POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Analyzing AEW's Growth Strategy

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/09/pollocks-news-update-analyzing-aews-growth-strategy/

POST IT NOTES

**You can now submit your Christmas Jingles for our annual Jingle Contest on the Christmas Show. Entries can be submitted on the POST Wrestling Forum and we will play each one on the Christmas Show and announce the winner.

**Davie Portman & Andrew Thompson did a special IMPACT Review on Tuesday night with a review of Tuesday’s much-hyped episode including appearances from Kenny Omega, Don Callis, and AEW president Tony Khan on the program. The show is available on both the POST Wrestling and upNXT podcast feeds.

**Rewind-A-Wai #76 has been released with a big review of Lucha Underground’s Ultima Lucha 1 from the summer of 2015. Wai Ting and I discuss the launch of the program, who was involved, the pros and cons of Lucha Underground, the key characters throughout season one, and the status of the production between seasons. Plus, we look at the news from that week in 2015 including NXT selling out the Barclays Center, TNA, and ROH on Destination America, WWE announces shows in Saudi Arabia, a crazy fan incident at a house show involving Roman Reigns, and a quote from Lucha Underground executive Eric Van Wagenen after the first season and the issues the group was facing. This show is available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Wai Ting and I will be back with Rewind-A-Dynamite late tonight with a big review of Dynamite, and we’ll also discuss Tuesday’s edition of IMPACT, all the television ratings, news of the day, and take your feedback.

**Braden Herrington & Davie Portman will have a new edition of upNXT and will be streaming their review at YouTube.com/upNXT.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John Pollock & Wai Ting
Tonight: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Thursday: The British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Benno & guest Rich Fann
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Café members)
Saturday: UFC 256 POST Show with Phil Chertok & Eric Marcotte (LIVE at YouTube.com/POSTwrestling)
Sunday: POST Puroresu with WH Park & guest Joey Bay
Sunday: Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline (Patreon)

LEAD STORY

This week’s viewership figures for AEW Dynamite, and to a lesser extent IMPACT, will be two of the more noteworthy television statistics in recent memory.

The goal of AEW appears transparent – to take greater chances to improve its overall viewership. The combination of an inter-promotional angle, the arrival of Sting, and the celebrity involvement of Shaquille O’Neal all point to a big number for Dynamite on TNT. Last week was all about the Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley match whereas this week will be an indicator of the buzz generated coming out of that show.

The early signs on the AEW vs. IMPACT front appear to be strong with the most-discussed episode of IMPACT, possibly in years. While we don’t know how the show performed on AXS TV yet, the Twitch live stream figures blew away past IMPACT numbers. It was noted that IMPACT typically do around 3,000 live viewers for a Tuesday night airing with the final segment on Tuesday surpassing 50,000.

While many see the one million viewership average as the next milestone for AEW to achieve on a weekly basis, the 0.42 demo number (543,000 viewers) in the 18-49 category was tremendous and will be graded with the most weight. To get over the hump and consistently average one million viewers, the most likely category that will need to gain traction is the over 50 audience, which is the one demo that NXT has owned since the two properties began airing weekly. The combination of Sting and Shaquille O’Neal would, in theory, be attractions that would cater to that demographic. The problem is that the over 50 audience has shown an aversion to the AEW product, at least when it comes to where most of those wrestling fans are going to spend their two hours on Wednesdays. The occasional novelty may draw curiosity but ultimately, it’s the totality of the product that will retain those viewers.

The key to these “stunts” for lack of a better term is attracting new or lapsed eyes onto the AEW product with the hope that the shiny new toys in the storefront window will bring people into the store to discover all the others. A big reason for the surge in the WWF’s popularity was in 1998 was that when Mike Tyson garnered all the attention leading to WrestleMania 14, it was already a strong product with many rising stars that kept those eyes on the product beyond Tyson’s involvement. By WrestleMania 15 in 1999, there was no need for an outside celebrity because the regular crew, led by the Austin vs. McMahon program with The Rock in the middle was enough to outdraw the previous year’s WrestleMania based on its self-sustained popularity.

The handling of Sting will be a test as he’s a performer that comes with pros and cons. The first hurdle was cleared instantly with a genuine surprise appearance met with great fanfare given the history of the character and a belief that there was juice left in the character when WWE opted to stop using him. The negatives include the reasoning behind that usage being halted as his neck problems are very concerning when coupled with his age of 61. In this era, there are enough creative ways to involve Sting where the risk is mitigated but typically, the “legend” role he would be assuming is best suited to 1-2 performances per year that require any physicality. As proven from his TNA tenure, he’s a tremendous speaker and can be utilized in a non-wrestling role.

AEW has built a solid core audience that does exceptional for its place in the television landscape and relatively short existence. In that time, they’ve scored a renewal deal with TNT that allowed them ample cushioning throughout the pandemic and displayed a long-term commitment from their network partner. The struggle is now growing its audience – in an era where maintaining your audience has been something, we’ve been more focused upon.

Short-term, it feels that AEW’s prime focus is directing people to Dynamite and putting must-see elements on the show as consistently as possible, and going outside its box with unique hooks for those not watching. While pay-per-view is a significant generator for the company, they have built a comfortable foundation of 80-100,000 homes that are conditioned to purchase a quarterly event. I don’t subscribe to the idea that one has to be sacrificed for the other – if the company presents a hot television product that drives viewership up, in theory, that should only amplify interest when a big pay-per-view is on the horizon.

2021 will only solidify that television is the most influential factor for all companies with other revenue sources serving as complementary ones. It’s still a way off before WWE and AEW are discussing television renewals but the foundation for those renewals are built today and ultimately, it’s best for the industry that both companies are sought after properties by television outlets.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tuesday’s edition of IMPACT Wrestling averaged 221,000 viewers on AXS TV with a 0.08 rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to Showbuzz Daily. According to Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, of the available data for IMPACT, it would be their highest viewership on AXS TV topping the previous high of 207,000 viewers.

**Here is a list of everything advertised for tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite airing at 8 pm Eastern on TNT and TSN2 in Canada, which was taped last week at Daily’s Place:
*Sting speaks
*Tony Schiavone interviews Shaquille O’Neal
*Kenny Omega and Don Callis to appear
*The Inner Circle’s “Ultimatum”
*MJF vs. Orange Cassidy for the Dynamite Diamond Ring
*The Young Bucks vs. Angelico & Jack Evans in a non-title match
*Lance Archer, Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix vs. Eddie Kingston, The Butcher & The Blade
*FTR vs. Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison
*Dustin Rhodes vs. 10 of the Dark Order
*Abadon in action

**Finn Balor’s return to NXT is the major focus of tonight’s episode along with the fallout from War Games. They have announced the following matches:
*Tommaso Ciampa vs. Cameron Grimes
*Raquel Gonzalez vs. Ember Moon

**Below are the matches scheduled for tonight’s episode of MLW Fusion airing at 7 pm Eastern on Fubo Sports and the MLW YouTube channel:
*MLW World Tag Team Championship: The Von Erichs (champions) vs. Jacob Fatu & Simon Gotch
*Opera Cup Semi-Finals: Richard Holliday vs. Low Ki
*Calvin Tankman vs. Zenshi
*The debut of Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku
*Alicia Atout interviews MLW National Openweight champion Alex Hammerstone

**Dorian Roldan spoke with Mas Lucha for an extended chat promoting TripleMania. thecubsfan at Lucha Blog recapped the interview. Roldan stated that AAA’s deal with Twitch ended earlier this year at the start of the pandemic believing that the promotion can have greater reach through YouTube and Facebook (which will be carrying TripleMania this Saturday). Due to streaming, it has led to theme songs being altered to avoid strikes against their account and videos being de-monetized.

**The Tokyo Reporter reports that 73-year old former wrestler Killer Khan (Masashi Ozawa) is accused of a hit-and-run after an incident in October in the Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo. The story alleges that Ozawa struck a woman on her bicycle that caused injuries including a broken tooth with Ozawa fleeing the scene. Authorities identified Ozawa through security footage and the ex-wrestler has admitted to striking the woman but had to tend to his nearby restaurant as the reason for leaving.

**Immediately after its airing on AXS TV & Fight Network in Canada, IMPACT streamed its entire episode on YouTube and Facebook making it available for those without the networks. As of Wednesday afternoon, the episode had approximately 180,000 views.

**IMPACT didn’t crack the top ten sports programs in Canada on Tuesday night, which means it was below 27,600 viewers. It should be noted IMPACT is on Fight Network, which is a digital cable channel that has far less reach than the major sports broadcasters in the country.

**Fightful noted that IMPACT’s previous record on Twitch for live viewership was on April 6, 2018, with 15,449 watching the WrestleMania Weekend show involving IMPACT and Lucha Underground. When Tuesday night’s edition of IMPACT went off the air on Twitch, they had over 55,000 watching.

**Dave Meltzer is the guest on today’s Talk is Jericho discussing the life and legacy of Pat Patterson. Chris Jericho added that every year moving forward they will have a Pat Patterson Karaoke Night on future Jericho cruises. They released a clip from the interview regarding Patterson’s involvement in the Montreal screw job. From all accounts, Patterson was not aware of the plan, although the spot involving Shawn Michaels putting Bret Hart into the sharpshooter was attributed to Patterson. It was discussed by Jericho and Meltzer that the belief was Vince McMahon didn’t want any of the heat to transfer to Patterson, and he was protected from the fallout of the Survivor Series. Patterson was also instrumental in Michaels and Hart rising to become main event stars in the company, and there was the possibility that if Patterson was informed of the decision, he might have gone to Hart to warn him. To me, while it’s hard to imagine, I can buy that the idea of the sharpshooter spot and knowledge of the screw job could be separate. After all these years and the story being rehashed from every solitary angle, I feel it would have come out if Patterson had known. Not to mention, Hart forgave Earl Hebner all those years ago, he did business with Vince McMahon and ultimately, he would have forgiven Patterson too, so I don’t buy Patterson holding that secret all these years if he had been in on it.

**Renee Paquette is the guest on The Bellas podcast this week discussing pregnancy tips, leaving WWE, and her new “Oral Sessions” podcast. Paquette noted that she is thirteen weeks pregnant.

**Kristen Ashly of Bell to Belles spoke with Jinny of NXT UK on the recent return with the empty studio shows at BT Sport. Jinny spoke about the feud with Piper Niven and the differences found in the women’s division in NXT UK compared to WWE’s other brands.

**The Day Of: Survivor Series 2020 premieres this Friday on the free version of the WWE Network.

**Trish Adora was a guest on The Warren Hayes Show this week and discussed the inspiration she had watching Jacqueline (Jackie Moore) and specifically her intergender program with Crash Holly in WWE:

just kinda sparked something in me. I thought that was so cool to just see a black woman having these dope matches, fighting the dudes. I thought that was really cool, especially having five brothers and always having to fend for myself and fight once in a while. I thought that was awesome: ‘I could probably do that someday.’

**IMPACT Wrestling has released the full card for Saturday’s Final Resolution special airing at 8 pm Eastern on Impact Plus:
*IMPACT World Championship: Rich Swann (champion) vs. Chris Bey
*IMPACT Knockouts Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (champion) vs. Rosemary
*Karl Anderson vs. Ethan Page
*Eddie Edwards & Alisha vs. Tenille Dashwood & Kaleb
*Tommy Dreamer vs. Larry D
*Eric Young vs. Rhino
*Defeat Rohit Challenge
*Hernandez vs. Fallah Bahh
*Havok & Nevaeh vs. The Sea Stars

**Kurt Angle turns 52 years old today.

ON THIS DATE

 

MMA NEWS

**Former UFC championship contender Anthony Johnson is set to return after a nearly four-year layoff. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the 36-year old has recently parted ways with the UFC and has now signed with Bellator. The site reports that Johnson is expected to compete in the light heavyweight division at Bellator and will be his first time competing since April 2017. Johnson was initially released by the UFC in 2012 after missing weight for a middleweight fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142. After six victories outside the promotion, he returned in 2014 going 6-2 during his second stint with the UFC. Both losses during that stretch were to Daniel Cormier by submission with the first in May 2015 for the vacant light heavyweight title and the last one at UFC 210 where he challenged Cormier for the championship.

**Here is the full Bellator 254 card for Thursday night’s event including results from Wednesday’s weigh-in:

MAIN CARD (10 pm ET on CBS Sports Network)

*Strawweight Championship: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (124.8) vs. Juliana Velasquez (124.4)
*Magomed Magomedov (136) vs. Matheus Mattos (135.2)
*Linton Vassell (239) vs. Ronny Markes (252.1)
*Anthony Garrett (241) vs. Davion Franklin (264)

PRELIMINARY CARD (7:30 pm ET streaming on YouTube)
*Billy Goff (169.8) vs. Robson Gracie Jr. (170)
*Cody Law (145) vs. Kenny Champion (144.7)
*Romero Cottom (185.1) vs. Justin Sumter (184.7)
*Maurice Jackson (201.3) vs. Grant Neal (204.9)
*Shamil Nikaev (170.3) vs. Kemran Lachinov (170.9)

**The lightweight fight between Nate Andrews and Goiti Yamauchi was pulled from the Bellator card due to Yamauchi missing weight by 6.8 pounds as he weighed 162.8. Andrews did make weight for the now-canceled fight.

**After a 22-second loss to Jordan Leavitt this past Saturday, the UFC has cut ties with Matt Wiman with Combate reporting the news of his release. Wiman, 37, first competed for the UFC from 2006-2014 and then returned in June 2019. In his return, Wiman went 0-3 during that stretch with losses to Luis Pena, Joe Solecki, and Leavitt. Wiman is 16-10 and has been fighting professionally since 2004.

**UFC middleweight Dwight Grant announced earlier this week that his fight with Li Jingliang at UFC 256 this Saturday is off. Grant received a positive result from a COVID-19 test leading to the fight’s removal from the card.

Hey what’s up everyone? I gotta give y’all some bad news, I’m not going to be fighting this weekend. My last Covid 19 test came back positive but Luckily the symptoms haven’t been severe. This news hit especially hard because of all the hard work and excitement I have for this fight. It’s out of my control so im not going to try not to dwell on it too much, but to call it disappointing is an understatement.

So now Im focusing all my energy on getting better. Im going to quarantine and by the grace of God, be able to fight again soon. Thank you everyone for all your support. Ill be back even more determined and fired up to go.

**Episode 2 and 3 of UFC Embedded promoting this Saturday’s UFC 256 card:

 

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Tecia Torres (11-5) vs. Sam Hughes (5-1) at UFC 256 this Saturday (Best Fight Picks)

Kayla Harrison (8-0) vs. Jozette Cotton (8-2) at Titan FC 66 on Saturday, December 17 (ESPN)

Ramazan Emeev (19-4) vs. David Zawada (17-5) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday, January 16

Irwin Rivera (10-6) vs. Ray Rodriguez (16-7) at UFC card TBA on Saturday, March 13 (MMA Junkie)

*****
upNXT IMPACT Review 12/8/20: “The Omega Express”
Davie Portman and Andrew Thompson review IMPACT Wrestling featuring a sit-down interview with Kenny Omega and Don Callis and an insert commercial from AEW President Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/08/upnxt-impact-wrestling-review-12-8-20-the-omega-express/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #76: Lucha Underground – Ultima Lucha 1 (2015)
John Pollock and Wai Ting review Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha 1 (2015), discussing Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriguez’s unique take on Lucha libre, incorporating elements of science fiction, Aztec history, and Telenovela with high budget Hollywood production.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/08/rewind-a-wai-76-lucha-underground-ultima-lucha-1-2015/
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 12/7/20: WWE Raw review, Shaq, Mayweather vs. Paul
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt and discuss Shaq appearing on Dynamite, SmackDown ratings, Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul, and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/08/rewind-a-raw-12-7-20-wwe-raw-review-shaq-mayweather-vs-paul/
*****
POST INTERVIEW: Mauro Ranallo
John Pollock is joined by Mauro Ranallo to discuss his call of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr., his departure from the WWE, and his new podcast series.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/07/post-interview-mauro-ranallo-on-mike-tyson-rjj-and-leaving-wwe/
*****
NXT TakeOver: War Games 2020 POST Show
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review NXT TakeOver: WarGames from the Capital Wrestling Center on December 5th, 2020.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/07/nxt-takeover-wargames-2020-post-show/
*****
THE LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue (4/12/1993)
Brian Elliott from HardCopy.ie joins WH Park on the Long & Winding Royal Road to talk about a match with many ramifications for All Japan Pro Wrestling: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue from the 1993 Champion Carnival.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/06/lwrr-6-toshiaki-kawada-vs-akira-taue-4-12-93-w-brian-elliott/
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 12/4/20: Reigns-Owens at TLC, Pat Patterson
Wai Ting and a returning John Pollock review WWE SmackDown with a tribute to Pat Patterson, additional matches made for TLC, and Roman Reigns teams with Jey Uso against Kevin Owens & Otis.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/05/rewind-a-smackdown-12-4-20-reigns-owens-at-tlc-pat-patterson-pollock-returns/
*****

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