POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: ESPN+ gains U.S. exclusivity for UFC PPVs

The UFC and ESPN announce a massive deal for PPV distribution, AJ Styles signs a new contract with WWE, Warrior Award recipient, LEGO sends cease-and-desist to wrestling group & more.

POST IT NOTES

**We put out a bonus show Sunday night for members of the POST Wrestling Café with WH Park and I going through all the winners from this year’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards. The show is over an hour long and we went through the major categories with our analysis of the winners and other candidates.

**Tonight, on Rewind-A-Raw, I’ll be joined by Garrett Gonzales from the Wrestling Observer website and Fight Game podcast. Garrett is filling in for Wai Ting, who is on vacation this week. We will review Raw, chat all the news from Monday, take your feedback and give out a POST Wrestling snapback hat in our weekly draw for members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Questions for this Friday’s Ask-A-Wai mailbag show can be submitted on the POST Wrestling Forum.

POST WRESTLING SCHEDULE

*Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock and Garrett Gonzales
*Tuesday: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock and Brian Mann
*Tuesday: The Double Shot (Patreon)
*Wednesday: The British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Benno & guest Jamesie
*Wednesday: MMA chat with Pollock and New York Ric from The Ariel Helwani MMA Show
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington and Davie Portman
*Thursday: Damian Abraham live in-studio
*Friday: Ask-A-Wai mailbag show with Pollock and Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Sunday: New Japan Cup Final POST Show (Patreon)

WRESTLING NEWS

**A monumental announcement was made today by the UFC and ESPN making the ESPN+ streaming service the exclusive pay-per-view provider for the promotion in the United States. The deal will take UFC pay-per-views away from the cable providers and making ESPN+ the only way to purchase a pay-per-view within the U.S. They added that they will still allow bars and restaurants the right to purchase events for commercial viewing.

Existing ESPN+ subscribers will be able to purchase UFC events for $59.99 per card while new subscribers can buy the pay-per-views and get the ESPN+ service for $79.99 for one year, which comes with one pay-per-view in that bundle.

The deal also extends the UFC-ESPN pact by two years, which will now run through 2025. This new deal goes into effect right away with the UFC 236 pay-per-view on April 13th headlined by Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier.

For the pay-per-view industry, it is hard not overstate what a major blow this for the traditional outlets. The UFC was the most consistent revenue generator on pay-per-view with the WWE launching the network in 2014 and boxing greatly reducing its output of pay-per-view cards while also seeing major fighters migrate to streaming platforms such as DAZN.

Terms of the new deal with ESPN have not been disclosed but it has to be an unbelievably lucrative one for the UFC to abandon traditional pay-per-view, which was their biggest revenue generator prior to the ESPN deal last year, which went into effect January 1st.

I’ll be chatting much more about this story on Rewind-A-Raw tonight Garrett Gonzales.

**AJ Styles has announced that he has signed a new contract with WWE, although terms of the deal were not disclosed by the performer. PWinsider.com reported Monday that Styles and the WWE had a deal in place, although was awaiting confirmation on the deal being signed. Styles announced he had signed later in the day.

The 41-year old joined the company in January 2016 making one of the more memorable debuts in company history that year’s Royal Rumble event. Styles has been a featured star throughout his three-years with the company, including two reigns as WWE champion. His last run with the title lasted over one year from November 2017-18 when he dropped it to current champion Daniel Bryan. Styles is scheduled to face Randy Orton next month at WrestleMania, which will be Styles’ fourth WrestleMania.

Styles was in a golden position as the timing of his contract being due allowed for him to have real leverage with All Elite Wrestling being aggressive in the marketplace.

**Raw takes place from the Allstate Arena in Chicago with three weeks until WrestleMania. I would imagine the majority of the ‘Mania card will be known by Wednesday. They have announced a lot in advance with the following taking place on Raw:
*Ronda Rousey vs. Dana Brooke for the Raw women’s title
*Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
*Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor and a mystery partner
*Kurt Angle’s opponent for WrestleMania
*Brock Lesnar will appear on the show

The opponent for Angle has been discussed throughout the week and whenever you tease people with a surprise, expectations are heightened and it will be a letdown if the reveal is Baron Corbin. They are in the same arena where John Cena made his main roster debut in 2002 and challenged Angle to a match, so there is a natural tie-in if they went that direction. Cena is in the middle of filming a movie in Vancouver, so it’s unknown if he can appear on any episodes prior to ‘Mania.

Over the past month, I was told there was a plan for Cena at ‘Mania but was not told who the opponent would be. The options would be singles matches with Cena or Corbin or I could envision a tag scenario with Angle paired with Balor against Lashley and Corbin. The latter scenario puts Balor into a featured match at ‘Mania and gets the rub of being Angle’s partner in his final match. I can’t see Balor and Lashley having a singles match on a show that is so loaded with matches already.

**The WWE announced on Monday through the Stamford Advocate that Sue Aitchison, the company’s senior director of talent relations, will be receiving the Warrior Award at the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 6th in Brooklyn. Aitchison has been with the company since 1986 and been an enormous organizer for the company’s charitable efforts through Make-A-Wish. Aitchison will be presented the award by Dana Warrior as part of the 2019 Hall of Fame class, which includes DX, Honky Tonk Man, Torrie Wilson, and Harlem Heat.

This year’s recipient for the Warrior Award would be closer to the idea of what the award would recognize when the Ultimate Warrior suggested it during his 2014 Hall of Fame speech. His idea was to recognize people behind-the-scenes in the WWE and name the award after the late Jimmy Miranda. Miranda oversaw the WWE’s merchandise department and passed away in 2002.

**The SmackDown crew has a house show in Rockford, Illinois tonight with AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair, and AJ Styles advertised. The television tapings are in Indianapolis, Indiana on Tuesday with the Gauntlet Match involving Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Rowan, and The Bar.

**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reported on Monday that DJ Z (Michael Paris) has signed with the WWE and is expected to report to NXT. He began wrestling in August 2004 and went by the name Shiima Xion and later changed to Zema Ion when he went to TNA. He first worked for TNA in 2011 and two separate runs with the company, his final stint came to an end this past December when his contract expired.

**New Japan has announced that Juice Robinson will defend the United States title against Chase Owens this Sunday at the New Japan Cup Final in Niigata. The title match was set up after Owens defeated Robinson in the first round of the tournament earlier this month.

**Inter Species Wrestling had to change the marketing of one of their matches that will take place at the “Balls Out” card on Thursday, April 4th during WrestleMania Week. The promotion had been advertising a “Fans Bring the Lego Deathmatch” for a four-way match involving Matt Tremont, Addy Starr, Jeff Cannonball, and Viking. The promotion received a cease-and-desist letter from a paralegal on behalf of Lego asking the promotion to remove all mentions of Lego and stop using their IP. The promotion acknowledged they were in the wrong and are now having some fun with the renaming of the match and calling it a “Fans Bring the Brightly Colored Blocks” match. The show takes place from the White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on the Thursday of WrestleMania Week at 8 pm.

**Dash Wilder recently spoke to Talk Sport about the Raw tag division and their role as the tag champions. Wilder said that they are pushing for a 2-out-of-3 falls match against Bobby Roode and Chad Gable for WrestleMania for the tag titles.

“I’d love to have a two-out-of-three falls match with them because the four of us will go out there, work harder than anybody else is going to work and we’ll give fans something to remember. That’s something we’re going to pitch for until the day is over. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, what’s going to go on but up until WrestleMania goes off the air we’ll be pitching that!”

The two teams have been tearing it up at every live event and it’s been the consensus match of the night on every show they on together. Of course, such a match requires the proper amount of time and WrestleMania is the worst show to expect that for. There is also a question regarding where Ricochet and Aleister Black ends up on the card.

**Frank Mir’s first professional wrestling match will against Dan Severn on Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport card on Thursday, April 4th, in Jersey City.

**Colt Cabana cut a great promo after his win over Toru Yano to advance to the third round of the New Japan Cup. He will face Sanada this Thursday in the quarter-finals of the tournament.

**The New Japan Cup has a short break with the shows resuming on Wednesday in Shizuoka. The next tournament matches on that card will feature Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay. The latter has the chance to be the best match of the tournament I wouldn’t sleep on the Ishii vs. Yoshi-Hashi match. Thursday’s tournament matches will feature Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Sanada vs. Colt Cabana.

**Black Label Pro has added a six-man tag for their WrestleMania Week card on April 5th. Chris Dickinson, Jake Parnell, and Rory Gulak will take on Curt Stallion, AJ Gray, and Gary Jay in Jersey City at the White Eagle Hall at 3:30 pm.

**A six-man tag with Colt Cabana, Tommy Dreamer and Sirius radio personality Mike Babchik against Matt Striker, Chuckie T. and Beretta has been added to Joey Ryan’s Penis Party on Friday, April 5th at 8:05 pm at the Hilton Midtown Hotel during WrestleMania Week.

**AAW’s next card will take place on Friday, April 12th, in Merrionette Park, Illinois. They have announced a tag match with Santana & Ortiz against Pentagon Jr. and Fenix, plus Sammy Guevara taking on Darby Allin.

**The WWE stock closed at $90.15 on Monday.

*****
BONUS SHOW: Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards

John Pollock is joined by WH Park for a special bonus show as the two go through this year’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards for 2019.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/25441422
*****
TRMPS: Walking Tall (2004) w/ Garrett Martin and Kris Ealy 

On this edition of The Rocky Maivia Picture Show, Nate Milton welcomes Paste Magazine Editor Garrett Martin & Political Science Professor Kris Ealy (“The Twenny Twin-Twin”/”NWA: Nubian Wrestling Advocates”) into the theater to review 2004’s Walking Tall!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/16/trmps-3-walking-tall-2004-w-garrett-martin-kris-ealy/
*****
ROH 17TH ANNIVERSARY POST SHOW

John Pollock is joined by Mike Murray for a complete rundown of Ring of Honor’s 17th Anniversary card from Friday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/16/roh-17th-anniversary-post-show/
*****
POST INTERVIEW: Ring of Honor’s Ian Riccaboni

John Pollock chats with ROH’s Ian Riccaboni ahead of their 17th Anniversary card and discuss the roster changes, re-signing with the promotion, MSG & more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/15/post-interview-ring-of-honors-ian-riccaboni/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #32: WrestleMania 26 (Patreon)

John Pollock & Wai Ting review WrestleMania 26 from March 2010 with The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/15/rewind-a-wai-32-wwe-wrestlemania-26/
*****
upNXT 3/14/19: I Don’t Read Ahead

Braden Herrington and Davie Portman are back to review this week’s WWE NXT with the semi-finals of the Dusty Classic Tag Team Tournament & more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/14/upnxt-3-14-19-i-dont-read-ahead/
*****
POST INTERVIEW: MMA analyst Cody Saftic

John Pollock is joined by MMA analyst Cody Saftic to chat Conor McGregor’s future, the legacy of Georges St-Pierre, the UFC’s heavyweight division, Jon Jones & lots more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/14/interview-cody-saftic-on-conor-mcgregor-till-masvidal-gsp/
*****
DOUBLE SHOT: Total Bellas, Being the Elite, Retrospective: Chris Parks, Kazeem Famuyide interview

This week’s reviews include Total Bellas with Brie Bella’s retirement, an interview with Chris “Abyss” Parks from Fight Network’s Retrospective, Being the Elite as MJF has dinner with Brandi Rhodes, and former WWE writer Kazeem Famuyide speaks.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/13/double-shot-3-13-19-brie-bella-retires-abyss-former-wwe-writer-speaks-bte/
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 3/12/19: Kofi’s Choice
A review of the post-Fastlane edition of the show with Shane McMahon’s explanation for his attack on The Miz and confirmation of their match at WrestleMania, Randy Orton drops a “Dixie Carter” reference & more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/03/13/rasd-3-12-19-kofis-choice-tanning-with-dixie-carter-shane-miz-set-for-mania/
*****

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About John Pollock 996 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.