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**The newest edition of the British Wrestling Experience is up with Martin Bushby, Benno & Jamesie discussing tons of news including the recent WWE signings with Timothy Thatcher part of that batch, reviews of Worlds Collide, OTT & the latest Progress events, WWE being on Channel 5 in the UK, Drew McIntyre winning the Royal Rumble and facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, Marty Scurll’s new role in Ring of Honor and plenty more.
**It was great to have Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics on the Café Hangout on Thursday as we broke down the WWE’s earnings and discussed the investor’s call that had no shortage of talking points coming out of. The show airs live every Thursday at 3 pm Eastern for Patrons and available later in the day for everyone.
**Tonight, Wai Ting will be solo on Rewind-A-SmackDown with a review of the show from San Jose and chatting about the news and taking your feedback. The show will be out late tonight for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**Phil Chertok and I will have the UFC 247 POST Show late Saturday night with a full rundown of the show from Houston, Texas headlined by Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes for the UFC light heavyweight title.
**On Sunday, WH Park welcomes Nate Milton on Thunderstruck to review the Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Pillman match from the first episode of WCW Monday Nitro from September 1995. Later that night, Wai Ting and I will have a bonus show with our New Beginning in Osaka POST Show for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**I’ll be a guest on Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary on Saturday around 1 pm Eastern discussing UFC 247 and Jon Jones.
*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Saturday: UFC 247 POST Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok
*Sunday: Thunderstruck with WH Park & guest Nate Milton (Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Pillman, WCW Monday Nitro)
*Sunday: New Beginning in Osaka POST Show with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
**Thursday’s WWE investor’s call focused on the future of the WWE Network and the potential of the company taking a dramatically different stance in its premium content.
Vince McMahon made it clear that they had lots of interest in such content from the ‘major players’ and that a deal could be in place and ready to be announced this quarter citing talks being that deep. One can reasonably take this as a sign that WWE’s pay-per-views are on the negotiating table with every major streaming service looking for content to attract subscribers as they build their pillars of engagement. WWE’s audience is one that has consistently followed the brand where the product has moved from network to network with the hope that a pivot from streaming services would continue that trend.
If the company were to take all the pay-per-views or even the major ones, it would change the immediacy of having the WWE Network. The service boasts nearly 11,000 hours of content but it’s the live programming that steers the ship and is the shows that will be the deciding factor with a monthly show to keep them on board. Over the past year, the network has trended downward with a drop of 6% in average paid subscribers. The network hit its peak in April 2018 for WrestleMania 34 where they had over 2.1 million total subscribers and 1.8 million paid. There was probably a multitude of factors but the major one would Ronda Rousey’s first televised wrestling match. Fast forward to last year’s WrestleMania and those figures were 2 million and 1.7. The drop off in 2019 was higher with 1,800,000 being the average paid number for the second quarter of 2018 and 1,688,000 one year later for the quarter. The goal of the one-month free trial is the idea of getting people in the door with the hope of keeping the service and becoming a paid subscriber with no greater opportunity than WrestleMania where interest in the product is at its highest that day.
The comparison of UFC Fight Pass and WWE Network is appropriate given the similar products they present that are driven through stars and an audience that is not averse to paying for the big shows, a luxury that traditional sports don’t have where the big game is always free. Both services launched in 2014, well ahead of the game that the rest of the world is catching up with. Fight Pass dipped its toe with its entire library available along with select events designated for the service and prelim fights. In time, the ESPN deal came along and UFC put their eggs in that basket and leaving Fight Pass a non-priority unless you’re a diehard fan of other fight promotions that the service has a wealth of, in addition to the library. WWE went head-first with the service putting every major card on the service including WrestleMania that left untold millions on the table for years to come. The network was not an immediate success with the first reported figure after WrestleMania 30 in 2014 a disappointing 667,287 subscribers. In time, the base would grow to top 1 million in 2015 and two million in 2018.
In assessing the two, the UFC must be viewed as the better strategy given its current position. They retained the revenue for their pay-per-views during the entire Fight Pass roll out and expansion then landed a deal with ESPN+ who would pay UFC a fixed amount per pay-per-view and maintaining Fight Pass as a boutique product for hardcore fans.
The next question is what the WWE Network would offer if the main or all its pay-per-views go elsewhere. Will enough fans add another streaming service to access the pay-per-views while keeping the WWE Network? Obviously, there would be a drop of network subscribers and would test the theory of how many diehard fans are in the current pool of subscribers. Adding content such as Progress Wrestling, ICW, and other groups may mitigate a fraction of the decline, but I don’t see independent companies making a large difference to those that are strictly there for the premium content.
A major streaming deal for the company’s pay-per-views would be the latest example of an enormous guaranteed revenue deal for the company, further distancing itself from the old model of using your television to either sell tickets or pay-per-views. With the guaranteed money from television rights, a streaming deal, and staging shows in Saudi Arabia, it makes the company less reliant on star creation even though such a transformative figure can have an impact on so many sectors of the business.
**The WWE stock has not reacted well to any of the news following Thursday. On Friday, the stock was down 4.4% and closed at $42.53 after opening at $44.85.
**An interesting story floating around on Friday comes from Needham analyst Laura Martin following WWE’s investor’s call. Martin, who is a regular on the investor’s calls, believes that Amazon securing the streaming rights would put the giant in a great position to eventually buy the entire WWE. Martin believes that WWE’s programming is far more valuable due to a built-in audience that other start-up series don’t have the benefit of. Martin has placed a ‘buy’ rating for the stock given its level it has dipped to, which she adds makes the WWE more attractive to buy versus several months ago when the stock was significantly higher. On his radio show today, Dave Meltzer said that Amazon Prime is not interested in WWE.
**The WWE has released its 10-K report and we have notes on the key news items from the report.
**Tonight’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The big advertisement is Bill Goldberg appearing on the show where he is expected to set up a match for Super ShowDown later this month. They have also announced a fatal four-way with Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella vs. Dana Brooke and the winner will receive a future women’s title match. They will also have the return of ‘The Dirt Sheet’ with John Morrison and The Miz, and the return of Daniel Bryan in his appearance on television since the Royal Rumble.
**Fightful Select was the first to report that NXT performer Taynara Conti left the company in January. Conti was signed in 2016 and last wrestled in early January on a house show.
**WWE is running a pair of co-branded house shows this weekend. On Saturday night, they are in Oakland with The Fiend, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Rey Mysterio among those advertised. On Sunday, they are in Fresno with The Fiend, Reigns, Rollins, Becky Lynch, Daniel Bryan, and Charlotte Flair advertised.
**Tony Khan was interviewed by Alabama.com ahead of this past Wednesday’s episode from Huntsville. Khan discussed some of the creative forces within the company, the success Dynamite has had among the 18-49 demo for TNT, his love of Southern wrestling, and provided the following on the promotion’s concussion protocol:
There’s a researcher out there named Chris Nowinski who’s actually a former pro wrestler and a former football player and had concussions end his career and has gone around educating pro wrestlers and football people and sports all over about the dangers of concussion. And I think through him and a bunch of other people’s work we know more about it, so we have concussion protocol in place and we have doctors at ringside for all the matches. If anybody couldn’t continue for any reason, we check for that and people have to be cleared to return, and I think things have come a long way. AEW, we’re a relatively new company. Our first show was “Double or Nothing,” Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, last May, so I think people have been educated and by the time we started we knew we had to have doctors at ringside and a protocol for safety.
**The big event of the weekend is New Japan’s New Beginning in Osaka card at Osaka-jo Hall with four title matches. It’s Tetsuya Naito’s first title defense since becoming double champion last month at the Tokyo Dome. We will have a POST Show on Sunday night for members of the Café and below is the card, which streams live at 2 am Eastern late Saturday/early Sunday on New Japan World:
*Tetsuya Naito vs. KENTA for the Double championship
*Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki for the IWGP United States title
*Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ryu Lee for the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Jay White vs. Sanada
*Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
*Guerrillas of Destiny, Yujiro & Chase Owens vs. Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi
*Roppongi 3K vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles
*Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Ryusuke Taguchi
**Ring of Honor has signed Australian wrestler Adam Brooks (Adam Wilmot). He has been wrestling for a decade and is the current heavyweight champion for Melbourne City Wrestling He had a busy 2019 wrestling all over the world including for Rev Pro, Progress, MLW, The Crash, and PWG. He made his PWG debut in October 2017 coming in for their All-Star Weekend and returned in 2018 for matches with Brody King and Will Ospreay and then took part in BOLA that year losing to Rey Horus in the first round. He won the MCW title in Thornbury last November defeating champion Slex and Dowie James in a three-way match. Slex also signed with Ring of Honor recently.
**ROH is holding it’s ‘Free Enterprise’ experiment this Sunday at 3 pm Eastern from the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore. Tickets are free to attend the show and it will stream on Honor Club with the following card:
*Brody King vs. Rey Horus
*Bandido & Flamita vs. The Briscoes
*Slex vs. Flip Gordon
*Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham vs. Jeff Cobb & Dan Maff in a Proving Ground match
*Dalton Castle & Joe Hendru vs. Bateman & Vincent
*Battle Royal for a future ROH Title shot (Announced: Kenny King, Silas Young, Josh Woods, Tracy Williams, Beer City Bruiser, Brian Milonas, PJ Black, Cheeseburger, LSG, Eli Isom, Rhett Titus, and Brian Johnson)
*Sumie Sakai vs. Session Moth Martina
*Alex Zayne vs. Andrew Everett
**Former WWF and WCW wrestler Emmett Bryan Clark Jr., who wrestled as The Nightstalker, Adam Bomb, Wrath, and Bryan Clark in Kronik is facing numerous drug-related charges. Clark has been implicated along with Dennis Miccolis face several charges in Arizona. Clark is accused of conspiracy, illegal control of enterprise, transporting or selling narcotics, drug possession, and possessing a weapon during a drug offense with the alleged actions occurring between January and April of last year. Clark’s attorney calls the charges “unreliable and false information” stating that facts have been misconstrued and are incorrect, adding that incorrect allegations related to medication and its use while the weapon’s charge is due to a family heirloom that was located in Clark’s home. Clark and Miccolis will be in court on February 19th.
**Here are the matches for Saturday night’s episode of MLW Fusion at 9 pm Eastern on beIN Sports:
*Jacob Fatu vs. Brian Pillman Jr. for the MLW title
*Savio Vega vs. Richard Holliday
*Zenshi vs. Dominic Garrini
**Yahoo Finance analyzes the shareholder value of WWE stock.
**Here is an awesome interview with Minoru Suzuki discussing Jon Moxley.
**WrestleCon has announced that Kenny Omega will be signing autographs and available for photo ops on Friday, April 3rd at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
**Ring of Honor champion PCO was a guest on ‘This is Wrestling’ on TSN 1200 in Ottawa with Lee Versage and Zach McGibbon. He discussed the re-signing of Marty Scurll and his new role within the company:
That’s going to be interesting to see how he can handle his own wrestling career, character, and thinking for so many other storylines in the meantime … I think if someone can do it that’s the guy who can do it. He’s the one who brought me into Ring of Honor. So he’s got all my… I’m 100% behind him on that matter and I think it’s a great *chuckles* I want to say addition to Ring of Honor as a talent because everybody thought he was gone. (But) he’s re-signing. It’s showing that ok Ring of Honor are serious and I think it makes a big statement. As far as creative and things like that. I’ve got tons of respect for Hunter (Delirious) who is going to become an executive producer so that’s cool too. They are going to have to work together … But him and Marty … I think Marty is going to bring some fresh ideas and I think that mix is going to be good.
**AEW is working with the American Heart Association in Atlanta for American Heart Month. From now until February 14th, anyone that donates $50 or more to the Atlanta branch of the AHA will receive two tickets for the episode of Dynamite on February 19th at the State Farm Arena. You can donate at this link and you will be sent a confirmation note that you can forward to email@example.com to claim the two tickets.
**WWE Network will be premiering a new series called ‘Ruthless Aggression’ chronicling the post-Attitude Era period from 2002 onward when the company was rebounding from the boom period and searching for its next breakout star(s). The five-part series debuts Sunday, February 16th and new episodes each Monday through March 9th. Those interviewed include John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Triple H, Mark Henry, Kurt Angle, Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch, The Miz, Paul Heyman, and Bruce Prichard.
**Black Label Pro has added a tag match with Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku (Violence is Forever) against Jordynne Grace & Leyla Hirsch at their ‘Threat Level Midnight’ event on Friday, April 3rd. The show is part of The Collective series of shows at The Ballroom at The Cuban Club in Ybor City at 11:59 pm Eastern that night.
**Bowling for Soup has released a new song called ‘Alexa Bliss’.
**Kurt Angle was interviewed by Mark Freund of WHO-HD Channel 13 in Iowa about his retirement and the time he spent in TNA from 2006 until 2016:
Really neat for this pro wrestling fan to get a few minutes to speak with @RealKurtAngle, who was nice enough to share some interesting perspective on his Hall of Fame career with WWE (and TNA). pic.twitter.com/RuO5tS7oCw
— Mark Freund (@MarkFreundTV) February 2, 2020
**Chris Van Vliet speaks with QT Marshall:
**The UFC 247 pay-per-view takes place Saturday night from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. It is the same venue where Matt Serra defeated Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 in April 2007 and if either champion loses this weekend, it would be on par with some of the larger upsets in championship fights.
Jon Jones and Valentina Shevchenko are large favorites heading into their respective fights with Jones attempting to set the record for most championships wins. Jones and St-Pierre are tied with thirteen wins each in championship fights. Shevchenko is defending her title for the third time after successful defenses against Jessica Eye and Liz Carmouche last year.
On paper, it’s not a spectacular card and the main draw is Jon Jones is fighting, which is always going to have attention and feel important. The larger question is his future if he is successful. He has pointed to heavyweight as a destination and seemed strong on the notion of moving up when speaking to ESPN last week. Reyes should not be overlooked as he’s a dangerous fighter that just stopped Chris Weidman, but most contend this fight is coming too early for him given the problems that Jones will present.
Here is the full card and the results from Friday’s weigh-in:
MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Jon Jones (204) vs. Dominick Reyes (205) for the UFC light heavyweight title
*Valentina Shevchenko (124.5) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (124.5) for the UFC flyweight title
*Juan Adams (266) vs. Justin Tafa (265.5)
*Dan Ige (145.5) vs. Mirsad Bektic (145)
*Ilir Latifi (246.5) vs. Derrick Lewis (261.5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm on ESPN, TSN 5 in Canada)
*Antonio Arroyo (186) vs. Trevin Giles (185.5)
*Lauren Murphy (125) vs. Andrea Lee (125.5)
*Alex Morono (171) vs. Kalinn Williams (169)
*Miles Johns (135) vs. Mario Bautista (135)
PRELIMINARY CARD (6:15 pm on ESPN+, Fight Pass)
*Journey Newson (135.5) vs. Domingo Pilarte (135.5)
*Jonathan Martinez (136) vs. Andre Ewell (135.5)
*Youseff Zalal (145.5) vs. Austin Lingo (145.5)
**In speaking to John Morgan at MMA Junkie, UFC president Dana White stated the gate for Saturday’s card at the Toyota Center will top $3.2 million. That would be the UFC’s highest gate at the Toyota Center and tops the previous high of $2,817,200 set at UFC 69 in April 2007. He also addressed the criticism that Stephen A. Smith had for Donald Cerrone after the loss to Conor McGregor.
**John Nash at Bloody Elbow has an extensive breakdown of Bellator’s financials. The key to the promotion’s fortunes is the DAZN deal they struck in 2018 with Nash reporting that it’s believed to be a three-year deal with an option for two additional years at DAZN’s discretion. After years of losses, it’s believed that the DAZN deal has led to Bellator’s first profitable year in 2019 with $8 million in net income and revenue of $80 million. The projection for 2020 is a $15 million profit and revenue growth to $100 million.
**The promotion will be honoring the late Kobe Bryant on Saturday’s broadcast. Dana White noted that Bryant was an investor in the company and said that Bryant, his daughter, and the other victims of the helicopter crash would be acknowledged.
**Derrick Lewis turns 35 today ahead of his fight tomorrow with Ilir Latifi in Latifi’s first fight at heavyweight.
**The UFC is hosting a press conference today at 5 pm Eastern with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, Yoel Romero, and Dana White to promote UFC 248 that is set for Saturday, March 7th in Las Vegas.
**Here is the latest edition of UFC Embedded going into UFC 247:
BWE 2/7/20: Progress 101 & 102, Worlds Collide, Ospreay vs. ZSJ, Timothy Thatcher
Martin, Benno, and Jamesie are back to discuss Progress Ch. 101/102, NXT vs. NXT UK Worlds Collide, OTT Take Me To Your Leader, Will Ospreay vs. ZSJ, the latest with RevPro and more.
Café Hangout: WWE Q4 and Full Year 2019 Results w/ Brandon Thurston
John Pollock and Wai Ting are joined by Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston to discuss WWE’s Q4 and Full Year 2019 Results and Investor’s Earnings Call.
upNXT 2/5/20: “How Much Fish?”
Braden Herrington is joined by friend of the show Scrump to chat about the February 5th edition of WWE NXT featuring Undisputed Era vs. Ciampa/Riddle/Dunne, Matt Riddle cuts a hilarious promo (and has a new golf cart), plus Charlotte shows up… and more!
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 2/5/20: Lash Equal Cash, Britt’s Boot Canal
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring Cody taking ten lashes from MJF in order to receive his match at Revolution.
REWIND-A-WAI #54: WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne (2002)
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne from August 10, 2002 headlined by The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Undisputed Championship.
RAR 2/3/20: Believe It or Not, Ripley on Raw
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw with a #1 contender’s match for a WWE title shot between Ricochet, Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley.
NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 POST Show
John Pollock & Wai Ting are not discussing the Super Bowl and instead, will be reviewing the two NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo this weekend headlined by Shingo Takagi vs. Hirooki Goto and Kazuchika Okada vs. Taichi.
THUNDERSTRUCK: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III (1/4/1994)
WH Park and Rich Kraetsch of Voices of Wrestling talk about Jushin Liger taking on Tiger Mask III aka Koji Kanemoto on New Japan’s January 4th, 1994 Tokyo Dome show.
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