Lesnar's deal ends after Mania, and he hasn't started negotiations yet. There's a sense he'll try to play WWE and UFC off on one another.
WWE is in serious talks with Austin about a match at Mania. He's interested, though only if the paycheck and booking are up to snuff.
Meltzer reports that there is some real drama going on within WWE's corporate leadership, especially HHH and Stephanie against the executives who headed up the Network launch.
Night of Champions winners: Orton, Sheamus, Miz (who promptly lost on Raw...), Dust Brothers, Rusev. The main event ended in a DQ, followed by Rollins starting to cash in MitB on Lesnar until he was cut off by Cena before going through with it.
Reigns required surgery after suffering a hernia, forcing a last-minute re-booking of the PPV. Reigns could be out a few weeks or a few months. Not sure what all of this means for Ambrose, since he left to film a movie.
I don't normally mention things from shoots, but this stood out to me. Brodus Clay said that there wasn't much reaction to Darren Young revealing that he's gay, because there were already several openly gay people they "Work with". The phrasing of that is interesting since that could include random WWE employees. Since WWE has a much higher non-wrestler employee ratio than any other wrestling promotion, and they're in the entertainment business, I can see how that would be the case. I'm very skeptical that an openly gay wrestler would have an easy time getting a big push.
O'Haire killed himself.
Meltzer reports that with Bryan and Punk out of the picture, Cena's merchandise out-sells the rest of the roster combined. Also, house shows with Cena average $60,000 more than those without. As such, Vince and others are adamant about keeping the spotlight on him and aren't entertaining a heel turn.
After the success of Guardians, Batista is getting lots of offers. His agents/managers don't want him to return to WWE after he flopped this year, but he's open to going back.
Sean O'Haire was found dead at home. He was 43.
As expected, Lesnar's deal was re-structured so he can make more appearances. There is no set amount of dates, but rather he gets paid more per date, and WWE can use him as often as they like. The dollar amount is almost certainly such that he won't be used for house shows.
The buyrate for Battleground was only down about 13% from last year, which isn't bad at all given the WWE Network carve-out.
Meltzer reports that WWE is holding on to Mysterio just to keep him away from the AAA lucha promotion, and might not even use him when he's healthy.
Cena is working through shoulder and neck injuries. So it definitely makes sense to build Summerslam around him eating German suplexes (?!).
Batista says he's unlikely to make a WWE return this year.
Hogan is lobbying for an in-ring return at Mania, but he isn't getting much interest from WWE. He claims that his lingering back issue has cleared up.
TNA has been renewed through the end of the year.
Bryan could need Tommy John surgery, which would put any big return they have planned on ice. The timing of this is so sad.
HHH told ADR that he would be brought back in a few months as long as he stayed out of trouble, similar to Bryan after the tie-choking incident. However, ADR's repeated shoot promos signal that he doesn't want to return, and he claims to have gotten offers from the US and Japan in addition to Mexico.
HHH wants to book Lesnar vs Reigns for Mania, but Vince is leaning towards Lesnar vs Rock.
Mysterio sent a video to AAA (Mexico)'s big show, essentially saying he wants to be free of his WWE deal after it was automatically extended due to repeated injuries.
Ambrose will be heading out to film a movie, which is why he was nuked to end Raw.
There are rumors that Smackdown is moving to Thursdays. In response, TNA will move to Wednesdays starting next week, which does not change anything in regards to their relationship with Spike.
WWE is considering whether to extend Del Rio's non-compete clause, which would involve paying him more.
Del Rio slapped the person after a joke implying that he was catering help (because he's hispanic). That it was a slap isn't as significant as the fact that ADR went full-force, which leveled the guy. Meltzer reports that the punishment was initially going to be a suspension, but the employee who got slapped is on the McMahons' good side, and might have threatened a lawsuit.
Angle is angling (...) for a part-time WWE return, but Vince isn't interested. Am I wrong to think that Angle would be more valuable than Jericho, who the company lets come-and-go as he pleases?
Two hedge funds have bought 15% of WWE between the two of them. I'll note that the stock is about where it was 10 years ago, whereas the Dow Jones is about 67% higher and NASDAQ has more than doubled.
Del Rio was fired, reportedly after slapping one of the company's reporters. He was already looking to leave when his contract expired later this year. Hey, remember when he won the Rumble and was going to be the company's big marketing tool to hispanics? Yeah me neither.
The buyrate for Extreme Rules, the first post-Mania PPV in the WWE Network era, dropped from 209,000 buys to 107,000. It was also hurt by DirecTV and Dish not carrying the show.
Meltzer noted that despite New Japan's business surge (~double the income since 2012), NJ's dojo is very lacking, especially compared to WWE's developmental system.
More on WWE's TV deal from Meltzer: WWE soured negotiations by demanding too much, and most networks walked away. Now they stand to lose around $50 million this year as a result of the network launch cost (and, I'm guessing, a drop in PPV revenue).
WWE's stock didn't just drop when the TV deal was announced; it plunged 40%. That price run-up a few months back never smelled right to me. It looks like they need 1 million subscribers for the company to be profitable, and sluggish subscription numbers after Mania suggest they will struggle to get there.
WWE stock took a hit after the latest TV deal with NBC/Universal was announced. They "only" got a 25% increase, rather than doubling.
Lawler is finally negotiating to sell the Memphis tape library to WWE. I'm stunned it took this long. Good for Jerry; I'm sure he'll get a much better price now that he would have 5-10 years ago. If you haven't seen prime '80s Lawler yet, you're in for a treat, especially once WWE cleans up the footage. He had some decent showings in WWF/WWE, but nothing touched the quality of his matches with Bill Dundee. PUNCHING~!
WWE Network already has 667k subscribers. The fact that they aren't at a million yet caused a stock price dip.
Mania set a new gross ticket sale record for wrestling history.
The McMahons are billionaires again thanks to WWE's stock being around record levels. Specifically, it has more than doubled in the last 5 months. Hmmmmm.
Meltzer revealed that WWE offered Bob Sapp a big money deal to come in with a massive push and title win back when Sapp was still a star, but Sapp turned them down. Meltzer adds that the plans were essentially used for Lashley when he debuted. The idea of Sapp being involved in the Vince vs Trump feud is mindboggling.
Meltzer printed a chart showing how many wrestling fans there are in various demographics (in the US). African-Americans are 3 times more likely to be fans than whites, which means they could be 30-40% of the total fanbase. Also, the very poorest households are far more likely to be fans than anyone else, even compared to other below-average households. Thus the low ad revenue per capita. A lot of that has to do with young, single men being a core group, and "young single person" is always by far the poorest group in society.
Meltzer notes from his bio on Savage:
-The overall Wrestlemania 4 & 5 storylines produced several 'peaks' for WWF, including the two highest-rated wrestling shows in US history, the biggest non-stadium gate in US history (WM5), and the biggest pre-Austin buyrate (WM5).
-Randy was incredibly controlling of Elizabeth. During the period where she was off TV (because Randy was managed by Sherri), he didn't want her leaving the house at all. That drove her to getting the divorce.
-Randy's second wife was his childhood sweetheart. They lost touch during his career and reunited after he retired.
Meltzer detailed that Court Bauer, who ran MLW and was later on the WWE creative team, came up with the idea of a special high-flyers division to use as a vehicle for Mistico in WWE. Bauer wanted to get top athletes like Milano Collection, Ishimori, Dragon Kid, Jack Evans, etc, such that it would be enough of a different style to really get over (as opposed to having small guys work WWE style). But because he also had Super Porky on the list, Vince fixated on that and turned it into a short-lived comedy midget division. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's remarkable that someone with so many bad ideas and mindsets could end up as the #1 wrestling promoter of all time by an order of magnitude.
Archive of news posts on the Benoit tragedy.