POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 4/25 – The WWE’s annual Business Partner Summit Report

We have lots of notes on the WWE's Business Partner Summit, Paul Levesque outlines plans for "Global Localization", Raw viewership drops, Bruno Sammartino & Motoko Baba honored by AJPW, Block B winner of Champion Carnival, more named added to "All In", and more.

POST IT NOTES

**This week’s Rewind-A-SmackDown features Wai Ting overcoming technical issues to make it onto the show and review SmackDown Live with me. We also have a review of 205 Live and we preview the matches for the Greatest Royal Rumble card on Friday along with your feedback and questions. The show can be downloaded at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/04/25/rewind-a-smackdown-4-24-18-nakamura-vs-the-club-rumble-predictions/ and subscribe to POST Wrestling on iTunes.

**A new edition of Keep It 2000 with Brian Mann and Nate Milton will be out late tonight as they review the July 17th, 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

**Braden Herrington and Davie Portman will be back on Thursday with upNXT to review tonight’s episode featuring Adam Cole vs. Oney Lorcan for the North American title. You can also leave feedback to the show on the POST Wrestling Forum tonight.

**Wai Ting and I have two bonus shows this weekend for members of the POST Wrestling Café with a review of the Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday night and Rewind-A-Wai coming out Sunday on WWF Backlash 2000. If you sign-up for $6 for the month, it gives you both of these shows and access to every show we have done for Café members since December.

WRESTLING NEWS

**The WWE’s annual Business Partner Summit has been posted online. The event took place over WrestleMania Weekend in New Orleans. The event is an invite-only event for business partners with WWE talent spliced into the hour-plus presentation. This year Elias opened the presentation on stage playing guitar and featured appearances by John Cena, Charlotte, Ronda Rousey, Bobby Roode, New Day, and Bayley with the following notes from the presentation:
-WWE co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson spoke first. The major term was “reimagined” with regards to their business evolution.
-They compared the bicycling of tapes when they were predominantly a Northeast territory into generating 1,500 hours of content yearly. They cited over 10,000 items and 200 partners around the world with consumer products.
-Barrios pushed the $800 million revenue posted for 2017.
-They brought 80% of their digital video viewing coming from outside of the United States offset by 28% of revenue coming from outside the U.S.
-Those that attended the summit were privy to the 2,000,000 WWE Network subscriber figure before it was released to the public the day after WrestleMania. As a blanket figure, it’s a healthy number and the network has displayed reasonable growth year-over-year. Although, the two-million number is not a paid subscriber figure and anyone following the business closely is aware of all the promotions pulled out since January to get the number as high as possible with heavily discounted offers and free sign-ups for new subscribers. Even with the breakdown of paid-versus-free subscribers, it is misleading with the heavy discounts that are technically paid subscribers that are not paying anywhere close to the full monthly amount.
-The WWE Network consists of 10,000 hours now.
-There were 20 billion video views across all their social platforms in 2017, up 32% from the year prior.
-Barrios emphasized localization on a global level. The company recently filed for the trademark “Global localization” earlier this month so you will be hearing this a lot. The idea is creating customized programming for their worldwide partners in their native language and catering their programming to specific parts of the world and using local hosts. They have been doing this in many markets, including Abu Dhabi, India, Mexico, and Montreal as well where Pat Laprade and Kevin Raphael are calling a one-hour edited version of Raw for TVA Sports.
-Barrios alerted us that Andre the Giant is his favorite wrestler of all-time.
-“This a critical and unique moment in the history of WWE”, said Michelle Wilson on the series of worldwide television rights deals that are coming due.
-There was a portion breaking down how they take consumer data and customize their online experience and tailor products and events for audiences. It will be surprising to some (and not so for others) how much information WWE is monitoring, which is a major issue with social media platforms addressing consumer data handling.
-This led to a very amusing reveal as the woman named “Claire” they used an example of a fan from Alaska that buys front row tickets and is a Roman Reigns fan, was actually independent wrestler Mariah May Mead. It literally took minutes before this was pointed out when I tweeted the photo out. It’s not a big deal, but when you’re a company positioning yourself as leaders on the digital front and ahead of the curve, it shows an underestimation of the audience that can instantly discover this and it’s about those that realize it, seeing it as an example of the company lying to them rather than using any legitimate fan and their buying habits as the example, which sounds so much easier to do.


-Stephanie McMahon came out next and would probably take no less than five pages of the Wrestling Observer to break down. Her message began regarding Vince McMahon being able to “re-imagine the future” after watching fans shout at performers inside of a smoke-filled armory. It’s a tough task to try and push the “smoke-filled armory” narrative that Vince McMahon evolved during the same week you put out a documentary on Bruno Sammartino. Stephanie explained the strategy of incorporating the term “sports entertainment” to ease advertisers into being comfortable with the genre. While that sounds like a nice story, the issue of advertisers being leery of spending significant dollars on WWE programming has existed for decades and long after that term was introduced. It has only been over the last NBC Universal contract that you have seen a jump in advertisers and part of that has been the benefits of being a PG product, which began in the summer of 2008. Then, Stephanie tried to link the popularity of the term “sports entertainment” to have an influence on ESPN’s name (which launched in 1979), although the term sports entertainment was loosely used prior to the WWF but popularized most by the company in the 80’s.
-During the number of episodes listed for Raw and SmackDown, it is notable that the 1000th episode of SmackDown is later this year on October 16th.

-It was announced they would open a “Content Innovation Lab” at the WWE Performance Center.

-Paul Levesque spoke about the role NXT plays and the constant call-ups to the main roster. He stated NXT needed its own feeder system as the reason behind worldwide tryouts and has led to over 220 performers under contract. He pushed how diverse the performers are from around the world.
-Levesque joked about coming up with the term “Global Localization” and is trademarking it as they speak (the filing literally was the same day as this summit).
-Levesque promoted the return to Royal Albert Hall in June.
-He discussed the relationship with the Saudi Arabian deal and teased the idea of a possible future brand out of the Middle East over the course of their ten-year deal.
-He said he wants to expand NXT brands into different countries to create their own global territorial system. This would be the most significant news coming out of the business summit with a clear announcement of their plans to expand into many international territories with localized promotions that will serve as feeder systems. This was on the table over a decade ago with the idea of creating worldwide territories but ultimately, they decided against it at the time.

**Tonight’s episode of NXT at 8 pm Eastern will feature Adam Cole vs. Oney Lorcan for the North American title and feature Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss vs. Heavy Machinery.

**The Impact Wrestling television tapings continue in Orlando tonight and Thursday as they are taping nine episodes this week. We have spoilers on several title changes that took place at Tuesday’s taping on the main page.

**Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live averaged 2,549,000 viewers on the USA Network, which is down 8% from last week’s number during the Superstar Shake-up. The show went up against the Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers game on TNT that did 3,610,000 viewers.

**Monday’s episode of Raw averaged approximately 3,090,000 viewers on the USA Network as they went against the NBA playoffs. The Houston vs. Minnesota game did 3,494,000 and was followed by the Utah vs. OKC game, which started before Raw ended.

This was the lowest Raw number since March 5th and was down from last week’s average of 3,620,000 for the Superstar Shake-up. The first hour averaged 3,283,000 viewers and saw a small drop to 3,210,000 in the second hour and dropped 12% in the third hour to 2,819,000 viewers. The show built to the ten-woman tag main event, which featured an unadvertised appearance by Ronda Rousey.


**At Wednesday’s All Japan card at Korakuen Hall, there was a ceremony for the recent passing of Motoko Baba and Bruno Sammartino at the start of the event.

**Naomichi Marufuji defeated Jun Akiyama in the main event at Korakuen Hall on Wednesday. The win gave Marufuji ten points in the B Block and he has officially won the block. Below are the matches for the next show on Sunday at Korakuen Hall:
*Ryoji Sai vs. The Bodyguard – BLOCK A
*Shuji Ishikawa vs. Shingo Takagi – BLOCK A
*Joe Doering vs. Naoya Nomura – BLOCK A
*Kento Miyahara vs. Yuji Hino – BLOCK A

Here are the updated standings for the Champion Carnival after Wednesday’s card at Korakuen Hall:

BLOCK A:
Kento Miyahara (8 points), Shingo Takagi (8), Joe Doering (8), Yuji Hino (8), Ryoji Sai (6), Shuji Ishikawa (6), The Bodyguard (2), and Naoya Nomura (2)

BLOCK B:
Naomichi Marufuji (10), Suwama (8), Jun Akiyama (8), Zeus (8), KAI (4), Dylan James (6), Yoshitatsu (6), and Yutaka Yoshie (4).

**New Japan has a “Road to Dontaku” event on Thursday morning from the Kakogawa Gymnasium at 5:30 am Eastern headlined by Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi.

**ITV officially announced that they have greenlit a 10-part World of Sport series, which will be produced by ITV Studios Entertainment. The tapings will take place over three-days at Epic Studios in Norwich, England from May 10th – 12th with a WOS champion crowned. No talent announcements have been made yet, although Jim Ross has noted he won’t be calling the series. Tickets are available at http://www.lostintv.com.

**As we corrected in Tuesday’s update and repeated on Rewind-A-SmackDown, Paul Heyman is expected to be in attendance for the Greatest Royal Rumble show this Friday. Mike Johnson of PWinsider, who originally reported the story, posted an update that he is flying out later this week.

**The WWE officially announced that Rey Mysterio, Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Kevin Owens, and The Great Khali will participate in the 50-man Royal Rumble on Friday in Jeddah.

**Here is the updated card for Friday’s Greatest Royal Rumble show, beginning with a kickoff show at 11 am and the main show at Noon:
*Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a steel cage match for the Universal title
*AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE title
*John Cena vs. Triple H
*The Undertaker vs. Rusev in a Casket Match
*Seth Rollins vs. The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe in a ladder match for the Intercontinental title
*Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal for the United States title
*The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Usos for the SmackDown tag titles
*Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt for the vacant Raw tag titles
*Cedric Alexander vs. Kalisto for the Cruiserweight title
*50-man Royal Rumble Match


**Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass and a rematch between Carmella and Charlotte for the SmackDown women’s title have been added to Backlash on Sunday, May 6th. Next week is going to be a major rush to throw that card together, which is a distant priority to the Greatest Royal Rumble. After Backlash, there isn’t another pay-per-view until the Money in the Bank show on June 17th.

**Jay Lethal and Britt Baker are the latest names attached to “All In” on September 1st at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Earlier in the week, Joey Janela and Penelope Ford were added to the show as well. A press conference is scheduled for Sunday, May 13th, in Chicago at the Pro Wrestling Tees store.

**EVOLVE has announced lineups for their next weekend of shows on May 19th and 20th. The May 19th card will feature Austin Theory defending the WWN title against DJZ and a non-title match with Matt Riddle taking on Shane Strickland (a rematch from their recent MLW match). The May 20th show featured Matt Riddle defending the EVOLVE title against Keith Lee and is billed as “The Final War”. Lee has recently dropped the WWN and PWG titles following a report last month that a WWE offer was made to Lee.

**Here is Shinsuke Nakamura’s new theme song, “Shadows of a Setting Sun” by Shadows of the Sun:

**MLW has announced that Tom Lawlor will take on Fred Yehi at next week’s television taping on Thursday, May 3rd, in Orlando, Florida at the Gilt Nightclub.

*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 4/24/18: Nakamura vs. The Club, Rumble Predictions
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/ff4c3z/180424_RASD.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 4/23/18: Raw is Bruno, Greatest Royal Rumble
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/f4mm9t/180423_RAR.mp3
*****
Impact Redemption 2018 Post Show w/ John Pollock & Nate Milton
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/vu457c/180423_IMPACT_REDEMPTION.mp3
*****
ANDRE THE GIANT DOCUMENTARY REVIEW (Patreon bonus show)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/andre-giant-w-18288387
*****
upNXT 4/19/18: A New Beginning…Again
https://upnxt.podbean.com/mf/download/u6xbj7/UPNXTAPRIL19.mp3
*****
BRUNO SAMMARTINO (1935-2018)
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/p3725p/180418_BrunoSammartino.mp3
*****

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About John Pollock 776 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.