POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: SmackDown launches on Fox

WWE launches Friday Night SmackDown on Fox, viewership analysis, a breakdown of Wednesday's demos, Conor McGregor to appear in court, TNT president on AEW's debut & more.

POST IT NOTES

**First off, I wanted to thank all those that tuned in live for the revamped version of the Cafe Hangout on Thursday. Wai Ting and I were floored over the numbers that tuned in and how many calls we received. It’s in a great slot the day after AEW and NXT and will be a reaction-style of a show with all the latest news, guests, and lots of calls. For those unaware, we have now opened up the Hangout show to ALL members of the POST Wrestling Cafe, so if you sign up at any level you can watch live each Thursday at 3 pm eastern.

**Tonight, we are moving Rewind-A-SmackDown to Friday nights and this will be a Patreon-exclusive show due to the addition of Rewind-A-Dynamite. We hope you join us tonight as we will have a thorough review of SmackDown, all the news & notes from the show, the production changes, and lots of feedback. The show will be up late tonight for members of the POST Wrestling Cafe.

**I’ll be back Saturday night with the UFC 243 POST Show with Phil Chertok and then, we have the WWE Hell in a Cell POST Show on Sunday night. Both shows will be available on the free podcast feed on Saturday and Sunday night respectively. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso Patron, you can watch the Hell in a Cell POST Show LIVE immediately after the pay-per-view.

**In this week’s edition of “Five Questions”, Phil Chertok looks at Jared Cannonier’s win over Jack Hermansson from last weekend in Denmark, the UFC 243 main event between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya, plus the three championship fights that have been confirmed for UFC 245 in December.


POST SCHEDULE

*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Saturday: UFC 243 POST Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok
*Sunday: WWE Hell in a Cell POST Show with John & Wai (LIVE for Double Double+ Patrons)
*Monday: Rewind-A-Raw

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tonight, is among the biggest nights for WWE in years with the launch of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox. This follows the greatest promotional output from a broadcast partner in a months-long campaign by Fox across their platforms including prime exposure on their NFL telecasts.  The addition of Dwayne Johnson puts the ceiling that much higher on potential viewers with every indication they will do a monster number tonight for the premiere.

In time, we will see what the show levels off at with tonight an aberration and unlikely they will be able to replicate this level anytime soon. I have a very high expectation for tonight’s audience level and week two should do well with the draft that can be promoted throughout the week once this show is out of the way.

Here are the announced matches and appearance for the show, beginning with a “blue carpet” arrival ceremony at 7:30 pm eastern on Fox:
*Kofi Kingston vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE title
*Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon a ladder match
*Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan
*Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley
*Appearances from Dwayne “The Rock Johnson, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg, Ric Flair, Sting, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Booker T., Lita, Trish Stratus, and Mark Henry

The big factor for the audience is how much extra The Rock means as he is the biggest attraction on this premiere and it’s a great benefit they got five-days to push his inclusion. What is the value of the Fox promotion and mainly, the NFL mentions? That is an unchartered promotion for WWE and they have never had this level of promotion for a launch. Finally, how much does Brock Lesnar wrestling on free television mean? I would assume of the three factors listed, Lesnar wrestling would be third but it’s unknown if there is a curiosity because of it being his first match on television since 2004. The combined factors listed have me pretty high on the audience number.

In January 2018, the Raw 25th-anniversary show averaged 4.5 million viewers on the USA Network and topped 4.8 million for the first hour. I would peg that at the level you would want to hit for this show given the increase in homes that have Fox and all the other factors, including the legends from the past, which have been overdone by this point.

**There is lots of speculation regarding Cain Velasquez and WWE, we cannot confirm there is a deal in place. With the way the angle was set up on Raw with Brock Lesnar attacking Rey & Dominick Mysterio coupled with Paul Heyman’s promo on “wannabe MMA tough guys”, the door was left open for Velasquez to enter. Obviously, if a deal can be struck that is the match, they would be programming him for. The major question is regarding his UFC contract as that is the only obstacle that I can envision stopping him. Velasquez told Marc Raimondi in July that he would be able to do WWE if he chose. It would be rather incredible to see Velasquez, under contract to UFC, be able to walk onto Fox and set up a match with another former UFC champion.

**205 Live moves to Friday nights and immediately follows SmackDown. The program will stream at 10 pm eastern from the Staples Center on the WWE Network and have announced the following matches:
*Tony Nese vs. Humberto Carrillo
*Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa

**There is lots to dissect from Wednesday’s audience figures for the launch of AEW Dynamite and how NXT held up. Here are some thoughts and questions:

-I would be reticent to make any wholesale changes on the NXT program as a reactionary measure after one week. Ultimately, you want to see where the audiences settle at and not get lost in the easy trap and trying to “win the week”. One observation to keep an eye on is the tactics utilized on the NXT end where you have a core group of people running NXT that were players in the Monday Night War when it was a mentality of “win at all cost”. I don’t know how successful that will be today but it’s an era that has been greatly romanticized and the idea of two companies at war is appealing to the fanbase but misses the larger objectives.

-The numbers to breakdown go beyond total average viewers. In that department, NXT was down more than 11% from last week and 24% from week one on the USA Network. In the 18-49 demographic, they equaled last week’s number, so they didn’t lose viewers in that department. This would be evidence that AEW was not doing a big number based off the siphoning of NXT viewers but brought their own unique audience. The fact AEW’s audience skews much younger also adds to the belief that it’s less lapsed fans from 2001 and prior, and new fans that are coming to watch the promotion.

-Audience retention in week two will be telling. My sense is that AEW is going to receive a lot of big press coming out of the first week and positioned as the “hot show” on cable for TNT, which could mitigate declines in week two, if not grow the audience. For NXT, they threw a lot at the wall on Wednesday and are not coming back with the caliber of show or promotion week had the benefit of. It would seem a priority that NXT is pushed hard on Raw this Monday, more so than the prior three shows received.

-What does NXT do in response? The easy answer is to panic and hotshot, but if the numbers are understood, there are foundational issues regarding the younger audience being attracted to AEW. I would imagine the first response would be guest stars on NXT from main roster appearances for one week, current and/or past talent in and around Florida, Hall of Famers, etc. to up the star power on NXT. That may work for a week or two, but it’s not a long-term solution. The next idea I see is viewing Full Sail University as a liability and getting out of that building. There is no question about which product looked like the major leagues on Wednesday. However, what is NXT going to draw outside of Full Sail and will their product have the demand AEW had for its first month of tapings? AEW has already seen ticket demand lessen from the initial buzz and that was always going to happen. Regardless, a building with 5,000 is still going to come off as a bigger spectacle than Full Sail even though they had a lively crowd on both shows Wednesday.

-Long-term, the worst thing NXT can do is alter its formula to such a degree that it isn’t different from Raw or SmackDown. Fans get five hours a week of the main roster WWE and they are not clamoring for two more hours of the same flavor. This was the end result of ECW’s re-launch where a cool product was presented with WWE’s fingerprints, handprints, footprints, and every other mark of distinction that eroded the audience in quick fashion and became the “C” show instead of an edgy alternative satisfying a hunger Raw or SmackDown couldn’t in 2006.

-This is a big test to see how Paul Levesque handles the scrutiny and taking a public uppercut on week one. Vince McMahon’s method was to fight ruthlessly and it’s imperative that Levesque steer his vision and deal with the adversity presented. It would come off as a lack of faith for McMahon to get involved at the first sign of a problem.

**Here are how the demographics broke down for each program on Wednesday night:

People 18-49: AEW (0.68) NXT (0.32) 

NXT stayed even from the week prior but down 25% from week one. AEW did 76% of this week’s Raw in the demo.

Females 18-49: AEW (0.44) NXT (0.23)

AEW did 73% of Raw in this demo, NXT stayed even from the week prior

Males 18-49: AEW (0.92) NXT (0.41)

AEW did 77% of the Raw number, NXT was up 2.5% in this demo

P 18-34: AEW (0.56) NXT (0.23)

AEW did 92% of Raw in this demo, which is tremendous. NXT was up 15% from the week prior.

F 12-34: AEW (0.30) NXT (0.17)

AEW did 75% of Raw, NXT was up 42% in this demo

M 12-34: AEW (0.61) NXT (0.21)

AEW did 97% of Raw in this demo, NXT was up 5%

P 25-54: AEW (0.74) NXT (0.36)

AEW did 70% of Raw, NXT was down 2.7%

P 50+ AEW (0.34) NXT (0.36)

AEW only did 31% of Raw in this demo, NXT was down 25%, although they still edged out AEW in this lone demo.

**Kevin Reilly, the president of TNT gave the following assessment to Variety on Wednesday’s performance by AEW:

“This is a league that at its core is created by wrestlers for wrestling fans and I am incredibly energized by the enthusiastic embrace the fans have given to the AEW talent and experience. AEW won the night with a high quality, incredibly engaging, sports-centric show that will continue with a seamless partnership between AEW and TNT.”

**The Wall Street Journal has a piece on WWE’s business and looking at their overall picture. Spencer Jakab notes the big television deals that are carrying the company finances to record revenue levels on top of their deal with the General Sports Authority in Saudi Arabia that was signed in early 2018. However, other business metrics provide a reasonable pause given WWE Network subscription numbers showing signs of decline, television viewership, house show attendance, and merchandise. There are not any solid conclusions made in the piece but rather a caution when looking underneath the hood of WWE’s core business and questioning if it could affect the exterior, which looks very bright this week as they launch on Fox. There is also mention of AEW and citing Ring of Honor’s sell-out of Madison Square Garden, the latter that does require a lot more context and an update on where ROH is today versus April.

**ESPN’s Ariel Helwani interviewed Chris Jericho on Thursday following the debut of All Elite Wrestling the night prior on TNT. In the interview, Jericho downplayed any talks between AEW and CM Punk, although he said he is not involved in that stuff. He spoke openly about steroid use and noting he did use them in the past, but feels the industry has cleaned up a lot and compared it to the music business that has, as well.

**Ring of Honor has removed Bandido from the Honor United tour at the end of October and is being replaced by Flamita. Bandido is out with a knee injury with the promotion unsure if he will be available for their shows on November 2nd in Pittsburgh and November 3rd in Columbus, Ohio. Bandido last wrestled at the Death Before Dishonor pay-per-view last Friday and was removed from Saturday’s television taping due to the injury. It is believed Bandido had been dealing with the injury prior to the PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament last month.

The new matches will see Flamita take on Colt Cabana on October 25th in London, Flamita & Tracy Williams vs. Marty Scurll & Flip Gordon on October 26th in Newport, Wales, and Flamita vs. Speedball Mike Bailey on October 27th in Bolton, England.

**Here are the matches for tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling from the tapings at Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas and airing at 10 pm eastern:
*Michael Elgin vs. TJP
*Kiera Hogan vs. Tenille Dashwood vs. Madison Rayne
*Daga vs. Chris Bey
*Fallout from the angle involving Sami Callihan and Melissa Santos from the wedding segment last week

**Below are the matches for Saturday’s episode of MLW Fusion at 9 pm Eastern on beIN Sports:
*Austin Aries vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
*Los Parks vs. Magnus & Septimo Dragon
*Dominic Garrini vs. Ariel Dominguez

**David Bixenspan at Deadspin has a breakdown of AEW and NXT’s respective programs on Wednesday, what can be gleaned from the audience numbers, and what worked and didn’t work for each.

**Impact has announced that they have sold out all the Titanium, Front Row, and Golden Circle tickets for Bound for Glory on Sunday, October 20th. They have general admission seats remaining for the pay-per-view card at the Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois.

**Rush will defend the ROH title next weekend at the promotion’s “Glory by Honor” event in New Orleans, Louisiana. Earlier in the night, there will be a 15-man battle royal and the winner will challenge Rush in the main event. The card is set for Saturday, October 12th on Honor Club and features the semi-finals and final of the #1 contender’s tournament. Jay Lethal faces Marty Scurll and PCO takes on Dalton Castle at the event with the two winners meeting later that night. The winner of the #1 contender’s tournament will challenge for the ROH title at Final Battle in December.

**MLW has added a match between Low Ki and Timothy Thatcher for the “Blood & Thunder” set of television tapings on Saturday, November 9th in Orlando at the Gilt Nightclub. A match between Tom Lawlor and Davey Boy Smith Jr. is also set for the tapings.

**The WWE stock closed at $70.25 on Friday.

MMA NEWS

**There is a UFC pay-per-view on Saturday with the UFC 243 card from Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. It will be the UFC’s largest attendance of the year as they return to the former Etihad Stadium where Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in November 2015. The main event is as strong a main event as the UFC has put together this year with two exceptional fighters meeting in the prime of their careers. Robert Whittaker returns after 16-months away since beating Yoel Romero in June 2018. Since that fight, Israel Adesanya has gone 4-0 and is coming the best fight of 2019 this past February when he bested Kelvin Gastelum over five rounds to become the interim champion. While Adesanya is undefeated as a pro, Whittaker has never lost at middleweight with an 8-0 record since moving up from welterweight in 2014.

Outside of the main event, there isn’t much depth to the show several Australian-based fighters but this card performing well on a worldwide basis is contingent on the main event.

Holly Holm was set for a rematch with Raquel Pennington on this card but was forced to withdraw due to injury and eliminated a unique story with Holm returning to the scene of her greatest victory.

Here is the full card for Saturday night’s card:

MAIN CARD (10 pm eastern on pay-per-view)

*Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight title
*Al Iaquinta vs. Dan Hooker
*Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergey Spivak
*Luke Jumeau vs. Dhiego Lima
*Yorgan De Castro vs. Justin Tafa

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm eastern on ESPN 2, TSN 5 in Canada)
*Jake Matthews vs. Rosetm Akman
*Callan Porter vs. Maki Pitolo
*Jamie Mullarkey vs. Brad Riddell
*Megan Anderson vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos

PRELIMINARY CARD (6:45 pm on ESPN+, Fight Pass)

*Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim
*Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva

**The UFC 243 weigh-ins will take place tonight at 8 pm eastern.

**The Irish Independent reports that Conor McGregor will be in court next Friday over an assault charge from this past April. MMA Fighting spoke with a spokesperson for Ireland’s police service, who confirmed the court date but would only state it involved “a man in his 30s” regarding “an assault incident that occurred at a public house” due to privacy laws in the country. Video of the incident where McGregor struck a patron at a pub was released and McGregor has since admitted fault and addressed the incident when he spoke to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani in August.

**Bellator’s return to Hawaii will take place on Saturday, December 21st. KHON out of Hawaii reported that the card is set to feature women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her title against Kate Jackson. The card will also feature a quarterfinal fight in the Featherweight Grand Prix with A.J. McKee set to fight Derek Campos following last weekend’s “Selection Show”. The event will take place from the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena.

**Below are the latest episodes of UFC Embedded going into UFC 243:

 

*****
Cafe Hangout: AEW vs. NXT Week 1 
John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss the fall-out from Week One of the “Wednesday Night Wars” as AEW Dynamite debuts against WWE NXT. We take your phone calls reacting to both shows as we receive its ratings live on-air. Andrew Thompson for a live report from last night’s AEW Dynamite in Washington, DC.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/03/aew-vs-nxt-week-1-ratings-reaction-cafe-hangout/
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 10/2/19: AEW debuts on TNT

John Pollock and Wai Ting review the debut episode of AEW Dynamite on TNT featuring Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs. Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/03/rewind-a-dynamite-10-2-19-aew-debuts-on-tnt/
*****
upNXT 10/2/19: The Wednesday Night War Begins
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman are back to chat all about this week’s WWE NXT in the first episode of the Wednesday Night War.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/03/upnxt-10-03-19-the-wednesday-night-war-begins/
*****
BWE 10/2/19: Riptide Bank Holiday, OTT Martina’s Gaff Party, Fight Club Pro
Martin & Jamesie are joined by Will Cooling of Pro Wrestling Torch to review OTT Martina’s Gaff Party (Terry Thatcher vs. Timothy Thatcher), Riptide Bank Holiday Wrestling (Schadenfreude vs. Medusa Complex) & Fight Club Pro Project Mayhem 8 (Schadenfreude vs. Team Fight Club Pro). They also discuss AEW on ITV and the controversy around the scheduling.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/02/bwe-10-2-19-riptide-bank-holiday-ott-martinas-gaff-party-fight-club-pro-aew-itv/
*****
ASK-A-WAI (Ask Us Anything!) – October 2019

John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the October 2019 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/01/ask-a-wai-ask-us-anything-october-2019/
*****
RAR 9/30/19: Machka Made in Hell, Brock Lesnar kills Dominick

On the season premiere of Raw, Brock Lesnar returned for a major angle involving Rey Mysterio and son Dominick, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair set up a five-on-five match for Crown Jewel. Plus, The Rock, AEW, and NWA in today’s news.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/01/rar-9-30-19-machka-made-in-hell-brock-lesnar-kills-dominick/
*****
POST Interview: Paul Lazenby remembers Rick Bognar
John Pollock speaks with Paul Lazenby on the passing of Rick Bognar a.k.a. Big Titan, who passed away earlier this month.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/29/post-interview-paul-lazenby-remembers-rick-bognar/
*****
TRMPS #9: Get Smart (2008) w/ Jennifer Smith
On this edition of The Rocky Maivia Picture Show, Nate Milton continues his aural excursion through Dwayne Johnson’s filmography by reviewing, 2008’s Get Smart with Place To Be Nation’s Jennifer Smith! POST-Marks, get ready for the most controversial episode of TRMPS to date!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/28/trmps-9-get-smart-2008-w-jennifer-smith/
*****
ROH Death Before Dishonor POST Show

John Pollock & Mike Murray are back to review Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor card featuring Matt Taven defending the ROH championship against Rush.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/28/roh-death-before-dishonor-post-show/
*****

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About John Pollock 5662 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.