POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: The WWE Network turns five years old

The WWE Network turns five years old with a look at the idea behind the concept, a big episode of Raw, Ric Flair's surprise birthday party, Young Bucks appear at AAW, Impact signs Ontario wrestler & more.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I will be back with Rewind-A-Raw on Monday night with a big review of the show in Atlanta and all the news fallout from over the weekend.

**I wanted to add a reminder that tickets are still available for POST Wrestling LIVE in New York on Sunday, April 7th at the Broadway Comedy Club at Noon Eastern. The show will feature a Q&A with Wai Ting and I, special merchandise on sale, and a meet-and-greet right after the Q&A. We will have more information on this event on Monday’s Rewind-A-Raw. Tickets are $25 and if you are a member of the POST Wrestling Café there is a special code to get tickets for $20.

**Rewind-A-Wai is out this Friday for members of the POST Wrestling Café. On this week’s show, we are doing a unique double review of Raw and Monday Nitro from July 13th, 1998. Wai will be reviewing Raw and I will review Nitro as we contrast what the two promotions were doing head-to-head. The episode of Nitro I’m covering takes place the week after Bill Goldberg’s WCW title win at the Georgia Dome over Hollywood Hogan and the night after Bash at the Beach. Both shows are available on the WWE Network.

WRESTLING NEWS

**The WWE Network launched on this date in 2014 and was an enormous undertaking by the company after years of development and changes. The inkling of the company launching its own network went back to 2005 when the company was negotiating with Spike TV for a renewal of Raw as their deal was set to expire that fall. Spike took a hardline approach and announced publicly that they were removing themselves from the negotiations and Raw would not be returning in the fall season. This left the WWE will minimal leverage when the landscape from far different than what they experienced in 2018 where they were a valuable property to acquire. In the end, the Raw franchise returned to the USA Network in October 2005 but had to relinquish their share of the advertising revenue with all of it going to the USA Network. It was during this time you heard whispers of Vince McMahon wanting his own network as an insurance policy in the event they ever lost television.

The initial plans for the network were much closer to an HBO subscription model on linear television. In the end, they opted to go the streaming route, although WWE’s partnership with Rogers in Canada led to the WWE Network being offered as a linear channel in this country.

Promos began running as early as 2011 with the plan to launch the network in 2012, the launch kept being pushed back and finally went live in 2012.

The first live event to stream on the network was NXT Arrival on February 27th that year and was a critical success. The evolution of the women’s division can be traced to this show and how strong the match between Paige and Emma got over and was presented as a major title match with a departure from the typical presentation the women were relegated to on the main roster. At a time when the audience was burned out from three-hour episodes of Raw, watching the NXT special clock in at under two hours was a breath of fresh air. The specials were branded as TakeOver events and would become the most consistently solid shows the company would produce, a reputation that continues today.

The first subscriber number to be release occurred the day after WrestleMania 30 with a figure of 667,287 and was considered a soft number from estimates. It would be a number that would consistently grow, although would constantly experience a high volume of churn. By WrestleMania in 2018, the WWE Network topped 2 million subscribers with a combination of paid and free subscribers, although finished the year with a total of 1,563,000 subs.

There was a time when the WWE Network was viewed as a game changer for the company and the last resort if the company ever lost television. The business of the WWE has changed so much since 2014, where they fell short on expectations for their television rights renewal that year. Those figures were blown out of the water in 2018 with WWE’s guaranteed television rights carrying their business.

The criticisms in foresight and hindsight were that the WWE opted to put every pay-per-view onto the WWE Network. Granted, that placed an immediate need to sign up for the service if you were an ardent follower of the product but also left the pay-per-view industry at a time when the biggest cards were doing phenomenal business on the medium. Despite the WWE Network, the company still offers its events on traditional pay-per-view and still derive good money from that area.

It is inevitable that a tiered system will be introduced by the service and likely in 2019. They have spoken publicly about this idea and was given the temporary name “WWE Network 2.0.”, which co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson stated outright would not be the name of the concept and mocked the working title at the 2018 investors conference.

I always felt the network was underpriced when it launched. While an average consumer may price compare to Netflix, the average WWE fan was accustomed to spending a lot of money each month on a pay-per-view and by bundling the pay-per-view with all the other first-run programming and archive material, I don’t think many would have raised an eyebrow at $12.99 or even $14.99 per month at the launch.

**Monday is going to be a big night for the WWE with Raw. The major news will be whatever Roman Reigns says on the show and if it affects WrestleMania. Behind-the-scenes the big story of the weekend is the return of Bruce Prichard to the company. It is a fascinating story to see Prichard not only returning to the company 11-years after his last departure but coming back in a heavily influential role. Where Prichard stands on the internal pecking order will play itself out but he’s coming with a voice and a direct line to Vince McMahon so there is automatic power on day one with those optics.

As we reported on Saturday, Conrad Thompson informed POST Wrestling that none of their upcoming live shows are being canceled. The future of their podcast has been asked by many people and time will tell how that is affected. The two were running a mini-empire together and have cultivated an enormous following for their shows and extended that into merchandise, live shows, a subscriber model through Patreon.

I was also told that nothing has changed regarding Jim Ross and Bruce Prichard’s live show that is scheduled for Monday, April 8th the night after WrestleMania in Brooklyn. They are scheduled to be doing a show together at Midnight following Raw at the Murmrr Theatre.

**A huge surprise birthday party for Ric Flair was held on Friday that included numerous names in attendance at the steak house they rented out. Paul Levesque, Edge, Chris Jericho, Shane McMahon, Ricky Steamboat, AJ Styles, Booker T., Jeff Hardy, Charles Barkley, Evander Holyfield, Brad Nessler, Todd Gurley, The Nasty Boys were among the guests.

**The WWE has announced two matches and a contract signing for this Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnny Gargano is scheduled to take on Cesaro while fellow NXT call ups Aleister Black and Ricochet will team against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev. The show will also feature a contract signing between Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston ahead of their singles match at Fastlane on March 10th.

**NXT UK held television tapings in Coventry, England on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday’s taping, European standout Ilja Dragunov worked a dark match defeating Ashton Smith. The big news coming out of the tapings is the news that Pete Dunne will defend the NXT UK title against Walter on Friday, April 5th at TakeOver at the Barclays Center, which is going to be one of the biggest matches of the weekend. There was also a match involving Mark Andrews and Noam Dar that was called off following a reverse huracanrana delivered by Andrews. There hasn’t been an update regarding injuries to Dar and Andrews, the latter was taken out on a stretcher.

**The Young Bucks showed up on Saturday’s AAW card during a match involving Pentagon Jr. and Fenix against LAX. The Bucks made the official challenge for Double or Nothing and superkicked the Lucha Brothers before exiting.

**The WWE has released another edition of “Day of” featuring Kofi Kingston from last Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match in Houston.

**Kento Miyahara retained the Triple Crown against Suwama on Sunday in Yokohama. On the same show, All Japan tag champions Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi retained their titles against Ryoji Sai and Jake Lee.

**There were two title changes on Sunday’s NOAH card at Korakuen Hall. In the main event, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiosaki defeated Quiet Storm and Mohammed Yone to become the GHC tag champions. It is the second time Nakajima and Shiosaki have won the tag titles together after a brief title run in December. Earlier in the show, Yoshinari Ogawa and Kotaro Suzuki defeated Hajime Ohara and Hitoshi Kumano to become the GHC junior heavyweight tag champions.

**On Saturday’s Destiny Wrestling card in Mississauga, there was a segment in the ring where Impact Wrestling executive presented Josh Alexander with a three-year contract.

**Mayu Iwatani defeated Konami in the main event of Stardom’s card in Osaka on Sunday in a match for Iwatani’s Women of Honor championship.

**Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card in Prague drew 16,583 and a gate of $1,606,176 at the O2 Arena for the promotion’s first card in the Czech Republic. There was no Fight of the Night bonus awarded and instead four Performance of the Night bonuses went to Thiago Santos, Stefan Struve, Michal Oleksiejczuk, and Dwight Grant for $50,000 each.

**Here are the main card results from Saturday’s Bellator 217 card in Dublin, Ireland:
*Richie Smullen def. Adam Gustab by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
*Kiefer Crosbie def. Daniel Oliejniczak by rear-naked choke at 4:09 of Round 1
*Myles Price def. Peter Queally by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*James Gallagher def. Steven Graham by rear-naked choke at 2:30 of Round 1

**After three shows in eight days, Bellator will take the next month off and return on Saturday, Match 22nd with a card in Thackerville, Oklahoma. That show will be headlined by a featherweight fight between Emmanuel Sanchez and Ashleigh Grimshaw on the Paramount Network and DAZN.

*****
Café Hangout: Ariel Helwani on GSP’s Retirement
John Pollock and Wai Ting are joined by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani to discuss the retirement of Georges St-Pierre. We also take your calls and discuss this week’s news including Tye Dillinger requesting his WWE release.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/02/22/ariel-helwani-on-gsps-retirement-cafe-hangout-live-2-21-19/
*****
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (March 2019)
John Pollock and Wai Ting cover over 50 questions in this 95 min podcast, discussing their favourite announcers, Weezer, Pedro Morales, NXT call-ups, AEW, Tyron Woodley, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, factions, Chris Benoit, Impact and more in the March 2019 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/24873017/
*****
upNXT 2/21/19: Gargan-LEGO Escape

Braden Herrington is joined by POST Wrestling’s Wai Ting to review this week’s edition of WWE NXT including Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Title, Roderick Strong vs. Aleister Black, Matt Riddle calls out Brock Lesnar, Mia Yim vs. Xia Lee, and they chat all the talk about the HUGE main roster call ups from this week!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/02/21/upnxt-2-21-19-gargan-lego-escape/
*****
BWE 2/20/19: Rev Pro High Stakes, OTT Homecoming 2, NXT UK, PCW in Blackpool
Martin and Benno are joined by Lee Malone of Voices Of Wrestling to talk Revolution Pro Wrestling High Stakes (Will Ospreay vs. PAC), Over The Top Homecoming 2 (Starr vs. Devlin, PAC vs. Walter) and Benno’s trip to Blackpool for Preston City Wrestling Road To Glory.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/02/20/bwe-2-20-19-rev-pro-high-stakes-ott-homecoming-2-nxt-uk-pcw-in-blackpool-wxw-icw/
*****
DOUBLE SHOT 2/20: Mark Henry documentary, OTT Homecoming 2, Total Bellas, BTE

John Pollock and Wai Ting review World’s Strongest Man: The Mark Henry Story, the latest Total Bellas feat. Liv Morgan’s injury, Being the Elite and matches from OTT’s Homecoming 2.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/24828807
*****
RASD 2/19/19: #KofiFastlane, NXT Talent Return, Mandy Rose pins Asuka

Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown featured the announcement of Daniel Bryan’s next title challenger at Fastlane along with a six-man tag involving the members of Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/02/20/rasd-2-19-19-kofifastlane-nxt-talent-return-mandy-rose-pins-asuka/
*****
RAR 2/18/19: NXT-Tease, DX into the Hall of Fame, Rousey-Riott rematch

Following Elimination Chamber, Raw featured four big NXT call ups with NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa, North American champion Johnny Gargano, Ricochet and Aleister Black all wrestling on the show. Plus, Ronda Rousey defended her title in a rematch against Ruby Riott, “The Brock Lesnar Story” narrated by Paul Heyman, the first official inductees into the WWE’s Hall of Fame 2019 class & more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/02/19/rar-2-18-19-nx-tease-dx-into-hall-of-fame-rousey-riott-rematch/
*****

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About John Pollock 5568 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.