POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE – Sports Business Journal documents the WWE & UFC’s recent television negotiations

John Ourand at Sports Business Journal documents the recent television WWE & UFC television negotiations, Jim Ross injured at the Cow Palace show and visits ER, an update from New Japan on Hiromu Takahashi, reaction to Brock Lesnar's appearance at UFC 226, Jay Lethal issues statement on allegations by Taeler Hendrix & she responds.

POST IT NOTES

**POST Wrestling’s coverage of the G1 Climax begins this week with a G1 primer show as Wai Ting & WH Park will preview this year’s tournament on Wednesday and go through the blocks, the big matches, make predictions and more. Our reviews of the tournament begin Saturday with a second show coming out Sunday to review the first two days of the tournament. Wai and I will have reviews of the 19 G1 events available exclusively on the POST Wrestling Café for members. It is $6 (US) to sign up for the Café, in addition to the 19 G1 events, you will also have access to other bonus content like Rewind-A-Wai and the RAR “Double Shot” on Monday nights.

**The deadline to join our G1 contest is this Thursday at Midnight Eastern. It is free to join by selecting your picks for the tournament at http://www.POSTwrestling.com/g1.

**I was a guest this morning on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver with James Cybulski and James Joey Kenward to chat about Brock Lesnar’s return on Saturday at UFC 226 and Daniel Cormier’s title win.

**Wai Ting and I are back late tonight with Rewind-A-Raw and the RAR “Double Shot” (for members of the Café). On the Double Shot, Wai will be reviewing Total Bellas, I’ll share my thoughts on the New Japan card from the Cow Palace and anything else we cannot fit onto Rewind-A-Raw.

**We have a feedback thread posted for this Friday’s GLOW Season 2 review we will be releasing on the POST Wrestling Café.

**If you missed them, we had three shows over the weekend:
*EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion – Chris Charlton welcomed Alan Counihan a.k.a. “Alan4L” to chat the 1991 Tokyo Dome cards
*UFC 226 review – I was joined by Phil Chertok & Ziggy Cao to review the card, Daniel Cormier’s title win and subsequent challenge to Brock Lesnar
*NJPW Cow Palace review – Wai Ting is joined by Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski and Mike Murray to review the card from San Francisco and take your feedback (Patreon show)

SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

*Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw
*Tonight: RAR “Double Shot” (Patreon)
*Tuesday: Rewind-A-SmackDown
*Wednesday: British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Oli Court & Benno
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
*Friday: GLOW Season 2 review (Patreon)
*Saturday: EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion – 1992 with Paul Lazenby
*Saturday: G1 review of Day 1 (Patreon)
*Sunday: G1 review of Day 2 (Patreon)
*Sunday: WWE Extreme Rules review with John Pollock & Wai Ting


WRESTLING NEWS

**John Ourand at Sports Business Journal has a big feature today on the behind-the-scenes of the recent televisions deals struck by the UFC with ESPN, and the WWE with USA Network and Fox. The article is behind a paywall but below are some highlights:
-The UFC’s initial asking price of $450 million per year for their domestic rights was largely scoffed at by the networks, who were never hesitant to even meet when the figure was so inflated
-After Fox’s exclusive negotiating window for the UFC ended last fall, the key for the UFC was finding another network to bid against Fox to drive up the value. One of the networks they spoke with was Turner, but the regulatory process for their merger with AT&T greatly hampered their ability
-A big factor in ESPN’s interest in the UFC was new president Jimmy Pitaro replacing the outgoing John Skipper, who didn’t feel UFC was a fit. Pitaro was much more receptive
-Internally, Fox was preparing for a set of scenarios for the UFC – the first, was paying $200 million per year but airing fewer fight cards per year and giving up the rights to certain shoulder programming, such as TUF. The second option was to split the UFC’s rights with another network and Fox would air UFC for the first six months and the other network would carry the final six months. The third option was to not renew the UFC package. Eric Shanks of Fox Sports did give a verbal offer of $200 million to the UFC, which was dismissed.
-In the WWE’s negotiations, it became an issue with the WWE using Ari Emanuel of Endeavor to shop their television rights, at the same time he was also shopping the UFC. It led to Eric Shanks informing Vince McMahon of the conflict of interest and the WWE brought CAA on board to negotiate on their behalf. Ourand reported that this move upset Emanuel with Fox.
-The WWE met with ESPN four times since last December but it was not possible for ESPN to bring Raw and SmackDown on board given all their programming commitments, and an outlet like ESPN+ was in direct competition with the WWE Network
-The UFC’s deal with ESPN began with a streaming deal for ESPN+ that would pay the UFC $150 million per year for 15 events on the service, this left the UFC with the second half of their package to sell. ESPN assumed the UFC would price the other half too high for them, but when the figure of $150 million was floated to ESPN, a deal was quickly made for the entire UFC rights at $300 million per year for five years
-On the WWE front, the NBC Universal talks were led by chairman Bonnie Hammer. CAA wanted $265 million for Raw and $200 for SmackDown, which is where a deal for Raw was completed and they let SmackDown go on the market, opening the door for Fox to make their deal for $205 million per year.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has posted an updated on Hiromu Takahashi, who suffered a neck injury near the end of his match on Saturday with Dragon Lee. Lee was setting up Takahashi for the Phoenix Plex, but instead of a bridge, he threw Takahashi, who came down on his head in a frightening scene. Takahashi continued with the match for several more minutes where the match concluded with Takahashi hitting the Time Bomb. New Japan has not stated what the severity of the injury is, but that he is undergoing a thorough evaluation and he is conscious, able to sit up, and can speak. We will keep you updated when any information becomes available.

**Tonight’s episode of Raw takes place from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts and is the final Raw before Extreme Rules on Sunday. They have announced a tag match with Finn Balor & Bobby Roode vs. Baron Corbin & Elias.

**The SmackDown crew has a house show in Augusta, Maine featuring AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jeff Hardy & Rusev being advertised. Tuesday’s television tapings will feature Asuka vs. James Ellsworth in a Lumberjack match and Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami for the Cruiserweight title on 205 Live.


**After arriving home on Sunday night, Jim Ross was in a lot of pain from the table spot at the New Japan card and was in the ER on Monday. At last check, he was awaiting results as to the severity of the rib injury that was sustained during the match between Jay White and Juice Robinson at the Cow Palace event on Saturday in San Francisco. The Wrestling Observer site has added that Ross has been forced to withdraw from three commitments this week due to injury and told my doctors to be cautious for fear he could contract pneumonia. This was a really bad deal and Ross was adamant none of this was planned ahead of time.

**On Sunday, Jay Lethal issued his first statement addressing the allegations made by former Ring of Honor performer Taeler Hendrix. Last week, she stated that she was taken off television after refusing to sleep with Lethal. ROH addressed the allegations and announced they would be investigating the matter. Below is Lethal’s statement:

“Let me be clear, there is absolutely no validity to these baseless allegations. Throughout my career I have sought to conduct myself with honor and integrity. I would never engage in any conduct that disrespects this business or the men and women in this industry.

Every individual has a right to be heard and must be given every opportunity to speak truth to power. Anyone engaging in misconduct or abuse of any kind simply has no place in our business or our society.

I am confident that these unfortunate allegations will be proven to be completely unfounded at the conclusion of Ring of Honor’s investigation.”

In response to the statement, Hendrix wrote:

deny all you want. you sent me this before you pulled me aside at a live event, told me what you told me. just because the business has been a certain way for so long. I’m tired of it and I’m fighting for what’s right.”

Hendrix added a screencap of two text messages that she alleges are from Lethal with one message asking if she is busy and latter stating, “I really need to talk to you. Please let me know when you have a moment to talk. Please.”


**WWE performer Fandango (Curtis Hussey) is scheduled to undergo surgery this Thursday for a left labrum tear in his shoulder. He tweeted a message and estimated he would be gone for approximately six months.

**Nick Aldis will defend the NWA title against Flip Gordon at the next Ring of Honor event on Saturday, July 20th in Nashville, Tennessee at “Honor for All”. If Gordon were to win the title, it would naturally set up a match with Cody at “All In” in September.

**A new episode of “Table for 3” will air tonight on the WWE Network with Trish Stratus, Lita, and Alexa Bliss following Raw.

**FITE TV has announced a deal with Starrcast to stream the various live podcasts that will be taking place from the two stages throughout the weekend. I’ve been told that they will have multiple streams available for viewers to be able to switch back-and-forth when multiple podcasts are taking place concurrently. When you purchase the series of shows you will also own them with the ability to go back and watch ones you missed.  Global Force Entertainment is producing the shows for FITE TV that weekend, led by Global Force CEO Jeff Jarrett.

**MLW has added a match between Jimmy Yuta and Jason Cade to this Thursday’s “Fusion” television taping at the Gilt Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

**World of Sport Wrestling has announced it will premiere on ITV on Saturday, July 28th at 5 pm in the UK.

**DEFY Wrestling will be holding a card this Friday at 8 pm from Washington Hall in Seattle featuring John Hennigan (being billed as “Johnny Defyance”) taking on Randy Myers. There will also be a six-man tag with Shane Strickland, Artemis Spencer & Billy Suede taking on MJF & The Amerikan Gunz, plus Colt Cabana vs. Carl Randers.

**Kevin Nash turns 59 years old today.


MMA NEWS

**The return of Brock Lesnar has led to a surge of interest in the UFC coming out of Saturday night’s pay-per-view. There are many questions that make it difficult to pinpoint when Lesnar will be able to fight Daniel Cormier. Lesnar was in the middle of a one-year suspension that was issued by USADA and the Nevada Athletic Commission when he retired in early 2017, which froze his suspension and Lesnar will have to serve the remaining time of the suspension. It is also USADA’s protocol that a retired fighter must undergo six-months of drug testing before they can fight. The date of Lesnar’s return to the USADA testing pool is something we are not aware of and I have reached out to USADA for clarification on several points and awaiting a response.

For maximum value, I feel the optimum time for Lesnar and Cormier to fight is early 2019. For one, it gives Lesnar enough time to have a lengthy training camp after two years away from the sport. For the financial side, it would be the first major pay-per-view under the new television agreement with ESPN. One of the tidbits of the deal not explored enough is that ESPN+ will be distributing the pay-per-view events through their service and are incentivized to promote the pay-per-views and direct people to purchase the shows through the streaming platform. It would also generate a full court press of promotion through the ESPN machine and maximize interest in the fight.

Lesnar is still under contract to World Wrestling Entertainment and is expected to be part of SummerSlam in August along with several appearances on television. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has previously reported that his deal expires with WWE at the end of August.

Lesnar has played his cards effectively with an enormous money fight with Daniel Cormier, dual bidders in the UFC and WWE, and if USADA provides a favorable ruling to Jon Jones, the possibility of an even bigger fight in 2019 with the former light heavyweight champion.

For Cormier, he is adamant that he will retire by his 40th birthday next March and has spoken about having two fights before. If the Lesnar fight doesn’t happen until early 2019, it would make it difficult to squeeze in two fights. There is no fight for Cormier in the heavyweight or light heavyweight division that comes anywhere close to the level of Brock Lesnar or Jon Jones, which would be the ultimate fights to end his career on, but Jones is hardly a guarantee to be available before March 2019.

**The UFC 226 card drew an announced attendance of 17,464, selling out the T-Mobile Arena with a gate of $5.677 million. That gate figure would put it at #9 on the list of all-time MMA gates within the state of Nevada and the third highest at the T-Mobile Arena behind UFC 200 and UFC 202. There was no “Fight of the Night” bonus (which was unfortunate for Mike Perry and Paul Felder), instead, they gave four performance bonuses to Daniel Cormier, Anthony Pettis, Khalil Rountree Jr., and Paulo Costa for $50,000 each.

**Francis Ngannou issued the following statement regarding his performance on Saturday night against Derrick Lewis:

“I am not proud of my last performance. I have carried my fear from the last fight to this one. I completely understand the frustration & anger this has caused my fans, coaches, teammates, family and friends and I am truly sorry for that. I won’t let everyone down again. All I can do now is prove myself and make you proud again.”


**On Saturday’s UFC 226 broadcast, the remaining fights cards of 2018 were officially announced for September through the end of the year:
*September 8th – UFC 228 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
*September 15th – Fight Night from Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow, Russia
*September 22nd – Fight Night from Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil
*October 6th – UFC 229 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
*October 27th – Fight Night from the Moncton Events Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick
*November 3rd – UFC 230 from Madison Square Garden
*November 10th – Fight Night from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
*November 17th – Fight Night from South America
*November 30th – TUF Finale from The Pearl at Palms in Las Vegas
*December 1st – Fight Night from Adelaide Entertainment Center in Adelaide, Australia
*December 8th – UFC 231 from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto
*December 15th – The final UFC on Fox card from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
*December 29th – UFC 232 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

**Bellator is running back-to-back nights this Friday and Saturday. On Friday, they are running Bellator 202 from Thackerville, Oklahoma headlined by Julia Budd vs. Talita Nogueira for the women’s featherweight title and Eduardo Dantas vs. Michael McDonald. The next night, there is a card from Italy with a dual MMA/kickboxing event. The MMA portions will have Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending the featherweight title against Daniel Weichel. The kickboxing card features Giorgio Petrosyan taking on Chingiz Allazov.

**The UFC returns on Saturday with a Fight Night card from Boise, Idaho with the main event featuring former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos taking on Blagoy Ivanov.

*****
NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco Review w/ Wai Ting, Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski & Mike Murray (Patreon)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/19935349
*****
UFC 226 Review with John Pollock, Phil Chertok & Ziggy Cao
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/5q7hiv/POST-UFC-226-Review.mp3
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 1991 with Alan Counihan
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/ya38kj/EGGSHELLS_Podcast_Companion__1991_w__Alan_Counihan.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-WAI – WCW Uncensored ’97 (Patreon)
John Pollock & Wai Ting review this card headlined by Team WCW vs. Team Piper vs. Team N.W.O. and chat with Espresso Executive Producer Jon Ziegler on his choice of this show.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/19897182/
*****
upNXT 7/4/18: Gargano’s Descent
Wai Ting fills in for Braden Herrington to review this week’s NXT with Davie Portman to discuss the Johnny Gargano story, and learn about the World Cup.
https://upnxt.podbean.com/mf/download/4j6jqk/upNXT-July4-2018.mp3
*****
KEEP IT 2000: Ep. 33 – “I Own WCW” with Chris Urbanowicz (March 26, 2001)
https://keepit2000.podbean.com/mf/download/zejwum/KEEP_IT_2000_EP_33-2.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 7/3/18: Team Hell No vs. The Usos, Ellsworth vs. Asuka
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/ngq7mm/180703_RASD.mp3
*****

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About John Pollock 444 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.