Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: UFC set to run three shows in one week
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**The Friday edition of the Café Hangout is available on the site with a rundown of the key points from WWE’s first-quarter earnings report and the investor’s Q&A from Thursday night. We went through all the numbers, how the TV rights are carrying everything, the status of the WWE Network and how WrestleMania performed, the live events sector, television viewership with comparisons of Raw to SmackDown during the quarter, and what topics were covered and avoided on the call.
**We have a great interview with Pat Laprade on the site with over an hour discussing the life and career of Andre the Giant. We also discussed this past week’s episode of Dark Side of the Ring covering the death of Dino Bravo in March 1993. This was a great show with Pat and I’d highly recommend his new book with Bertrand Hebert The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of Andre the Giant that is out now. Pat mentioned that if you buy the book through ECW Press that the physical copy comes with a free digital copy.
**A reminder that due to the Café Hangout running today, we will be doing Rewind-A-SmackDown on Saturday and will be up on the site for members of the POST Wrestling Café in the afternoon.
*Saturday: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Sunday: Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline (Patreon)
**In a report from Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, AEW is set to embark on additional television tapings in Jacksonville, Florida. The report states that AEW would go live on Wednesday, May 6th, and tape the following week’s episode that day. They would return to Jacksonville for the May 20th episode of Dynamite and it’s unknown how the schedule would progress from there. The company is slated to hold its Double or Nothing pay-per-view on Saturday, May 23rd, which Meltzer notes is earmarked for Jacksonville. Next week’s episode of Dynamite will feature more taped matches from Georgia including the semi-finals of the TNT Championship tournament.
The state of Florida has become the centralized location for WWE, AEW, and UFC to resume and continue their shows. WWE will run SmackDown tonight from the WWE Performance Center and continue Saturday by taping the May 1st and May 8th editions of SmackDown leading into Money in the Bank. This Monday, they will tape that night’s Raw along with the May 4th episode, and on Wednesday, we will film that night’s NXT and the May 6th episode.
**After Thursday’s earnings report, the WWE stock shot up almost 15% on Friday closing at $44.79.
**On Friday, several allegations were made against Velveteen Dream (Patrick Clark) alleging that the performer sent inappropriate photos and communicated with a minor(s) through Instagram. Clark has issued the following statement through Twitter regarding the allegations:
Be assured I did not communicate inappropriately with anyone. A private photo of mine was shared without my consent or knowledge and I am working with a third party to look into this matter.
**In WWE’s key performance indicators, we have a breakdown of how the WWE Network subscribers changed over the quarter. For Q1, total subscribers hit 1,644,000, which consisted of 1,495,000 paid and 149,000 free subscribers.
The numbers they promoted heavily on Thursday were the higher than expected figures for the day after WrestleMania 36. On April 6th, they had 2,098,000 total subscribers and an increase of 98,000 from the day after WrestleMania 2019. The reason for the increase was many free sign-ups with 476,000 free and 1,622,000 paid. In 2019, paid subs were 1,767,000 and 233,000 free and in 2018, they had 1,808,000 paid with 316,000 free.
This year’s number of free subscribers would be the highest since they made that option available in 2016 for WrestleMania 32 and had 370,000 free subs the day after.
The paid number is down 8% from last year but the free sign-ups increased by 104%. It’s not a negative, at least not at first glance because the promotion of WrestleMania for years has been that you can get it for free if you’re a new subscriber or understand how to sign-up with a new e-mail between trials. The strategy is to get people in the door and hope they let their membership lapse and become a paid subscriber.
When we get the next quarterly report, if the paid number increases by a notable margin than it’s a good sign but if there’s a massive drop off and free subscribers return to normal levels, then a large number were interested in watching WrestleMania and used the company’s system to their advantage to watch for free and dump the service. It is funny that this year, they toned down the “WrestleMania is free on the network” tagline dramatically and were actively pushing pay-per-view options in the lead-up with the Fox Sports app and Fite TV deals. On the surface, it seems that awareness of WrestleMania was high and that the consumer base was savvy enough not to spend $60 on two shows and knew how to watch for free.
**Here is the lineup for Friday Night SmackDown at 8 pm Eastern tonight on Fox:
*Triple H’s 25th-anniversary celebration
*Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. Dana Brooke & Carmella for the WWE women’s tag titles
*King Corbin vs. Drew Gulak in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
*Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
**205 Live is running the same format as it did last week. Instead of new matches, Ariya Daivari will select older matches to run in the timeslot just as they did with Brian Kendrick last week.
**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reports that the “After Dark” extensions for Dark Side of the Ring will continue to air despite not running a new episode this past Tuesday after The Assassination of Dino Bravo documentary. The show received a lot of criticism after the Jimmy Snuka and Nancy Argentino episode where they had Greg Valentine and Brian Knobs on with the third panelist, Irv Muchnick claiming his live-to-tape interview was heavily edited. Johnson reports that “After Dark” will air after extended editions of the documentaries with the next one running this Tuesday at 9:30 pm Eastern on Vice TV following an extended version of the Dino Bravo episode. The panel is set to feature Jimmy Hart, Jacques Rougeau, and Fred Ottman discussing Bravo.
**The first night of the NFL Draft did a monstrous number of 15.6 million viewers watching across ABC, ESPN, the NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and other digital channels. In a release, it stated that the peak viewership was 19.6 million between 8:45 and 9 pm Eastern. The top metered markets included Columbus, Ohio (16.7), Cleveland (15.9), Cincinnati (15.6), Philadelphia, (15.1), and Kansas City (14.3).
**Even with the NFL Draft, Total Bellas did manage to average 527,000 viewers with a 0.24 in the 18-49 demographic. It’s their highest audience this season since the premiere earlier this month.
**After the announcement that there won’t be a new WWE 2K release this year, 2K has stated it will have details on the future of the franchise this Monday at 10 am Eastern.
**Below are the matches for Saturday’s episode of MLW Fusion at 9 pm Eastern on beIN Sports and available on their YouTube channel at 6:05 pm:
*Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Rey Escorpion & Texano Jr.
*Chessman vs. Richard Holliday in a No Disqualification Match
**Corey Erdman has a piece on VICE looking at WWE’s handing of their business throughout the pandemic leading into Thursday’s earnings report.
**The GRAPPL Spotlight has a review of WCW’s Bash at the Beach 1997 card with Martin Bushby of the British Wrestling Experience joining the show.
**The UFC is moving full steam ahead with plans to run three cards within one-week next month. The targeted date of May 9th for a return appears to be set along with subsequent cards on May 13th and May 16th from the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. In an interview with ESPN, Dana White added that there is another card expected to take place on May 23rd (which is the same AEW aims to run Double or Nothing on pay-per-view) and that cards on “Fight Island” would commence in June.
The UFC issued the following statement:
Health and safety have long been a priority for UFC and we have set the standards for our industry. In light of the current circumstances, we plan to implement further enhanced safety measures as we return to producing live events.
UFC events scheduled for May 9, May 13, and May 16 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida will be fully sanctioned by the Florida State Boxing Commission and will comply with all of the regulations governing professional MMA events. We have worked closely with our medical staff and state and local officials, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, to ensure the appropriate health and safety protocols are in place.
Pursuant to a request from the Florida State Boxing Commission, these events will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance. All athletes and staff will be required to adhere to a number of precautionary measures, such as participating in advanced medical screenings and temperature checks and following social distancing guidelines.
On behalf of the fans, athletes, and employees, UFC thanks Governor Ron DeSantis, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, and our media partners, including ESPN and ESPN+, for their support as we resume our events.
**ESPN appears to have provided the greenlight for UFC to return after halting its plans to run UFC 249 this past weekend. The following statement was issued by the broadcaster:
Sports play an important role in people’s lives and can bring moments of escape in challenging times. We look forward to bringing UFC to fans again.
**Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued the following statement regarding its city hosting the three events:
As we move step-by-step on the path toward economic recovery, we are proud to host these UFC events at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. The UFC organization is a renowned entertainment brand that’s presented a safe and sensible plan to use this Jacksonville location, and we are thrilled to have our city highlighted nationally on ESPN and ESPN+.
From Patrick Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Florida State Boxing Commission:
Our commission stands ready to sanction the events to be held on May 9, 13, and 16. Health and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all individuals.
**The May 9th fight card is set to feature two championship fights with the interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje along with UFC bantamweight champions Henry Cejudo defending against former champion Dominick Cruz. The full card listed by the promotion for that show is as follows:
*Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje for the Interim lightweight title
*Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight title
*Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
*Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens
*Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
*Fabricio Werdum vs. Aleksey Oleinik
*Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
*Niko Price vs. Vicente Luque
*Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro
*Sam Alvey vs. Ryan Spann
*Charles Rosa vs. Bryce Mitchell
**ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reports that the current broadcast team for UFC 249 on May 9th is set to be Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier with Bruce Buffer and Megan Olivi.
**On Thursday, it was reported by Hawaii News Now that Bellator women’s strawweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane along with her sister Mahina Macfarlane Souza and a third person has filed a lawsuit against the Punahou School and the school’s basketball coach Dwayne Yuen over sexual abuse allegations from their time at the school. Macfarlane stated she had an inappropriate relationship with the coach when she was 12 and alleges that she and the other girls were forced to touch him and offered money for sex acts as well as recipients of explicit photos. In the suit, it states the women went to the school over 15 years ago, but nothing came of their allegations. Macfarlane says she quit playing basketball for this and veered over to wrestling.
After the news was reported, Macfarlane issued the following statement on her Instagram account:
Even though I’ve been a strong voice for other wahine toa—creating my scholarship for native girls, teaching self-defense to them, leading healing retreats for women—I never really shared my own story. To be honest, I was in denial and didn’t want to admit that it affected me as much as it did. I have to be strong. I’m a professional fighter. I can’t show any vulnerability. I can’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he infiltrated my thoughts, relationships and life even 15 years later. But here we are. The time is now.
And for all the trolls saying, “wHy DiD u wAiT s0 l0nG?!” Idiots. We didn’t “wait”. My sister reported him to the school right when it happened and they swept it under the rug. Punahou knew I was a victim and witness to my own sister’s abuse and didn’t even bother to check on me. As a result we were retaliated against by him and the basketball program and had to see him everyday, still allowed on campus around minors.
My sister and I tried our best to move on with our lives until it resurfaced in 2018 when more victims came forward. Punahou claimed they were doing an internal investigation but again, didn’t contact me and refused to share the results of the “investigation” with my sister. Disgustingly, we found out that he’s STILL coaching and teaching minor girls. So here we are now, 15 years later seeking justice together. He can’t get away with this anymore. Dwayne Yuen, YOUR TIME IS UP.
P.S. I chose this picture not only for the solidarity that my family and I have together through this process, but to show you how old me and Mahina were when the sexual grooming and abuse started. I was in 6th grade and she (far right) was a freshman.
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