POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 4/3 – The WWE pushing free WrestleMania promotion for new subscribers

We look at the success the WWE has had with their "free WrestleMania" promotion in the past, the latest subscriber numbers they have reported, Will Ospreay is coming to New Orleans, WrestleMania kickoff matches announced, non-WWE talent working Axxess shows, Max Holloway attempting the unthinkable this weekend at UFC 223.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I have this week’s Rewind-A-Raw show posted on the main page with a big review of Monday’s Raw from Atlanta, discussing all the final angles heading into WrestleMania, interest level in the various Raw matches, The Undertaker vs. John Cena buildup, Ronda Rousey going through a table, and the closing segment with Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman. We also have a big rundown of all the shows that we will be putting out this week on the site and the POST Wrestling Café, as well as taking your feedback. The show can be downloaded at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/04/03/rewind-a-raw-4-2-18-wrestlemania-34-go-home-show/ and subscribe to POST Wrestling on iTunes, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and other programs you listen to podcasts with.

**Wai Ting and I are back tonight with Rewind-A-SmackDown with a review of tonight’s shows, and we will also go through the entire WrestleMania card with a preview of the event.

**For those that are new to the POST Wrestling Café, signing up will provide you access to our previously released bonus shows dating back to December. You will also get an RSS link to add the Café shows to your podcast app, and that will include our shows from New Orleans this week with reviews of Rev Pro, WWN Supershow, Joey Janela’s Spring 2, Progress Wrestling, and ROH’s Supercard of Honor. You can sign up now at http://www.Patreon.com/POSTwrestling.

**Our good friend Jason Agnew announced on Monday that he is returning to the airwaves this Sunday night with his own show, “Sunday Night’s Main Event” on TSN 1150. Agnew will be reviewing WrestleMania on his inaugural show and also will be joined by Dave Meltzer and taking phone calls. You can get all the information on his new project at http://www.sundaynightsmainevent.com/ and follow @SNMEradio for updates.

WRESTLEMANIA WEEK SHOWS AT POST WRESTLING:
*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown
*Wednesday: British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Oli Court, and Benno
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington and Bartender Dave
*Friday: LIVE from New Orleans (reviews of Joey Janela’s Spring Break II, WWN Supershow, Rev Pro) – Patreon
*Saturday: LIVE from New Orleans (reviews of ROH Supercard of Honor, Progress Wrestling) – Patreon
*Saturday: NXT Takeover Post Show with Braden Herrington and Bartender Dave
*Sunday: WrestleMania 34 Post Show with John Pollock and Wai Ting


WRESTLING NEWS

**The final set of WWE tapings before WrestleMania take place from Nashville, Tennessee tonight with SmackDown, 205 Live, and the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge. Shane McMahon is scheduled to appear on the show tonight and should make it clear what the status of his health is. It was announced last week that he will be part of the tag match this Sunday, despite the story that he was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis and an umbilical hernia, which requires surgery and sounds insane that he would wrestle through. Below are the matches announced for tonight:
*AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
*Charlotte vs. Natalya in a non-title match
*Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
*Charlotte and Bobby Roode vs. The Miz and Asuka in the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge
*Mark Andrews vs Drew Gulak on 205 Live

**Will Ospreay is coming to New Orleans this week and indicated Tuesday morning that he will be wrestling off his scheduled matches. Ospreay simply tweeted, “I Will Fight” and tagged all the promotions he is booked for with Progress Wrestling, Revolution Pro, WWN Live / EVOLVE, WrestleCon, and CZW. Ospreay is scheduled for six matches over WrestleMania Week, beginning on Thursday with a match against AR Fox at EVOLVE 102.

**The WWE is heavily promoting that new subscribers to the WWE Network can sign up and receive this Sunday’s WrestleMania for free. The strategy is to inflate the overall network number in time for Monday’s announcement of the latest figure. Last year’s figure they reported the day after WrestleMania 33 was 1,661,00 paid subscribers and 288,000 free subscribers for a total of 1,949,000. This was the second year of the free experiment for WrestleMania with 370,000 free subscribers in 2016 and a drop in free subs in 2017.

This year’s show feels like it is a better-promoted show with Ronda Rousey and Daniel Bryan as the two big needle movers for the show. The major question is how many non-WWE fans are signing up for the service to watch Ronda Rousey participate in a pro wrestling match, and how many of those people are going to keep the service? That all depends on their interest level in Rousey doing pro wrestling and if they need to see her more than once. The gains year-over-year at WrestleMania are positive but not overwhelming for the WWE, which is why Rousey is a big investment. The unique nature of Rousey’s drawing power in the UFC is that she was able to attract pay-per-view buyers, who would only buy her fights and were not UFC fans by nature. If you are of the belief that the WWE has a finite fanbase that is willing to sign up for the network, Rousey could represent an ability to hit a new audience that is untapped for the service, but that is still up for debate until the numbers come later this year to see her effectiveness.

As of December 31st, 2017, the WWE Network reported 1,471,400 paid subscribers worldwide and only 76,000 free subscribers for a total of 1,547,400 total subscribers. The goal would obviously be to hit the 2,000,000, subscriber mark even if a large amount is either getting the service for free or a heavily discounted rate, which is offered for lapsed subscribers. The important number will come out in the second-quarter earnings report in July or August and show what the retention rate was of the people that signed for WrestleMania and how many kept the service beyond the big show of the year.


**It was announced on Raw that the current WrestleMania kickoff show will feature both the men’s and women’s battle royals, and the Cruiserweight title match between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. The kickoff show will begin at 5 pm Eastern and they also mentioned that JBL will be a guest on the panel during the pre-show.

**The WWE has announced four separate invitational tournaments throughout Axxess this weekend with an NXT North American, NXT women’s, NXT tag team, and U.K. tournament scheduled over the four days leading to the winners of each receiving a title match on Sunday morning at Axxess. The company is working with WWN / EVOLVE and Progress Wrestling, who will supply talent at several of the sessions. The two big matches they have announced are non-tournament matches with Keith Lee vs. Kassius Ohno for the WWN championship on Thursday night at Axxess and Ohno vs. WALTER on Saturday night’s session. The big session they are building up is Sunday morning’s event that opens at 8 am Eastern with the following matches:
*Pete Dunne vs. U.K. tournament winner for the U.K. title
*NXT North American title match – the tournament winner will face the winner of the ladder match at Takeover
*NXT tag title match – the NXT tag champions coming out of Takeover meet the tournament winners
*WWN championship match
*Progress women’s title match
*Progress championship match
*Progress tag title match

The turnaround is going to be brutal for the NXT North American and tag champions as they will be working Takeover the night before the then wake up really early Sunday to do another match, although you would assume the Axxess matches will be less taxing.

The concept of utilizing non-WWE talent at Axxess is an interesting move and is being done with promotions that the WWE have very strong relationships with. It will be interesting to see how they grow upon this experiment for next year’s Axxess with the possibility of bringing in other talent and competing more directly with the independent shows on WrestleMania weekend. The 205 Live, NXT and U.K. talent alone could fill out shows but many of them lack the marquee value that a Keith Lee and Walter are going to provide for that fanbase. It is a strong move for the WWE to position Axxess as more of a priority for the traveling fan base that are watching so many shows and it makes Axxess more of a priority than it has been for the last while.

**The biggest talking point following Raw was the unique buildup for John Cena vs. The Undertaker and opting not to announce the match on the final Raw leading into WrestleMania. This is an idea that never could have happened in the pay-per-view era where the audience was purchasing a show based on the individual lineup and promoting every attraction available to persuade last-minute buys. In the era of the WWE Network and a card that is already loaded, they can experiment with an idea like this and has made for an intriguing delivery of the match. It still seems insane that they would let SmackDown pass tonight without announcing the match, but after Raw, it feels like they may just opt to leave the match dangling and you tune in to see if it happens or not.

**Paul Levesque reveals the new NXT North American title:

**Adam Cole spoke to Brian Fritz at the Sporting News about this Saturday’s Takeover show, his NXT debut last summer, surprise entrance into the Royal Rumble, and attending WrestleMania 24 the week before his first match.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling is capitalizing on the promotion of AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura this week and have uploaded their Wrestle Kingdom 10 match from January 4th, 2016:


MMA NEWS

**The news of Max Holloway accepting the fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov on six-days notice for this Saturday’s UFC 223 is one of the craziest in recent memory. One of the most important people involved in the process of getting Holloway ready so quickly is veteran nutritionist George Lockhart, who spoke to Marc Raimondi at MMA Fighting about the massive weight cut Holloway has in store this week. Lockhart wouldn’t state exactly how much the featherweight champion is cutting down from to make the 155-pound limit but said it will “tied for the largest weight that I’ve ever done”. Lockhart explained to MMA Fighting that the rest of this week will only be focused on the weight cut, cutting carbs out from Holloway’s diet and nothing regarding performance, adding that his body cannot handle sparring and grappling with the pressure of the weight cut.

While it’s a great story of the featherweight champion coming up to challenge for a second title against such a dangerous opponent, there is a health risk that cannot be ignored and is troubling. The weight cut is compounded by the fact that Holloway has been nursing an injured ankle since February where he was pulled from the fight with Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 last month and probably wasn’t in anywhere close to great shape when accepting this fight. His manager has stated he has recovered well from the ankle, but two weeks ago, Holloway was speaking on The MMA Hour about seeking a doctor’s advice later this month to decide if the ankle would require surgery. There are enormous odds for Holloway to overcome and he’ll be a sizable underdog because of these elements but would set himself up for a major elevation of his career if he were to pull off the upset.

On top of the pressure of helping Holloway make weight, Lockhart is also working with Joanna Jedrzejczk this week for her strawweight title fight with Rose Namajunas.

**The UFC will be holding one of their big press conferences this Friday night in Brooklyn to promote the next big fights coming up this year. The press conference will take place following the ceremonial weigh-ins at the Barclays Center.

**Brian Ortega and Eddie Alvarez have both mentioned they were asked about taking the fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov as the UFC raced to find a replacement. Alvarez didn’t believe he was the first choice to take the fight but shut down the option noting how big he is (over 190 pounds) and it would have been impossible for him to make it down to 155. Ortega said he accepted the fight, but ultimately, they chose to go with Holloway after he accepted the fight.

**Ariel Helwani at MMA Fighting reported on Monday that Matt Brown was forced to withdraw from his welterweight fight against Carlos Condit later this month due to a knee injury. Brown later confirmed the report and stated that he tore his ACL. The two were scheduled to fight on the upcoming FOX card on April 14th from Glendale, Arizona.

**Bellator 196 will be airing this Friday on the Paramount Network with a tape-delayed card from Budapest, Hungary. The show will be a combination of the Bellator 196 card and a Bellator kickboxing show with the following MMA fights scheduled for the Paramount Network:
*Benson Henderson vs. Roger Huerta
*Adam Borics vs. Teodor Nikolov
*Denise Kielholtz vs. Petra Castkova
*Brian Moore vs. Giorgio Belsanti
*Ed Ruth vs. Ion Pascu

**Here is the first episode of this week’s UFC Embedded show and the handling of Tony Ferguson’s injury:

*****
REWIND-A-RAW 4/2/18 – WrestleMania 34 Go-Home Show
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/wivcgj/180402_RAR.mp3
*****
NJPW Sakura Genesis 2018 Review (Patreon)
John Pollock and Wai Ting review Sunday’s Sumo Hall card, featuring Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr., The Golden Lovers vs. Cody and Hangman Page, and Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll
https://www.patreon.com/posts/17916641
*****
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (April 2018)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/17854492
*****
upNXT 3/29/18: EC3 debuts, Ricochet smiles, Roddy wrestles
https://upnxt.podbean.com/mf/download/pxy5mi/UPNXTMAR292018.mp3
*****
KEEP IT 2000: Ep. 27 – “My Heart Will Go On” with Chris Urbanowicz (July 3, 2000)
https://keepit2000.podbean.com/mf/download/cg43m4/Keep-It-2000-July-3-2000.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 3/27/18: Bryan issues WM challenge, Nakamura’s mind games
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/7mmvii/180327_RASD.mp3
*****

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About John Pollock 944 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.