1 percent from last week), 86,000 in women 18-34 (down 9.5 percent), 316,000 in men 35-49 (up 5.7 percent) and 236,000 in women 35-49 (up 9.8 percent)./
The 3/17 ratings saw both AEW and NXT do disappointing numbers.

AEW, built around the first women’s main event in Dynamite history with Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa in a lights out match that was one of the best matches in the history of the show, did 768,000 viewers but fell to an 0.28 (362,000 viewers) in 18-49. It finished in sixth place for the night.

NXT did 597,000 viewers and an 0.13 (164,000 viewers) in 18-49. It was the third lowest 18-49 number in the show’s history, and really the worst because the only two lower were 12/30 going against the Alabama vs. Ohio State college football championship game and 2/21 going against Trump’s impeachment. Still, even with the near record low, it was at No. 42, and many weeks they’ve been out of the top 50.

The reason for the decline is perhaps what was advertised not being strong enough, but also St. Patrick’s Day meaning the 18-49 audience went out, perhaps in higher numbers than expected. For the top entertainment shows, 67 percent declined from the prior week in it wasn’t just a wrestling thing.

AEW actually did well in most demos as far as standings, finishing third behind two NBA games in Males 18-49, fifth in 18-34, ninth in women 12-34 and fourth (behind two NBA games and Challenge Double Agent) in men 12-34. But in women 18-49, it tied June 24, 2020, a middle of pandemic show, for its worst number in history.

NXT figured to not do well since they really didn’t do well the week before with a loaded up show with two major title matches pushed for a week and a third added the night of the show. This week had nothing like that, although they did headline with a tag team title match.

AEW was up 3.4 percent in viewers from last week, but down 12.8 percent in 18-49 and down 4.0 percent in 18-34, so aged up. NXT was down 13.6 percent in viewers from last week, but down 28.4 percent in 18-49 and down 5.2 percent in 18-34.

As compared to last year, AEW was down 17.6 percent in viewers, 20.0 percent in 18-49 and 26.3 percent in 18-34. Last year’s show was a big one with the debut of Matt Hardy and Brodie Lee, and NXT was an all taped highlights show so AEW really had no competition.

NXT was up 10.1 percent over an all taped show last year, but still down 18.8 percent in 18-49.

The most notable stuff regarded the main event segments. AEW with Baker vs. Rosa did 795,000 viewer and 387,000 in 18-49 in the final quarter. NXT with a tag team title match with Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Finn Balor & Karrion Kross did 523,000 viewers and 129,000 in 18-49, which has to be the lowest NXT number ever and AEW tripled NXT in the slot. It was very much AEW pulling the NXT audience over for that match, because when AEW went off the air, NXT had an immediate gain of 264,000 viewers and 86,000 in 18-49, which may be the largest gain after the show AEW has gone off the air to date.

As far as channel switches for the main events in total, Rosa vs. Baker gained 11,000 men 18-34, 35,000 men 35-49, 2,000 women 18-34 and 11,000 women 35-49.

NXT lost 3,000 men 18-34, 33,000 men 35-49, gained 5,000 women 18-34 and lost 2,000 women 35-49.

Overall, AEW killed NXT with men, but while winning with women, it wasn’t nearly as one-sided.

AEW did 59,000 in men 18-34 (down 1.7 percent from last week) to 24,000 for NXT (down 33.3 percent). AEW did 38,000 women 18-34 (down 7.3 percent) to 31,000 for NXT (up 40.9 percent). AEW did 206,000 in men 35-49 (down 10.8 percent) to 61,000 for NXT (down 46.5 percent). AEW did 64,000 in women 35-49 (down 22.9 percent) to 48,000 for NXT (down 15.8 percent).

AEW opened with 848,000 viewers and 388,000 in 18-49 for Cody Rhodes vs. Penta. Both those numbers were the AEW high point. It was also the peak for women 18-49. NXT opened with 663,000 viewers and 192,000 in 18-49 for the Finn Balor, Karrion Kross, Scarlett, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch promo segment and the start of Dexter Lumis vs. Austin Theory. This was the NXT peak for total viewers, 18-49 viewers, men 18-49, and women 18-49.

The second quarter saw AEW do 797,000 viewers and 379,000 in 18-49 for a Young Bucks & Don Callis promo, Jade Cargill vs. Dani Jordyn and the beginning of the Pinnacle promo. This was the AEW peak fr men 18-34. NXT did 612,000 viewers and 166,000 in 18-49 for Lumis vs. Theory and interviews with Tommaso Ciampa, This was the NXT peak for men 18-34.

In the third quarter, AEW had 735,000 viewers and 343,000 in 18-49 with the bulk of The Pinnacle promo plus Matt Hardy & Private Party & Butcher & Blade vs. Bear Country & Jurassic Express. NXT did 594,000 viewers and 166,000 in 18-49 for Aliyah & Jessi Kamea challenging Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart and Tyler Breeze & Fandango vs. Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde.

In the fourth quarter, AEW had 741,000 viewers and 352,000 in 18-49 for the rest of the ten men tag as well as interviews with Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston and with Christian Cage. NXT did 583,000 viewers and 166,000 in 18-49 for the finish of Mendoza & Wilde vs. Breeze & Fandango and the Santos Escobar/Jordan Devlin confrontation.

In the fifth quarter, AEW had 835,000 viewers and 382,000 in 18-49 for Moxley & Kingston vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson and the post-match with Kenny Omega, Callis and Young Bucks. This was the AEW peak for women 18-34. NXT had 564,000 viewers and 153,000 in 18-49 for Dakota Kai vs. Zoey Stark and Io Shirai coming out to confront Raquel Gonzalez. This tied for the NXT peak for women 18-34.

In the sixth quarter, AEW had 716,000 viewers and 340,000 in 18-49 for interviews with Sting, Darby Allin, Jake Roberts, Lance Archer and Team Taz and the start of Fenix vs. Angelico. NXT had 604,000 viewers and 161,000 in 18-49 for stuff MSK, Grizzled Young Veterans, Ciampa vs. Marcel Barthel, the return of Walter and Kyle O’Reilly running Adam Cole off the road.

In the seventh quarter, AEW had 676,000 viewers and 328,000 I 18-49 for the end of Fenix vs. Angelico, Miro & Kip Sabian promo and the Baker vs. Rosa intros and start. NXT did 568,000 viewers and 162,000 in 18-49 for an LA Knight promo, Knight vs. August Gray and a Gonzalez & Kai promo.

The final quarter saw AEW with Baker vs. Rosa gain 119,000 viewers and 59,000 in 18-49. It was also AEW’s peak in men 18-49. NXT with Lorcan & Burch defending against Balor & Kross lost 45,000 viewers and 33,000 in 18-49. But it was the NXT peak in women 18-34.

AEW did a 0.12 in 12-17 (up 33.3 percent from last week), 0.14 in 18-34 (down 4.0 percent), 0.42 in 35-49 (down 14.0 percent) and 0.31 in 50+ (up 24.0 percent).

The audience was 73.2 percent male in 18-49 which remains well over what the show usually does, and 54.6 percent male in 12-17.

NXT did a 0.10 in 12-17 (up 66.7 percent), 0.08 in 18-34 (down 5.2 percent), 0.18 in 35-49 (down 36.3 percent) and 0.34 in 50+ (down 12.8 percent).

NXT was 51.8 percent male in 18-49, way lower than usual, and 78.6 percent male in 12-17.
Regarding DVR viewers, for the period from 2/17 to 3/10 AEW’s has increased its DVR viewership to 34 percent above the initial number while NXT has fallen to 25 percent. Previously both were almost identical at 31 and 30 percent
Dark Side of the Ring Confidential, which was a replay of the Montreal screwjob episode along with comments from the producers along with Conrad Thompson in wrap-arounds did 81,000 viewers and an 0.02.
In Canada, Raw on 3/8 did 231,300 viewers and 127,400 in 25-54. On 3/10, neither AEW nor NXT charted in Canada. The No. 10 sports show was 113,500 viewers. Smackdown on 3/12 did 190,700 viewers in Canada and 97,600 in 25-54
In an interesting note, NXT went from charting every so often in Canada on Fridays to not charting at all ever since they moved to Wednesdays a few weeks ago.
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Old 03-19-2021, 06:15 PM   #1548
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I appreciate the posts. It's crazy how inconsiquential Meltzer is at this point. His reporting is no longer interesting to me. And weirdly enough, I stopped subscribing to him over a year ago and still have full access to the site. Still I never go on. He doesn't provide anything that I can't get from Ringside News or 411. I think that when it comes to WWE there isn't much to know anymore, nobody knows what's going on there even at the top.
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Old 03-19-2021, 06:29 PM   #1549
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411Mania is a good secondary site but without the Observer, they'd lose out on a good chunk of their news articles since him, PWI, and Fightful make up the majority of their news postings.

Ringside News used to be in a similar spot but they've broken some news stories in recent times.
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Old 03-26-2021, 03:59 PM   #1550
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

WWE is now two weeks away from WrestleMania, and there is at least a semblance of a lineup of what will take place on what night.

The idea is for three-and-a-half to four hours shows on both 4/10 and 4/11 from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. It will be the first WWE show with more than a few hundred fans in more than one year, and with the exception of 1/4 at the Tokyo Dome, the first pro wrestling shows of any kind with more than 10,000 fans in attendance.

Announced for the Saturday night show is a main event of Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE title, plus Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the Smackdown women’s title and The Miz vs. Bad Bunny.

The Sunday main event will be Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge for the Universal title (at this point it is announced as Reigns vs. Edge but that has been changed, and the change is expected to be announced after an angle on the 3/26 Smackdown show), Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley for the Raw women’s title and The Fiend vs. Randy Orton, likely in a stipulation match ...

There have been a number of changes in recent weeks. The biggest is the Universal title match, where Edge turned heel and screwed Daniel Bryan in his Fast Lane main event with Reigns on 3/21.

That was a late change stemming from a decision made by Vince McMahon that he wanted a number of things changed, including Reigns vs. Edge. Numerous suggestions were made by a lot of people, most of which were said to be bad. The one eventually greenlit was adding Bryan to the match, which everyone agreed to. At that point the feeling was Bryan would be the face. There was a lot of conjecture that Reigns would have been cheered over Edge, and that may have happened and may have led to Edge going heel, but we’re told that was not the reason the match was changed. One person close to the situation said that the age issue, not as much the number as the look of age (“he was looking older each week”) with Edge was a concerning point. But really, it was said it was just McMahon wanting to shake up the plans ...

The Miz & John Morrison vs. Bad Bunny & Damien Priest match was changed from a tag to a single. Morrison hasn’t wrestled since suffering a knee injury in his 2/22 match with Riddle. But he is on television each week walking around. It’s unclear if that’s the reason for the change. One would think at WrestleMania if you can walk and do a music video (airing on the 3/29 Raw) that you could do a tag match, but no reason was given for the change. Both Morrison and Priest are to be in the corners. The idea of the match is obviously to get pub and media coverage for the company, and that’s good for a day. But the goal for using celebrities, as has been done historically, is to create long-term stars to the general public off them. It doesn’t always work out, but Cyndi Lauper was there for Wendi Richter and later Hulk Hogan, Mr. T was there for Hogan and Roddy Piper, Mike Tyson was there for Steve Austin, Donald Trump was there for Bobby Lashley and in this case, Bunny was there for Priest. Priest being out of the match and the promos may be removed from a key part of that equation, but time will tell. Priest also didn’t appear on Raw this week.

Charlotte Flair announced she had COVID-19. She missed the 3/15 and 3/22 Raw. We’re told she is getting better. She was slated for a match with Asuka at WrestleMania. I suppose it’s possible to add her and they wanted to announce a match. Usually the company goes with two weeks, and a case from before 3/15 in theory should be fine by 4/10, but every case is different. It’s a surprise they’d take her out for a case from nearly a month earlier, but that’s what happened.

Obviously COVID-19 changed a lot of plans. It mostly hit NXT, but as shown with Flair, the main roster was not unscathed. Of those who were gone last week, because the show this week was more than ten days after the outbreak and positive tests, many were able to return this week for NXT. Paul Levesque, who missed last week, was back running the show on 3/24. Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae and Cameron Grimes were also back. The rest who missed last week were not back, including a number of people announced for the Takeover Stand & Deliver shows that they didn’t do any angles with.

This is the first WrestleMania in years without a hotshot legend. The only non-weekly television regular involved at this point, besides part-timer Edge, is recording star Bad Bunny. It is almost the close of a era with no Undertaker, John Cena, HHH, Batista or Brock Lesnar scheduled on the show, although there are still obvious matches for Lesnar on the table with Reigns, McIntyre or Lashley. Tickets for WrestleMania went on sale on 3/18. They had announced 25,000 tickets would be available for each night. At press time, there were 1,203 tickets left for Saturday and 864 for Sunday, which sounds like each show will eventually be an easy sellout. But it is not clear how many tickets have actually been put on sale. There are numbers much lower than 25,000 floating around of tickets put on sale with the idea that more could be released late. There were between 1,300 and 1,400 tickets left after the presale for each night, which showed very few tickets were sold, almost none for Saturday and a few hundred for Sunday, over the past six days.
WWE moves to its new location, the Yuengling Center in Tampa on the campus of the University of South Florida for the Raw show on 4/12, the day after WrestleMania. There are no plans at this point for selling tickets to the Tampa shows, which are expected to be the case for a few months. That can change, and WWE can sell every available seat in the building as there are no governmental restrictions. It’s notable that both major U.S. wrestling companies are running Florida with no restrictions on ticket sales, and both are limiting ticket sales, unlike UFC.
WWE’s final PPV before WrestleMania, Fast Lane, on 3/21 from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, was a mixed bag overall.

The overall Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns main event was great, and was a clever way to tell a story to get to the destination of a three-way as Edge laid out both with chair shots and beat them down, but Reigns was able to pin Bryan. The match included Bryan forcing Reigns to tap to the yes lock during a ref bump. It’s also notable that this was largely the same as New Japan with Evil in the sense it’s all kinds of ref bumps and outside interference. It’s seems with WWE, people overlook it. With AEW they don’t like it. With New Japan they despise it. You could say it’s because it’s gotten old in New Japan, but nobody relies on it more than WWE, as with almost every Reigns match since his return has been based on outside help and referee bumps.

Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre was a great hard hitting match. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins and Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali were good. The rest was not good at all. Big E vs. Apollo Crews was short with a botched finish, and a surprisingly slow pace. Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon was a simple bait-and-switch that only WWE or AAA could get away with because fans of any other product would be furious at how they were treated with the false advertising. Alexa Bliss vs. Randy Orton was exactly what it was going to be when you have a match where Orton isn’t allowed to touch Bliss or do any moves to her.

The most notable thing about the show was the lack of interest in it. Based on Google searches, the show did between 110,000 and 140,000 searches, a number lower than any WWE PPV shows have done with the exception of some of the Saudi shows or the Australia show held on weekdays or bad time slots. It was the first time in history that an AEW show, with Revolution topping 200,000 searches, had more general interest than a WWE show in the same period. The AEW show had more interest in 38 of the 50 states. Granted, it was AEW’s biggest show to date and this was the least interest in a major WWE show, and WrestleMania will have far more interest than Revolution.

Even in WWE’s traditional home base of New York, Revolution had a 27 percent edge, but there were key markets like Minneapolis (where there was 113 percent more interest in Fast Lane), Houston, Memphis, Dallas, St. Louis and the Carolinas, the traditional wrestling markets that in all cases rejected WWE the strongest in the 80s, that all had an edge today for WWE. Among the markets where Revolution had a 50 percent or more edge included the San Francisco Bay Area (56 percent more), Chicago (50 percent), Boston (94 percent), Las Vegas (123 percent), Baltimore (86 percent) and Seattle (78 percent). AEW was even in Tampa and even well ahead in WWE’s home base of Orlando, ahead in Miami and 103 percent ahead in AEW’s home base of Jacksonville. This correlates with PPV pretty well, since when we got market-by-market PPVs, Minneapolis, for instance, did more buys for WWE on traditional PPV than AEW, even though WWE’s vast majority of viewers watched on the WWE Network. However, Salt Lake City, which at the start was AEW’s worst PPV market, still had a 33 percent edge in interest of the two shows this month. Of course this is an unusual set of circumstances but it will be something to look at in May, as to whether AEW can keep all the new interest it got in PPV leading into the last show.
Will Ospreay won the New Japan Cup on 3/21 at the Xebio Arena in Sendai, beating Shingo Takagi in perhaps the greatest match in the long history of the tournament ...

After a grueling 30:06, which included one of the most amazing sequences ever, Ospreay hit the storm breaker to get the pin. That would have been a great ending to the show. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Instead, in doing a promo after the match, where Ospreay noted he had been wrestling for some time with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, and had broken his nose in the match with Sabre seven days earlier, he noted that he didn’t care about legacy, or history, only about being the No. 1 wrestler in the world today. He said winning the tournament does not make you No. 1, but winning the IWGP world heavyweight title does, and said about his title shot at Kota Ibushi on 4/4 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, “I need this more than anything and I will do anything it takes to take this away.” He said, “I love this more than anything or anyone,” and then turned to longtime girlfriend Bea Priestley and hit her with a diamond cutter and laid her out. He left the ring with Jeff Cobb and the Great O’Khan, while Priestley was in the ring getting attended to.

New Japan is introducing a new World championship belt for Ibushi, to be defended for the first time on 4/4. Ibushi will first wear the belt on the 3/30 show at Korakuen Hall.

The angle was controversial. It was done because Priestley is not signing a new deal with New Japan. Her being helped out was either writing her out of the promotion (most likely) or perhaps there will be another appearance or two, but probably not, and she is leaving. The decision to not sign was her’s.
With the expectation of NXT on USA moving from Wednesday to Tuesday starting on 4/13, Impact Wrestling announced it was moving from Tuesday to Thursday on AXS.

The move takes place starting on 4/8, and to establish the new day, they are doing their first television match with Kenny Omega. Omega & Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson will headline against Rich Swann & Eddie Edwards & Willie Mack, to help push the Omega vs. Swann title vs. title match on 4/25.

The move makes sense. In its past history, whenever WWE programming went on the same night as Impact, Impact had a large bite taken out of its audience, often 30 percent or more. Now it has been a long time, but they aren’t willing to take that risk and Impact is the highest rated show on AXS.

The moves will lead to, for the first time ever, pro wrestling on national television on all five weeknights in prime time, not to mention the variety of streaming shows ...

They are pushing that this is a move to the traditional night and time slot of Impact. Impact at its most popular ran Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on Spike TV. TNA started outside of prime time in 2005 on Spike with a one-hour late night show, but moved to Thursdays in 2006, as a two-hour show, through the Spike run that ended at the end of 2014. In 2015, when it moved to Destination America, it moved to Friday, and then later Thursday in 2016 after moving to Pop TV. It moved to Tuesday in 2019.
Regarding La Sombra, all of a sudden this week it was announced by CMLL that there is a new Los Ingobernables group of Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & El Terrible. El Terrible at times had been part of the original group
There was a protest match with about 50 wrestlers from various companies in Mexico City on 3/18 asking for the government to allow Lucha Libre at 30 percent capacity. El Fantasma (the father of Santos Escobar) who heads the Box y Lucha commission, led the protest. He delivered a message to Mexico City government sub secretary Efrain Morales Lopez and then said Lucha Libre may open up in two weeks. Mije was one of the wrestlers and said he was selling snacks and sweets now for money. CMLL did acknowledge some of its talent protested but said they were not part of the protest and that they support the government and will wait for the government to decide when they can bring back fans
Two of the biggest legends in Japanese wrestling history, Genichiro Tenryu and Antonio Inoki, have been hospitalized of late. Inoki, 78, had recent surgery and was in a bad way. Tenryu, 71, has been hospitalized since 3/19 with congestive heart failure. He is expected to be hospitalized for some time. It would have probably been kept quiet except he was scheduled for a talk show on 3/28 with Kenta Kobashi that he had to cancel
The 3/3 Stardom PPV did 3,000 buys, of which about 750 were outside of Japan. The number of buyers outside of Japan was more than the company had expected. Stardom World subscriptions the first week of March went up at the fastest rate in the history of the service. A lot of the PPV buys and new subscribers that week came after the show, so that was based on word of mouth from people who had seen and talked about the show ...

There has been talk of doing live shows on Stardom World in 2022 but right now they are very happy with making money from the PPV and since both did above expectations after the Budokan Hall show, right now it looks like they won’t mess with what is working. Over the past 15 months, even with no airing shows live, Stardom World subscriptions have more than doubled
There is at least the beginning of talk of reviving Lucha Underground. It would be the same type of ideas, although with a different name
The [Impact Wrestling] Xplosion show which has been around forever was quietly canceled. They are doing the same amount of television, but they now have an extra hour from 7-8 p.m. on AXS which is the preview show for Impact, and they do one exclusive match on that show
AEW: They officially announced a new reality show that will air later this year on TNT called “Rhodes to the Top.” It will be a weekly 30 minute show on Cody & Brandi Rhodes ... They had done a pilot episode for TNT and it was well received enough that they greenlit the new series that will debut later this year. This is in addition to the third hour of AEW wrestling for later this year as well. Obviously this is at least partially built off E! and USA having success with Total Bellas and Miz & Mrs ... The goal is to eventually branch out into doing scripted shows like Big Show did with NETFLIX. Another hope is that doing a reality show will add a new female audience to other AEW programming similar to how Total Divas changed the television demos of WWE to a higher percentage of women viewers. The biggest take coming out of the last week is that the relationship with TNT and AEW appears to be strong. AEW has been promoted heavily during the NCAA tournament broadcasts on TBS and TNT, and adding a second spinoff to the already planned first spinoff indicates strong network support.
Khan has purchased the rights to the song “Where is My Mind?” by Pixies, for Orange Cassidy. It will debut on next week’s Dynamite. Actually it’ll probably debut on Dark before that since they taped a Cassidy & Chuck Taylor win over Ryan Nemeth & JD Drake for Dark this coming week prior to Dynamite in front of the fans
[AEW] There has been talk of Daga coming in. As far as Tessa Blanchard goes, that’s a decision that ultimately will be made based on the perceived value of her to the product vs. the negativity and backlash in some quarters such a signing would have.
Riddle’s winning the U.S. title was not the original plan. The booked idea for the three-way was for Riddle to lose the fall to Lee, as a way to get the belt off Lashley since they were moving him to the WWE title, and get the U.S. title on Lee. But Lee missed the show due to health-related issues and still hasn’t returned
Logan Paul has been responding to Zayn on social media so they may be doing something with him. Really, once those guys did a number on the AEW PPV number, both AEW and WWE should have tried to embrace them

Raw on 3/22, a combination of being helped coming a day after a PPV, but hurt by the NCAA tournament, averaged 1,816,000 viewers and 0.53 (682,000 viewers) in 18-49.

Raw was fourth on cable behind NCAA tournament coverage. The games head-to-head saw a CBS early game to 5,851,000 viewers and 1.35 in 18-49. The CBS laet game did 4,219,000 viewers and 1.14 in 18-49. The TNT early game did 1,483,000 viewers and 0.46. The TNT late game did 1,976,000 viewers and 0.56. The TBS game did 1,748,000 viewers and 0.56.

Raw was 13th overall behind only college basketball and news shows.

Raw was third with women 18-49, fourth with men 18-49, fifth in 18-34, fifth in women 12-34 and fifth in men 12-34.

The first hour did 1,878,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,841,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,729,000 viewers. However the drops were with older viewers as 18-49 viewers increased during the show.

Raw was down 1.5 percent from last week in viewers, 5.4 percent in 18-49 and 24.2 percent in 18-34.

As compared to one year ago, even though the show one year ago was the lowest viewer number for a live show in Raw history at the time, it was still down 9.5 percent in viewers, 12.7 percent in 18-49 and 37.5 percent in 18-34.

Raw did 95,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 22.8 percent from last week, 82,000 in women 18-34 (down 23.4 percent from last week), 329,000 in men 35-49 (down 1.8 percent) and 176,000 in women 35-49 (up 10.0 percent).

The first-to-third hour movement was women 18-49 down 2.5 percent, men 18-49 up 4.7 percent, teenage up 7.3 percent, teenage boys up 10.1 percent and over 50 was down 10.8 percent.

The show did a 0.25 in 12-17 (down 13.8 percent from last week), 0.25 in 18-34 (down 27.4 percent), 0.81 in 35-49 (up 2.0 percent) and 0.89 in 50+ (up 1.1 percent).
Smackdown on 3/19 did a 1.30 rating and 2,093,000 viewers (1.33 viewers per home) with an 0.57 (741,000 viewers) in 18-49.

The numbers were down slightly, almost surely attributable to going against the NCAA tournament which had games on CBS (4,439,000 and 0.99 in 18-49 and 3,454,000 and 0.98); TBS (2,677,000 and 0.84 and 1,983,000 and 0.61) and TNT (2,347,000 and 0.73).

With Shark Tank in reruns (NBC also ran nothing but reruns), Smackdown was fourth among the nine network shows in 18-49, fourth in 18-34, fifth in women 18-49, fourth in men 18-49 and last place in over 50. It beat a rerun of Blacklist on NBC at 2,087,000 to barely avoid being last place for total viewers.

It was down from last week 0.8 percent in homes, 3.6 percent in viewers, 6.8 percent in 18-49 and 2.9 percent in 18-34.

From the same week one year ago it was down 15.6 percent in homes, 18.5 percent in viewers, 28.8 percent in 18-49 and 43.3 percent in 18-34.

The show did 118,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 24.8 percent from last week), 120,000 in women 18-34 (up 39.5 percent from last week0, 296,000 in men 35-49 (down 6.3 percent) and 207,000 in women 35-49 (down 12.3 percent).

The audience was 55.9 percent male in 18-49, usually low, likely because of all the basketball competition.
There wasn’t much of major note with the Wednesday night ratings. AEW placed sixth for the night with 757,000 viewers and 0.30 in18-49 (384,000 viewers), up from last week but still below the usual 0.32 level.

NXT was No. 29 with 678,000 viewers and 0.14 in 18-49 (183,000 viewers), only up slightly from last week’s third lowest number in the history of the show.

AEW was fourth in Males 18-49, behind both NBA games (the game head-to-head on ESPN did 990,000 viewers and 0.32; the late game after wrestling was over did 1,006,000 viewer and 0.38) and Challenge Double Agent. The NHL game on NBC Sports Network did 449,000 viewers and 0.16.

In 18-34, AEW was ninth. In Males 12-34, AEW was sixth.

AEW was down 1.4 percent in viewers from last week but up 6.1 percent in 18-49 and down 6.2 percent in 18-34. After the great show last week with the Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa bloodbath, they were way down with teenagers in particular, but up with both men and women 35-49 and down in 18-34.

NXT was up 13.2 percent in viewers, up 11.6 percent in 18-49 and up 7.3 percent in 18-34.

As compared to last year on the same week, AEW was down 7.6 percent in viewers, down 13.5 percent in 18-49 and down 27.8 percent in 18-34, so unlike in previous comparisons, this week was an older audience as well as smaller across the board.

NXT was up 9.2 percent in viewers but down 27.7 percent in 18-49 and down 47.3 percent in 18-34.

AEW won in every demo but was still weak with women, and only doubled NXT in men 35-49.

In the main event segment, AEW did 817,000 viewers and 412,000 in 18-49 for Darby Allin vs. John Silver for the TNT title, a huge success based on most final quarters this year. It was AEW’s peak for total viewers, 18-49 viewers and men 18-49. Allin has had success in the past as a draw but this was a real success for Silver. NXT did 640,000 viewers and 174,000 in 18-49 for Kushida vs. Jordan Devlin.

NXT’s actual final segment which started right at 10 p.m. was the Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly contract signing. Even though AEW was off the air, it only increased to 679,000 viewers and 197,000 in 18-49, which was shockingly little growth.

AEW did 56,000 viewers in men 18-34 (down 5.1 percent from last week) to 33,000 for NXT (up 37.5 percent). AEW did 35,000 in women 18-34 (down 7.9 percent) to 26,000 for NXT (down 16.1 percent). AEW did 217,000 viewers in men 35-49 (up 5.3 percent) to 76,000 for NXT (up 24.6 percent). AEW did 76,000 in women 35-49 (up 18.8 percent) to 48,000 for NXT (the same as the previous week).

NXT did win the third quarter in total viewers. The amazing thing is that even though NXT had more viewers, in that same third quarter, AEW doubled NXT in 18-49. AEW doubled NXT in 18-49 the entire first hour of te show and in six of the eight quarters with the biggest gap being for the main event.

AEW opened with 807,000 viewers and 392,000 in 18-49 for Kenny Omega vs. Matt Sydal. NXT had 730,000 viewers and 183,000 in 18-49 for Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs. Io Shirai & Zoey Stark. With the big lead-in, this was NXT’s peak in total viewers and in women 18-49.

In the second quarter, AEW did 740,000 viewers and 383,000 in 18-49 for Adam Page vs. Cezar Bononi, plus interviews with Lance Archer, Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker. This tied AEW’s peak for women 18-49. NXT did 701,000 viewers and 174,000 in 18-49 for the end of Gonzalez & Kai vs. Shirai & Stark, the post-match, Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly at a BJJ school,, promos of LA Knight and Jordan Devlin and the start of Knight vs. Bronson Reed.

The third quarter saw AEW do 710,000 viewers and 373,000 in 18-49 for Christian, Griff Garrison, Brian Pillman Jr., Dante Martin and Frankie Kazarian and FTR & Shawn Spears vs. Garrison & Pillman & Martin. This tied AEW’s peak in women 18-49. NXT did 722,000 viewers and 185,000 in 18-49 for Reed vs. Knight.

The fourth quarter saw AEW do 727,000 viewers and 367,000 in 18-49 for The Pinnacle promo, Team Taz promo, Cody Rhodes & QT Marshall and the start of the Young Bucks & Brandon Cutler vs. Penta & Fenix & Laredo Kid. NXT did 650,000 viewers and 170,000 in 18-49 for Karrion Kross vs. Oney Lorcan. This was NXT’s peak in men 18-49.

The fifth quarter saw AEW do 765,000 viewers and 381,000 in 18-49 for Bucks & Cutler vs Penta & Fenix & Kid and the post-match with Omega. NXT did 685,000 viewers and 194,000 in 18-49 for a Finn Balor & Kross promo, a William Regal announcement and Walter vs. Drake Maverick. This was the NXT peak in 18-49.

The sixth quarter saw AEW do 742,000 viewers and 381,000 in 18-49 for Jade Cargill package, the reality show announcement, an Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley promo and the start of Tay Conti vs. Nyla Rose. NXT did 661,000 viewers and 188,000 in 18-49 for the angle with Tommaso Ciampa and Imperium laying him out, Johnny Gargano with Regal and Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart defending against Mercedes Martinez & Aliyah.

The seventh quarter saw AEW do 749,000 viewers and 380,000 in 18-49 for Rose vs. Conti, the post-match with Shida and Bunny and Miro & Penelope Ford & Kip Sabian. NXT did 635,000 viewers and 188,000 in 18-49 for Cameron Grimes & Roderick Strong, Moon & Blackheart with Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell and the beginning of Devlin vs. Kushida.

The eighth quarter saw AEW gain 68,000 viewers and 32,000 in 18-49 for Allin vs. Silver. NXT gained 5,000 viewers but lost 14,000 in 18-49 for Kushida vs. Devlin.
For this past week in Canada, Raw on 3/15 did 182,100 viewers with 93,100 in 25-54. Smackdown on 3/19 did 181,200 viewers and 96,100 in 25-54 in Canada. On 3/17, the No. 10 sports show did 119,400 viewers and neither NXT nor AEW made the top ten
So far, NXT has yet to chart ever since they moved to Wednesdays in Canada but it has been having the effect of causing AEW to no longer chart regularly. Before NXT used to chart reasonably well in Canada when it aired on Fridays and with Smackdown as the lead-in. So basically just like in the US, WWE damaged the popularity of their NXT brand just to hurt AEW's viewership in Canada.

The decline in AEW viewer numbers continues to point to what was its strength only a few weeks ago, women that watched with men, which led them to often being the youngest skewing sports show and almost always put them at or near the top in viewers per home.

For the 3/17 show, they were down to 1.35 viewers per home. While still No. 1 in wrestling, they were below a ton of sports and barely beat Smackdown. UFC has become the show that is getting the most people to watch together, but in the case of UFC, it’s guys watching together. AEW’s numbers with men 18-49 are slightly above of late where they were months back, but that’s been offset by the big decline of women viewers. Some of that is The Challenge on MTV.

As far as the women declines go, in asking around with women that are AEW fans, the one thing mentioned is the blood and the tables over-and-over. The Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa match was huge as far as drawing male viewers from NXT over, but not with women coming over from NXT. One longtime female fan who I’ve known since childhood who loves AEW surprised me saying that she didn’t like the match, and it was the blood and the weapons that were the reason why because she respected how hard they were working. Baker vs. Rosa is not the reason at all, just a point that was brought up, as my suspicion is the rise in that main event and corresponding fall with men that were watching NXT is that people may have tuned in at the commercial break to watch, and seeing that, there’s no way they were switching back until that match was over. But this has been a pattern for a few months now, as there was a period where AEW could beat Raw or Smackdown in women 18-34 and that is no longer the case. They still beat Raw & Smackdown in viewers watching together but it went from a huge difference to now when it’s so close with Smackdown that they were neck-and-neck this week.
Impact on 3/23 fell to 116,000 viewers, even with the announcement that Kenny Omega would be on the show, and did an 0.04 in 18-49. It was the lowest total audience number for Impact so far this year. The show was down 20.5 percent in viewers but even in 18-49 from last week.
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Old 03-26-2021, 04:28 PM   #1551
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Ugh. More "scripted reality" shows.

Hopefully they can handle their 3rd hour better than RAW.
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Old 04-02-2021, 04:02 PM   #1552
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

The WWE and USA Network made the official announcement on 3/30 of NXT moving to Tuesdays at 8 p.m ...

With the announcement came a second announcement of a multi-year deal signed to keep the show on USA. The original two-year deal was to expire at the end of September.

As was expected, Sportsnet in Canada and BT in the U.K. are also moving NXT up a day to air live. NXT had just started in Canada live on 2/24 and had never even cracked the ratings chart, doing lower numbers then it had done on Friday night at 7 p.m.

The move ends the Wednesday night wars after just over 18 months, a war that went very different from almost all business predictions. It was thought that between the WWE’s muscle, NXT’s underground popularity and USA being a familiar spot for wrestling fans, that NXT had too many advantages for AEW to overcome, even if the novelty of AEW may win some early weeks ...

Paul Levesque held a team meeting before the 3/31 taping with talent. He talked about how it was six years ago, at WrestleMania 31, that the little NXT promotion sold out a show (they did 5,000 fans at the San Jose State University Gym on the Friday night before WrestleMania) and they’ve grown to having two hours of national television ...

Levesque said that NXT was always on Wednesday and then the competition came to their night.

He pushed that this was better, and it is for the brand, because they will have Raw as a lead-in and they now have the night to themselves.

The end result saw, with one week before the final competitive show on 4/7, that AEW has won 70 of the 71 head-to-head shows in 18-49, and doubled NXT 20 times. The only week NXT won was December 18, 2019, at which point AEW started a turnaround. The total viewer race due to NXT usually winning in 50+ and often by a sizeable margin, wasn’t quite as one-sided, but still ended up 60-9 in AEW’s favor with two ties (if you went to the next digit into the hundreds AEW and NXT each won one of the ties, but that’s way below the margin of error).

With 4/7 being a Takeover show, it would be a big surprise if NXT doesn’t win with total viewers. They could on the last week of competition, score their second win in 18-49, but that is less certain. The gap being so close this week for a normal show would indicate NXT should win, because it does better with themed shows. Putting the show on Peacock may siphon some viewers from television as UFC TV ratings when shows are simulcast on ESPN+ are a little lower than one would expect, but not a ton lower ...

NXT had major edges, being a WWE brand, being promoted on Raw, being on the wrestling channel and perhaps most importantly, almost always having the stronger lead-in. They also loaded up TV more as far as championship matches went. But they were the C brand for WWE. At first there was the attempt to make it seem to be the third brand, but two things happened. The first is, they kept losing, even when sending top stars from the main roster they lost. While winning in viewers, a key note was when Becky Lynch, the biggest star in wrestling at that moment, went to NXT to face Rhea Ripley, and lost head-to-head in 18-49 to Nick Jackson vs. Rey Fenix. The second was COVID, and for a while, Vince McMahon wanted to keep the main roster talent away from NXT with the idea that NXT was getting COVID breakouts and he didn’t want that spreading to the main roster to a significant degree (which also killed the Raw Underground concept).

There were a lot of lessons shown by the results of the last 18 plus months. Even though AEW had more viewers most weeks, roughly the same number of homes watched both shows (usually in the 520,000 range of late).

AEW drew significantly more viewers per home, so they produced a show that family members, usually in the 18-49 age group, watched together. At first we didn’t know if it was family or friends watching together that swelled the VPH numbers, but once the pandemic hit, AEW’s numbers were not hurt so it appeared to be family. They skewed younger and more direct. Often AEW would have more than 50 percent of its viewers being 18-49, something no other sport, not even the NBA or soccer, did regularly although the latter two sports would on occasion have individual games that did so. It will be interesting to see if this changes if one would presume more older and single viewer homes will be the new additions to watching AEW.

AEW was often the youngest skewing sports event of the week, and often the one watched by more people together. NXT was the second oldest skewing wrestling show of the week (there were weeks Smackdown skewed older but they were rare, Impact skews the oldest), normally late 50s median viewer and more often watched by one person.

However, with teenagers, the advantage was not big. With 18-49, the AEW advantage was huge. With over 50, the NXT advantage was significant.

At the beginning that would be one thing, but over the course of 18 months, the 18-49 gap widened, even as AEW’s viewers per home and women viewers declined this year ...

But in the end, it’s a product appeal. NXT had far more appeal to viewers over 50, long-time fans, and that makes up the largest percentage of the modern television audience. It’s an age group that either wasn’t going to accept a non-WWE product, or didn’t like the AEW product, even with a number of ex-WWE stars and lots of older stars who are familiar like Sting, Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy, Jon Moxley, and for older fans, people like Jake Roberts.

For teenagers, while AEW had the edge, it wasn’t a big edge, and some weeks NXT had more teenage viewers. But NXT’s 18-34 numbers were terrible and it’s 35-49 numbers were much lower. AEW was actually ahead of Raw and Smackdown at times with 18-34 women, but that is no longer the case. AEW very often doubled NXT with men 18-49. But AEW clearly has a troubling point regarding the loss of women viewers in recent months ...

If anything, what Wednesday taught us is that different aged fans are different. Older fans don’t want newer wrestling. The only time AEW really could attract an older audience was with Shaquille O’Neal. Even Sting couldn’t really do that, nor did the Crockett nostalgia segments. 18-49 fans did favor the faster and more acrobatic style. The men liked the heavier usage of blood. The women did not. AEW fans would tune to NXT to see a great technical wrestling match. NXT male fans did tune to AEW to see the women’s bloodbath, something NXT would never produce ...

Unique looking matches, such as out of the ring street fight type bouts, things that look out of the ordinary, did work in attracting viewers on both sides. Personalities were important, but on neither show was there a personality who would get people to switch every time when they were on the air. It’s more the segment, and the segment mix. Sting and Shaq were the exception, but even for Sting, that was only for a few weeks. News seemed to hurt AEW worse, as did rival sports, which makes sense with the younger viewership. NXT gained more when they had a themed name show, whereas AEW had a lot of shows give theme names but it was the matches, and not the theme name, that made the difference.

The move to Tuesday was the best for the industry as a whole as both shows should gain viewers across the board without competition. It wasn’t’ made for that reason, but because the USA Network expects to be airing NHL Hockey on Wednesdays, meaning there was no way NXT could have kept the time slot. Even though NXT numbers are higher than NHL numbers except generally during the playoffs, the NHL is considered is far more prestigious sports property and would have priority. NBCU has not signed a new deal with the NHL, which ends at the end of this season., but are still in talks ...

NXT’s role in moving from the network to cable and going live, expanding to two hours, was to keep AEW from being successful. That failed early when it lost nearly every week and AEW signed a four-year contract for $175 million in January, 2020, barely three months into a previous two-year deal where AEW only received production costs and a percentage of ad revenue. Given the pandemic wiping out live events, AEW would have been in terrible trouble had the new deal not been signed and those with the company have talked of the tapings done at QT Marshall’s gym in Decatur, GA, as saving the company.

When NXT was twice moved to Tuesday due to NHL playoff games (that ended up not airing on USA after all), it did far better unopposed, in particular with younger viewers, with a 33 percent increase in 18-49 numbers. However, AEW also did better, although most of the gains were with older viewers. Going unopposed only increased AEW’s 18-49 number by 16 percent, the key being NXT does so much less of that audience that there is less to gain, while for NXT, being no longer against AEW, there is more to gain in 18-49 since AEW dominated that demo when they went head-to-head ...

As far as what to expect, last year in the fall each show was in its new regular time slot unopposed twice. AEW averaged 972,000 viewers and 0.37 in 18-49. NXT averaged on Tuesdays 839,000 viewers and 0.24.

Given what both shows were averaging at the time, AEW increased 146,000 viewers and 0.05 in 18-49 without NXT competition, while NXT on Tuesday increased 165,000 viewers and 0.06 in 18-49 moving to Tuesday. It should be noted that NXT put on hotshot loaded shows on those Tuesdays and for normal shows it may not increase as much, although if it gets established as a normal time slot, perhaps in the long run it will increase that much or more. AEW may not increase quite as much in 18-49 because NXT had gotten so weak this year in that demo that there aren’t a lot of viewers to gain, particularly when a large number of NXT fans are not going to watch AEW. But there is clearly the crossover audience as shown by what happens in both directions during commercial breaks ...

AEW’s gains would likely be largely be over 50, and there is question with the type of show they have if they will maintain those new gains. NXT should make major gains in 18-49, which they did the few times AEW was moved ...

While categorizing this as a WWE retreat would be incorrect, and in the end, NXT will do far better without AEW competition, there is no way to categorize the Wednesday war as anything but a major win for AEW. AEW took a time slot that was averaging 450,000 viewers and an 0.12 in 18-49 for TNT.

As of 3/24, the 2021 average was AEW with 781,000 viewers and 374,000 (0.29) in 18-49 while NXT averaged 654,000 viewers and 208,000 (0.16) in 18-49. Both of these numbers are lower than the actual drawing power of this year. The January dates included shows against the attempted government takeover and impeachment trial days. NXT took a time slot that USA was doing about 750,000 viewers in, and had a huge advantage to start each show with a far stronger lead-in but most weeks that lead was over by the five minute mark of the show. Of late, AEW had been tripling NXT in head-to-head main events on some occasions.
WWE is heading into its biggest week of the year which includes new events on either television or Peacock for nine straight days ..

Both [Mania] shows will be starting at 8 p.m. Eastern for the main card, with the pre-show believed to be starting at 6:30 p.m. This would be cutting 30 minutes off the pre-show, which has felt too long every year. They are also starting the main show one hour later than they have been starting PPV shows for some time.

Even though they are advertising that WrestleMania is exclusive to Peacock, it is still available from all television PPV outlets. ATT U-verse is charging $35 per night. InDemand is charging $29.99 per night. DirecTV is charging $34.95 per night. The Dish Network is charging $59.99 for both nights. And Vubquity is charging $29.97 per night.

Live event tickets sold almost completely in the presale. At press time, nine days before the show, there were 1,000 tickets left for Saturday and 809 tickets left for Sunday, so both will almost certainly sell out of their allotment of tickets that were originally put on sale. We still don’t know what that number is. We do know that expectations were that they would do a UFC 261-like immediate sellout with huge demand for the first events back with ticketed fans due to the pent-up demand, and there is disappointment that didn’t happen. But it’s a weird time.

Less people are willing to travel and in particular coming from the key overseas markets is very difficult due to quarantine rules.

The get in price on the secondary market is $57 on Saturday and $55 on Sunday, so it’s dropped, but basically that says it’s not a bad number by any means and doesn’t indicate scalpers are talking a bath. But it’s not a super hot ticket either. The 4/24 UFC show in Jacksonville which is sold out is at $298 get-in which is a very strong price.

WrestleMania will announce whatever number WWE wants, which has to be between 25,000 and 30,000 since they already announced 25,000 and can’t really announce less than that. Plus, they have to announce a number bigger than the Super Bowl (22,500) at Raymond James Stadium because that’s the M.O. I don’t see WWE having the New Japan mentality where they felt it was better to announce a lower number than the real one because they felt a low number in these times reflects better on the company to the public. But the Japanese mentality on that is very different than the American mentality. It is likely the real number won’t be available until the end of June or early July.

Right now each show has seven matches confirmed, and with the exception of a few women, everyone on the roster seems accounted for at this point for the weekend.

The 4/10 will be adding a multiple women’s tag team match. This will be announced on television over the next week as far as who is in it, but one would suspect Tamina & Natalya, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, Lana & Naomi and Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott to be among the teams. It would also appear that there would be no women’s Battle Royal, since there aren’t enough women on the main roster to add a Battle Royal. Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Carmella and Reckoning (Mia Yim) are the only women not accounted for. Some could be added to the tag team match. Bliss is likely to only be used as part of the Randy Orton vs. The Fiend presentation. One would suspect Flair and Bayley in particular would be part of the show. The winners of this tag team match will face Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler for the titles on 4/11.

The rest of the 4/10 show is Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the Smackdown women’s title, which is being positioned in many card rundowns as the main event, on top of Lashley vs. McIntyre. Under that is Bad Bunny (with Damien Priest) vs. The Miz (with John Morrison), New Day vs. Omos & A.J. Styles for the Raw tag titles, Strowman vs. Shane McMahon in a cage match and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins.
Manuel Andrade did his first post-WWE interview on 3/29 with Hugo Savinovich and said a few things of note.

He said that the reason Charlotte Flair was pulled from the advertising of WrestleMania was that she was mistakenly told by a WWE doctor that she was pregnant. He said this took place before she got COVID. He also noted that he also had COVID a few weeks ago but is fine now.

He said that she took home pregnancy tests that indicated she wasn’t pregnant and later did an ultrasound and blood work that also indicated not being pregnant. He mentioned the same doctor informed him of his suspension for a Wellness policy violation. He maintained it was due to a tainted supplement that he couldn’t get tested ...

This explains why everyone was so secretive about her when she disappeared from television two weeks ago, and was pulled from advertising. WWE goes with the idea that somebody with COVID will generally be out 10-to-14 days and she’d easily make WrestleMania with that time frame.

Charlotte Flair was backstage at the 3/29 Raw show but wasn’t used on the show.

He also talked about the hostage situation in Saudi Arabia and noted that he was one of the guys who refused to do future trips. However, he was on the most recent Saudi Arabia show on February 27, 2020. What was the saddest part of the story is that he went on the trip and said that his mother was on her deathbed and because of the delay in getting home, she passed away before he could see her for the last time. He noted that when WWE arranged for the private plane for some of the stars of Smackdown to get out (they still ended up missing the show), he said that they knew the story but didn’t put him on that plane. While in Europe after the “hostage” trip, there was a movement where a lot of talent said they would never go back, but only a few that we know of, FTR being others and they were also looking to leave the company, actually in the end wouldn’t go back. Most of those who didn’t go to future shows, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Aleister Black either had refused to go prior to the hostage deal or weren’t allowed to go based on ethnicity or tattoos ...

He also said he’s looking at going to New Japan. We do know Takaaki Kidani was a big fan of his and was mad when he signed with WWE as they had plans for La Sombra. He had mentioned wanting to wrestle Psycho Clown in Mexico, and work for a new promotion (Rush has a new promotion) and wrestle Rush. He also brought up wanting to wrestle Kenny Omega. He said he felt he would have to sign with a full-time U.S. group but wanted to continue to wrestle in Mexico without being tied to any company. He mentioned AEW and ROH as companies he’d be interested in, as well as New Japan. He said he’s already had many offers from all over the world, as well as make appearances, and was being offered the level of money he was looking for ...

He was able to get a full release without a 90 day non-compete, and the question is still how he was allowed to pull that off. He could show up in AEW this week if he wants to. WWE told him they owned the names Andrade Cien Almas and Andrade. He noted that he owns the name La Sombra in the U.S., which he trademarked just recently, which was a sign he was looking at life after WWE. He said he’s looking at using names like Andrade el Idolo or Andrade el Sombra, but does want to keep using Andrade, since it is his real last name.

He said he learned a lot in WWE, wrestled great people but it wasn’t what he wanted it to be, but still said it was a positive experience. When asked about what he may have told Rush, he said that in WWE, the money isn’t great at first but in time it can be great ...

He said he made the decision he wanted out some time back when he was asked to put over Drew McIntyre via a squash and McIntyre wanted to give him offense feeling he was too good to be squashed.

He also complained about not being used, and both talent and producers constantly told him he was too good to not be used. He said he was told it was because his English wasn’t good, but he noted how many great wrestlers are in WWE who speak perfect English that also don’t get pushed. He also noted that they could have someone speak for him (Zelina Vega was in that role but they broke them up and in hindsight there was no real reason to do it other than that’s what they do, since the breakup only made both acts weaker).

He said he met with Levesque a few weeks ago and he was told he could go back to NXT for a year and then bring him back to the Raw or Smackdown after that point with a new contract. He said that there are wrestlers in NXT who don’t want to leave out of fear they’ll wind up like he wound up. But he said he had no interest in going backwards and felt he could make good money outside WWE. He said that he didn’t believe he was held back over race reasons. When brought up about his English skills, he didn’t buy that as a reason noting Asuka was pushed and that many people who speak good English were in the same boat he was. He was also told after getting his release that the door would be open to him to come back. He brought up that Drew McIntyre at one point was in the same position he was, left for years, and built up his name and came back. He positioned that he saw WWE as the top of the food chain and still wanted to be the best of the best. He said he thinks others in the company should do what he is doing. If they can’t get a better spot, leave and prove themselves worthy of one.

He said he wanted to go somewhere he has the chance to be either a top guy, or at least a place he would be given a fair chance to earn a top position. He expressed no interest in going to CMLL to feud with their new Ingobernables, saying that was the past. When asked if he wanted to reform the faction with Rush, he said he’d be more interested in wrestling against Rush for his title. He said he’d like to face all the top guys in New Japan, as well as he’d like a match with Omega over the AAA title. He said he wanted to face the biggest stars to prove that he belongs in that group ...

He also noted that WWE asked Angel Garza to cut his hair because they were going to push him, so he did, and they didn’t push him.
Ring of Honor celebrated its 19th anniversary with a 3/26 PPV show that was taped in Baltimore ...

The main event saw Rush retain the ROH title over Jay Lethal in a match where LFI and Lethal’s group that includes Jonathan Gresham, Williams and Titus were all involved. After the match ended, LFI looked to be standing tall after Rush laid out Titus and Gresham with belt shots and Kenny King was choking Titus with a chair. Brody King came out, and they made fun of the idea there were three of them. Then he brought in Tony Deppen, and LFI laughed at him. Then Chris Dickinson and Homicide came from behind LFI and Dickinson laid out Kenny King with a brainbuster. Brody King helped Lethal up, but then clotheslined him and Homicide laid out Lethal with a cop killa. So it looks like a three-faction feud on top, and going back to Rush vs. Brody King, but this time with Brody King having backup.

As of last word, Deppen, Dickinson nor Homicide were signed to ROH.

Joe Koff this past week had talked about how the Maryland Commission may allow them to have fans at shows soon, but considered the possibility of continuing things as they are since with no fans, the TV tapings don’t get spoiled ahead of time.
This year’s WrestleMania week events are down because of less travelers and COVID restrictions.

Game Changer Wrestling announced that they will be running 12 shows in Tampa over the weekend of WrestleMania. The events take place at the Cuban Club in Tampa, and will air on FITE TV, with the highlight event being the Josh Barnett Bloodsport show on Thursday at 8 p.m., or head-to-head with the second day of Takeover.

Last year’s Joey Janela Spring Break show was hopeful of drawing 4,000 fans to the Cuban Club, and they had an advance that indicated it was possible before the shutdown. With less people traveling, tickets across the board for these shows are way down. The hope for this year’s Spring Break show is to hit 1,000.

The shows will be from 4/8 to 4/10, meaning for the first time there are shows head-to-head with WrestleMania, since they booked shows with the idea that WrestleMania was only going to be on Sunday.

AEW isn’t coming to Tampa, although they will be doing live TV on 4/7, a closed-set TV taping on 4/8 (fans not allowed because they want to avoid results getting out) and a house show on 4/9, all in Jacksonville at Daily’s Place, which is 200 miles away and a roughly three-and-a-half hour drive.

AEW television tickets for 4/7 appear to have 602 tickets accounted for (sold or those listed for sale that are no longer for sale) and there were 201 tickets remaining as of Thursday. So that’s along the lines or slightly ahead of what usual TVs are doing.

The 4/9 show went on sale at the same time, and a few hours in they had sold or had accounted for 855 tickets, and at press time that was 903, with 177 tickets left. So that show will easily sell out given there will be people who will be there who decide to go at the last minute and those who decide this week.
AAA: So here’s the deal with Lio Rush beating Laredo Kid to win the title on MLW television and then it never being talked about again. Rush wasn’t supposed to win the title but there was a miscommunication in the MLW match about what the finish was supposed to be and everyone just decided to go with it since it happened. They could have just edited it off TV but they had spent time building it up so they didn’t do it. The idea was just go with it and have Lio Rush come to Mexico to lose it back. But the AAA TV dates didn’t coincide with Rush’s schedule. They thought about just doing a phantom switch saying it happened in Mexico but when AAA’s digital team never announced the title switch to begin with, the decision was eventually made to just go with the idea in Mexico that it never happened.
NEW JAPAN: Here are a few notes from the recent Bushiroad quarterly report. The notes on their sports business are, as usual, very limited. In the second quarter, which was November through January, the total revenue from New Japan and Stardom was $13.3 million. That’s down 19.5 percent from last year, for the obvious reasons. The decline over the six month period was 17.4 percent. New Japan World ended the period at 116,000 paid subscribers. Keep in mind that Stardom business grew tremendously so the New Japan decline is greater than those numbers would indicate. But you’re also comparing two Tokyo Domes in 2020 that drew more than 70,000 paid with two shows that did probably around 22,000 paid and that makes up for a lot of the difference. Plus there was a lot more merchandise purchased because of less restrictions in 2020
The Lucha Underground reboot we wrote about a few weeks ago is actually a project of Konnan and Court Bauer which has to do with the angle they’ve been running on MLW television. The idea is to have Azteca Underground as the spiritual successor to the old Lucha Underground group. There have been teases since January when they started the storyline that Promociones Dorado, the group led by Salina de la Renta, was secretly purchased by a mysterious guy called El Jefe, who has yet to be revealed but evidently would be the guy in charge in the Dario Cueto role if and when the new idea gets rolling. They have launched an Azteca Underground website. There is a proprietor page on that site with a man in the distance in front of the old Temple building in Boyle Heights who is certainly being teased to be Cueto, who got rave reviews for his role as the head of Lucha Underground
Ohio Valley Wrestling and FITE TV have reached a deal to air the weekly television show every Thursday night at 7 p.m.
James Riley, a U.K. pro wrestler, may have become the first pro wrestler convicted and sentenced for assault that I know of in history. Riley was sentenced on 3/29 to 21 months in prison for an assault against Rob Wilson, 32. The incident took place on February 8, 2020 in Ferndown, UK at the Scout Hut. Riley, 33, was training his opponent. They later had a match with each other, and when another wrestler no-showed at the last minute, ended up in a match with each other with little time to prepare although they did talk before the match. During the match, Wilson was on his knees and Riley kicked him hard in the face. Wilson bled badly and Riley told him to continue the match. He said he was dazed and said the rest of the match he was on autopilot until the match ended. Wilson had to undergo surgery for facial bone fractures. People had recorded the match on their phones and police saw it and pressed charges. Riley also was given a restraining order to have no contact with the victim for ten years. Police said the assault went far beyond anything appropriate within the parameters of pro wrestling and the victim was left with significant injuries that had a lasting effect
Rush announced he would be starting his own new promotion in Mexico in June. He hasn’t given any details of what that means past some expecting that would be Andrade’s return to Mexico, or at least he’d work with him since the two are close friends. Andrade in interviews this week teased working for Rush’s group, and seemed to tease the idea of working here as well
Ivelisse hasn’t been used of late. A fan asked her about it and she said that if only she could speak. She was on a per event deal and not a full-time contract. She had been teaming with Diamante but Diamante has been working as a single of late. The story was there was an issue with her and “a few” coaches and she’s not being booked right now, but it’s not like she’s been let go either at this point
The new NFL television schedule will have a significant impact on WWE starting the fall season. The key changes are there will be three Monday nights with two different football games, one on ABC and the other on ESPN. In addition, Monday Night football will go one week longer and the contract allows for changing of the schedule in the last weeks of the season to where they will be having high-profile marquee games with greater frequency. It also affects the Royal Rumble. WWE has always tried to hold the Rumble on the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, usually the last Sunday of January. However, with the season lasting longer, the conference championships will be the final weekend of January, and every Sunday in January will have big games. The only unopposed by football weekend that the Rumble would have would be to move it to 2/6
Ripley said that since her blow-off on NXT and being assigned to Raw, she’s just shown up and sat in catering every week with nothing being told to her. She said she was then told she was facing Asuka while she was there at 4 p.m. on 3/22, which tells you how late the decision was made and she was told
Paige said on her streaming show that she is looking to have another exam on her neck in hopes of being cleared to wrestle again. She’s seen Edge, Christian and Bryan all told that they could never wrestle again, and then all ended up being cleared to return. Sting was also told by WWE doctors he’d never wrestle again and was also cleared this past year. All of them are also much older than she is
Murphy is clearly frustrated by his plight right now. His angle with the Mysterios ended. He in theory is back as a heel although who knows as the only thing he did was try and get back with Rollins and get blown off. Last week he did an Instagram post where he wrote, I guess shooting his own angle, “Let’s point out the obvious! The Mysterios used me! I never needed them! I'm beyond one of the most talent(ed) in-ring performers on the planet! Aalyah used me to be on tv and advance an acting career. Dominik used me so he had a reason to stand ringside. Rey was jealous that I became the new face of the cruiserweight(s) and he was left out of the discussion. They took what they wanted then they left me in the shadows! Sounds like my time in NXT.” Evidently he was told to take this down. He also posted that it’s still up that he and Black would tear the house down at Mania. I guess he was trying to do a public explanation as to why he wasn’t with the Mysterios anymore since it was just dropped without an explanation, but he did an unauthorized angle. So far this year, Murphy, 32, has done two quick TV matches with Cesaro and that’s it, past being a face in a crowd scene of wrestlers like when Rollins came back and the quick interplay with Rollins which was to turn him heel for the Cesaro matches. Given his talent, you can imagine his frustration


Raw on 3/29 did 1,701,000 viewers and an 0.56 (717,000 viewers) in 18-34.

WWE programming this week had huge increases in men 18-34 which likely has to do with WrestleMania. Raw increased big with women 18-34, doing almost the same number as women 35-49, which is almost unheard of. 35-49 numbers were more at normal levels.

Total viewers were the lowest since the end of football season. On the flip side, it was the youngest audience Raw has done of late. The declines were in viewers over 35. The show increased in viewers from hour one in every demo except over 50, which is a rarity, and won every demo except over 50 on cable.

From last week, the show was down 6.3 percent in viewers, but up 5.1 percent in 18-49 and 39.5 percent in 18-34. Both Raw and Smackdown did excellent for modern times numbers in 18-34 this week.

As compared to one year ago, this was the lowest rate of decline for a non-special show in recent memory. Audience was down 11.6 percent but 18-49 was down 3.4 percent and 18-34 was down 7.9 percent, both much better than usual.

The first hour did 1,733,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,697,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,673,000 viewers.

The key opposition was the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS. The early game did 5,922,000 viewers and a 1.37 in 18-49 and 1.01 in 18-34. The late game did 6,447,000 viewers and a 1.71 in 18-49 and 1.33 in 18-34.

Raw won every demo including women on cable for the night, except over 50. It was eighth for total viewers, behind six news shows and ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, which did 1,703,000 viewers, 0.41 in 18-49 and 0.30 in 18-34.

The first-to-third hour movement saw women 18-49 increase 5.6 percent. Men 18-49 increased 13.0 percent. Teenage girls increased 37.8 percent from the first to third hour and teenage boys increased 10.6 percent. The reason the audience declined is that over 50, still the bulk of the viewers, was down 13.3 percent over the three hours.

Raw did 133,000 viewers in male 18-34 (up 40.0 percent from last week), 114,000 in women 18-34 (up 39.0 percent), 335,000 in men 35-49 (up 1.8 percent) and 135,000 in women 35-49 (down 23.3 percent).

The show did a 0.27 in 12-17 (up 7.5 percent from last week), 0.35 in 18-34 (up 39.5 percent from last week), 0.77 in 35-49 (down 6.9 percent from last week) and 0.77 in 50+ (down 13.5 percent from last week).
Smackdown on 3/26 did a 1.32 rating and 2,191,000 viewers (1.37 viewers per home) and an 0.57 (740,000 viewers) in 18-49.

The most notable number is that the 18-34 number of 0.39 was the best for Smackdown of the year, but even with that increase, there was basically a similar decrease in 35-49 numbers. It’s hard to know what that was for, because the key to the show was a show-long angle leading to the Sunday Mania main event changing from Roman Reigns vs. Edge to the three-way with Daniel Bryan.

For viewers per home, Smackdown remained above average and was barely behind AEW at 1.39 for the top pro wrestling number.

Smackdown placed second behind Shark Tank (0.65) in 18-49, but won 18-34 by a wide margin (Shark Tank was at 0.32), and was No. 1 on television for the day by a significant margin in that demo. The NBA game on ESPN head-to-head did 940,000 viewers and 0.30 in 18-49.

Of the eight shows on the major networks, none of which were reruns, Smackdown was fifth in women 18-49, first in men 18-49 and last in 50+. The total viewers were by far the lowest with no other show finishing below 2,943,000 viewers.

The show was up 1.5 percent in homes, 4.7 percent in viewers, down 0.1 percent in 18-49 but up 13.4 percent in 18-34 from last week.

As compared to the same week last year, Smackdown was down 7.4 percent in viewers, 16.4 percent in 18-49 but down only 2.5 percent in 18-34. These year-to-year drops are much better than the show has been doing.

Smackdown did 169,000 viewers in men 18-34 (up 43.2 percent from last week), 101,000 in women 18-34 (down 15.8 percent), 268,000 in men 35-49 (down 9.5 percent) and 202,000 in women 35-49 (down 2.4 percent).
While AEW won both total viewers and key demos overall on 3/31, there was a big shift and it was not good news for AEW.

The key viewers in 18-49 were about the same as last week, with 612,000 on 3/24 and 608,000 in 3/31, but the split was different with NXT gaining 39,000 viewers in 18-49 and AEW losing 43,000.

AEW actually lost in males 18-34, which at times in recent weeks it’s done multiples of NXT in, and while winning with women 18-34, it lost in overall 18-34 which hasn’t happened in recent memory. AEW also lost in women 35-49. It nearly doubled NXT in males 35-49.

AEW finished seventh for the night with 700,000 viewers and an 0.26 (341,000 viewers) in 18-49, a number similar to what they drew the night of the insurrection. But there was no excuse other than WWE has been very strong in 18-34 across the board and interest in the promotion is at a year high point.

NXT was up to No. 12, its best showing in a long time, with 654,000 viewers and 0.21 in 18-49 (267,000 viewers) ...

From last week, AEW was down 7.5 percent in viewers, 11.2 percent in 18-49 and 8.8 percent in 18-34.

NXT was down 4.5 percent in viewers, but up 17.1 percent in 18-49 and up 54.2 percent in 18-34, so it greatly declined in average viewer age watching.

As compared to the same week last year, AEW was up 2.2 percent in viewers, up 13.7 percent in 18-49 and down 19.4 percent in 18-34.

NXT was up 10.8 percent in viewers over the same week last year, up 17.1 percent in 18-49 and up 31.9 percent in 18-34, so it also greatly lowered its average age from one year ago.

In the demos, AEW did 46,000 in men 18-34 (down 17.9 percent from last week) to 59,000 for NXT (up 78.8 percent from last week. AEW did 37,000 in women 18-34 (up 5.7 percent) to 32,000 for NXT (up 23.1 percent). AEW did 197,000 in men 35-49 (down 9.2 percent from last week) to 104,000 for NXT (up 36.8 percent. AEW did 61,000 in women 35-49 (down 19.7 percent) to 72,000 for NXT (up 50.0 percent).

In the main event battle, AEW with Arcade Anarchy with Miro & Kip Sabian vs. Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy and a cast of thousands including Penelope Ford, Sue, Kris Statlander and Trent, did 717,000 viewers and 332,000 in 18-49. NXT with the Battle Royal did 596,000 viewers and 248,000 in 18-49.

After AEW went off the air, NXT gained 103,000 viewers and 39,000 in 18-49, which is a below average overrun gain.

NXT won quarters four, five and seven with total v48iewers but lost all eight in 18-49 but came within 50,000 in that demo the entire second hour. The issue was AEW fading after the second quarter and NXT going up in quarter four and stying well above usual the rest of the show. AEW actually had a gigantic lead for the Christian Cage match, but the rest of the show didn’t come close, although Good Brothers & Kenny Omega vs. Penta & Fenix & Laredo Kid and the Arcade Anarchy matches both posted solid gains.

What was notable is that with men, NXT’s strongest segments were all women’s segments, most involving Raquel Gonzalez, although the Xia Li handicap match was the high point in men 18-49.

Christian Cage’s in-ring debut against Frankie Kazarian was the star performer for AEW doing 844,000 viewers and 396,000 in 18-49. It was AEW’s peak in viewers, 18-49, male 18-49, female 18-49 male 35-49 and female 18-34. NXT opened with Roderick Strong vs. Cameron Grimes which did 678,000 viewers and 255,000 in 18-49. It was NXT’s peak with women 18-34.

The second quarter saw AEW do 745,000 viewers and 375,000 in 18-49 for the end of Christian vs. Kazarian, Sting & Darby Allin’s video, a Jade Cargill package and the beginning of Cody Rhodes vs. QT Marshall. This was AEW’s high point in women 35-49. NXT did 631,000 and 247,000 in 18-49 for a Karrion Kross video, a Tommaso Ciampa video, a Santos Escobar promo and the beginning of Escobar vs. Tyler Breeze.

The third quarter saw AEW do 696,000 viewers and 333,000 in 18-49 for Cody vs. Marshall and the post-match, Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page’s promo and Cargill attacking Red Velvet. NXT did 646,000 viewers ad 266,000 in 18-49 for most of Escobar vs. Breeze and the post-match with MSK, Legado del Fantasma and the Grizzled Young Veterans promo.

The fourth quarter saw AEW do 673,000 viewers and 343,000 in 18-49 for a Jon Moxley promo, Moxley vs. Cezar Bononi and segments with Team Taz as well as the Inner Circle/Pinnacle brawl segment. This was AEW’s high point in men 18-34. NXT did 675,000 viewers and 289,000 in 18-49 for Raquel Gonzalez beating up Io Shirai and Indi Hartwell & Candice LeRae’s win plus the post-match with Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart. This was NXT’s high point in 18-49, women 18-49, and women 35-49.

The firth quarter saw AEW do 632,000 viewers and 311,000 in 18-49 for the Don Callis and Matt Jackson angle and the beginning of the Kenny Omega & Good Brothers vs. Penta & Fenix & Laredo Kid match. NXT did 688,000 viewers and 279,000 in 18-49 for Zoey Stark vs. Raquel Gonzalez and the Gonzalez beatdown of Io Shirai and Pete Dunne & Kushida. This was NXT’s high point with total viewers, males 18-34 and 18-34 overall.

The sixth quarter saw AEW do 683,000 viewers and 332,000 in18-49 for most of the Omega & Good Brothers six-man, the post-match and the Britt Baker interview. NXT did 665,000 viewers and 283,000 in 18-49 for the Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly piece and Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Cater. This was NXT’s high point in males 18-49 and tied for the high point in males 35-49.

The seventh quarter saw AEW do 611,000 viewers and 308,000 in 18-49 for Hikaru Shida & Tay Conti vs. Nyla Rose & The Bunny with a cast of thousands at ringside. NXT did 638,000 viewers and 263,000 in 18-49 for Gonzalez beating up Shirai again and interviews with Ciampa and Finn Balor. This tied for the NXT high point in males 35-49.

In the final quarter, AEW gained 106,000 viewers and 24,000 in 18-49 for Miro & Kip Sabian vs. Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor. NXT lost 42,000 viewers and 15,000 in 18-49 for most of the Battle Royal.
Thus far in 2021, the key wrestling shows have all declined in quarter one. Raw is down 21.1 percent in 18-49, Smackdown down 20.3 percent, Dynamite down 9.2 percent and NXT down 22.6 percent. In overall viewers, Raw is down 17.1 percent, Smackdown is down 12.3 percent, AEW is down 12.2 percent and NXT is down 6.7 percent. AEW is the only show skewing younger but Raw isn’t skewing much older, while Smackdown is and NXT is more than anyone. Both Wednesday shows were hurt more by outside news but when you’re doing three months of shows, the weeks that have been the case will affect the average to a degree, but overall it is still basically representative of where things stand.
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Old 04-09-2021, 04:15 PM   #1553
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The Sheets (Observer Newsletter Edition):

The 37th WrestleMania takes place on 4/10 and 4/11 with WWE’s first ticketed event with a decent-sized live audience since the start of the pandemic.

Both nights are scheduled for a one-hour pre-show at 7 p.m., followed by the main show from 8-11 p.m., although it can go longer, but the target planned finish is listed at 11 p.m.

Both nights are listed as having seven matches. No pre-show matches have been announced, and pretty much every main wrestler on the roster with the exception of Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Carmella and Billie Kay is already accounted for either on the two shows of the “WrestleMania Friday Night Smackdown” show that was taped on 4/2 and airs on 4/9. It wouldn’t be a surprise to add guys from the Battle Royal or some of the talent from Friday to do one pre-show match, but nothing has been listed as of yet.

The show is basically sold out of whatever number of tickets were put on sale. There were, two days ahead, 612 tickets left for Saturday and 333 tickets left for Sunday. The secondary market get-in price is $36 for Saturday and $38 for Sunday, so it is not a hot ticket at this point.
Regarding the non-WWE events, and this isn’t unexpected, but this is the worst year since piggybacking off WrestleMania got started when it comes to ticket sales. As of the start of the week, only two shows, three if you count the AEW show in Jacksonville which is a completely different market, have any appreciable tickets sold. Aside from the 4/8 Bloodsport show (which drew 500) and the 4/9 Spring Break show, no other show had even sold out row two, and many had not sold out row one. Promoter Brett Lauderdale had hoped for 1,000 for Spring Break, which in this day and age would be a success, but said that based on advance sales that last year’s show in the same location would have sold 4,000 tickets. The number of travelers is obviously way down.
The end of the Wednesday night wars, before the new beginnings for NXT and AEW as unopposed shows, told an interesting story.

With a live Takeover show, NXT was expected to win in overall viewers and possibly, for only the second time, win in the charts and by the TV world standings, which is 18-49. But clearly, whatever battle ended when NBCU made the decision to move NXT to Tuesday for reasons likely having to do with the NHL getting Wednesday if and when NBCU and the NHL make that deal being worked on.

There was clearly no major concern about winning a TV war this week, since WWE made the decision with USA to air the show live on Peacock with no commercials. The combination of a show like that with no commercials, meaning no AEW boost during the breaks but cutting their own throat for TV numbers, changed whatever the final result would have been.

The biggest lesson of the night is now who won, which wasn’t clear cut in the end, but if people have the chance to watch a major show with matches build up for weeks, with no commercial interruptions streaming, or on television, how many will watch it via streaming.

We don’t know the answer completely, but the answer was a lot less than most thought. NXT did 768,000 television viewers and a 0.22 (282,000 viewers) in 18-49. AEW did 688,000 viewers and an 0.28 (366,000 viewers) in 18-49.

Head-to-head, NXT’s record on November 20, 2019, was 916,000 viewers when the product was far hotter and on a show loaded with main roster top stars. The most liberal estimate possible would be 148,000 viewers went to Peacock meaning your best estimate is that 16.2 percent of the audience watched the show streaming without commercials, a number far lower than I would have expected. And more likely, the number would be closer to 100,000 to 120,000 or 11.5 to 14.4 percent.

The big question was in 18-49, which AEW only lost once, and there was significant thought that it could happen. It actually wasn’t close, although had they not put the show on Peacock, it would have been close.

But if there is a surprise, and maybe it shouldn’t have been, even with a Takeover, it looks unlikely NXT could have won. AEW’s edge was 84,000 viewers. NXT this week did 36.7 percent of its viewers 18-49 to 53.2 percent for AEW. If we go with the liberal 148,000 estimate, that would bring 54,000 viewers. Even if we say the streamers are more likely 18-49, and you have to believe that’s true, particularly under 35, there’s still no way it’s going to be close to 50.0 percent for NXT because that’s not their audience. Adding 74,000 cuts the gap between the two shows close, to just a scant 10,000 viewers and an 0.28 to 0.27. More realistically 60,000 is even a very liberal estimate of gains and it would have been an 0.26. But if winning the night was a major concern this week for either WWE or USA, they wouldn’t have put it on Peacock commercial free.

It also should be noted that if NXT did add 74,000 to its total, many of them would switch to AEW during commercial breaks. By normal standards, over the course of a two hour show, that only adds 4,000 viewers to the AEW average. Now, NXT would have won probably two of the eight quarters in 18-49, something it hasn’t done in a long time, and would have surely won the main event quarter ...

The final standings ended up with AEW winning 73-1 in 18-49, the key number, when it comes to shows, doubling NXT 20 times. AEW won 62 shows with total viewers to 10 for NXT with two basic ties.

When it comes to quarters, AEW had a 587-13 edge in 18-49 and 480-110-2 edge in overall viewers.
Found it interesting that the estimates for Peacock's viewership of NXT's TakeOver show on Night 1 was that low since I figured it would have eaten a bigger chunk of USA Network's viewership.

The announcement of Chris Jericho as a guest on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions that airs directly after the second day of WrestleMania on 4/11 on Peacock was largely a big shock, having the best-known mainstream name in AEW on WWE’s most-watched streaming show aside from PPVs.

And given the placement, right after most likely the Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan Universal title match, in theory WWE’s biggest and likely most-watched streaming service match of the year, tells you that it will likely be the largest audience for anything but a PPV show this year.

From a pure business standpoint on the WWE side, it makes sense. WWE is just starting out on Peacock. This will be its biggest week of the year on the station. And there is nobody, with the possible exception of Vince McMahon, who at this point could do the show and draw the audience Jericho would draw, partially because of curiosity because he is from the opposition ...

Austin told Sports Illustrated that the time came up when Jericho contacted him about his recent interview with Undertaker, and then the two started talking, and Jericho brought up that he’d love to do the show.

The obstacle would be Vince McMahon, or possibly Tony Khan. Austin liked the idea, checked with McMahon, who okayed it. Considering WWE’s history of never acknowledging opposition and certainly never doing anything like this before, it was surprising. They did use Ric Flair while under contract to TNA for a Hall of Fame ceremony and Billy Gunn, under contract to AEW but before they had run their first show for a Hall of Fame ceremony. During a promo Sami Zayn once mentioned AEW which was done to show and “shake people up” with the idea he must be shooting.

Jericho noted that it’s great for AEW as one of its biggest stars will be on a heavily-watched show by wrestling fans just days before it gets Wednesday night to itself. Basically WWE the most viewers possible in the infancy of its relationship with Peacock. Peacock would likely be thrilled with the numbers. Peacock has already been heavily promoting its network in television advertising with WWE content as a focal point, and if WWE does big streaming numbers, that’s more publicity all over television that promotes the WWE brand as well. For AEW, it’s Jericho appearing on a show that a lot of wrestling fans will watch, many of whom may not be AEW fans, and Jericho is a good salesman ...

Will McMahon and WWE, who have final editing rights, allow a discussion of AEW beating NXT in the ratings almost every week until NXT moved days, especially considering how current that story is? The moving of the days is far more related to the shutting down of NBC Sports Network and migrating the programming to the USA Network, meaning an expectation of NHL on Wednesday, but that doesn’t change the results of the head-to-head battles and that the move literally happened the week the show airs. One would think Austin and Jericho both know that “the house always wins,” to borrow the name of this week’s AEW house show, in the sense they both would have an idea of what would get McMahon mad and avoid it, because even if they don’t, it’s going to be edited out anyway ...

Some are taking this as a public acknowledgment that McMahon is no longer concerned about AEW. McMahon put NXT head-to-head with AEW to beat it, and when that didn’t work, to at least keep its numbers down, since AEW revenue is directly tied to its ratings because it shares in advertising revenue.

But after 18 months, he may see AEW is going to be at a certain level, well below WWE, even though it wasn’t that many months ago when one edition of AEW with competition on a Wednesday beat Raw, without direct wrestling competition, in 18-49 the following Monday, and had at other times beaten Raw in 18-34 and women 18-34. But things have changed since December. Raw was also hurt significantly by NFL competition the week it fell below the prior AEW show, which was boosted by a combination of the Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley title change and Sting’s return, which led to two big numbers, before AEW settled back to normal levels.

Now, with Mania season, the gap is quite large. And even if AEW beat Raw numbers, WWE is still a tons larger company and that will never change any time in the long-term future. But, and this is a key, if AEW does competitive numbers, its value in its next negotiations would go way up. This was a company that for years would pretend that TNA didn’t exist, almost comically like when A.J. Styles came in and they wrote stories about him. AEW had been for the most part regarded the same way.

One person close to the situation said McMahon’s decision was all about timing.

“Quite simply.....It’s a great business move for him. Wrestling as you know is all about timing. And with the Peacock debut, this is timed perfectly. Six months either way and this probably doesn’t happen.”
The number of different people in matches that have appeared on Dynamite in the first quarter were 92, for a two hour a week show. The number on Raw and Smackdown COMBINED, with five hours a week, was 78. That number doesn’t include managers or guys in factions outside the ring. Last year during the same quarter for AEW, the number was 62, so they’ve thrown 48 percent more wrestlers getting exposure on Dynamite. That’s not necessarily good or bad, as they have far more talented guys than they had at this time last year, but it does make it harder to get over when you’re throwing so many people out there, and it’s already harder to get over without packed arenas..

The number of people outside the ring on average during an AEW match has risen 49 percent. That means more interference or brawls. It does get even more people television time, even more than the increase in guys in matches has shown, but it makes it harder for anyone but the most hardcore fan to focus on things. But so many angles means each angle means less. The amount of interference means the interference means less. There is nothing wrong with interference, unless you’re doing St. Louis of 90s All Japan, where it had better be limited based on the product you are producing. But too much is always bad. It’s the same with blood. Historically, blood has drawn. I’ve seen many groups go without it and do just fine. World Class never did blood in its heyday and drew the highest percentage of women fans. It wasn’t because of no blood, it was because of the guys and the way they were promoted, but the blood, which its rival, Southwest Championship Wrestling, used to excess, gave it a different feel. But SWCW went out of business with heavy juice. In the JCP vs. WWF battle in the 80s, JCP used blood a lot while WWF at times never used it, other times sparingly. The blood absolutely gave JCP another audience, but it also, because it was done to excess, burned out that audience on blood to where it lost its effectiveness. It’s not a matter of not doing certain things, it’s a matter of just keeping them from overriding the strength of the product.

For fans where wrestling is an entertaining divergence from their life as opposed to their life, they want easily focused shows, angles that build to matches in a week, or a few weeks. If there is an angle that, unless it’s a PPV build or a small tease that you notice but isn’t an overt physical angle, that doesn’t lead to a match within probably three weeks, the angle is almost inherently useless and clutter. Because the reality is, so many angles are run that people largely are going to forget about something more than three weeks ago anyway.

There are other issues, such as the championships both having the top talent seemingly not interested in them at all. Chris Jericho lost his title a year ago and has never gotten a rematch while you have had 52 shows, with probably 45 of them likely to have benefitted greatly if such a match got a three-week television build; Cody had a long TV title run and then said he wasn’t interested in a rematch, and with him not challenging for the tag title and the stip about the AEW title, basically it’s one of the top babyfaces blowing off all titles. And the reason he doesn’t challenge for the AEW title, because MJF screwed him, resulted in one PPV, where he got screwed and a year later he can’t challenge for the title. So they did a great angle and ended up with almost no payoff from such a hardcore shocking long-lasting stip past proving they adhere to their stips for a long time.

But what the research showed is the television focus time on wrestlers from year-to-year, comparing the first three months of 2021 with that of 2020.

The most notable thing is that the people you would have thought one year ago were those being groomed for future stardom are actually focused on less than a year ago.

Kenny Omega’s television focus time, even though he’s world champion, was down 46 percent from the first quarter last year. And he’s the top star right now. But that’s because they are spending so much time focusing on others. Jon Moxley was down 42 percent, and he’s the top contender for the world title.

But here’s the more important ones. Sammy Guevara was No. 3 in the first quarter of 2020 and he was No. 70 in the first quarter of 2021. Granted, part of that was an angle to take him off TV. But his long-term build angle was with MJF. They even did the turn without rushing, which is far superior to how most companies usually do things like that today. But here we are and he’s back from his hiatus, never said a word and there’s still no match with MJF and his return direction was attacking—Shawn Spears, a guy who had nothing to do with his leaving and gave him no problems week after week. Jungle Boy is featured 15 percent less than last year at this time, and it’s guys like Guevara, Jungle Boy, MJF, Wardlow, Page (down 29 percent), Darby Allin (whose numbers are almost the same as last year, only a four percent decline) are the people who all should be a level up from last year. And Allin and MJF are bigger stars than a year ago. In the case of Page, it’s not really a big deal because he’s a guy who is an accepted star and you can always pull the trigger on him and people will accept him as a top guy. He can get momentum whenever they choose to give it to him.

Guevara, Jungle Boy and Wardlow are all guys everyone knows about their potential and most figure to be major stars. Guevara was focused on for a while and should have returned as a super hot babyface with a major push coming off his angle. Wardlow is in the same spot as a year ago. Jungle Boy was given two starting points, the Jericho match which had no follow-up and needed one (this was changed due to the pandemic and at that time it was the right call) and the Harwood match, which seemed to kick off a bigger feud that in fact never has gone anywhere past one six-man tag match where the focal point was Tully Blanchard and it’s been largely forgotten.

On the flip side, as far as new talent goes, John Silver, Isaiah Kassidy and Tay Conti were all in the top 20 this year and were not close to that last year.

The 20 guys who got the most time this year are getting 23 percent less time than the top 20 of last year. So there is less time for the focal point players.

Another change is far more time devoted to women than last year. That’s a good thing because by and large the work of the women has improved as has the depth.
Will Ospreay became the first European wrestler to win the major world title in Japanese pro wrestling on 4/4 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo when he defeated IWGP world champion Kota Ibushi in what was his first shot at the title.

Ospreay, 27, is the second youngest foreigner (Jay White was 26 when he won the same title in 2019 from Hiroshi Tanahashi) to ever win the company’s major world title, now called the IWGP world heavyweight title after the merging of the old IWGP title with the IC title. ...

Ospreay was only the fourth U.K. wrestler ever to challenge for New Japan’s top prize after Billy Robinson (the first British wrestler to win a world title in Japan with the IWA promotion, and went to a 60:00 draw with Antonio Inoki for the NWF title in 1975), Steve (now William) Regal, who had a shot at Shinya Hashimoto, and Zack Sabre Jr., who had a shot at Kazuchika Okada ...

He and Ibushi had the expected excellent match at the annual Sakura Genesis show. Ospreay won clean after the hidden blade and storm breaker in 30:13 before a sellout crowd of 4,844 fans ...

The bad news is that due to growth in COVID numbers, the government has put new restrictions back on and all sports events are limited to 5,000 capacity. New Japan had hoped by running 5/15 at Yokohama Stadium and 5/29 at the Tokyo Dome that they could drew larger crowds and hope to make up some of the huge revenue drops that COVID has taken out of their live event and live merchandise business, which is really what their company is built around. Unless these regulations change, it looks like it’s going to be like the Jingu Stadium show last year with 5,000 fans in 35,000 plus seat stadiums.
WWE held its 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame ceremonies that were taped on 3/30 and 3/31 and aired on Peacock on 4/6 with no fans, although with the week to edit, they piped in fake crowd noise and showed audience Thunderdome reaction shots that were actually from other events and also piped in.

The inductees were given time limits, and no longer had inductors, to move the pace along. The events clocked in at a combined just over three hours. The inductees were announced ahead of time but they also added a number of “Legacy wing” inductees. There’s really no rhyme nor reason of who the names are, past to make sure those of color and women are inducted, leading to a situation where many of the greatest male and female stars in history aren’t listed, while people who had nowhere near their tenure or stardom are ...

The 2021 show started with Rob Van Dam. He thanked the fans, as well as The Sheik, Sabu, joked about getting high and never mentioned Paul Heyman by name. He said his being inducted was a victory for all the fans ...

This legacy class was Ethel Johnson, who was a black woman wrestler, billed on the show as the first in history. Because wrestling is so vast and its history isn’t kept up well compared to most things (although historical knowledge and info is umpteem times greater now than 20 yeas ago), there is no way of knowing if this is accurate. What we do know is that Johnson’s name would come up on the Internet as the answer to that question and that Johnson was the first woman in the Billy Wolfe stable which had national reach. But Wolfe was not the first woman wrestling promoter, although he was the first to have a stable of women that were booked nationally. Johnson, real name Ethel Wingo, was a woman wrestler from 1951 (at age 16) to 1976 who was never one of the top stars. That could have been partially because in many place due to bans on interracial wrestling (this really existed in the 50s and 60s in some places) she couldn’t have even had a chance in some places. She may have been the first African American woman wrestler performing in the U.S. She started in late 1951, a few weeks before her sister and training partner, Babs Wingo (Barbara Wingo), broke in and was touring with her at the age of 14. The two sisters became the “colored” as they were billed woman wrestlers who would mostly wrestle each other in some Southern states, where neither were allowed to wrestle against Caucasian women. In many other states, they both worked tag matches against the other women from the Billy Wolfe troupe. A third younger sister, Marva Wingo, wrestled as Marva Scott starting in 1954.

Johnson’s niece went public a few days later when she found out saying that none of the family were contacted and had no knowledge of this (we don’t know how prevalent this is but Barbara Goodish had noted she had no idea about Bruiser Brody’s induction until she was told by wrestling fans after the fact and to this day Barbara Goodish has tons of connections and friends in and around wrestling). They also noted that the video footage used for the piece was not of Ethel Johnson, which we had noticed immediately.

The footage shown on the show of her flying around the ring was actually Sandy Parker, a completely different woman wrestler, taken from Southern California since Gene LeBell was the referee. Parker, who was one of the biggest woman wrestling stars of the 70s, was actually a much bigger star than Johnson. Parker was one of the first American stars for the All Japan women’s promotion where she held their world title in 1973 and their tag team title on eight occasions.
Stardom held another PPV show on 4/4 from the Yokohama Budokan before 1,029 fans ...

It was notable because the same parent company ran PPV shows that went head-to-head with each other (Stardom and New Japan), and one couple, Will Ospreay and Bea Priestley not only challenged for the respective world title on the same night, but they actually went into the ring at the same time.

The results were different, as this was Priestley’s last match in Japan after making the decision not to sign a new contract. While it was known she was done with New Japan, her leaving Stardom was kept secret as to not give away the result of the title match. Right after she was pinned, she announced it was her last match with Stardom and she was moving from Japan.

She didn’t tell anyone what her plans were, past moving back to the U.K. Usually when these things are kept secret it means WWE. The belief was that she was headed to the WWE U.K. brand as she said she was moving back to the U.K, and not to the U.S. WWE had been after her for years but she had turned down prior offers and instead decided to move to Japan where she became the top foreign star in the promotion. She had worked for AEW but was released because it became impossible to bring her to the U.S. It’s been confirmed of two things, one is that she’s not signing with AEW and the other is that her U.S. working visa has expired. Now WWE can get her one, but right now that takes a lot of time.
As it turns out, AAA’s social media did at one point mention the Laredo Kid title loss to Lio Rush that now is basically being declared as having never happened. There were a series of things that happened and didn’t happen. The plan was to announce a match in Mexico where the belt went back that never happened, but in the end, they just went with the idea to just put the belt on Laredo Kid without even that. The fact that they did announce the change to Rush on social media but not on television makes it more of a mess. The reality is that there are people and relationships that they want to protect, so AAA and MLW are both publicly protecting each other for the issue so for the public they’ve just decided to pretend it never happened. Lio Rush claimed on Twitter he didn’t have a scheduled conflict to come to Mexico and drop the belt and then deleted it. Court Bauer told Fightful that AAA put the match on its YouTube page
NEW JAPAN: Jon Moxley talked about defending his U.S. title next against Yuji Nagata. Since the quarantine is in effect in Japan, that would seem to indicate Nagata will come to the U.S. for a time, including doing a match with Moxley for the title and quarantine before returning home. It’s probably being taped around now because Nagata is off the next month of shows in Japan
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on 4/5 sent papers to a man in his late 30s, the second person to be charged with social media bullying in the death of Hana Kimura. On April 8, 2020, the man allegedly sent anonymous tweets to Kimura saying, “Die, you stupid brat’ and “You’re a waste” and more. When asked by investigators why, he said that he was just joining in on what he had seen on her site. The Metropolitan police in studying her site after her death said they found about 300 posts from 200 accounts that they considered defamatory. With the statue of limitations int these cases being one year, there is less than a two month window regarding decisions to charge people. The first man convicted was only fined the equivalent of $80
With the story going around about Azteca Underground trying to be released in what appears to be an MLW spinoff, Lucha Libre FMV, the parent company of Lucha Underground, applied for trademarks to Lucha Underground for a downloadable television series featuring wrestling and for a non-downloadable television series featuring wrestling and citing first usage in 2014. For the new project, the idea is to get together as much of the original team, both creative and on-air, as would be possible. I’m not sure what the situation would be for Matt Striker, who is now the voice of Impact. If this gets off the ground, and it’s always an if because it depends on the ability to sell it. The market right now is actually not that bad in the sense stations are talking. But nobody major has pulled the trigger on another wrestling promotion yet, even with the success of AEW. There is not the idea television that non-WWE pro wrestling can work and they are clamoring for sports and sports-like content. Even so, and even with AEW as a second brand doing far better than any MMA second brand, it’s in MMA that this is most notable. We’ve just seen new deals with Bellator, ONE, Combate Globo and PFL and know Invicta may be next and these are real deals, Showtime, TNT, Univision (Combate was on before but this new deal is for 30 shows a year) and ESPN 2 (an existing deal renewed as well). Obviously wrestling hasn’t been able to pull the trigger in the sense MLW, New Japan and NWA among others haven’t been able to get on stations at anywhere near the visibility level that the MMA groups have

MLW has signed a mystery deal. Court Bauer just tweeted “signed” on 4/8 and noted that he’s under a gag order with the company he made the deal with until they announce it.
AEW: Brock Anderson (Arn’s son) and Tyler Senerchia (Hook) are doing matches in the afternoons before the tapings as much as possible to get them ready. They were both trained at Cody and QT Marshall’s school. They do their matches and then the veterans like Arn Anderson, Jake Roberts, Dustin Rhodes, and some of the others, including sometimes Tully Blanchard, go over with them what they did right and other points
WWE President Nick Khan was on Colin Cowherd on 4/7 and said that Lynch and Rousey would be returning soon. Rousey’s contract expired originally this past week. It’s possible they froze it from when she asked to take time off. The impression we had is she was always coming back for the planned Los Angeles WrestleMania which was supposed to be this year, but obviously that didn’t happen. It’s the same reason why whatever talk of Reigns vs. Dwayne Johnson we were told would not happen this year because IF Johnson wants one more match, it’s going to be a full stadium and preferably Los Angeles. If they add a Bayley talk segment to Mania, that would likely be Lynch’s return as the idea of her driving a big truck in at one of the two Mania shows during a Bayley talk show segment is something we were told was being planned at one point. That also explains Bayley seemingly not booked for the show after a year when she was women’s MVP
Brandon Thurston ran Google trends and this was some of the info as far as brand popularity. WWE has declined 17 straight quarters worldwide from the same quarter the previous year, with the start also coinciding with house show, network sub and merchandise declines. In the U.S., they declined 17 of the last 18 quarters with the second quarter of 2019 being up one percent from the second quarter of 2018 being the exception. AEW was up four percent in quarter one from last year worldwide and severn percent in the U.S. That’s after big fourth quarter of 2020 declines over 2019, although that’s to be expected given the giant interest level in the product in October of 2019 for the debut. New Japan was up 15 percent worldwide, but that’s because in 2020 New Japan shut down for the final month of the quarter. However in the U.S., New Japan has been down nine straight quarters, which coincides with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks leaving the promotion. New Japan has been up and down in Japan, down obviously for most of 2020 which can be attributed to the pandemic. Impact has been up three of the last four quarters. Stardom has been up 20 straight quarters including the first quarter of this year doubling the first quarter of last year. Stardom in the U.S. has been up every quarter since first quarter 2017 except this current quarter, which declined 12 percent over last year. That’s likely due to the key person of interest in the first quarter by far would have been Hana Kimura from her appearances on Terrace House being perhaps the primary thing Stardom was known for in the U.S. at the time. ROH was down 32 percent worldwide and 25 percent in the U.S., from quarter one last year. ROH peaked in 2017 and has been down every quarter since

For the first quarter of 2020 in the U.S., as far as mainstream, UFC was double that of WWE. WWE was 5.6 times higher than AEW, however only two days (the day of the Royal Rumble and of Elimination Chamber) was there more interest in WWE than the day of AEW Revolution, and Chamber was only one percent above Revolution for interest in the companies the same day. AEW on the day of Revolution had 60 percent of the interest in the U.S. as WWE on the day of Rumble. AEW is 4.5 times higher than Impact. Impact is almost double Bellator and more than double New Japan. New Japan is nearly double ROH. NWA is the next level down with ONE and PFL right under NWA. Stardom is well below all of them
The deal on Raw on 3/29 where Riddle forgot his lines both was and wasn’t a shoot. It wasn’t planned to go like that. He did stumble over words which happens all the time and that’s why interviews are pretaped, as this one was. But because of Riddle’s character being comedy, Vince saw the messed up pretape and thought it was funnier than the actual scripted promo where he was going to say a bunch of nonsense for laughs, so it aired instead of doing a second take


Raw on 4/5, the go-home show for WrestleMania, but head-to-head with the NCAA basketball finals, did 1,701,000 viewers and an 0.52 in 18-49 (666,000 viewers).

Given the competition, the game, which started at 9:20 p.m. on CBS, and did 16,922,000 viewers and 4.12 in 18-49, the number has to be considered good even though it does tie for the least viewers for Raw since football ended. It was the most-watched non-football sports event in the United States since 2019. Still, Raw beat several of the pandemic and football season numbers and the competition was tougher than almost every football game during the second half of the show.

There wasn’t much of note to the numbers past what has to be considered a surprise, which is that 18-49 male viewers actually grew slightly in hour three from hour two, and were identical with hour one. In all other younger demos, there was a major decline during the show. There was also not a major decline over 50. Obviously the go-home show for Mania helped keep things steady and by all rights the number should have been worse.

As far as cable programming, Raw was first in 18-49, second in women 18-49, first in men 18-49, first in 18-34, first in women 12-34 and first in men 12-34. It was tenth in total viewers, trailing nine news shows.

From last week, which went against tournament games that drew 5,992,000 and 1.36 in 18-49 and 6,447,000 and 1.71 in 18-49, the big losses were in 18-34.

Raw was even with viewers from last week, down 7.1 percent in 18-49 and 28.6 percent in 18-34.

As compared to the same week last year, which was the Raw after Mania, Raw was down 19.0 percent in viewers, 25.7 percent in 18-49 and 34.2 percent in 18-34.

The first hour did 1,759,000 viewers. The second hour did 1,723,000 viewers. The third hour did 1,622,000 viewers.

The show did 93,000 viewers in male 18-34 (down 30.1 percent from last week), 82,000 in women 18-34 (down 28.1 percent), 316,000 in men 35-49 (down 5.7 percent) and 175,000 in women 35-49 (up 29.6 percent).

As far as the first-to-third hour declines, women 18-49 fell 20.5 percent from hour one to three, but men 18-49 had no decline at all. Teenage girls declined 31.4 percent and teenage boys declined 30.3 percent. Over 50 only dropped 3.8 percent, which was unusually low and given the game wasn’t on in the first hour, that’s a big surprise since most of the game’s viewers would have been over 50.

The show did a 0.29 in 12-17 (up 7.4 percent from last week), 0.25 in 18-34 (down 29.1 percent), 0.79 in 35-49 (up 4.5 percent) and 0.79 in 50+ (up 2.6 percent).
Smackdown on 4/2 did a 1.27 rating and 2,137,000 viewers (1.39 viewers per home, making it the largest viewers per home of any pro wrestling show this past week and the best any WWE show has done in recent memory). The show did an 0.57 (733,000 viewers) in 18-49 and 0.37 in 18-34.

The one key take out of this is that Logan Paul meant basically nothing to the numbers, since every key category was slightly down from last week.

Smackdown was third for the night among network programming in 18-49 trailing Blue Bloods and Shark Tank at 0.65. It was second to Blue Bloods, at 0.42, in 18-34. It also lost to an NCAA women’s basketball tournament final four game on ESPN that did 0.59 in 18-49 and 0.41 in 18-34, along with 2,692,000 viewers.

Among the eight shows on network TV, Smackdown was sixth in women 18-49, first in men 18-49 and its usual last in 50+ as well as last with total viewers.

As compared to the previous week, Smackdown was down 3.8 percent in homes, down 2.5 percent in viewers, down 0.9 percent in 18-49 and down 5.1 percent in 18-34.

As compared to one year ago, Smackdown was down 14.2 percent in homes, down 10.9 percent in viewers, down 12.5 percent in 18-49 but down only 7.5 percent in 18-34.

Smackdown did 161,000 viewers in male 18-34 (down 4.7 percent from last week), 97,000 in women 18-34 (down 4.0 percent), 276,000 in males 35-49 (up 3.0 percent) and 200,000 in women 35-49 (down 1.0 percent).
The final Wednesday night saw AEW finish in fifth place for the night with 688,000 viewers and 0.28 in 18-49 (366,000 viewers), while NXT finished No. 11 with 768,000 viewers and an 0.22 in 18-49 (282,000 viewers).

As noted elsewhere, the NXT numbers would have been up noticeably, probably in the high 800s or low 900s in total viewers and around 340-355,000 in 18-49 for the Takeover show and would have probably placed seventh overall.

AEW was fourth in male 18-49, 19th in women 18-49, sixth in 18-34, seventh in women 12-34 and fifth in men 12-34 for the night.

NXT was 13th in women 18-49, 8th in men 18-49, 18th in 18-34, 17th in women 12-34 and sixth in men 12-34.

Really, considering what AEW did last week not against Takeover, the number has to be a mild success, but they did have a big main event and Mike Tyson ...

As compared to last week, AEW was down 1.7 percent in viewers, up 7.3 percent in 18-49 and up 27.7 percent in 18-34.

NXT was up 17.4 percent in viewers, up 5.6 percent in 18-49 and up and down 27.5 percent in 18-34.

As compared to one year ago on the same day, and that was a monster news day, AEW was down 0.6 percent in viewers, up 7.7 percent in 18-49 and 15.4 percent in 18-34. NXT was up 10.8 percent in viewers and 15.8 percent in 18-49. We don’t have the 18-34 number comparison because NXT wasn’t in the top 50 this week last year.

In the main event segment, AEW had Young Bucks & Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega & Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson which did 724,000 viewers and 376,000 in 18-49. NXT had Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez which did 858,000 viewers and 349,000 in 18-49. NXT would have won in 18-49 in this segment if the show wasn’t on Peacock, and if you follow the last several weeks, Gonzalez is a major drawing card.

Another key regarding her appeal with Shirai and this match to the AEW audience is that as soon as AEW went off the air, you had a switch of 247,000 viewers and 99,000 in 18-49 to NXT. The 1,106,000 viewers and 443,000 in 18-49 for the last few minutes of this match could wind up as NXT’s biggest of the year and was the biggest since late 2019. And keep in mind you can probably add another 100,000 to 148,000 to that number from streaming and given that, more people watched the finish of that match live likely than any NXT match aside from the first week the show debuted unopposed.

AEW was three of the four key demos, but did lose for the second straight week in women 18-49.

AEW had 54,000 in men 18-34 (up 17.4 percent from last week) to 34,000 for NXT (down 42.4 percent from last week–but this is the age group that the streaming numbers probably made the most difference. AEW had 52,000 in women 18-34 (up 40.5 percent from last week) to 32,000 for NXT (same as last week) In men 35-49, AEW had 192,000 viewers (down 2.5 percent from last week) to122.000 for NXT (up 17.3 percent from last week). AEW had 68,000 women 35-49 (up 11.5 percent from last week) to 94,000 for NXT (up 30.6 percent from last week).

In the first quarter, AEW did 691,000 viewers and 370,000 in 18-49 for Adam Page vs. Max Caster. NXT did 700,000 viewers and 261,000 in 18-49 for Nita Strauss singing and Pete Dunne vs. Kushida.

In the second quarter, AEW did 728,000 viewers and 407,000 in 18-49mFor the Death Triangle interview segment with Best Friends, Orange Cassidy and Kris Statlander, and mostly the long Chris Jericho promo. This was AEW’s peaking 18-49, men 18-49 and women 18-49. NXT did 677,000 viewers and 235,000 in 18-49 for the ending on Dunne vs. Kushida and the beginning of the gauntlet match.

In the third quarter, AEW did 640,000 viewers and 363,000 in 18-49 for Christian and Taz, and the beginning of Jurassic Express vs. Bear Countr6. NXT did 766,000 viewers and 269,000 in 18-49 for the rest of the gauntlet.

In the fourth quarter, AEW did 632,000 viewers and 338,000 in 18-49 for the rest of Jurassic Express vs. Bear Country, QT Marshall and his group, Sting, Jake Roberts and Lance Archer and Team Taz. NXT did 737,000 viewers and 263,000 in 18-49 for Walter vs. Tommaso Ciampa.

In the fifth quarter, AEW did 620,000 viewers and 337,000 in 18-49 for Darby Allin vs. JD Drake and the post-match brawl with Sting, The Hardy Family and Dark Order. NXT did 817,000 viewers and 282,000 in 18-49 for Walter vs. Ciampa.

In the sixth quarter AEW did 732,000 viewers and 366,000 in 18-49 for the Jericho beatdown and Mike Tyson and the Inner Circle, a Britt Baker promo and most of Tay Conti vs. Bunny. NXT did 737,000 viewers and 262,000 in 18-49 for the beginning of the three-way for the tag titles.

In the seventh quarter, AEW did 741,000 viewers and 369,000 in 18-49 for the end of Conti vs. Bunny, the post-match, and the beginning of the main event six-man tag. This was AEW’s total viewer peak. NXT did 738,000 viewers and 281,000 in 18-49 for the ending of the tag title match.

In the eighth quarter, AEW with the six-man tag lost 17,000 viewers and gained 7,000 in 18-49. NXT with Gonzalez vs. Shirai gained 117,000 viewers and 63,000 in 18-49, which are huge gains against the NXT main event. This was also NXT’s peak in everything.

AEW did a 0.11 in 12-17 (up 37.5 percent from last week), 0.15 in 18-34 (up 22.9 percent), 0.41 in 35-49 (up 5.0 percent) and 0.24 in 50+ (down 17.2 percent) ...

NXT did a 0.11 in 12-17 (up 52.9 percent), 0.10 in 18-34 (down 27.5 percent), 0.34 in 35-49 (up 22.7 percent) and 0.38 in 50+ (up 18.8 percent).
The 3/31 episode of AEW did 1.28 viewers per home, which was the lowest in the history of the show. The previous record low was June 20, 2020 at 1.30. The record high was 1.72 on January 20, 2021.

The number may mean nothing to people, but the number itself points to the underlying problem. Keep in mind this was just one week, but the number is well down and has been down in recent weeks. In fact, since 2/17, it has declined every week, going from 1.53, which is a great number for sports, down to its present level, where it was well below Smackdown and the first time in recent memory it was not the No. 1 pro wrestling show as far as families/people watching together. But it’s not so much the number but digging into the number that tells you a lot. And it’s nothing that hasn’t been a trend of late.

Believe it or not, more homes than usual (up four percent from the usual number) were watching the show but the audience was low because of what AEW has been more successful at that almost any sports event except for major playoff games, the second, third or even fourth viewer in the home, had fallen so much ...

And it is the direction, the heavy violence, which is what drew that PPV audience. That direction, like ECW or UFC, is going to draw more heavily with men and less with women. And that’s what has happened here. You can argue it’s their niche, but they had a very good niche a few months back when they were the young family success and that has lessened of late to the point while still skewing younger than most, the second viewer in the home has gone from astonishingly high to normal sports levels.

The key is looking at exactly where the decline is. The 3/31 number may be an outlier. AEW was doing well in that category only a month ago, but it has declined in the last few weeks. This past week was unusually low, but the decline has become a pattern.

To understand what that means, basically in enough families, the second viewer, usually a woman, sometimes a son or daughter, or even a husband, or perhaps a second guy who was the roommate, has stopped watching.

The actual number of homes watching the guys watching really hasn’t changed.

The 700,000 number last week (this week’s number isn’t indicative going against a Takeover show, and some would argue, and our response indicates there is a lot to this, that the 3/31 number is also due to the build to Takeover the next week) came because, based on the actual increase in homes watching, one would have expected by normal AEW standards, roughly 120,000 viewers who had watched with another member of their family didn’t watch. Many of them did watch NXT, since total 18-49 numbers were steady. In particular, it was the women, where NXT beat AEW in key demos when that hasn’t been the case in a long time, which made the difference.

AEW has shown no decline in over 50 and its Males 35-49 are actually up, the latter likely because of that direction, and that audience is also likely the one buying the PPV shows.

The decline on 3/31 was about 70,000 falling between 18 and 49, based on normal levels for the numbers of home watching. That 700,000 viewers would have been 820,000 and the 341,000 in 18-49 would have been 411,000.

What the number of homes watching (545,000) should have delivered based on normal company trends would have been 259,000 guys and 152,000 women 18-49. The actual numbers were 243,000 and 98,000. So that’s 16,000 male 18-49 second or third viewers in homes that weren’t watching and 53,000 female second viewers between 18 and 49. Since over 50 viewers were up, the other loss is about 50,000 viewers, perhaps a little more, under the age of 18. Those viewers were the second viewer in the household since first viewers were up from usual.

It also should be noted that on 3/24, which would be the week after the Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa match, that males were 273,000 in 18-49, or up from what you’d expect from that many homes, but women were 121,000, down from the 152,000. The fall the next week may be what happened or perhaps NXT related since NXT picked up those women (AEW went from 121,000 to 98,000 while NXT went from 74,000 to 104,000 so overall women viewing last week was actually up but AEW was down 19 percent). For 4/7, women were at 120,000 but we don’t have viewers per home, but it was essentially the same as 3/24. NXT’s women audience went from 104,000 to 126,000, and that doesn’t include Peacock streaming, so NXT likely won handily with women again, but with a Takeover show, it should have. But AEW did go from doubling to losing two weeks in a row. Next week everything should be way up so any comparisons and trends start next week like it’s day one, unless you want to compare with a few months back when AEW was unopposed.

While you can’t credit or blame anything to one specific thing, given what has happened in recent weeks and just asking different people, the one thing that to me is very clear is that Baker vs. Rosa drew all kinds of male NXT fans to cross over seeing the bloody women, was one of the best and most talked about matches in the history of Dynamite. It is never one thing in specific, but a trend that has not been positive to women viewing with men in the same home. The decline of women dates back much farther, but the VPH decline really has hit starting on 2/17. Some have blamed MTV Challenge which is popular with women, but Challenge started before 2/17, as did the NBA, which is AEW’s other major weekly competition besides NXT each week, and AEW was hit in recent weeks and NXT was not.

If you have guys 18-49 complaining about the product, while the complaints may be valid, the reality is that they are doing well, even ahead of what you’d expect most weeks. And even last week AEW was up 13.7 percent in 18-49 from the same week last year. So while viewers are up-and-down, and some weeks look great and some look bad, last week in comparison to a year ago does not look bad.

AEW also fell to 11th place for the week in youngest skewing sports event on national television over the past week, behind four NBA games and six afternoon and morning soccer games. That’s still very good, but a lower level than it has been in the past. But that’s nothing to be concerned over given it was first just the prior week and the younger age of the audience is a major strength of the show. Ironically, one may expect that to change without NXT, since NXT dominated with viewers over 50, and if AEW picks up new over 50 viewers that had watched NXT (and there is no guarantee that will happen), it could age the overall audience. It’s less likely to pick up as many younger viewers since NXT wasn’t taking many of those viewers away most weeks. With NXT doing so well and AEW doing record lows over 50 head-to-head on 4/7, that will artificially skew AEW extremely high in that category next week.
Basically AEW's recent declines in viewership is due to their home average shrank and NXT snagging more women viewers than usual away from them. Its also starting to resemble more like an actual sports show in regards to becoming a lot more male heavy than it had been doing in recent months.
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