POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE stock experiences a big drop

A look at the departure of George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, the stock takes a big hit, New Beginning preview, John Cena comments on Brock Lesnar & more.


**Wai Ting and I are back with Rewind-A-SmackDown tonight for members of the POST Wrestling Café. We will dedicate time at the start of the show discussing the departures of WWE co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, which is a massive story and lots of things to discuss coming out of it. From there, we will review SmackDown and look at the two New Beginning cards this weekend in Sapporo.

**Thursday’s edition of Café Hangout is up on the site for everyone with Wai Ting and I opened the phone lines. Joining us this week was Gareth Hodgson of GRAPPL to discuss the creation of the app, rating matches, trends they have seen among its users, and this year’s GRAPPL 100 ranking the top matches of 2019. Then, we get into the AEW and NXT ratings from Wednesday night and more.

**In this week’s edition of Five Questions, Phil Chertok discusses the debate over Stephen A. Smith’s post-UFC 246 comments, Curtis Blaydes defeating Junior dos Santos last weekend, the pending trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, and next weekends’ UFC 247 card.

**A new edition of Thunderstruck drops on Sunday morning with WH Park joined by Rich Kraetsch from Voices of Wrestling to review Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III (Koji Kanemoto) from January 4, 1994, at the Tokyo Dome.


*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Sunday: Thunderstruck with WH Park & guest Rich Kraetsch (Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III, 1/4/1994)
*Sunday: New Beginning in Sapporo POST Show (Patreon)



**The simultaneous departures of WWE co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson is a huge story with two of the top executives gone and the installation of Frank Riddick III as interim CFO. The news appears to have caught many off guard, and an unclear succession plan presented with an interim CFO while they search for a permanent replacement.

The stock market did not take kindly to the news with the announcement causing the stock price to plummet in after-hours trading and opening on Friday at $45.30 following a Thursday close at $62.31.

Barrios and Wilson ascended to become stars of the company on the executive front as two front-facing figures to the public and business community. The two were greatly attached to the WWE Network and the company’s landmark television deals that were announced in 2018 with SmackDown moving to Fox for a reported figure of $205 million per year and Raw being renewed by the USA Network for approximately $265 million per year. Those deals put the company into a space of guaranteed revenue for years to come and were also seen as a major achievement as the UFC was shopping its television and streaming rights concurrently and landed their deal with ESPN and ESPN+.

The departures took place one week ahead of the company’s Q4 and year-end investor’s call and this should be the subject that dominates the Q&A portion. The company has a week to present a measured and calculated plan moving forward that will satisfy their stockholders. Even more concerning is that this takes place just over one week before Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment entity re-launches the XFL and provides the assumption that at the very least his attention is divided.

A positive for the company is that the first Saudi Arabia show of 2020 is taking place in the first quarter, earlier than last year’s and will prop up this quarter significantly and is followed by WrestleMania falling into the second quarter this year. That is combined with the additional revenue from the new deals with Fox and the USA Network that provides a much brighter picture for 2020 that the previous year.

In the press release issued on Thursday, it was also noted that OIDBA for 2019 is now projected at $180 million. Initially, the company had forecasted a figure of $200 million, which was reduced to an estimate of $180-190 during the last investor’s call in October. So, now they are coming in at the bottom of the estimated figure that is coupled with television deals in India and the MENA region that are yet to be completed.

Evercore ISI media analyst John Belton was cited in Multichannel News with the following reaction to Thursday’s news:

These developments will clearly cause weakness in WWE shares for a variety of reasons. 2020 adjusted OIBDA expectations must be further cut, particularly given updated 2019 guidance now targeting the low end of the prior range. Second, to the extent that the disagreements between McMahon and Barrios / Wilson centered on reinvestment and / or capital allocation policies, hopes for more shareholder-friendly initiatives moving forward could be diminished. Third, the abrupt nature of the release suggests a tumultuous situation at the company which makes it difficult to gain confidence in forecasting the near- and long- term financial outlook.

Eric Handler of MKM Partners as noted in Market Watch:

This change, in our view, was unexpected. Investors are now even more concerned about 2020 adjusted OIBDA guidance. However, given the known step-up in the domestic TV rights deal, we do not believe the company is in a ‘precarious’ financial position.

**The WWE stock closed at $48.88 on Friday and represents a drop of 21.5% from Thursday’s close.

**Tonight’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma airing at 8 pm Eastern on Fox. They have announced the following matches coming out of the Royal Rumble:
*Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Braun Strowman for the Intercontinental title
*John Morrison & The Miz vs. Lucha House Party vs. Heavy Machinery vs. The Revival in a #1 contender’s match for the tag titles
*Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
*Sheamus vs. Shorty G

**New Japan will hold back-to-back shows in Sapporo this weekend beginning Saturday morning with a show at 4 am Eastern on New Japan World and the following card:
*Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi for the NEVER Openweight title – it’s a huge vote of confidence putting this match in the headlining spot and the two are expected to tear the house down. This was set up at New Year Dash and to no surprise, had phenomenal chemistry on that show. Goto just won the title from KENTA at the Tokyo Dome, so it would seem abrupt to flip the title now. Takagi would be an ideal choice as the cornerstone for this title, which should be emphasized more with the Double championship taking the IC title out of commission as a standalone title to headline with. On paper, this could be off the charts.
*Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL – This is going to be an interesting year for Ishii and where he slotted having just turned 44. He has been as consistent as a big-game player as there is in New Japan for the past seven years but is nearing that stage where they phase you down in the way they have Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, and others. EVIL has shown enormous upside but conversely, also failed to get out of his mid-card position with performances that are satisfactory but not deserving of a main event level reception. I don’t label EVIL as a ‘sure-thing’ to make it at the top level but I think it’s time to part ways with Sanada and get him out of the tag division where he’s grown stale in that place. EVIL winning here would be a strong step forward to see where his potential is above his current standing.
*Kazuchika Okada & Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi – This looks very good on paper and Moxley’s addition to the two shows this weekend adds a lot of interest. I’m very interested to see how the commentary handles Moxley’s eyepatch because you would assume, they must explain the story and thus, link him to Chris Jericho in New Japan canon when the two haven’t crossed paths in the company. To me, the match is about Taichi and getting him in a strong position to headline the next night with Okada in one of, if not the most important match of Taichi’s career. There isn’t an obvious person to take the fall, usually, it would be Taichi but not this weekend.
*Tetsuya Naito & Sanada vs. KENTA & Jay White – This is a preview of next weekend’s double title main event between Naito and KENTA with the likely outcome that KENTA pins Sanada in this one. I like the team of KENTA and White a lot and hope they do more together this year as New Year Dash felt like a statement from the company of a building up its tired tag division.
*Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi vs. Ryu Lee & Robbie Eagles – This should be solid and potentially a way to link Bushi to the junior heavyweight title mix as the guy is very underrated. Takahashi and Lee will have their title match next weekend on 2/9.
*Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki vs. Will Ospreay, Roppongi 3K & Ryusuke Taguchi
*Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi & Yota Tsuji
*Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo vs. Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura

**It turns out that SmackDown on Tuesdays was a significantly better lead-in for ‘Miz & Mrs.’ than NXT. The USA Network reality series returned on its new night of Wednesday at 10 pm Eastern following NXT and averaged 437,000 viewers and a 0.18 among 18-49s. Their previous season that ran last summer on Tuesdays following SmackDown on the USA Network, averaged 965,000 viewers over the six-episode run.

**John Cena was interviewed by Jimmy Traina at SI.com and discussed the Royal Rumble, which Cena watched at home. Cena noted in the interview that he believes Brock Lesnar is ‘the best in-ring performer of all-time’ after watching his performance on Sunday. When asked about doing WrestleMania this April in Tampa, Cena said:

Performing at WrestleMania this year would be a gift. I haven’t been intertwined in the machine of the WWE. I know those WrestleMania spots are few and far between. I’ve expressed that I’m off. But I’ve also expressed that I live in Tampa. I will for sure be at the event and I have great trust in the process and I have great faith in Vince McMahon not only as a boss, but as so much more than that. As a friend, as a mentor. If he were to tell me that he needs me, I would absolutely be active in whatever capacity, whether it would be like last year in New York rapping my way to the ring or the year before being a fan in the stands. There is no job too small.

**Daisuke Harada won NOAH’s Global Junior League tournament on Thursday defeating Dick Togo in the final at Korakuen Hall. Earlier in the night, Harada beat Hajime Ohara and Togi defeated Yoshinari Ogawa in the semi-finals to advance. Ogawa is the current GHC junior heavyweight champion, so it sets up matches for Ogawa with tournament winner Harada and with Togo after the loss. This was the first NOAH card that streamed on DDT Universe following the news that DDT’s parent company CyberAgent has purchased control of NOAH.

**Sean Ross Sapp at Fightful did a sit-down interview with Jon Moxley this past week to discuss the transition moving to AEW, the early success the promotion has had, and the happiness he has in his career.

**Joey Janela is set to work for Game Changer Wrestling on Thursday, March 12th in Philadelphia. Janela has been announced for a match against Blake Christian at the Voltage Lounge at 121 N. 7th Street. The show will be streaming on Fite TV that night at 8 pm Eastern. This show takes place three weeks before Joey Janela’s Spring Break IV over WrestleMania week in Ybor City on Friday, April 3rd at The Cuban Club.

**Grizzly Redwood has been added to Ring of Honor’s ‘Past vs. Present’ show on Saturday, March 14th in Las Vegas at Sam’s Town Live. The promotion has also announced a tag match with Marty Scurll & Flip Gordon vs. Alex Shelley & Matt Sydal and Brody King vs. Homicide for this show.

**Christian Michael Jakobi, who served as the managing director at wXw in Germany will not be returning to the company. Jakobi, citing burnout from the job, took a leave of absence in October 2018 and it was announced by the company on Friday that he will be departing wXw effective February 28th but will remain a shareholder.

**ROH has announced that the match between Marty Scurll and Jay White is official for Supercard of Honor on Saturday, April 4th in Lakeland, Florida. Scurll appeared this past Monday at the New Beginning USA show in Durham, North Carolina to issue the challenge to White.

**AEW has announced more locations for Dynamite this year. On April 1st, they will be holding the show from the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and on April 8th the show goes to St. Louis at the Chaifetz Arena. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday, February 7th.

**CM Punk’s next appearance on WWE Backstage is set for Tuesday, February 11th on FS 1.

**WWE has announced the signing of several performers that will be designated for NXT UK. The additions include Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley, who team together as Pretty Deadly, along with Candy Floss, Levi Muir, and Dani Luna.

**Impact Wrestling has announced that there will be an Ultimate X match at the ‘TNA: No Place Like Home’ show on Thursday, April 2nd in Tampa. They have not listed the participants of the match.

**Killer Kelly has been added to Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport III on Thursday, April 2nd at The Cuban Club in Ybor City.

**British wrestler Sha Samuels has announced that he will be taking time away to heal some nagging injuries after visiting with a doctor. There was no timetable revealed by Samuels as to the time he would be gone for.

**The horror film ‘Girl on the Third Floor’ featuring CM Punk will be added to Netflix on February 22nd.

**Below are the matches scheduled for Saturday night’s episode of MLW Fusion at 9 pm Eastern on BeIn Sports:
*MJF vs. Marshall Von Erich
*Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Simon Gotch in a No Holds Barred match
*Myron Reed vs. Drago for the MLW middleweight title

**New Japan’s New Beginning USA tour wraps up Saturday night at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta with the following card:
*David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Guerrillas of Destiny for the IWGP tag titles
*Lance Archer vs. Jeff Cobb
*Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express vs. TJJP, Alex Zayne & Clark Connors
*Rocky Romero vs. Chase Owens (Owens wrote that Friday is the last day of his current NJPW contract)
*Colt Cabana & Toru Yano vs. Yujiro & Jado
*Yoshi-Hashi vs. Misterioso
*Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima vs. Alex Coughlin & Ren Narita

**MLW is holding its Fightland tapings on Saturday night at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia to run on BeIn Sports in the coming weeks. Below is the full lineup they have announced:
*Jacob Fatu vs. CIMA for the MLW title
*Alex Hammerstone vs. T-Hawk for the National Openweight title
*Tom Lawlor vs. Killer Kross
*Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Erick Stevens
*Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal vs. Low Ki
*Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Jimmy Havoc
*Los Parks vs. CONTRA Unit
*Myron Reed vs. Arez for the MLW middleweight title
*Jordan Oliver & Kotto Brazil vs. Puma King & Gringo Loco
*Dominic Garrini vs. TBA in a Prize Fight Challenge
*Gino Medina vs. Mance Warner
*Septimo Dragon vs. Douglas James
*Richard Holliday vs. Mystery opponent selected by Mance Warner
*Zenshi vs. El Lindaman
*The Von Erichs vs. TBA

**Here is Sunday’s New Beginning in Sapporo lineup, which streams live at 1 am Eastern late Saturday/early Sunday on New Japan World:
*Toa Henare vs. Yota Tsuji
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura
*El Phantasmo vs. Gabriel Kidd
*Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Robbie Eagles vs. Shingo Takagi, EVIL & Bushi
*Jon Moxley, Roppongi 3K & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki
*Tetsuya Naito, Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi vs. KENTA, Jay White & Taiji Ishimori
*Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the British heavyweight title
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Taichi

Café Hangout: GRAPPL 100, NXT-AEW Ratings, Your Calls

John Pollock and Wai Ting re-open the doors to the Café Hangout for the first time in 2020! We take calls all show long discussing this week’s top stories in wrestling and MMA. GRAPPL creator Gareth Hodgson joins us to discuss the GRAPPL 100!
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About John Pollock 5646 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.