POLLOCK'S UPDATE: All Access Lacked Access

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2023/05/12/pollocks-update-all-access-lacked-access/


**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 10 p.m. ET with Wai Ting & Kate from Montreal. The two will review Friday Night SmackDown in Knoxville with the continuation of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament and the return of Roman Reigns. They will also be taking calls from POST Café members.

**MCU L8R returned on Thursday night with Wai Ting, Neal Flanagan & WH Park discussing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was released last weekend. This review is available for all POST Café members.

**Next week, Rewind-A-Wai will be covering the All Japan Women’s Dream Slam II event from April 1993 and headlined by Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada against Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki for the WWWA tag titles. On this show, Wai Ting & I will be joined by Karen Peterson and the show will be released on Thursday for POST Café members.

**This past week, Brandon Thurston and I spoke with Richard Deitsch from The Athletic and Sports Media Podcast. We received a lot of great feedback on this show and chatted about the wrestling media space, mainstream coverage of the industry, Vince McMahon’s coverage over the past year, dealing with WWE PR, and the television landscape.

**Tickets for The Forbidden Pour are available at www.postwrestling.com/live for our live event in Toronto on Sunday, June 25 at Real Sports (right across the street from the Scotiabank Arena). Tickets are $30 and include access to the live Q&A and hangout with the POST team with doors opening at 3 p.m. ET – and the After Party immediately following the Forbidden Door event.


This sixth and final episode of All Access aired this past Wednesday and represented AEW’s latest attempt at a reality show concept.

The AEW and Shed Media production followed up on the 2021 project ‘Rhodes to the Top’ that aired over four weeks. That series split its airings between Wednesday and Saturday nights over those weeks. The results were 360,000 viewers and 0.13 in the key demo with plans for a second season until Rhodes departed the company in early 2022 for a WWE return.

All Access came out of the stench of Dana White’s Power Slap, which was panned by pundits and made worse when White was seen slapping his wife on video this past New Year’s Eve. Power Slap, delayed by one week due to the White video, aired over eight weeks with an average of 295,000 viewers and 0.09 in the demo.

From an overall viewership standpoint, All Access had to be viewed as disappointing given Dynamite as a lead-in and a six-episode average that only topped Power Slap by seven percent and a 0.01 increase in the demo average. Whether this is enough to justify a second season remains to be seen with a pending announcement of WBD’s expanded programming with AEW.

This past Wednesday’s All Access finale retained 37 percent of the 18-49 audience (33 percent of women, 36 percent of men), 28 percent of adults 18-34, 44 percent of adults 35-49, and 51 percent of adults 50+.

Expectations were elevated for this show because fans have seen the best-case scenario for this format with Netflix’s Drive to Survive – which is proving to be the exception, not the rule for a series contributing to meaningful growth. Much like HBO put 24/7 on the map in 2007 as the industry standard for fight promotion, tons of copycats followed with mixed results. With similar formatted reality series for golf and tennis, there has not been a meaningful change in those sports as the boost F1 received over the past several years and led to a massive rights increase with ESPN.

From a viewer’s standpoint, All Access, frankly, lacked access. The cloud over the season was “he who shall not be named” from Chicago and the “incident that shall not be discussed” from All Out. There is an understanding that CM Punk is off limits but it became infuriating throughout the season when they went out of their way to dance around the topic and made it the guiding struggle for The Young Bucks with constant mentions of this black cloud hanging over them and no context for the viewer.

Further, the show suffered from a lack of authenticity that many reality shows subscribe to, but the best, like wrestling, blur the lines so that the viewer is never insulted. Convoluted conflict, interviews, and fly-on-wall conversations made it a series that felt manufactured to the detriment of its goal – presenting genuine human beings the audience wants to root for.

That isn’t to say they did not tap into elements of that goal. Sammy Guevara became the unsuspecting protagonist of the series, especially during episode five and the scenes involving his mother and discussing his road to AEW and a full-time contract. The story of Adam Cole’s comeback was front-and-center but didn’t feel like a story that crossed over to impact his standing – good or bad – in AEW. By the end, Tay Melo was someone that benefited from the series but given the audience reach, was it something that truly affected her standing in the company? For new viewers, was Melo part of anything of substance over these past seven weeks that someone sampling Dynamite would be attached to?

I was high on the idea of this series but left unsatisfied after seeing its execution. Drive to Survive is likely too high of a standard to expect but there was enough of a chasm between that standard and what was produced that a happy medium could have been effective in drawing new eyes and sending them to your core programming. It wasn’t an overwhelming success nor failure and the true result is whether this generates additional television revenue for future seasons and if so, there are enough elements to build on – and with a returning CM Punk, the possibility to tell a more complete story that the audience already buys its legitimacy and could be extremely compelling.   


**Roman Reigns will appear tonight on WWE programming for the first time since WrestleMania. It’s a packed episode as SmackDown airs against the New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat and will focus the show around the World Heavyweight Championship tournament with the same format as Raw. There will be two triple-threat matches and the winners meet later in the show to determine who faces Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. There is no obvious match for Reigns at Night of Champions, so tonight should provide clarity for his direction in two weeks. Below are the announced matches and segments for the show in Knoxville, Tennessee:
*Roman Reigns returns
*Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles
*Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus
*Women’s Tag Team Championships: Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez © vs. Bayley & Dakota Kai

**AEW is running two ‘House Rules’ events this weekend beginning tonight in Corbin, Kentucky. The promotion has announced FTR vs. The Gunns for the AEW tag titles, Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brian Pillman Jr. a Proving Ground Match for the ROH title, Hook vs. Ethan Page, Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin vs. Lee Moriarty Big Bill, and Toni Storm vs. Billie Starkz. On Saturday, AEW is in Salem, Virginia with Hangman Page vs. Big Bill, Wardlow vs. Lee Moriarty for the TNT title, Toni Storm vs. Skye Blue, and Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin vs. Powerhouse Hobbs & QT Marshall announced.

**The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Matt Jackson was cleared prior to Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite. Jackson had been suffering from a partially torn biceps and last wrestled on 3/15 in Winnipeg and had been undergoing therapy sessions to speed up the healing while avoiding surgery.

**AEW Rampage will air on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET due to the NHL playoffs tonight. The taped episode from Detroit will include:
*The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn vs. The Butcher, The Blade & Kip Sabian
*Swerve Strickland & Brian Cage vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds
*Toni Storm vs. Allysin Kay
*Kyle Fletcher vs. Action Andretti
*The Gunns will speak

**The Hollywood Reporter has a story on the upfront presentations next week including NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Discovery. It examines the heavy turnover of major executives and the overall downturn in the ad market while going in front of the media amid the writer’s strike. This will be a major set of stories next week and from a wrestling standpoint, the big one is the WBD upfront presentation on Wednesday. Both NBC Universal and Fox will hold their presentations on Monday in New York City.

**There was a tragic story this week regarding the passing of Joshua Odom, who was a producer on multiple wrestling podcasts. Odom died unexpectedly on Thursday and served as a fireman and in local government while having a side project in pro wrestling. Odom worked with Ad-Free Shows, Premier Streaming Network, and Impact Wrestling. Odom was married and the couple had children with a GoFundMe campaign being launched to assist the family. Friends of Odom will be holding a live stream in his honor on 6/3 from Noon ET to Midnight to help raise money. We want to send our condolences to the Odom family and those that worked with him.

**STARZ has announced that ‘Heels’ is returning with a second season on 7/28 at 10 p.m. ET and streaming on its app at Midnight. The series stars Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig. It features CM Punk in a recurring role with Punk and his wife AJ Mendez listed for the second season.

From the press release:

“Heels” is a story about the men and women who chase their dreams in the world of small-town pro wrestling. Set in a close-knit Georgia community, it follows a family-owned wrestling promotion as two brothers and rivals, Jack Spade (Amell) and Ace Spade (Ludwig), are at war over their late father’s legacy while working to find their identity and their individual versions of success. “Heel” is a common wrestling term used to describe the antagonist or villain in the ring, however, the line between hero and heel is much less clear for this sibling rivalry outside of the ring.

**NJPW sold out Korakuen Hall on Friday for the opening night of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament with 1,401 announced. During the main event between Speedball Mike Bailey and Hiromu Takahashi, they fought on to the bleachers and there didn’t look to be an empty seat in the building.

**Stardom drew 407 fans to Shinagawa Intercity Hall for New Blood 8 on Friday. The card was highlighted by Rina submitting Ami Sohrei to become the Future of Stardom champion. Rina is the tenth champion since the title was introduced in 2018.

**The Von Erich family is purchasing a ranch in Texas. The Dallas Morning News spoke with Kevin Von Erich (Kevin Adkisson) & his daughter Kristen, who told the paper that they are closing on a deal to buy a 60-acre ranch in Boerne with the 14-member family set to move there. The family will maintain a property in Kauai, Hawaii, where they have been living since 2006.

**WWE is running live events on Saturday in Augusta, Georgia, and Sunday in North Charleston, South Carolina. Monday’s episode of Raw is in Greensboro with Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz, Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green challenging for the women’s tag titles, and Gunther’s return.

**NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament hosts its second show on Saturday at 4:30 a.m. ET in Nagano and will be streaming on New Japan World with the following:
*B BLOCK: YOH vs. Master Wato
*A BLOCK: Hiromu Takahashi vs. DOUKI
*B BLOCK: El Desperado vs. BUSHI
*A BLOCK: Titan vs. Taiji Ishimori
*B BLOCK: Kevin Knight vs. Francesco Akira
*A BLOCK: SHO vs. Speedball Mike Bailey
*B BLOCK: Robbie Eagles vs. Clark Connors
*A BLOCK: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Lio Rush
*B BLOCK: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Dan Moloney

**Sunday’s card in Nagoya will be headlined by Hiromu Takahashi vs. Lio Rush with the two having an outstanding match in March on at the New Japan Cup Final. They have a day off on Monday and cards for four days in a row beginning on Tuesday.


**Bellator has made a significant change to how its event will be available in multiple countries including Canada. For those in Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, and UAE, the events will now cost $19.50 (CDN) per event with a seven-day window to view the show. For countries where Bellator did not have broadcast agreements (including Canada), the shows had been airing free on YouTube. This policy went into effect beginning with today’s Bellator 296 card from Paris, France and is going to dramatically impact accessibility.

**The UFC will be running an afternoon card on ABC & ESPN+ on Saturday from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. In Canada, the main card will air on TSN 2, but the prelims will be exclusively on Fight Pass.

MAIN CARD (3 p.m. ET on ABC & ESPN+, TSN 2 in Canada)
*Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-4) vs. Jailton Almeida (18-2)
*Johnny Walker (20-7) vs. Anthony Smith (36-17)
*Ian Machado Garry (11-0) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (17-3) – Rodrguez first weighed in at 171.5 pounds but made weight on his second attempt
*Ihor Potieria (20-3) vs. Carlos Ulberg (6-1)
*Alex Morono (22-8) vs. Tim Means (32-14-1)

PRELIMINARY CARD (11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN & ESPN+, Fight Pass in Canada)
*Matt Brown (23-19) vs. Court McGee (21-11)
*Karl Williams (5-1) vs. Chase Sherman (16-11)
*Douglas Silva de Andrade (28-5) vs. Cody Stamann (21-5-1)
*Mandy Bohm (7-2) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (9-6-2)
*Gabe Green (11-4) vs. Bryan Battle (8-2) – Battle missed weight by two pounds and was fined a percentage of his purse
*Jessica Rose-Clark (11-8) vs. Tainara Lisboa (5-2)

**The UFC lost one of its prelim fights for Saturday when Pete Rodriguez was unable to weigh in for his lightweight fight against Natan Levy. The fight was removed from the card with the UFC citing weight management issues for Rodriguez.


Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai Ting & Kate from Montreal (10 p.m. ET)
Saturday: POSTmarks with Dabid Meyers & Bruce Lord with guest Brent Chittenden
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
Monday: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting

MCU L8R: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Wai Ting, WH Park, Neal Flanagan & Scrump review Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the final instalment of James Gunn’s trilogy.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with a Steel Cage Match between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, and discuss the AEW-WBD report.
POLLOCK & THURSTON: Richard Deitsch of The Athletic
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston chat with reporter Richard Deitsch from The Athletic and the Sports Media Podcast.
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from May 9th, 2023 featuring Bron Breakker vs Trick Williams and the start of the NXT Women’s Championship Tournament!
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw with the start of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament to determine who advances to Night of Champions.

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I personally enjoyed All Access but it definitely suffered by just having Britt, Tay, Cole, and Sammy as the main characters. Should’ve added variety and seemed like they bring the same repetitive stories over again.