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Rich

Wrestling

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Some updates from Dave Meltzer:

- AEW is wholly owned by Shad Khan and his son Tony Khan (who was a long time subscriber to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter by the way).  Khan's are worth over $6 billion, far more than both McMahon and the Fertitta's (former owners of UFC) (and makes them the richest wrestling promotion in the world).

- Currently, AEW is negotiating with two outlets for a weekly, two hour, prime time, LIVE TV show.  And this opportunty is directly related to the connections and clout of the Khan's and the value of WWE's programming.  There is a potentially more lucrative international TV deal on the table as well.  The value of wrestling as a TV property is the highest its ever been in the industry.

- Tony Khan is the President of AEW and head of Creative, described as the "Vince role" (in other words, the creative buck stops with him) but there will be others in creative.

- The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) & Cody Rhodes are all Executive Vice Presidents.  Bucks' roles will include a focus on tag teams while Cody will focus on singles.  Brandi Rhodes is the Chief Brand Officer and will focus on women's wrestling.  Matt Jackson's wife is head of merchandise (she was heavily credited with the excellent merchandising of the Bucks over the years.  Ryan Barkan of Pro Wrestling Tees will also be part of the merchandising division.

- At least one more executive VP will be added to senior management (I wonder if this is being held for Jim Ross who's WWE contract doesnt expire until spring).

- Bucks & Cody have three-year contracts with options on a 4th & 5th year.  They are world-wide exclusive but would be available to work other places pending corporate agreements with those companies (such as New Japan or PWG etc)

- Currently signed are Bucks, Cody, Hangman Page, Brit Baker (fiance of Adam Cole), Chris Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, Chris Jericho, PAC, MJF, Joey Janela & Penelope Ford

- All are signed to contracts of various stipulations and lengths (ie. no standard contract, some can work other places, some are exclusive)

- Jericho was negotiating with WWE as recently as December but chose AEW and signed a three-year deal that was better than any contract he had in WWE.  It's exclusive to AEW except for the right to negotiate his own New Japan deal and future Jericho Cruises.  (It's something to note that AEW out-bid WWE for Jericho)

- Originally, All In 2: Double or Nothing was scheduled for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas but the arena said if the Golden Knights ended up having a home playoff game that night, AEW would have to move.  While slim, they didnt want issues so moved to MGM.

- Estimates between 50,000-55,000 PPV buys for the first All In event (I'd suspect that's below what they hoped).  The show was also available on New Japan World and Rong of Honor's streaming platform so that would cut down on buys.  There was an issue with DirectTV where the show didnt air at the last minute, cutting down buys as well.

- They did average of $50 per head in merch sales at All In ($500,000 in merch....wow)

- Drew 196,000 viewers for the Pre Show on WGN

 

Meltzer is really fair on this saying you need more than hardcore fans and good shirt sales and feeling that, without a major publicity blitz you  can't draw on TV initially.  But he pointed out TNA on SPIKE went from 200,000 on FOX Sports Net to over a million on SPIKE.

He points out that AEW has a far more underground presence than TNA did but is also paying way more Cody & Bucks then TNA paid for even Sting & Angle.  He says AEW's owner is far more wrestling savvy than TNA's and their top executives understand social media and merchandising better than TNA.

He specifically notes a $250 per match guy in 2005 is earning over $100,000 a year now.

- Second PPV event will be in the summer in Jacksonville and likely an anniversary show over Labor Day back in Chicago.

Meltzer said PAC vs Page looks to be a big match on the Vegas show but noted "a major main event is scheduled that is likely to be announced when tickets go on sale in February".  (The fact he didnt even allude to whom makes me think it's Kenny vs....maybe Jericho?)

- They have an affiliation with China's OWE which has some talent (and everyone is desperate to breakthrough into the Chinese market).

- They dont want to be enemies of any promotion and are not trying to be enemies with WWE.  Cody & The Bucks praised Hunter for how negotiations were handled (Meltzer notes that WWE will see them as the enemy whether they want it or not)

- Since Smackdown was held in Jacksonville the day of the rally, many fans attended both and WWE was not allowing fans wearing AEW shirts in but once it hot social media, they rescinded that (WWE denied it and I wouldnt be surprised if it was a lower level decision made by security).

- Aex Marvez was one of the hosts of the rally.  He works as an NFL Insider for Sporting News and is a long time wrestling fan (ran his own newsletter in his youth) and his close friends with Tony Khan. He's expected to be part of the broadcast team.

- HBO Vice was at the rally filming, reportedly just a news item for their Vice show and nothing else (HBO, you say...?)

- Tony Khan wants wrestling to be treated more like sport

- AEW wants to work with New Japan.  New Japan is happy with ROH.  (But reading between the lines, I have a sense New Japan and AEW will work something out after the ROH/New Japan show at WM Weekend).

- Hunter really wanted Cody, Bucks & Page.  He offered Page main roster money to be a top guy in NXT.  The Bucks were offered money nearly on par with AJ Styles and their Being the Elite show would be a Network show.  And amazingly, they were given a six month window to opt out of their contracts if they werent happy with their push 

- WWE thought there was no way Bucks would turn it down and the Bucks were tentatively booked to debut at the Rumble with a significant WrestleMania angle.

- Hunter and the Bucks spent about 12 hours in talks and they praised him for the process and noted he enjoyed their BTE show where they had Kaz portray Triple H and get superkicked

- Noted that AEW trademarked Tuesday Night Dynamite and felt Tuesday was a good night but that it seems unlikely now and will be decided by the Network they sign with, though noted, it would be prime time live.

- Health Care will be provided for executives, including Bucks, Cody, Brandi, Mrs Bucks, Daniels (also a Producer), Billy Gunn (Producer),   Will be the same insurance provided to Jaguars execs.

- New Japan was surprised when Kenny Omega announced he was leaving as they expected to re-sign him.  He's hugely important to their plans.  The rumor is that Omega has already declined WWE's offer and will be announced for AEW in February.  And its believed it impacts New Japan's willingness to make a deal with AEW.

(Imagine this...AEW made Jericho his best contract offer ever.  Assuming Kenny gets a tip top deal too (he would) PLUS gets a lucrative New Japan contract as well...man, he's going to essentially get TWO top contracts.  Good time to be on his Christmas gift list!  Who was it that tried to argue no one knows who he is? hahaha)

- If Omega signs with AEW, its expected Kota Ibushi would work shows as well (he doesnt sign contracts).

- New Japan is offering two-year deals now as opposed to their usual one year and both them and ROH have made increased offers to talent.

Good time to be a good wrestler.

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59 minutes ago, The Unknown Poster said:

He says AEW's owner is far more wrestling savvy than TNA's and their top executives understand social media and merchandising better than TNA.

Considering his dad owns two professional sports teams I'd imagine the resources that AEW would have at their disposal would be absolutely amazing.   Their is no doubt that you couldn't find a better situation for an upstart wrestling to start off with.

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9 minutes ago, Brandon said:

Considering his dad owns two professional sports teams I'd imagine the resources that AEW would have at their disposal would be absolutely amazing.   Their is no doubt that you couldn't find a better situation for an upstart wrestling to start off with.

Its super dynamic.  With TNA you had millionaire backers (Panda Energy) who didnt really understand wrestling.  And in ROH you have super rich Sinclair (Billionaire company) who owns it but arent committed to it being anything more than decent content for its syndication stations.

To have billionaire owners who understand wrestling, who understand business, understand sport...its hard to predict success or failure because its a new world now, but its the best chance of success since WWE went public.

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Another note:

- Impact denies they have ever been for sale but Chris Jericho tried to broker a meeting between Tony Khan and Impact a few months ago to discuss just that, with the idea Khan could buy an existing company with infrastructure, assets and international TV deals.  Impact was open to talking but Khan wanted to start fresh.

In WWE news:

WrestleMania looks to be Rousey vs Becky vs Charlotte now, possibly as the main event.

Lars Sullivan was scheduled to debut on RAW but no showed (or potentially called in sick late) due to anxiety.  He was then booked for SD and didnt show up either.  He was scheduled for a big push with Wrestle Mania being planned for him vs Cena.

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WWE's idea to shake things up seems to be to go back to silliness like people walking in on topless women in the locker room, "neanderthals" grunting over pretty women etc.

The Women's tag team championship belts look awesome though.

Lawler re-signed with WWE.  His deal expired on Jan 10th and he texted a reminder on Jan 8th to Kevin Dunn (exec producer).  Imagine them forgetting that Lawler's deal was coming due...especially at a time with increased competition.  He got a new deal and a raise.

Edited by The Unknown Poster

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News and notes from Meltzer and others:

- In a sign of the changing landscape, ROH signed CMLL star Rush away from MLW.  Rush is a really good talent.  Reportedly got $150,000 from ROH to be US Exclusive and can still do CMLL (and Japan if he so desires).  MLW was not happy about it.  Prices and competition for talent is shooting way up.  Amusingly, Andrade told Rush not to go to WWE...which likely explains Andrade's renewed push.   Rush's deal is one year (Bandido is also one year I believe) which sets them up for a big pay day if AEW is where they hope to be by the end of 2019

- The Revival asked for their release...immediately after the match on RAW while still in the gear.  Not likely to be granted...

- Mike & Maria have apparently asked for their release too (they debuted, Mike went to WWE sponsored rehab, Maria got pregnant and went on maternity leave so their WWE run was about as good as can be outside the ring).

- Omega vs Tanahashi got 5 & 3/4 Stars from Dave.  And interestingly, Omega is 21st all time for 4 star or more matches.

- Dan Severn is being inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (and will be in Winnipeg in March)

- I found this interesting:  Best selling shirts from Pro Wrestling Tees (in order): Young Bucks, Marty Scurll (Villain Club), Kenny Omega, Cody, Bruce Prichard, Kota Ibushi, Steve Austin, C.M. Punk, Tama Tonga and Hangman Page

- ROH owns the broadcast rights to the All In show...which sort of sucks for AEW.  Maybe Khan can buy the rights.

- Chris Jericho told his story of signing with AEW.  He said he told Vince about doing the Omega match and Vince was fine with it but called him the next day wondering why he did an angle with Naito (Wait, Vince watches New Japan? lol) and Jericho told him he signed a three match deal. Vince was not happy.  Then WWE offered Jericho the casket match against Undertaker in Saudi Arabia but pulled it.  Khan flew Jericho to All In on his private Jet as Jericho had a concert somewhere else (side note: I knew he'd be there as I knew he was scheduled to take part in a project Im involved in).  Jericho was talking with Vince before he signed with AEW but Vince didnt even make him an offer.  He signed his AEW deal a couple days before the Double or Nothing rally.

- Cody said they have no plan to hire any writers.  He said wrestlers should lead wrestlers and they all know what they're doing and should "go out and play".  (this has always been my booking philosophy as well more or less).  Tony Khan is head of Creative and Cody and the Bucks are the creative team.  At All In they did have agents.  Guys will have a lot of freedom (ie. Kenny & Jericho bring their own ideas)

- WWE was the highest gain on the stock market in 2018 with a 144% increase.  

- WWE opened up a second performance centre, in the UK.

- WWE finally announced their women's tag team championship (good looking belts) and there will be one, not two sets of champions (I sort of wonder if they might unify the women's world title so each brand has an exclusive championship)

- XFL generated far more interest than people thought as far as TV deals go. They want their 8 star QB's announced by the end of march

- WWE switched their streaming tech provider from Disney Streaming (formerly BAMtech, formerly MLB Advanced Media) and are going with Endeavor (who handles, among other things, Sportsnet in Canada).

- Guys who are injured are having their contracts extended every day they're out.  

- The Nigel McGuinness documentary on WWE Network is worth seeing.  Lots of ROH and TNA footage.  Guy had a rough career.

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7 minutes ago, The Unknown Poster said:

- Guys who are injured are having their contracts extended every day they're out.  

Unless you're on the back end of your career, I can't imagine wrestlers want their contracts extended without negotiating them? 

Am I missing something? 

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Just now, JCon said:

Unless you're on the back end of your career, I can't imagine wrestlers want their contracts extended without negotiating them? 

Am I missing something? 

Its definitely a negative.  Its what they did to Bryan.

They have it in their contracts that they can add the missing time to the end.  So if you're hurt for 60 days, your contract can be extended 60 days.  If you're hurt forever, guess what, you now have a lifetime contract.

But only WWE can clear you to return so there is the potential for shenanigans.  In the case of Bryan, they forced him to retire due to concussions and then let him know his contact was now extended indefinitely.  There was talk of him suing (and he'd have won) but there is great expense in that.  He went to numerous doctors to get cleared and WWE wouldnt budge.

When WWE brought Bryan back to TV, it got his contract ticking again.  And then "coincidentally" the year his contract would expire, they had a change of heart about his injury.  Bryan would have 100% left WWE if they hadnt cleared him to wrestle.  As it is, when his deal was up, WWE made it know they disagreed and felt he had another year.  But they didnt want to sever the relationship so they ended up coming to an agreement.  I strongly suspect his new contract does NOT have the injury roll over provision.

They tried a similar thing back when Brock left to go to the NFL.  He agreed to a release that barred him from wrestling for anyone else for an extended period.  He sued and a judge agreed that even though he agreed, WWE can't unreasonably prevent a person from making a living.

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20 minutes ago, Brandon said:

Why in the world would anyone want to buy a Bruce Prichard t-shirt? 

No kidding.  I assume its the "I'm a Bruce Prichard Guy" shirt which was a take off of the Heyman one. Prichard had a pretty popular podcast and was on WWE Network so I guess thats why.  People probably bought it to wear ironically so they could go out and people would ask who Prichard was and they could roll their eyes like they're just so cool.

Bruce, Conrad and Bisch all got over pretty good at Meltzer's expense.  They should be sending Dave a royalty cheque.

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4 minutes ago, The Unknown Poster said:

No kidding.  I assume its the "I'm a Bruce Prichard Guy" shirt which was a take off of the Heyman one. Prichard had a pretty popular podcast and was on WWE Network so I guess thats why.  People probably bought it to wear ironically so they could go out and people would ask who Prichard was and they could roll their eyes like they're just so cool.

Bruce, Conrad and Bisch all got over pretty good at Meltzer's expense.  They should be sending Dave a royalty cheque.

TIL - There are hipster wrestling fans. 

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14 minutes ago, The Unknown Poster said:

No kidding.  I assume its the "I'm a Bruce Prichard Guy" shirt which was a take off of the Heyman one. Prichard had a pretty popular podcast and was on WWE Network so I guess thats why.  People probably bought it to wear ironically so they could go out and people would ask who Prichard was and they could roll their eyes like they're just so cool.

Bruce, Conrad and Bisch all got over pretty good at Meltzer's expense.  They should be sending Dave a royalty cheque.

I have listened to his podcasts via youtube and he's like the Rod Pedersen of WWE guys.     The guy rarely offers any kind of insight and the moment where he's debating with Conrad about Red Rooster being a great character was the moment I stopped listening to him. 

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Just now, Brandon said:

I have listened to his podcasts via youtube and he's like the Rod Pedersen of WWE guys.     The guy rarely offers any kind of insight and the moment where he's debating with Conrad about Red Rooster being a great character was the moment I stopped listening to him. 

The problem with those podcasts is, Conrad prepares but the "talent" doesnt.  So Bisch and Bruce are going based on their memories.  And Bisch openly admits he has an awful memory.  And since they hate Meltzer and thats what Conrad uses for his source, it can turn into a *****-fest.  

Plus, Bruce is far less likely to be critical of Vince now.  Actually, same with Bisch.  But Bruce probably did think Red Rooster was an improvement.  They likely thought, what can you do with Terry Taylor.... ugh

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