Cabana sues Punk over unpaid legal fees

August 9, 2018

Scott Colton (aka Colt Cabana) is suing C.M. Punk over unpaid legal fees the two shared as a result of a defamation lawsuit brought by a WWE physician.  Cabana and Punk prevailed in the lawsuit although the issue of the bill is in dispute.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, August 7th in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois.  According to the lawsuit, CM Punk assured Cabana that he was “100% covered” in relation to a demand letter he received regarding the infamous podcast in which Punk and Cabana spoke about the latter’s time in WWE including the physician’s lack of care for Punk.  Punk and Cabana were sued on February 19, 2015.

A retention agreement by Punk and Cabana’s defense law firm during for the trial indicated that Punk would be responsible for paying the legal invoices.  But, Cabana claims that in April 2016, Punk emailed him stating he would no longer pay the legal bills stating that Cabana would be responsible for half.  But, in June 2016, an agreement was brokered between the law firm, Punk and Cabana through trial.

In March 2017, Punk allegedly requested that the law firm representing them withdraw from the case as to representing Cabana.  As a result, Cabana had to retain separate counsel.

In June 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Punk and Cabana.  After the trial, Cabana’s lawyers demanded $200,000 in legal fees and net costs incurred by Cabana.  But, Punk refused to pay.

Cabana has brought a civil lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud.

Payout Perspective:

It looks like the former friends are friends no more considering this lawsuit.  There were potential conflicts between Cabana and Punk from the outset and to have both represented by the same counsel seemed dubious.  Based on Cabana’s side of the story, it appears that he took no action to remove the podcast when the initial demand letter was sent by the WWE doctor because he believed that Punk would “cover” him.  In this case, withdrawing as counsel two years into the lawsuit is more damaging than letting him find his own counsel from the beginning because it would seem that the new counsel would cost more considering it would have to get up to speed with the lawsuit and duplicate efforts.  One would think that a settlement would have happened instead of this lawsuit but it may be a case of bad blood between the two.

Kenny Omega is the most interesting man in pro wrestling

July 6, 2018

Kenny Omega is the most interesting man in pro wrestling.

It’s not because he is one of the most athletic and entertaining wrestlers inside of the ring and a great promotional speaker, it’s his thoughtful delivery that makes him one of the best today.

Via AXS TV

In a recent teleconference to promote this Saturday’s New Japan Wrestling show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Omega answered a variety of questions about the upcoming event, video games and how he learned Japanese.  It was impressive to see how thoughtful and articulate he was in answering and responding to all of the questions.

If you have watched Omega, he has the versatility to converse with Japanese audiences in their native languages.  Omega promised to speak more in Japanese to the fans.  The Japanese promos are done in a conversational way and it took Omega time to learn.  He started to learn from a book in 2008.  But, he stated that he couldn’t learn from a book because that was not really used in everyday conversation.  He had a Japanese friend that he was fluent in both English and Japanese.  He’d ask about words and phrases and kept them in a notepad.  From the words and phrases, he began to recognize sentence structure and grammar.  By 2011, he had a breakthrough where he could approach someone and have a conversation.  It was also the first time that he was able to cut a promo.  He noted that it was difficult at first to cut a promo in Japanese as the intent is to be intense and strong and to do it without stumbling over the words.  But now, he’s able to do it with confidence and without having to search for the correct words.  The out-of-the-box thinking to learn Japanese to use in front of audiences is bold and dedicated for a non-Japanese wrestler.

The strategy, commitment and execution of learning Japanese is similar to his in-ring ability.  His ability to put on 60 minutes plus matches with the same intensity and athleticism is remarkable in a day and age when most WWE fans are used to short, TV-style snippet match.

Pro wrestling fans are beginning to see more and more of what he can do.  “I don’t want to be limited to strictly America, I would love for New Japan to have a multiple presence in numerous countries,” stated the NJPW champion.  “I’ve increased my training,” Omega said of his ability to perform in the ring as a heavyweight.  “I’m a better athlete and a more healthy athlete as of now,” said the NJPW champion in response to his move to heavyweight from junior heavyweight.

At 34, Omega does not see an end in sight.  Omega stated that he modeled his career similar to Chris Jericho, a man who he faced early last year.  He spoke highly of Jericho’s career outside the ring.  He noted his work with E3.  Omega is a gamer and did some work at the annual video game expo in Los Angeles this past June which included a face-off with the WWE’s New Day.  It’s clear that he would like to expand his reach into some of his interests.  During the teleconference he talked about shooting commercials and other promotional activities on behalf of his brand and New Japan.  “If it brings eyes to our company [New Japan], that’s what I’m going to do.”  As a veteran of the New Japan roster, he sees himself in more of a senior role for the company. “It’s not just to carry the belt out for every house show,” he added, “We have such and deep and talented roster, I think that they will be fine on the house shows. I think it’s my job to bring more eyes to the product and with the skill set that I have I can do more that is equipped.”

Omega noted that the wrestling is only just the surface to the package.  “I think as wrestlers we have to show ourselves as multi-layered.”  He eschews the meat-head moniker of pro wrestlers.  “That’s why I really want to have my voice heard.”

He preached being a positive role model and as pro wrestlers have more of their voices be heard.

Earlier this year, Omega was indifferent about perceptions about whether his character was a homosexual as he and Kota Ibushi reformed The Golden Lovers. “I can’t lie, that story was created for us,” Omega said about getting back together with Ibushi.   He told Yahoo, “If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that.  It’s the story of two wrestlers who share dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.” Omega’s viewpoint reflects an open-mindedness and sense of inclusion which is welcoming of all types regardless.

Via AXS TV

Perhaps the only concern fans have with Omega is that he might become to big of a star that the WWE will come calling.

Yet, he has amassed a following without the help of the WWE and is on the cusp of being a bigger star with AXS TV’s second United States show for the Japanese promotion.  Later this summer, he’s sure to be one of the headliners for the “All In” event in Chicago, an all-independent wrestling show which sold 10,000 tickets in one day, a remarkable feat.

Omega is in the main event against Cody Rhodes Saturday night at the ‘G1 Special in San Francisco’ on AXS TV.

WWE announces SmackDown Live deal with Fox Sports

June 26, 2018

The WWE announced its upcoming rights deal with Fox Sports with SmackDown Live starting on FOX Friday night October 4, 2019 according to a company press release.  The deal with Fox Sports more than triples the fees it was receiving in its prior deal with NBC Universal.

The show, which currently airs on the USA Network, will remain a 2-hour show airing year-round.

“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”

The announcement is part of a new 5-year deal with Fox Sports.  In addition, it signed a deal with Comcast Corp.’s USA Network for Raw to remain on the Network.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement confirms that Smackdown Live will be on network television in 2019.  The news of the deal with Fox Sports last month boosted WWE stock.  Smackdown Live on network television is an even bigger coup for the company as its business continues to ascend.  The clamor for live content has made this round of rights fees for the WWE a bounty of riches as it adjusted its annual average rights fees from $468 million as compared to the $130 million in its previous deal for its two key programs.

Has pro wrestling evolved with The Golden Lovers?

March 25, 2018

A gay wrestling tag team?  Almost 20 years ago, the WWE gained notoriety when Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo teased a gimmick in which they feigned a homosexual relationship which led to a televised “commitment ceremony.”  In 2018, a similar tag team relationship is being teased, but with the times, it is not that controversial.

Billy and Chuck received national attention for an alleged stunt in which they were going to have a commitment ceremony.  The WWE had worked with GLAAD in securing publicity for the event.  Once the ceremony took place (which turned out to be a swerve), GLAAD denounced the stunt as they were duped into helping the WWE obtain awareness for the purpose of gaining ratings.

The Golden Lovers, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are taking on The Young Bucks on Sunday Night in Long Beach, California in the main event of the New Japan Wrestling Show to be televised on AXS TV.  The promotion has taken off since airing on AXS and the event in Long Beach sold out its 6,500 or so venue within 15 minutes.

The issue of homosexuality in wrestling is no longer a de facto heel character as in the days of the WWE’s portrayals of Adrian Adonis or Goldust.  Omega even invites the thought that the characters may be homosexual.

For that matter, there is not much backlash from NJPW fans.  Arguably, Omega is the biggest fan favorite in the company, and maybe even all of pro wrestling.  His demand is through the roof and its clear that he is in no way looking to parlay his popularity into a shot in the WWE.

 

Via AXS TV

Omega does not care about the ambiguity of his character’s relationship with another man.  In an interview with Yahoo this week Omega let it be known:

“Let people think what they want to think.

If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that. It’s the story of two wrestlers who shared dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.

I think it’s important to show in the 21st century that if you’re gay, lesbian, trans, whatever, that you should feel just as welcome to be a wrestling fan as anyone else. You’re welcome in the space.”

Pro wrestling is made up of characters and sometimes it’s based on dredging up the stereotypes to illicit a response from the fans.  From the bad Russians, to the savage Samoans to the good guy American, characters were premised upon typecasts.  Since the WWE became a publicly traded company, the era of focusing on race, gender or ethnicity have largely gone by the wayside.

The newfound view of sexuality is inclusive for everyone and indicative of a new viewpoint on pro wrestling in 2018.  The fans have evolved and are much smarter and are less likely to be pulling for a wrestler based on vanilla characters.

Ronda Rousey signs with WWE

January 28, 2018

Ronda Rousey has signed with WWE as she made a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble Sunday night.  ESPN revealed the news after Rousey came down the ramp wearing a jacket given to her by Rowdy Roddy Piper’s son at the end of the show.

There was much speculation about Rousey’s appearance tonight as she was scheduled to be out of the country to film a moving.  It was an obvious swerve.  Maybe there was some foreshadowing as Rousey’s photographer was in Philadelphia according to a tweet he put out (looking for weed).

Rousey indicates in the Ramona Shelburne story that she will be in WWE full-time despite there are other options for her career-wise.

She has not shut the door on an MMA return as Brock Lesnar has returned from WWE to head back into the Octagon.

Rousey’s last fight was at UFC 207 where she was stopped by Amanda Nunes in the first round.  The PPV drew 1 million PPV buys.

Payout Perspective:

Rousey is a life-long pro wrestling fan and it’s clear that living out her dream of being a wrestler is something that she would like to do.  She made a memorable cameo with the Rock at Wrestlemania a couple years ago.  Her friend Shayna Baszler is on the NXT roster and this past summer there was the hint of a possible feud between Rousey’s Four Horsewomen and the NXT Four Horsewomen of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Bailey.  All indications point to her wrestling debut this spring at Wrestlemania.

McMahon revives XFL

January 25, 2018

The XFL reboot is going to happen.  Vince McMahon is scheduled to make the announcement on Thursday.

Speculation about bringing back the XFL surfaced last month when SEC filings from the WWE indicated that McMahon sold 3.34 million shares of the company to fund a separate entity, Alpha Entertainment, LLC.  The company was established “to explore investment opportunityes across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football.”  In addition, USPTO applications for XFL and Alpha Entertainment provided further clues that the football league was coming back.

Payout Perspective:

Dependent on how this is set up, a spring football league would not be a crazy idea at this point.  Notably, Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, was looking into establishing a league for those players that could not or did not go to college.  It would be similar to a developmental league like the NBA.  If it is structured like this, and not as a direct competitor to the NFL, there could be a viable market.  We shall see.

Rousey to test WWE waters?

December 6, 2017

According to MMA Junkie, it appears that Ronda Rousey’s next appearance will be in the WWE as the former UFC star is taking her talents to the pro wrestling ring.

Rousey has made an appearance at a Wrestlemania and admits to being a big wrestling fan.  Her friend, Shayna Baszler, is already a pro wrestler and recently signed with the company.  Rousey made an appearance at an NXT event earlier this year.  It is reported that she has been training at the WWE Performance Center in Florida.

Her longtime friend, Gene LeBell said that she may make occasional wrestling appearances as opposed to being on the full-time roster.  When Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE from his first stint with the UFC, he was on a part-time schedule which the company seems to accommodate for bigger stars.  Although Rousey is not a pro wrestling star, she certainly would be the type of personality that would command big money and star accommodations.

Payout Perspective:

Although nothing is confirmed, this move seems likely and the most sensible for Rousey if she still wanted to be involved in “combat sports.”  While she has tried out acting, she could utilize her MMA/Judo and entertainment background in pro wrestling while making good (and likely better) money.

Nature Boy 30 for 30 doc premiere scores big in ratings

November 11, 2017

This past Tuesday’s ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on professional wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair drew 1.831 million viewers.  It was the highest-rated cable program on Tuesday.

The documentary, directed by Rory Karpf, looked at the life and times of Ric Flair including the good and bad of the character and person.  The documentary was heavily publicized and Flair did promotion for the documentary across ESPN platforms.

According to ShowBuzz Daily, it was the most-watch cable program on Tuesday for the 18-49 demo with 1.41 million viewers.  For those wondering, WWE Smackdown on the USA Network drew 1.820 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

I would say nostalgia is one of the reasons why this documentary did so well in the ratings.  Of course, being the most-watched in the 18-49 demo says a lot about the cultural relevance of the Nature Boy character.  The documentary was well-done and offered something from the casual pro wrestling fan to the ones that watched Flair in the 1980s as a youth.

Young Bucks receive cease and desist over hand gesture

October 4, 2017

Pro wrestling tag team, the Young Bucks (real life brothers Matt and Nick Jackson) are big stars on the independent wrestling scene.  Recently, World Wrestling Entertainment sent the team a cease and desist letter for using hand gestures and phrases made popular by WWE characters during their performances.

The “Kliq” hand gesture was used in the mid-1999 by WWE performers Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman and Triple H.  It was later used in the 2000s by wrestling group the New World Order in World Championship Wrestling.

Too Sweet

Hook’em Horns

The Young Bucks have used the hand gesture on the independent scene and in Japan along with their stable of wrestlers.

The WWE sent a cease and desist letter to the wrestlers requesting that they stop using the hand gesture in addition to another gesture as well as catchphrases or else be sued by the company.

Notably, the WWE attempted to trademark the “Kliq” hand gesture with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in March 2015.  However, it received an Office Action that the hand gesture was likely to be confused with a trademark owned by The Board of Regents of the University of Texas System.  That trademark, registered in May 2014, is described as “the representation of a human hand with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb closed over the middle and ring fingers.”  It is commonly referred to as the “Hook’em Horns” symbol.  Gene Simmons of famed rock band Kiss attempted to trademark a similar hand gesture earlier this year as it is commonly known as a “rock on” symbol.  But, he later abandoned the application likely due to the fact that it would not survive a challenge from the University of Texas.

Instead of challenging the WWE, the Young Bucks decided to let the hand gesture go.  Instead, their new merchandise is based on the cease and desist.

IP protection of hand gestures in pro wrestling is not new.  Former pro-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page sued rapper Jay-Z over a copyrighted hand gesture which symbolized a diamond.  Jay-Z used the hand gesture to signify his record label.  Page noted he had copyrighted the symbol in 1995.  In fact, a records search reveals that he did.

Trademarks and copyrights differ as we previously discussed in this post.

In essence, the reason for the WWE’s cease and desist relates to the commercial use of the mark.  Protection of one’s intellectual property is important despite many who believe that the move was done to harass the Young Bucks.  Certainly, harassment is an incidental benefit for the WWE, and the Young Bucks, as well as some wrestlers associated with them recently mocked the company prior to a live show last week.  The old saying about messing with the bull and getting the horns finally came around to the bucks as the WWE flexed its legal muscle.

Not only did the WWE come down on the “Too Sweet” hand gesture but it also is preventing them from the “Suck It” callout and gesture as well.

For those wondering, its hard to argue the issue of “Fair Use” as the Bucks could claim parody.  For those that follow this, the 2 Live Crew case which used the Roy Orbison song, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” was retooled by the Miami-based rap group.  The U.S. Supreme Court deemed that the song was a commercial parody of the Orbison song and considered Fair Use.  We talk about “Fair Use” here.

But, the monetization of their use of the phrases and gestures would prove to be a hard factor to overcome.  Moreover, one of the factors, effect upon a work’s value, would be impacted.  The market is affected as the use of the material by the Bucks could be construed as a substitute for the original Kliq which may negatively impact the commercial use of the original Kliq.

 

 

The Ratings Buffet for the week ending June 30th

June 30, 2017

Welcome to another week of The Ratings Buffet.  We have been a little late with posting this week.  Note the TUF Episode rating is down from last week but up from TUF 24’s Episode 11.

Saturday

Bellator 180 on Spike TV 8:00-10:00pm ET:  758,000 viewers

Bellator 180 on CMT:  143,000 viewers

HBO Boxing Replay Ward/Kovalev2 at 10:00pm ET 752,000 viewers/316 viewers in the A18-49 demo

Sunday

UFC Fight Night 112 Prelims on FS2 at7:00pm ET: 319,000 viewers/157,000 in the A18-49 demo

UFC Fight Night Main Card on FS1 at 9:00pm ET:  819,000 viewers/427,000 in the A18-49 demo

Monday

WWE Monday Night Raw on USA

8:00pmET 2.887 million viewers

9:00pm ET 3.092 million viewers

10:00pm ET 2.951 million viewers

Tuesday

WWE Smackdown on USA at 8:00-10:00pm ET 2.603 million viewers #1 in cable for Tuesday night.

UFC Fight Flashback on FS1 at 8:00-8:30pm ET: 130,000 viewers

Wednesday

TUF 25 Episode 11 at 10:00pm ET 369,000 viewers

TUF Talk on FS1 at 11:00pm ET 121,000 viewers

Lucha Underground on ElRey 8:00pm ET 112,000 and immediate replay at 9:00pm ET drew 77,000 viewers

Thursday

Impact Wresting on Pop at 8:00pm: 268,000 viewers

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