Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: Vince McMahon's road to WWE merger
Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting
Tuesday: upNXT with Davie Portman & Braden Herrington
Wednesday: Pollock & Thurston with guest Patrick Auger on WWE-UFC merger
Thursday: Tim Hornbaker, author of “The Last Real World Champion”
Friday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & Bruce Lord (Kenta Kobashi vs. Dr. Death Steve Williams, Sept. 1994)
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown & IMPACT 1000 review with Pollock & Wai (POST Wrestling Café exclusive)
Saturday: Collision Course with Kate from Montreal & Bruce Lord (POST Wrestling Café exclusive)
Sunday: The N.W.A. Podcast
VINCE McMAHON’S ROAD TO WWE MERGER
September 11, 2023, will become the answer regarding the final day of Vince McMahon’s majority control of WWE, which is expected to end on Tuesday and the TKO Group Holdings merger is completed under Endeavor. McMahon will still have 16% ownership but will not have the voting power that he held in the previous incarnation of the company, where he was both the majority and controlling shareholder, which was key to his return to power in late 2022 when he came out of “retirement.”
McMahon with his wife Linda purchased the company from Vince McMahon Sr. and his partners on June 5, 1982, with a structured payment system over the next year for approximately $1.6 million (for a company that generates approximately $2 million per year). If McMahon Jr. defaulted on any of the payments, the sale would be voided with the existing ownership contingent retaining their control. McMahon Jr. completed the payments with the final one made on June 1, 1983, after McMahon had already begun his expansion plans through the purchase of Mike LeBell’s territory in Los Angeles in March 1983. McMahon was eyeing many new markets to take the company but the true line in the sand moment occurred in December 1983 with the arrival of Hulk Hogan in St. Louis after leaving the AWA and setting the stage for a monumental year, which began with Hogan winning the WWF Championship from The Iron Sheik on January 23, 1984.
McMahon’s promotional muscle was flexed with the success of WrestleMania 1, which was not a sure bet one week out when many closed-circuit locations canceled their airings of the March 31 event due to poor advances. WrestleMania picked up strong last-minute word of mouth given the popularity of Mr. T, the terrific cross-promotion with MTV over the previous year, Hogan & Mr. T getting onto SNL as late replacement hosts the night prior and deemed the show a success and starting an annual tradition.
During those expansion years, WWF gained the upper hand with superior production, the acquisition of so many territorial stars, and the NBC exposure with Saturday Night’s Main Event along with the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling cartoon on CBS put WWF into the national zeitgeist. They struggled in pockets of the country, especially territories that had long-standing promotions where the WWF didn’t measure up, but they would slowly crumble with WWF holding the national footprint. The sale of UWF to Jim Crockett Promotions, AWA going out of business, Don Owen throwing in the towel, and the dissolution of World Class painted a bleak picture of competitors for the forthcoming decade. Rocked by scandal, the WWF hit a low period from 1992-96 with McMahon standing trial for steroid distribution, which he was acquitted and skirted past the initial accusations revolving around the ring boy scandal that started the investigations but never reached a level where the company was endangered. To this day, many are unfamiliar with the stories of Mel Phillips and Terry Garvin and with the 2021 death of Tom Cole, many of the people directly involved are either deceased or have gone silent for decades but it’s unquestionably one of the ugliest stories in the industry’s history.
After the advent of Monday Nitro in 1995, it forced WWE to re-evaluate its presentation but they were slow to adjust as WCW knocked WWF off its perch, which it was vulnerable for such an overtake. Nitro presented competitive matches, live weekly broadcasts, and new styles of wrestling for the American audience, and landed on one of the biggest turning point moments as Hulk Hogan turned heel and the N.W.O. took form. WWF rebounded in 1997 on a creative level but the economics were a year behind the on-screen product but through the rise of Steve Austin, McMahon in the villain role, and a rising array of stars, WWF took over in 1998 and never looked back and reached its largest profitability in its history while WCW nosedived and was out of business three years after posting the largest revenue of any wrestling company up to that period.
Many moments can be cited as game changers for the business end of the WWE from going public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in October 1999 and New York Stock Exchange one year later, leaving its long-time partner USA Network in the fall of 2000 after winning a court battle for its first set of significant rights fees for its television, the loss of its competition in 2001 and a devastating impact on the industry for years to come, two massive stories involving the death of Owen Hart in May 1999 and the murder/suicide involving Chris Benoit in June 2007, adopting a PG format in the summer of 2008 that proved significant in the slow escalation of sponsors & advertisers, launching the WWE Network and abandoning pay-per-view in 2014, the massive TV rights agreements with NBC Universal & Fox announced in the spring of 2018, gaining its first legitimate competition in nearly two decades when AEW launched in 2019, and hiring Nick Khan in the summer of 2020 to name a few.
While Vince McMahon’s tenure in a position of power continues, his public scandal throughout the past year will be a major stain on his legacy when the book is written. With stories that go back decades in the case of Rita Chatterton, an incident at a Boca Raton tanning salon in 2006, those accusations were accompanied by multiple NDAs attached to various ex-employees of the company that were brought to light by the Wall Street Journal and resulted in millions spent by the company investigating the discretions into unreported company expenses. However, power trumps morals and when McMahon made a disingenuous retirement in July 2022, it was mere months until he forced his way back into his position under the belief that he could lead negotiations for a potential sale going into the company’s next round of TV rights negotiations and Wall Street rewarded his brazen move with the stock growing and McMahon sidestepping the controversies beyond one interview with CNBC when the sale was finalized to Endeavor this past April.
**WWE Raw takes place from the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia tonight as Gunther will host a celebration as the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time. Chad Gable had a terrific interview backstage after the loss to Gunther implying that he was moving away from the comedic presentation and hopefully, this interview airs tonight and is followed up. The following has been announced:
*Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley © vs. Raquel Rodriguez
*Cody Rhodes appears
**Monday Night Football returns tonight with a big game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets that will be airing on ABC, ESPN & ESPN+ with the ManningCast airing on ESPN 2. A crisis was averted with Disney and Charter Communications ending their dispute on Monday morning and providing access to approximately 14.7 million cable subscribers to ESPN and other Disney-owned properties. Last year’s season opener of MNF averaged 18.3 million viewers between ABC & ESPN and average of 22.0 million between both networks in 2021.
**On the day before the WWE-UFC merger is expected to close, the WWE stock saw a nearly 3% increase and closed at $100.65.
**Gail Kim took a nasty fall off the apron during the IMPACT 1000 tapings on Saturday in White Plains, New York. Kim was part of the eight-woman tag and was yanked from the floor by Velvet Sky and landed on her back. Kim provided an update on X stating she was rattled but was okay and continued the match. If you want to read about the results from Saturday’s taping, John Siino filed a report after attending the event.
**NXT has a strong lineup for Tuesday’s show built around the first-time match between Tiffany Stratton and Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Championship in their quest for a big audience. The show will include a #1 Contender’s Match between Ilja Dragunov and Wes Lee, Tyler Bate vs. Axiom and Nathan Frazer vs. Akira Tozawa in Global Heritage Invitational match-ups, Dana Brooke vs. Lyra Valkyria, The Creeds vs. Edris Enofe & Malik Blade, and Drew Gulak & Charlie Dempsey & Damon Kemp vs. Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen & Myles Borne.
**Zack Sabre Jr. responded to Bryan Danielson’s challenge for WrestleDream on October 1 in Seattle and said he will end his career in three weeks.
**Paul Heyman turns 58 today.
**New Japan has released last year’s match between FTR and Aussie Open from Royal Quest II for free on its YouTube channel.
**Being the Elite: Ep. 364: “Inner Thoughts”.
**Sean Waltman shares stories from his career while being treated by Dr. Beau Hightower.
**Sean Strickland pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by dethroning Israel Adesanya and becoming the UFC Middleweight Champion at UFC 293. It was a dominant performance from Strickland, who won 49-46 on all three judge’s scorecards with Adesanya only managing to win the second round. The first nearly ended in the first when Strickland rocked Adesanya and followed up with a swarm of strikes, but Adesanya got out of the fire and made it to the end of the round. Had it ended there, the thought would be that Strickland caught him and probably would not have received the same credit as he thoroughly controlled the rest of the fight and forced Adesanya, a counterstriker, to never get any meaningful offense and constantly being backed up by Strickland. Adesanya was still active by throwing plenty of strikes but was missing routinely with 94 of 271 significant strikes landing compared to Strickland landing 137 of 259. Adesanya’s best weapon was his leg kicks where he landed 34 throughout the fight but Strickland was excellent at distance and never allowed Adesanya to get the next gear and had no answers for a relatively basic but super effective game plan by the new champion. Adesanya gave a brief statement at the press conference and deferred to his coach Eugene Bareman to answer questions. Bareman thinks they could win if they fought next weekend with some small adjustment while also noting how difficult rematch camps are and just going through one with the back-to-back fights with Alex Pereira last year. Dana White suggested an automatic rematch is likely, although many people are pushing back on that option given Adesanya has lost two title fights in his last three fights and should take time off with a new contender granted the fight. Economically, Adesanya is paid a lot of money and they are going to justify that with headlining roles if possible and he is a much more marketable challenger than Dricus du Plessis or Jared Cannonier. The next major middleweight fight is at UFC 294 next month when Khamzat Chimaev fights Paulo Costa and the winner of that fight could earn a title fight if Adesanya opts to take a break. Adesanya is only 34 years old but has had more than 100 pro fights between MMA and Kickboxing and had kept up a furious pace since joining the UFC. He has fought sixteen times since February 2018 and that is a lot of tape study for his opponents and includes three losses (one was at light heavyweight where the size disparity was a big issue for Adesanya) and a blueprint started to form.
**There were a pair of gay slurs uttered on the UFC 293 broadcast which was an ugly look for the promotion, which many fans brushed off and was a sad reaction, although plenty were offended. Charles Radtke was the first offender after his decision to win against Blood Diamond and calling the fans that doubted him the six-letter f-word. Hours later, Radtke did issue a public apology, which Dana White said was not ordered by the promotion and he did it on his own. After that apology was issued online, Manel Kape used the same slur during his post-fight speech after beating Felipe dos Santos and addressing fellow flyweight Kai Kara-France, who was in the crowd and had been scheduled to fight Kape but suffered a concussion in training. Kape apologized for using the slur at the post-fight press conference.
**The UFC announced the attendance at 14,124 with a live gate of $4,086,688 at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney for UFC 293. The card was the first of a three-event deal between the promotion and the New South Wales government worth $16 million for the UFC. To keep the broadcast at the regular start time for U.S. viewers, the first fight of the broadcast occurred at 8:30 a.m. local time in Sydney on Sunday morning.
**TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter has an 80-minute audio documentary on the life of former UFC fighter Elias Theodorou, who died one year ago today at the age of 34. Bronsteter interviewed members of Theodorou’s family, friends, and coaches for the feature.
**This Saturday’s UFC card is a much more stacked Fight Night than usual as they have booked the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for Mexican Independence Day. The main event is a rematch for the Flyweight Championship with Alexa Grasso (16-3) defending the title against former champ Valentina Shevchenko (23-4). Shevchenko has dominated the division since it was created, winning the vacant title in December 2018 and defending it seven times until her loss to Grasso at UFC 285 this past March when she was submitted with a neck crank. Despite the loss, Shevchenko is a -185-favorite going into the rematch. The Las Vegas card also sees a highly intriguing welterweight between Jack Della Maddalena (15-2) and Kevin Holland (25-9, 1 NC). Due to college football commitments, the entire card will stream on ESPN+. In Canada, the card will air on TSN 5.
**Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET will feature Malik Lewis (5-1) vs. James Lontop (13-2), Jhonata Diniz (5-0) vs. Eduardo Neves (5-1), Steven Nguyen (8-1) vs. A.J. Cunningham (7-2), Patricia Alujas (9-2) vs. Julia Polastri (8-3), and Jean Matsumoto (13-0) vs. Kasey Tanner (6-0).
Kate From MTL & Wai Ting review AEW Collision as Bryan Danielson calls out his Wrestle Dream opponent, a former champ returns, and Grand Slam semifinals take place with Samoa Joe vs. Penta El Zero M and Roderick Strong vs. Darby Allin.
John Pollock & Wai Ting discuss WWE SmackDown featuring AJ Styles taking on Jimmy Uso, and Judgment Day in action.
REWIND-A-WAI #138: UFC 200
John Pollock & Wai Ting review UFC 200 as Anderson Silva steps in on 3 days’ notice to replace Jon Jones in a much-hyped fight against Daniel Cormier. Plus, Brock Lesnar makes his return to the octagon and Amanda Nunes begins her legendary title reign.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with MJF confronting Samoa Joe and the start of the World Title Eliminator Tournament.
POLLOCK & THURSTON
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston are guestless this week and open the forum for your questions to be sent in along with the latest news & notes.
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