It’s Saturday so time for the latest installment of ’This Week in Wrestling’, the 20th of 2019. Today, Craig talks about the rumours in the UK of WWE leaving Sky while Brian discusses if Vince McMahon Jr is starting to lose it and shares all the best wrestling content from this week.
Is Sky no longer the limit in the UK?
The big WWE story this side of the pond this week has been the report that Sky TV is set to lose the rights to WWE programming after a three-decade-long relationship.
This week rumours surfaced in the Telegraph that BT Sports is looking at taking over the rights to air the WWE programming going forward. The suggestion being, in part, that the powers that be at Sky are annoyed by the WWE airing PPVs on the Network. The issue comes down to the price with PPVs being £20 each on Sky but the Network coming in at £9.99 a month.
Here in the UK, Sky has had exclusive TV rights to the WWF since 1989. In 2014, the two parties signed a new deal but the suggestion is that BT Sports will take over the rights later on in this year, ending a relationship which has seen Raw and Smackdown aired on Sky Sports.
Over in America, the ratings for both shows have been in steady decline and although comparable figures aren’t available in the UK – one would suspect they aren’t great owing to airing at 1am in the morning – you have to wonder what incentive there is for Sky to invest heavily in the WWE product.
As it stands, it’s unknown a) whether the rumours are true and, if so, b) if it comes down to BT outbidding Sky or the latter simply losing interest in pumping money into the product produced by the WWE.
One thing for sure, though, is that if this all proves to be the case, it is an end of an era for the WWE, Sky and the UK-based viewer of Vince McMahon’s brand of wrestling.
Interestingly, it also comes in the same period that it was announced that All Elite Wrestling has struck a partnership with ITV, channel three here in the UK and the oldest commercial network in the country. The broadcaster will air the upcoming Double or Nothing pay-per-view from Las Vegas on May 25.
BT Sports have, as yet, not commented on the rumours so time will tell whether it comes to pass. But you have to wonder what the knock-on effect will be if AEW sign with ITV at the same time the WWE leave Sky.
There seems to be a sort of pro wrestling renaissance within the business today. All Elite Wrestling just got a huge television deal with TNT, AAA will have a show in Madison Square Garden, New Japan Pro Wrestling has started touring all over the world, Major Leauge Wrestling and Women of Wrestling got television deals and even Impact (Don’t call us TNA) Wrestling has vastly improved and turned around years of bad booking and mismanagement. All of it is great news for pro wrestling as a whole, but even greater news for wrestling fans.
Then there is the WWE…the giant in the room. Vince McMahon made himself and his company a billion dollar business. Both USA and FOX networks threw a lot of money at him to air the WWE product. You throw in all the money the nation of Saudi Arabia has given Vince and the WWE has been a money-making machine. Despite all of WWE’s financial success in the last few years, the actual product has been in somewhat of a downturn.
Ratings have been down, subscriptions to the WWE Network are up and down and attendance has been down as well. Vince blamed it on all the stars being hurt…but is there more to it than that? It seems that a lot of hardcore wrestling fans have tuned out of WWE’s programming and have sought out other promotions to be entertained. McMahon has put himself and his family in various storylines. He has continued to push guys and girls he deems worthy to be pushed instead of giving everyone the opportunity to get over with fans. While some select superstars get opportunity after opportunity, many others get ignored because, they don’t have the right look or simply because Vince “doesn’t get them.”
All of that reminds me of another promoter who seemed to lose his edge as he got older and that was Verne Gagne. Verne Gagne ran a very successful promotion called the American Wrestling Association (AWA) back in the day. He even had a national television contract with ESPN. One of the many problems with Gagne was his reluctance to push new stars. He was comfortable with wrestlers that he worked with in the past and refused to really adapt to the changing times. Young talented wrestlers would leave the AWA for the greener pastures of another promotion.
Does any of this sound familiar? While the AWA eventually dried up and died, the WWE is still a billion dollar business. It has allowed McMahon to recover from his mistakes a lot easier. How long will FOX put up with sagging ratings and cancel WWE programming on the network and shift it to another lesser viewed network they own? Has Vince lost his edge as a wrestling promoter? Does he need to allow a younger, hipper person help run his billion dollar industry while he resurrects his passion project called the XFL?
Is this all just being blown up and the WWE is perfectly fine? Now, I’m not saying McMahon is the second coming of Verne Gagne, but Vince needs to listen to his audience more. I am not talking about the IWC in particular, but the ones who attend his shows and buy his merchandise and subscribe to his network. The ones who gives unsolicited cheers to any given wrestler….not just the ones McMahon deems important.If the WWE truly want to be about “Then, Now and Forever” then they do need to pay attention to fans reactions to their product and work to improve the quality and not the quantity of what they give us. AEW is a great step in this process.
AEW might be able to light that competitive fire under McMahon and push him to do better. Competition is a great thing. A strong WWE and a strong AEW can only benefit everyone including the wrestlers and the fans. Here’s hoping for a continued renaissance.
Remember when WCW had their own comic book?
An impressive looking Undertaker tattoo
It’s a great gimmick and all….but a Firefly Funhouse tattoo already?
It’s simple match actually…
Speaking of Pac….the man looks psychotic in this pic.
Time changes everything…WWF signs in 1986 and WWF signs in 1997
The ultimate screw job!
Bray Wyatt’s ‘Rambling Rabbit’ has jumped ship to AEW! 😉
Mrs Kevin Owens
Mrs. Hulk Hogan
Sadly, I do see the resemblance
Speaking of Charlotte..here she is with her mother and late brother Reid
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