POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE's statement regarding live programming

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/04/12/pollocks-news-update-wwes-statement-regarding-live-programming/


**The second-to-last edition of Thunderstruck was released this morning with WH Park welcoming Wai Ting to the show as they discussed Jushin Thunder Liger’s match with Samoa Joe. This took place at TNA’s Bound for Glory show in October 2005 and came at a pivotal period for the company. TNA had just launched on Spike TV several weeks earlier with a one-hour Saturday night slot at 11 pm Eastern. Joe was coming off the most famous match of his career to that point against Kenta Kobashi earlier that month and was red hot in TNA doing the undefeated run since debuting for TNA in the spring of 2005.

**We are back Monday night with a new edition of Rewind-A-Raw.

**Davie Portman has a review of Saturday’s episode of MLW Fusion with the first from the tapings in Tijuana. This week’s show is headlined by Alex Hammerstone vs. Laredo Kid for the National Openweight title.

**This Tuesday, Rewind-A-Wai returns with a review of the first Starrcade event from November 1983 at the Greensboro Coliseum with Harley Race vs. Ric Flair for the NWA title in a steel cage match. The feedback thread is open on the POST Wrestling Forum for thoughts and reactions to the event.


**WWE released a statement to ESPN when asked about their decision to return to its live format this week for Raw, NXT, and Friday Night SmackDown:

We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times. We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.

Nowhere in the statement does it address its decision to scrap their taping schedule on the first day of shooting in favor of live programming and was more so a statement addressing their decision to continue with shows period. This option inherently increases risk across the board for those involved with these shows while also eliminating the option of a fourteen-day self-isolation period after each show. With Saturday’s story of an unnamed talent testing positive for COVID-19 from the WrestleMania tapings, at least those around that person had fifteen days between shoots as the last WrestleMania date was March 26th. If a similar issue were to occur at any of these upcoming shows, you have people around each other seven days later and the risk of asymptomatic spread is there. This could only be avoided if you effectively split the Raw, SmackDown, and NXT rosters in half and had performers appearing bi-weekly, which doesn’t help production people and others in behind-the-scenes roles that would require weekly attendance. This is alarming on many levels.

On Friday night, Dave Meltzer reported that the television contracts likely play a major factor in this decision to go live. He stated both the USA Network and Fox deals have a limit on the number of taped episodes per year. He later clarified that the number of taped Raw episodes was three for the year while unsure of the exact language in the Fox deal. It is not known if either broadcaster is enforcing that aspect of the deals or if this is a precautionary measure by WWE, so they are not opening themselves up to any financial penalties down the road. Regardless, it places NBC Universal and Fox into the story and questions what their level of responsibility. This will come down to how much attention this story receives and if either broadcaster feels the outside pressure like ESPN and Disney from the Government of California. WWE has avoided the criticism that UFC received and having these shows in Florida has made a major difference given their ability to get around the stay-at-home order in place throughout April.

The live shows may be unaffected, and WWE continues to produce television, but this is so much riskier both from a health and safety perspective and the potential outside forces stepping in and leaving WWE without any new programming. Given the timing of what happened to the UFC, it felt like WWE had lucked out with their tapings beginning Friday and by the end of Monday would have weeks and weeks of television banked. I find it so difficult to imagine either broadcaster playing the ‘read the fine print’ game during this time when WWE is a partner, they are in bed with for multiple years ahead and have been a partner providing new shows weekly.

The final point on this is what the response from the performers is and whether any are inclined to stay home after this latest decision. From the start, it has been believed that no one is required to do these shows and there would be no ramifications for those not attending. The performers are inviting unknown risks by continuing to travel and do these shows and then go back home, where if there are families involved make this an unbelievably stressful option. When Brie Bella addressed the WrestleMania tapings on a recent podcast, she stated she was conflicted about her husband doing the shows but when he got home, he would be away from their family, and now is facing the prospect of weekly travel to Orlando. Remember, that Bryan was advertised for next week’s episode against Cesaro meaning that he must have been there on Friday to tape that match, didn’t appear on Friday’s show, and essentially went to Florida for nothing and now has to return next week instead of getting five weeks of shows done and off until at least May 10th.

**WWE has announced Drew McIntyre and Becky Lynch will appear on Monday’s episode of Raw. If this past week was any indication, it seems they have moved away from relying on archived content to fill up the shows. The result is the shows feel much longer in this setting and it is inevitable that viewership will be down and I don’t think new or old matches will make any difference.

**California Governor Gavin Newsom has a lengthy chat with Dwayne Johnson as a PSA for his large following for those experiencing depression and other uncertainty during this time. They also spoke about Dwayne’s mother Ata and her health as someone at risk during the pandemic and the recent passing of his father in January. Newsom was the key figure that led to Disney having UFC stop moving forward with next weekend’s pay-per-view and any subsequent shows for the time being.

**The Undertaker appeared on Instagram Live (a bizarre line to write) with Nine Line Apparel to discuss the Boneyard Match from WrestleMania last weekend. He said they were pitched the idea in the weeks leading up to the show to tape the match off-site and Undertaker liked that as a better option. He said he couldn’t have been prouder with it and added that the ‘Unholy trinity’ he hinted at was the representation of The Undertaker, The American Bad Ass, and the man Mark Calaway in that match. He also spoke about the Edge vs. Randy Orton and how a live crowd would have affected their performance:

**The Forgotten Sons, consisting of Jaxson Ryker, Steve Cutler, and Wesley Blake made their debut on SmackDown this past Friday. They were presented just as they were in NXT with Ryker in their corner as Cutler and Blake defeated Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. It was made clear by Michael Cole that this was their SmackDown debut rather than using Florida talent to fill the show.

**WWE announced the structure of its upcoming tournament to crown an interim Cruiserweight champion with Jordan Devlin unable to travel. It will consist of eight wrestlers divided into two blocks of four. They will have a round-robin style tournament with each block wrestling the members and the two with the best record advance to the finals. Any ties will be broken based on their head-to-head record. They will announce the participants later today.

**This past Thursday’s episode of Total Bellas averaged 454,000 viewers and a 0.20 in the 18-49 demo. They were down from the season premiere that did 563,000 viewers but this week’s show was still way ahead of their last season’s average, so the move to Sunday nights appears to have been a good move, so far.

**It was amusing that on SmackDown, they promoted Edge appearing on WWE Backstage this Tuesday, but they don’t advertise CM Punk’s appearances anymore, which I believe has been the case for the last few times. It will be interesting where the conversation goes with Punk, who was very outspoken on Jensen Karp’s podcast about WWE continuing its schedule and running shows in empty arenas. To his credit, he easily could have taken this job at Fox and still done enough criticism that he maintains his reputation while also staying off the hot button issues and that hasn’t been the case.

**The WWE Network has added the latest episode of the Broken Skull Sessions with Steve Austin speaking to Ric Flair.

**The former Revival has new shirts available on Pro Wrestling Tees where they are using ‘FTR’. There is one shirt done in the style of a parody of a Starbucks cup with the obvious tie-in. Scott Dawson is now going by ‘Dax Harwood’ on Twitter while Dash Wilder recently changed his profile to ‘Cash Wheeler’.

**FS1 will be airing three episodes of WWE’s Ruthless Aggression series this Tuesday night beginning at 8 pm Eastern. The three-hour block is followed by a new edition of WWE Backstage.

**AEW has announced the following elements for Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite with all taped content. Chris Jericho is scheduled to be doing commentary with Tony Schiavone for the next several weeks and was one of the best parts of last week’s show:
*Jon Moxley vs. Jake Hager in a No Holds Barred Match for the AEW title
*Lance Archer vs. Colt Cabana in the Quarter-finals of the TNT Championship tournament
*Kip Sabian vs. Chuck Taylor
*Sammy Guevara vs. Suge D
*Britt Baker in action
*Shawn Spears in action

**For Canadians, AEW will air on TSN1 and TSN2 this Wednesday at 8 pm Eastern.

**Ring of Honor has posted a Dog Collar match between CM Punk and Raven from the promotion’s Death Before Dishonor show in July 2003 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The two feuded throughout the year not just in Ring of Honor but also in TNA and MLW, and around the Florida scene:

**The latest episode of We are Stardom include matches form the empty arena show on March 8th from Korakuen Hall. There is a sixteen woman battle royal with the winner moving on to face Natsuko Tora:

THUNDERSTRUCK #25: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Samoa Joe

WH Park and POST Wrestling co-founder, Wai Ting discuss a very fun match in Jushin Liger’s career when he fought Samoa Joe at TNA’s Bound For Glory 2005.

John Pollock and Wai Ting review the Friday Night SmackDown following WrestleMania 36 with breaking news about changes to WWE’s current taping schedule. Plus, latest news about XFL, UFC 249, The Revival, and our review of Dark Side of the Ring: “Brawl for All”.

Café Hangout: NXT TakeOver USA, Cinematic Wrestling

John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss NXT TakeOver: USA and its very divisive “One Final Beat” main event between Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. We then open up the phone lines and take your thoughts about the concept of Cinematic Wrestling as a whole.
upNXT 4/8/20: FakeOver Tampa

Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the April 8th WWE NXT featuring two matches from what would have been TakeOver: Tampa including Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in their final encounter (aka The Final Beat).
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 4/8/20: TNT Championship Tournament Begins

John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring Cody vs. Shawn Spears in the first match of the TNT Championship tournament. Plus, news on WWE’s next set of TV tapings and more.
POST INTERVIEW: Josh Gross, Senior Writer at The Athletic
John Pollock chats with Josh Gross of The Athletic about the UFC’s decision to move forward with UFC 249 and continue its schedule of fight cards.
TIGER KING: Murder, Mayhem and Madness Review
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the 2020 Netflix true-crime documentary series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness showcasing the unbelievable world of Joe Exotic and colorful characters such as Carole Baskin and “Doc” Antle.
POST INTERVIEW: Jim Ross, “Under the Black Hat”
On today’s show, John Pollock speaks with Jim Ross about his new book Under the Black Hat: My Life in WWE and Beyond.
REWIND-A-RAW 4/6/20: “Drew Big for Just One Night!”, WWE 24 Edge
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw after WrestleMania 36 and WWE 24 Edge: The Second Mountain. Plus, UFC 249 goes on and Firefly Fun House discussion.

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WWE is so full of shit.

There’s like 8 billion diversions already available to us with Netflix, Amazon, hbo, Hulu, videogames, network tv streaming, etc.

Anyone who can’t find something to keep them entertained from that list needs their head checked.


There is value in having something on TV that can help distract people. Just like there would be if the NBA or NHL ran games. However the risk to the talent and society as a whole just isn’t worth the benefit to me

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Well said @johnpollock. I have a friend who works in a different industry where a company tried that legal fine print stuff but then back tracked. I doubt Fox or USA would risk the PR strictly enforcing that.

A much simpler answer is Vince McMahon lost his mind…he doesn’t see his workers as employees now he doesn’t see them as people. He is putting his people and his company at risk. Why?

He cant stop CHANGING his mind! If he taped weeks out he’d have to commit to something. He changes his mind so erratically I am seriously concerned about this man’s mental health. His impulsive nature to just RIP up scripts and scrap planned tapings is literally putting people’s lives in jeopardy.

@johnpollock is there any truth to a report I read on Twitter that wwe staff are being told to tell police in Florida if questioned that they are “essential media” to get around the state’s “stay at home” order?

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