THIS WEEK: Is WWE's Billion Dollar SmackDown Deal Bad For Fans? Also: Enzo Amore Launches Publicity Campaign, Bret Hart Gets A Degree, and I Hosted A Wrestling Match at an NLL Final Game
1. Thoughts on WWE and Fox's Billion Dollar Deal: Bad for Wrestling Fans?
There's a LOT of chatter coming off of WWE and Fox announcing their five-year deal worth over $1Billion US last week. Several people have chimed in, and many have the same opinion: this could be bad for wrestling fans.
They have fair arguments. With that much revenue coming in from one show, and presumably similar money going to be coming in from Monday Night Raw in the future, ticket sales are no longer the lifeblood of keeping WWE going. With the WWE Network taking revenue of of cable and satellite providers' hands and streamlining a steady flow of income from monthly subscriptions, Pay-Per-View revenue is also no longer a concern.
So the question then becomes "what motivates WWE to produce top stars?" If there is no need to build top stars and simply produce content, then why worry about drawing ticket sales and establishing lasting feuds?
The answer is simple: it's still wrestling.
Maybe I'm oversimplifying it, but one thing WWE has always been able to do is produce stars. Now, it's safe to say that the brand is established enough to be on the marquee, but I still don't see many fans wearing WWE logo'd shirts in the crowd. They are wearing Roman Reigns shirts. They are wearing Kevin Owens shirts. They are wearing Charlotte Flair shirts, Becky Lynch glasses, New Day Unicorn Horns, and whatever else they feel represents their favorite performers. The arenas are still full of "Yes" chants, and an swell of "Get These Hands".
WWE is becoming the NFL, and the Superstars are becoming the teams.
Some hypothesize that with so much on the line, and the fact that Smackdown is on FOX gives WWE more reach than ever, the brand split could be even more important prominent than ever. So, it could be AL v. NL, West v. East, Raw v. Smackdown in a true battle among WWE "teams".
Some doomsdayers even think this will be the end of Wrestlemania. Uh... no. Even if for some strange reason, WWE were to collapse tomorrow, with events like All In, WrestleCon, and the global interest in pro-wrestling/sports-entertainment on the rise,it's easy to say that there will always be a Wrestlemania - even if not by name.
2. Bret Hart To Receive Honorary Degree From Mount Royal University
It was revealed this week that Bret "Hitman" Hart would be receiving an honorary Bachelor of Physical Literacy degree from Mount Royal University.
The story of Bret's desire to work in film and television is well known by many, but it was when his father's Stampede Wrestling was short referees and talent that he was talked into becoming a professional wrestler.
It's hard to imagine a pro-wrestling world without Bret these days, but one also wonders what kind of film career he would have had as a director.
3. "Real1" (Enzo Amore) Launches Publicity Campaign, Says He Was Notified of Investigation Same Day He Was Fired
Eric Arndt, aka "real1", fka Enzo Amore has launched which at best can be called a publicity campaign, and at worst can be called an attempt at pretending like nothing happened.
For those not familiar, Arndt was accused on social media of sexual assault by a woman in Phoenix, Arizona last year. During the initial investigation, it was speculatively reported that he didn't notify WWE of the accusations, and was dismissed. Other superstars have faced and been exonerated of such incidents, but the company they worked for was notified, and some of those performers still hold positions in the company today. In recent tweets, Arndt claims he hadn't heard from police until January 22, the day his contract was terminated.
I'm choosing not to comment on the accusations any further, as I wasn't there, and to comment about something to which I have no knowledge of would be irresponsible, even as opinion.
Arndt's approach for a comeback is interesting though. Releasing a rap single called "Phoenix", and saying some harsh things, seemingly to his accuser, seems like a questionable PR campaign at best. I've never been a fan of false celebrity, or even celebrity based on inciting negativity - but given the nature of all the events, I can't help but wonder if this is the best long-term plan - not as a performer, but as a person for Mr. Arndt.
I was a fan of "Enzo Amore". The character was fun and the right level of controversial to be entertaining. I think I'll sit out on "real1".
4. Independent Wrestling Meets Professional Lacrosse
This is a total vanity piece, so bare with me.
I have a great gig as the in-game announcer for the National Lacrosse League's Saskatchewan Rush, who as of today, are in line to win their third league championship this weekend in Rochester, NY.
The Rush are big on fan entertainment and making sure their crowd has a great experience before, during and after the game. This past Saturday was game one in their best of three series, and I was offered the chance to bring independent wrestling to the pre-game festivities.
Saskatchewan's wrestling scene has been growing over the past year. With more companies active and touring in the region than ever, as well as Saskatchewan-started talent getting opportunities out of the territory, it's nice to be a part of the upswing.
Wrestlers from HIW Wildside Wrestling, based in Saskatoon, participated in a "Team Rush v. Team Rochester" Tag Team Match. Each team was captained by Saskatchewan veteran Dixie Dragon with newcomer "Tommy Rush" and current HIW Central Canadian Heavyweight Champion, El Asesino with Tony Novak respectively. Naturally, team Rush won, but the crowd took quite quickly to these indie wrestlers, most of which had not witnessed live pro-wrestling until that match.
5. Thank You's
I wanted to thank a few sites, including 411mania.com, PostWrestling.com, and NoDQ.com among others who shared last week's interview with Cody Rhodes. This blog is a bit of a time filler for me, while at the same time letting me talk about something I love.
Until next Wednesday, thanks for reading!