Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WM Tickets, NFL rights, Chandler-Oliveira
POST IT NOTES
**Rewind-A-SmackDown is LIVE tonight at 10:15 pm ET for all POST Wrestling Café members. Wai Ting and I will be chatting WrestleMania 37 tickets going on sale, Hulk Hogan & Titus O’Neil, WWE Network on Peacock, Khabib Nurmagomedov, plus a review of SmackDown, and then it’s open calls for the rest of the show.
**We have a Q&A on the site with historian Tim Hornbaker discussing his new book Master of the Ring on the career and legacy of Buddy Rogers. I highly recommend the book as I learned a lot of new facts regarding Rogers and when it comes to research Hornbaker is among the very best in the field. In our Q&A, Hornbaker discusses writing about one individual as opposed to a larger subject like the NWA or the territories, his research methods, how Rogers was portrayed in “Hooker”, and his match against Lou Thesz in January 1963 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
**The first edition of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier podcast with Wai Ting & WH Park debuts Saturday for members of the POST Wrestling Café. On Saturday, we will also release a new edition of The Rocky Maivia Picture Show with Nate Milton and a review of “Moana” starring (the voice of) Dwayne Johnson.
**Wai Ting and I will be LIVE Sunday night with the WWE Fastlane POST Show for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: The Falcon & The Winter Soldier with Wai Ting & WH Park (Patreon)
Saturday: The Rocky Maivia Picture Show with Nate Milton (“Moana”)
Sunday: WWE Fastlane POST Show with John & Wai (LIVE immediately afterward for Dbl Dbl+ Patrons)
**While this year’s two-night WrestleMania 37 will largely be reliant on domestic U.S. fans, it doesn’t appear that putting 25,000 fans into Raymond James Stadium each night will be difficult. Early indications are that both shows will sell out with the Wrestling Observer site reporting that as of Friday afternoon, there were under 1,400 tickets remaining for each night. This was assisted by an internet pre-sale on Thursday where the company was aggressively promoting a slew of pre-sale codes throughout the various social media channels of its performers and branded accounts.
**WWE has posted its liability waiver and release for fans attending WrestleMania and the risk they assume.
**Edge (Adam Copeland) will wrestle his first match on SmackDown since March 2011 when he faces Jey Uso on tonight’s show. It’s his second match on free television this year after beating Randy Orton on Raw back in January. The Raw rating for the match with Orton wasn’t appreciably high but wasn’t promoted in advance either, announced at the beginning of Raw while this match has been advertised for one week ahead of time. The winner will become the special enforcer at Fastlane for the Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
**Below are the announced matches and segments for SmackDown tonight at 8 pm ET on Fox:
*Winner is Special Enforcer at Fastlane: Edge vs. Jey Uso
*SmackDown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (champion) vs. Nia Jax
*Interview segment with Big E. and Apollo Crews
*Jake Atlas vs. Tony Nese on 205 Live
*Ashante Thee Adonis vs. Ariya Daivari
**The NFL’s media rights deals reported on Thursday have set the table for the sports media landscape. The deals, as reported by Sports Business Journal, are eleven-year pacts beginning with the 2023 season and running through 2033. The packages, except Thursday nights, largely remain intact but with sizable increases from the major broadcasters and a huge streaming component inserted for those broadcasters. In totality, the NFL will take in $10 billion in average annual value, or $110 billion over the life of the deals.
This includes Fox more than doubling its previous deal with the league paying $2.25 billion per season for the Sunday afternoon NFC package with streaming rights for Tubi, CBS paying double at $2.1 billion for the Sunday afternoon AFC package with a streaming component for Paramount+, NBC nearly doubling to $2 billion for the Sunday Night Football package with Peacock streaming, and ESPN increasing by 35 percent to $2.7 billion for a stronger Monday Night Football package with the inclusion of flex scheduling later in the season and a streaming component with ESPN+. The deals provide three Super Bowls each for CBS, NBC, and Fox with ABC/ESPN added to the rotation and receiving Super Bowls in 2026 and 2030.
The Monday Night Football package will include three weeks where both ABC and ESPN will air separate games.
From a streaming perspective, the big change is Amazon Prime acquiring exclusivity for the Thursday night package for $1 billion per season, which is way more than any network wanted for the weakest package. Amazon gets fifteen exclusive games with local markets retaining regional rights to the games involving their teams and a reduction in games simulcast on the NFL Network.
How does this affect the pro wrestling industry? There are direct and indirect effects that could arise. The direct is what impact the deals have regarding NBC’s ability to secure other rights and what they have at their disposal come 2024 when WWE’s television deals come due. As noted by SBJ, the head of Comcast Brian Roberts has already stated the heavier price tag for the NFL will result in less spending on other properties and that the broadcast giant may need to make “tough decisions where we have relationships that maybe won’t be continued.” That has a much larger impact on the NHL, which is still shopping the second half of its U.S. package that includes three Stanley Cup Finals. If NBC doesn’t get that package, it eliminates the Wednesday night dilemma for the USA Network with hockey and NXT.
It is still years away and the fear of the television sports rights bubble bursting has long been an unproven theory. Regardless of a pandemic, everyone knew the NFL wasn’t going to suffer but the fact the NHL did as well as it did with the first half of its U.S package with ESPN suggests that WWE will be a coveted property several years from now.
The NHL deal proved it but the NFL magnifies that the utmost importance from the broadcasters is developing their streaming platforms with a belief that is where the eyeballs are moving. These are deals heavily weighted on the expected television economy in five to ten years rather than the present where the most reach and profit is through linear television. In theory, it will create more leverage for a company like WWE as it’s an arms race between the streaming giants to find products that will drive subscribers and that’s why Peacock spent so heavily on WWE. The timing was right for the WWE Network to abandon its standalone strategy in the U.S. because the game is too rich, and technology-driven for a content creator like WWE to maintain a niche service rather than license out.
By early 2023 when WWE negotiations should be commencing for Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, we could be in a world where the streaming options are more than viable and could greatly benefit WWE as a package that isn’t going to command NBA or MLB money but comes with a proven track record of fan engagement, which will be greatly enhanced if they can prove effective in the growth of Peacock over the next few years. That is why it’s imperative WWE treats its Peacock shows as premium content to drive subs while also satisfying its television commitments because both are integral for maintaining and improving their current financial markers. The ace up WWE’s sleeve is Nick Khan, who knows this world inside and out and has already proven his worth with the Peacock deal and is the person you would want on the frontline negotiating these deals. It’s why so many have cited Khan as one of the most important hires in WWE’s history.
**The WWE Network launched on Peacock on Thursday and we have received a lot of feedback from users in the U.S. after the first 24 hours, among the notes we received (for context, I am in Canada and therefore, relying on feedback):
*There are far more pay-per-views from WWE, WCW, and ECW than anticipated, although they are not complete. It was originally stated that events prior to 2020 would not be available immediately but would by the summer.
*One huge improvement is that you can download WWE content for offline viewing, which is not something available on the previous version of the WWE Network and more in line with other streaming services
*The events are broken down into seasons instead of years (ie: one person noted WrestleMania 7 is listed as “WrestleMania: Season 7”), which sounds like an issue through the sorting system designed for the filing of traditional television series whereas WWE is not seasonal and makes the search more difficult
*There is a full section dedicated to The Rock featuring his appearances on SNL, Fast and the Furious films, and Young Rock episodes
**The second-to-last New Japan Cup show is Saturday morning at 4 am ET from Sendai featuring the semi-final matches. It is down to the final four with EVIL vs. Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay vs. David Finlay. It seems the most anticipated final is a rematch of the classic Best of the Super Juniors final from 2019 between Takagi and Ospreay, meeting this time as heavyweights with a title shot at stake. I cannot fathom EVIL and Finlay both advancing but you can’t discount EVIL, although a match with him and Ospreay is a weird mix especially for the final. Finlay already got his big win of the tournament pinning Jay White, which sets up a bigger match down the road, potentially for the NEVER Championship after White pinned current champion Hiroshi Tanahashi this past week. Overall, the tournament has been strong with the consensus appearing to be Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi, and Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. as the top matches. If it’s Takagi vs. Ospreay on Sunday, they will certainly threaten those two matches for the best of the tournament.
Here is the card for Saturday’s show in Sendai that will feature live English commentary from Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton & Gino Gambino:
*New Japan Cup Semi-Final: Shingo Takagi vs. EVIL
*New Japan Cup Semi-Final: Will Ospreay vs. David Finlay
*Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, KENTA & Yujiro
*Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI
*Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Jado vs. Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
*The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb vs. Juice Robinson & Yuya Uemura
**The final night of the New Japan Cup streams live late Saturday night at 1 am ET from Sendai.
**Here are the matches for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong at 10 pm ET on New Japan World:
*New Japan Cup USA Qualifier: Brody King vs. Bateman
*New Japan Cup USA Qualifier: Misterioso vs. Ren Narita
*Jeff Cobb vs. Alex Coughlin
**After name-dropping Logan Paul on last week’s edition of SmackDown, Sami Zayn and Paul have gone back-and-forth on social media regarding Zayn’s documentary premiere. Last week, Zayn stated the documentary would do “Logan Paul numbers”.
**Fightful Select reports that Chelsea Green was cleared last month for in-ring action. Green suffered a wrist injury last November during an edition of Friday Night SmackDown and has been out of action since then.
**This past Tuesday’s edition of Dark Side of the Ring: Confidential averaged 81,000 viewers and a 0.02 in the 18-49 demographic on Vice TV. It did not finish among the top 150 cable programs that night but was nearly identical to the previous week’s episode that did 79,000 viewers. The second episode of the series was a replay of the Montreal Screwjob episode including comments from former referee Mike Chioda. Next week’s episode of Confidential is a re-airing of the Von Erich episode, which was really well done in the first season.
**Pro Wrestling NOAH has a show on Sunday at Korakuen Hall featuring Kenoh defending the GHC National Championship against Kazuyuki Fujita, and GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA defend against Daisuke Harada & Junta Miyawaki.
**Stardom has a card Saturday in Yamagata headlined by Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa & Unagi Sayaka against Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima & Ruaka. On Sunday, they are in Sendai with Giulia, Syuri & Maika vs. Mayu Iwatani, Saya Iida & Starlight Kid in the main event.
**Daniel Bryan chats with SI.com about this Sunday’s match with Roman Reigns at Fastlane.
**Crave in Canada has noted that Dark Side of the Ring: Confidential will be available “soon” for Canadians.
**RIOT Lucha has a card this Sunday at 9 pm ET streaming on the Luchamania Monterrey YouTube channel. The event is free with all the talent working for donations to assist with those that haven’t been able to work for the past year. It will feature Arez defending the RIOT Championship against El Hijo del Vikingo. Those donating $25 or more will be entered into a raffle for two autographed action figures from WWE performer Humberto Carrillo and donations can be made at this link.
**The WWE stock rose 2 percent on Friday and closed at $57.12.
**ROH has added a match between Dalton Castle and Josh Woods, as well Mark Briscoe vs. Flip Gordon for the 19th Anniversary pay-per-view that airs next Friday.
**IWC Legacy is running a card from Denver, Colorado this Sunday at 4 pm from Noche de Campeones. The show features El Hijo del Santos vs. Rocky Romero and is advertising TJP, Matt Cross, Jake Crist, Hijo de Dos Caras, and Rey Leon among the talent scheduled for the show.
**Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 6 has added a match between Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Rocky Romero. The event takes place on Thursday, April 8th at 8 pm ET as part of The Collective: Remix series of events airing on FITE TV.
**Daniel Garcia will defend the C4 Wrestling Championship against Kevin Ku on the IWTV Family Reunion card on Thursday, April 8th as part of the IWTV series of shows airing at 3 pm ET that day.
**The Illinois-based AAW has listed their scheduled events for the remainder of 2021. They will be running shows in Villa Park on April 3rd and April 24th, and Merrionette Park on May 7th, Villa Park on May 22nd, and then the rest of the year in Merrionette Park with dates listed for June 11th, July 9th, August 7th, September 3rd & 4th, October 1st, and November 26th.
**Game Changer Wrestling is running “Draft Day” from Meet Las Vegas on Saturday, May 15th at 8 pm ET. Tickets for the event in Las Vegas went on sale today.
**A new episode of The Broken Skull Sessions featuring Steve Austin interviewing Randy Orton premieres Sunday on the WWE Network.
**BetOnline has released odds for WWE Fastlane with the following lines listed:
*Roman Reigns (-1000) vs. Daniel Bryan (+525)
*Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (-300) vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair (+200)
*Drew McIntyre (-550) vs. Sheamus (+325)
*Alexa Bliss (-200) vs. Randy Orton (+150)
*Big E. (-300) vs. Apollo Crews (+200)
*Braun Strowman (-150) vs. Shane McMahon (+110)
**With the acknowledgment by Dana White that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired, ESPN reports that the vacant title will be decided in May. Brett Okamoto reports that Michael Chandler will fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant title at UFC 262 on May 15th. Ariel Helwani has added that the original hope was for the rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor to land on May 15th but that is no longer planned. Helwani notes that the new target for the fight is July 10th but that is not finalized. If you’re Poirier, you would be frustrated to be passed by for the title fight, but the larger payday is the rematch with McGregor.
**There was a frightening scene on the scales Friday at the UFC weigh-ins where bantamweight Julija Stoliarenko fainted twice while attempting to make weight. Remarkably, she was able to get back onto the scale and made the weight limit at 135.5 pounds, but her fight with Julia Avila has officially been canceled. It’s the latest scare with a fighter pushing their body to the brink of its limit and yet, this practice will continue and the warning signs are there in broad daylight for all to observe and my fear is that it takes the ultimate tragedy for actual changes to be forced upon fighters.
UFC fighter Julija Stoliarenko fainted on the scale moments ago during the weigh-ins. She was transported on a stretcher afterwards. No official word yet on her condition. pic.twitter.com/QnA4ofeq6L
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 19, 2021
After learning the fight was off, Julia Avila posted the following:
Unfortunately, my fight has been cancelled. My opponent fainted twice on the scales. I hope nothing but a speedy recovery for @julija.stoliarenko and prayers for her. Maybe we can meet up at a future date. But I will not be performing tomorrow night. As always, thank you to #pandaNation for the support. I love you all. May all the Julia’s in the world be unified and be healthy.
**Below are the results of Friday’s weigh-in for the UFC Fight Night card at the UFC Apex on Saturday:
MAIN CARD (10 pm ET on ESPN)
*Kevin Holland (183) vs. Derek Brunson (186)
*Gregor Gillespie (155.5) vs. Brad Riddell (155.5)
*Cheyanne Buys (116) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (115)
*Gustavo Lopez (136) vs. Adrian Yanez (135)
*Song Kenan (171) vs. Max Griffin (170.5)
*Tai Tuivasa (264.5) vs. Harry Hunsucker (249)
PRELIMINARY CARD (7 pm ET on ESPN2)
*Macy Chiasson (136) vs. Marion Reneau (136)
*Grant Dawson (156) vs. Leonardo Santos (155.5)
*Trevin Giles (185.5) vs. Roman Dolidze (185)
*Montel Jackson (136) vs. Jesse Strader (137.5*) – Strader was fined 20 percent of his purse for missing weight by 1.5 pounds
*JP Buys (126) vs. Bruno Silva (126)
**The UFC has officially announced that T.J. Dillashaw will return to fight Cory Sandhagen on Saturday, May 8th. It will be Dillashaw’s first fight since January 2019 after being suspended by USADA for two years. Sandhagen is coming off a knockout-of-the-year contender against Frankie Edgar in February.
**The promotion has also confirmed a bantamweight fight between Rob Font and former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt on Saturday, May 22nd. Garbrandt last competed in June of last year where he knocked out Raphael Assuncao while Font is coming off wins over Sergio Pettis, Ricky Simon, and Marlon Moraes going back to December 2018.
**Bellator will air a “Road to Bellator MMA: Pitbull vs. Sanchez 2” special on Monday, March 22nd, and then “Road to Bellator MMA: Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix” special on Monday, March 29th. The specials will be available on Showtime Sports and the Bellator YouTube channels. Bellator’s first card on Showtime is Thursday, April 2nd with Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending the Bellator Featherweight Championship against Emmanuel Sanchez in a rematch from November 2018 where Pitbull beat Sanchez by unanimous decision. The Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix begins on April 9th with Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida and Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in the opening round.
**Triller is allowing 100 fans to attend its card on April 17th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta featuring Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren. Below are the instructions to become eligible to win tickets:
Individuals must be registered and active Triller app users
Users must comment on at least 30 Triller videos over a 3-day period and post a video explaining why they deserve to attend the April 17 event in-person, using the #TFCpickme hashtag
Three winners will be chosen each day, with Monday, March 22 marking the first valid day of entry
Triller will provide travel, accommodations and Fight Club event access to each of the 100 winners and their guests
100 Golden Ticket winners (and their guests) will be the ONLY non-talent guests in attendance
Complete rules are at TrillerFightClub.com
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