SmackDown draws 2.9M viewers in 2nd week on Fox

October 12, 2019

WWE Friday Night Smackdown drew 2.90 million viewers on Fox per Nielsen via Television By Numbers.  The ratings reflect a drop from last week’s debut.

Friday night saw a 1.0 rating in the A18-49 and a 6 share in the overall audience.

The telecast is down from last Friday’s 3.87M viewers. This week CBS ruled Friday night ratings as an episode of Hawaii Five-O drew 6.95M overall viewers in the 8-9pm time slot, Magnum, P.I. grabbed 6.43M viewers from 9-10pm and although SmackDown did not go up against it, Blue Bloods hit 7.55M viewers from 10-11pm.

Payout Perspective:

A decrease is viewership of almost 1 million viewers has to be concerning.  Yet, the telecast is strong in the 18-49 demo which is a saving grace for the promotion as it hopes that it can attract viewers.  Yet, it seems that the fall on Friday night will be ruled by CBS and its original programming.

Cain Velasquez leaves UFC, signs with WWE

October 12, 2019

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has signed with World Wrestling Entertainment and has retired from the UFC.

Velasquez made an appearance on WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown Premiere when he came out with Rey Mysterio to confront Brock Lesnar.  At a press conference on Friday, it was announced that Velasquez had signed with the promotion and will face Brock Lesnar at WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on October 31st.

Although Velasquez has just a handful of pro wrestling matches under his belt, he has impressed with his agility and move set.  For an athlete that has experienced multiple injuries in mixed martial arts, his body seems rejuvenated for professional wrestling.

Also announced at the WWE press conference Friday was boxer Tyson Fury facing Braun Strowman.

Via MMA Junkie:

Payout Perspective:

In interviews, it sounds as though Velasquez is happy with this career move and is ready to move on from MMA.  While he has a lot to do to refine his pro wrestling, he has the notoriety, charisma and athletic ability to become a big star, similar to Lesnar, in WWE.

AEW draws over 1 million viewers for second episode on TNT

October 10, 2019

The second episode of All Elite Wrestling declined in ratings from its debut but still remained over 1 million viewers.  In comparison, NXT on USA at the same time was down in ratings to 790,000 viewers.

NXT drew 890,000 viewers last week in its first show going to two hours to compete with AEW on TNT.  This week’s NXT drew 0.46 in the M18-49 demo.  For AEW on TNT, it drew 1.018 million viewers and 0.66 in the A18-49 demo.

In its second week of the “Wrestling Wars,” AEW is showing strength with its overall rating and with the younger demo.  It drew 0.33 in the M18-34 compared to 0.15 for NXT on USA.  Granted, NXT on USA is not the main show for the WWE, but AEW is finding a niche with an audience disenchanted with the current WWE product.

On a day with two Game 5 playoff games, the viewership for wrestling was strong.  It should be noted that the Cardinals-Braves finale was a blowout from the start (10-0 in first inning) so you may have seen an audience turn the channels.  Also, the Nationals-Dodgers game was not decided until extra innings.

Friday night SmackDown debut on Fox draws 3.87M viewers, 8 share in A18-49 demo

October 5, 2019

The debut of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox drew 3.87 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It also drew a 1.4 rating and an 8 share in the A18-49 demo.

Although the threshold for the debut may have been 4.5 million viewers (see below), the telecast was the highest rated in the A18-49 demo for the night on the networks.  It was third in total viewers in the 8-9pm time slot to Hawaii Five-O (6.93M) and The Blacklist (3.97M) (via Television By Numbers).  Yet, an 8 share was double of any other network show in either the 8-9 or 9-10 time slot.

Fox went big for the debut of SmackDown with the appearances of The Rock, boxer Tyson Fury and the surprise debut of Cain Velasquez.  Certainly, the ratings have to be pleasing for Fox which promoted it throughout all of its media and the WWE which likely proved its worth to the network on Friday night.  The question will be whether SmackDown can sustain this rating and surpass it to show an attractive expanse for the viewers.  If you are to look at interest based on twitter, there were a certain amount of people that had not watched wrestling in a while that found SmackDown.  Whether those viewers convert to regulars will be an interesting case study on how this goes for the television deal.

‘Dynamite’ ratings for AEW’s debut on TNT

October 3, 2019

The debut of All Elite Wrestling’s “Dynamite” drew 1.4 million viewers and was second in overall cable ratings for Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  NXT on the USA Network drew 890,000 viewers in its first head-to-head with the upstart rival.

The series premier of All Elite Wrestling drew a 0.68 rating in the A18-49 demo compared to 0.32 from NXT.  “Dynamite” will be a two hour show on TNT on Wednesday.  Similarly, NXT will be two hours.  For the first two weeks on the USA Network, NXT had been an hour long telecast but moved to two hours with the new competition.

Notably, Tuesday night TNT aired a “Countdown” show for AEW which drew 691,000 viewers which is impressive considering it did not contain live wrestling content but just a glorified highlight show of what to expect from the company.

The WWE’s product saw a 10% decline over the last two weeks with the preceding weeks scoring over 1 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Regardless of which show you may prefer, this is a big win for the genre of pro wrestling as over 2 million viewers tuned in on Wednesday to watch either WWE or AEW.  Only the MLB Wildcard game on ESPN drew more on cable Wednesday despite the fact that it was also opening night for the NHL.  We shall see if AEW can sustain the ratings.

The cat-like Will Osperay doesn’t back down

July 5, 2019

The Aerial Assassin is an appropriate nickname for Will Osperay. He is one of the most acrobatic and exciting workers in any wrestling ring.

His recent twitter feud with WWE superstar Seth Rollins has gained more eyes for the UK star.  As New Japan begins its G-1 Tournament with the first stop in the United States, Osperay will be one to watch.  Of course, if you’ve seen him in the ring, he’s always been one to watch.

The current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion will take on native Texan Lance Archer at the G1 Climax as part of one of the “A” Block Tournament matches.  It will be a unique, one-time home turf advantage for Archer as the Japanese-based company makes its first-ever stateside appearance for the tournament.

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Osperay earned the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title with a highlight-filled match against Shinjo Tagaki at Best of the Super Juniors this past June.  He is just one of two junior heavyweights to earn entrance in the G1 this year.

His cat-like ability to land on his feet is one of the most stunning things about his style.  Trained at the London School of Lucha Libre, Ospreay has taken his style to new heights.

He hasn’t backed down after responding to a tweet that he feels as good as any WWE superstar.  In fact, he told SI that his championship is more prestigious than Rollins’ Universal title.

“My championship is a little bit more prestigious than your championship,” said Ospreay. “More power to him, good luck, but my string of matches from this year alone has a lot of people talking about what I can do, and I’ll focus on that instead of what Seth Rollins is doing on social media.”

The two exchanged unpleasantries via social media with the WWE superstar rethinking his position.  Ospreay agreed to the détente with the two moving on.

The social media battle showed the fearlessness and unabashed confidence of the cruiserweight.  He’s complemented his sublime aerial style with some ground tactics to make him one of the best all-around in-ring talents in professional wrestling.

His match last week at Southern Showdown in Australia showed that he could also tell a story in his match with Robbie Eagles.

All signs point to Ospreay remaining in his spot on the New Japan roster and not looking to jump to AEW or WWE.  Despite the possibility of more U.S. visibility like Ricochet or Kenny Omega, Ospreay is staying put where he can put on spectacular 20 minute matches without restraint.

And for that we should be happy.  Ospreay will start off the G-1 Saturday night in Dallas and on AXS TV.  It will be one of the few instances you can see him stateside.

AEW finds television home at Turner

May 16, 2019

The upstart wrestling promotion, All-Elite Wrestling, has found a television home with Time Warner.  The announcement was made official when AEW appeared at the Turner upfronts on Wednesday.

AEW signed a deal with WarnerMedia that will give the promotion which has its first show Memorial Day weekend, a weekly television show on TNT primetime beginning later this year.  It will be the first time that professional wrestling has aired on TNT since the days of WCW in 2001.

In addition to TNT, AEW will stream on the B/R Live app.  The media rights deal was negotiated by AEW president and CEO Tony Khan and Bernie Cahill, co-founder of Activist Artists Management, LLC.

The television deal is an enormous benchmark for the nascent promotion which has gained momentum since its independent show, All-In, revealed an independent wrestling base willing to support non-WWE wrestling.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe not the redux of the Monday Night Wars which was the heyday of pro wrestling on cable networks.  With WWE now a publicly traded company and a central part of Fox’s network plans this fall, AEW’s television deal seems to be an homage to independent wrestling.  With a lot of expectations from the fans that have followed the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Cody, it will be interesting to see how the company seeks to differentiate itself from the WWE, and how it will draw sponsors and build an audience.  Also, interesting, what will the WWE do to retain talent from jumping to AEW and how it will produce its shows based on its new competition.

 

The Interview: Jim Perry and Matt Farmer of Defy Wrestling

March 4, 2019

The independent wrestling scene is hot and The Interview checks in with Northwest promoters and founders of Defy Wrestling Jim Perry and Matt Farmer.  They discuss starting the promotion and the nature of the business.

WWE posts 3rd Quarter results, will hold event in Saudi Arabia

October 26, 2018

The WWE announced its third quarter results for the year on Thursday morning.  It also confirmed that it will go forward with an event in Saudi Arabia despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The WWE addressed the controversial in today’s earnings release which called the killing “heinous” but stated that as with other US companies that are continuing operations in Sauid Arabia, the WWE decided to “uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event.”

When asked by analysts today on the earnings call, Vince McMahon stated, “[i]t’s a very sensitive subject.  I think our statement says what we wanna say.”  In recent weeks, the WWE promoted the event without indicating that Crown Jewel on November 3rd would take place in Saudi Arabia.  The event will be the second in Saudi Arabia as the WWE held, “Greatest Royal Rumble” this past April.  The reason for the events in Saudi Arabia boil down to the massive amounts of revenue for the company.

The WWE earnings for the third quarter beat analyst expectations as Wall Street predicted Earnings Per Share of 21 cents.  The company announced an Earnings Per Share of 37 cents on revenue of $188.4 million.  Subscriptions to the WWE Network grew 9% to more than 1.66 million.  The media division increased 9% to $142.1 million due license fees and sales of ad and sponsorships.

Revenue at live events dropped this quarter by 15.5% to $26.7 million due to fewer events and an 8% decrease in North American attendance.  International events saw an even bigger decrease of 18% in average attendance.  In consumer products, revenue declined 18% to $19.6 million due to new revenue recognition standards and lower sales of merchandise online and at WWE venues.

WWE shares are at $75.68, down approximately 2.18% as of Thursday afternoon after hours trading.

Payout Perspective:

The Saudi Arabia event which will be held November 3rd likely will help with company’s revenue, but there will be a public relation hit based on the controversy surrounding the death of the Washington Post journalist.  The partnership with Saudi Arabia caused controversy as women couldn’t participate in the country.  But, the WWE has signed a 10-year agreement with Saudi Arabia and estimates $50 million of incremental revenue and more than $15 million in operating income to the company.  The infusion of cash will please shareholders.

 

The WWE has done well with its media division as shows like Total Divas and Miz & Mrs have increased license fees and sales of advertising and sponsorships.  Aside from its media division, the WWE has seen a decline in operating income in the other sectors of its business.  The decrease in attendance likely caused, in part, the lower revenue in the consumer products.

Cody Rhodes and the art of the promo

October 5, 2018

New Japan Pro Wrestling ran its third show in Southern California – Fighting Spirit Unleashed this past Sunday at The Pyramid in Long Beach, California.  It was an underrated card with some great talent and I was able to check out one of the best promos in the business as Cody Rhodes became a double champ.

The first match of the night featured two “young boys.”  A young boy is a young pro-wrestler still in the training stages of their career.  You might see these young boys act as ringside attendants in other matches to help veteran pro-wrestlers.  This match featured Clark Connors and Alex Coughlin.  Coughlin was a former WWE Tough Enough contestant and has wrestled on the indies.  Connors was trained by Lance Storm and wrestled in the Pacific Northwest.  Notably, I saw him wrestle for Washington state based promotion, Defy Wrestling.  New Japan opened up a Los Angeles-based dojo to train here in the states and these two are a part of the school.

Both Connors and Coughlin were indistinguishable in black trunks, black boots and no knee pads.  Both fighters ran to the ring and bowed to the crowd.  The match was devoid of any fancy moves or fanfare.  But, it was a solid performance focusing on the basics and strong style.  Connors won via Boston crab-type submission where he bridged over to obtain more leverage.

My favorite match of the night was Marty Scurll versus Will Ospreay.  It was a fast-pace back and forth match with both wrestlers working really hard.  Ospreay is one of the truly special guys in pro wrestling.  There are things he can do that no other wrestlers can.  Scurll plays up to his nickname, “The Villain.”  In the post-match press conference, he railed on the media calling them losers.  Perfect.

Then, there was the hometown favorite Young Bucks taking on the Tongans in a battle for the Bucks’ tag team titles.  The story of the match was the back of Matt Jackson.  I am not one to know how much Matt was selling the injury and how much was legit, but Nick had to do much of the load.  This was one of the best matches from Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa.  They came off as great heels and the crowd just hated them.

The main event saw The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi) take on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii.  Most of the match saw the tease between Omega and Okada as it was the first time since one of the best matches fans have seen this past summer.  It was a definite strong style match with Ishii giving and taking some very stiff shots.  In the end the Omega and Ibushi double knee “V-trigger” to Ishii won it for the Lovers.

One of the best promos of the night came after Cody won the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship over Juice Robinson.  After an unsatisfying stint in NXT as CJ Parker, Robinson left for New Japan where he has reinvented himself.  He has been on a roll as of late in New Japan and had won the belt in San Francisco at the G1 Special in July.

Unlike other wrestling promotions, New Japan Wrestling conducts post-fight interviews just like most other sports.  This is a great opportunity for the wrestlers to get reps to respond to reporter questions.  It’s also a way for the wrestlers (in character) to move forward their storylines and establish new ones.

Despite enjoying his time in the WWE, he laid into the company and Juice.  He talked about heritage, “Juice Robinson is one of what the NXT people said he was one of ‘Dusty’s Kids.’ Guess what, I’m his actual God damn kid!” He then exclaimed, “if you didn’t think it was personal, its very personal.”  The promo exemplifies Rhodes’ mastery of the mic and an audience.  Without concern for promoter or promotion, Rhodes rules his own world of wrestling and has attracted many searching for alternative options for pro wrestling.

His years of learning to cut a promo have helped him outside of the company in attracting fans.  The delivery is deliberate when it needs to be and he’s ready to adapt to any situation.  In fact, he called out several reporters when he asked them questions and complemented one who exuded passion for the sport.  He touted his championships and his success in the industry.  And, he’s not afraid to let people know it.  Cody has been able to create his own persona while reminding opponents and fans that the Rhodes name is royalty in the sport.

Since leaving the WWE, Cody has remastered his legacy and instead of being relegated to the mid-card and relative stability of WWE, he opted to go outside of the company on his own.  He’s linked up with the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Marty Scurll in creating a buzz with The Bullet Club.  Coming off of All In, his brand is at a high and concern about going back to Uncle Vince is always a worry.  He did talk a bit about this in his post-match press conference.  While he has used the WWE as a heel straw man in most of his setups, he admitted that he had a good time with the company.  He also didn’t rule out going back.  A concern for many non-WWE wrestling fans as the Bucks and Rhodes cite January 1, 2019 as the end of their current contracts.

With that being said, Rhodes is enjoying the freedom of being his own boss.  He talked about not being concerned about any of the promoters he worked for in New Japan, Ring of Honor or the NWA.  That’s why it doesn’t appear that Cody will be going anywhere.  Its always hard to do it yourself but its clear that Cody is happy where he’s at and how he’s done it.  While I wouldn’t rule out a return to the WWE (Royal Rumble surprise anyone), he’s become a much bigger star than he’d ever would have been in the WWE.

If you didn’t watch Fighting Spirit Unleashed, you can catch it Friday night on AXS TV.

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