POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: The Final Monday Nitro – 20 Years Later

John Pollock looks back at the end of WCW twenty years ago, UFC 261 sells out, more on Peacock edits to WWE Network, BMW drops Adesanya.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is LIVE at 10:15 pm ET tonight for all POST Wrestling Café members. Wai Ting and I will discuss the news from the day, review Friday Night SmackDown, and open the phone lines for the remainder of the show.

**John Siino will have a review of the Ring of Honor 19th Anniversary pay-per-view tonight on the site.

**Phil Chertok and I will be LIVE immediately after UFC 260 on Saturday with our UFC 260 POST Show on the POST YouTube channel.

**WH Park has a bonus edition of POST Puroresu on the site with guest co-host Joey Bay chatting the recent Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi final from the New Japan Cup, the post-match angle with Bea Priestley, deathmatches in AJPW, and the recent signings by GLEAT.

**Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure takes them to NXT TakeOver: Dallas from April 2016. This show featured the WWE debut of Shinsuke Nakamura as he faced Sami Zayn that night and the start of Asuka’s NXT women’s title reign.

**We have a UFC 260 Preview Show with guests James Lynch & Cody Saftic breaking down Saturday’s card and the top fights on the show. Plus, the three of us discussed UFC 261 next month in Jacksonville, the plight of Alexander Volkanovski, Miesha Tate coming out of retirement, and Bellator’s status in Canada.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: MCU L8R with Wai Ting & WH Park (Patreon)
Saturday: UFC 260 POST Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok (LIVE at YouTube.com/POSTwrestling)

THE FINAL EPISODE OF WCW MONDAY NITRO

When tracking the history of professional wrestling, it’s inextricably linked to the technology that provides the greatest accessibility to the product. In the infancy of television, it was the Dumont Network carrying matches from the Marigold Arena, closed-circuit became a revenue driver when the WWWF could utilize the adjacent Felt Forum or JCP’s booking of arenas for Starrcade among those to lean towards that strategy. Then came the advent of pay-per-view where pro wrestling was at the forefront and became the revenue generator promotions were dependent upon. In the modern era with the advancement of broadband technology, streaming is tied to every business plan of every major sports league. However, throughout our lifetime, television has been the lifeblood because of its reach – as a visual flyer to send fans to the arenas, the pay-per-view, or the streaming platform, or the destination where they will spend money. For the longest time, it was the cost of doing business, where Vince McMahon spent thousands of dollars per week to get into established wrestling markets and disrupt the local wrestling institution for his product to become the footprint.

Somewhere along the way, wrestling content became extremely valuable with a dependable fanbase that will tune in weekly with the medium going from an expense to a widely profitable sector. While fans can lament the product’s peak in popularity occurring two decades ago, it pales in comparison to the financial stability and popularity among networks and advertisers that it enjoys today. Had this pandemic occurred in 2000 at the peak of WWE’s boom period, it would have been catastrophic with the elimination of live events, a fraction of the television revenue compared with 2020, and no Performance Center as an immediate band-aid solution. In 2021, the WWE has found itself at the perfect intersection of live content, technology, and massive rights fees for both linear and digital outlets.

But, often, that intersection point is missed and those left empty-handed look back with a simple question, “What if?”

Such was the case on this date in 2001 when WCW shut its doors with the final episode of Monday Nitro from Panama Beach, Florida.

With a company in the state WCW was, there are no hard-and-fast guarantees of what could have been. The business was in freefall mode throughout 2000 bleeding money at a fatal rate and no one can say for sure if circumstances were different, that they would have survived. Even by the end, the combined Raw and Nitro audiences in March 2001 were topping seven million each Monday night. It’s a different world twenty years later, and those that would argue about all the factors that would prevent such big television numbers in 2020 are missing the point that some of those same factors – streaming options, all television numbers are down, a fragmented marketplace – would have worked in WCW’s favor to land a “Hail Mary” deal with another broadcaster or streaming outlet to keep moving forward with more available landing spots.

If there is a lesson from the ongoing streaming wars, it’s that big platforms have no aversion to gigantic losses with the belief that the end will justify the means. This has led to unfathomable spending with short-term prosperity for the likes of Bellator with its previous deal with DAZN that hardly had the level of fanbase or history that WCW had.

The same can be said for ECW, who could have had a radically different outcome in another era where professional wrestling doesn’t get you laughed out of a television boardroom to the degree of previous generations.

It’s all hindsight and theoretical. To further expand on it, the greatest beneficiary would have been the WWF, who would have commanded a great deal more than $28 million per year from Viacom when they left the USA Network. Whatever a WCW or ECW could have found as its lifeboat, ultimately, would not have altered the market share WWF would have commanded as the industry’s dominant player. But, the future of the industry would have been altered with three full-time promotions with sustainable and profitable television/streaming deals that would be presenting competing styles, visions, and characters instead of the one specific flavor that dominated the United States for the next eighteen years.

In its ashes, WCW begat several attempted start-ups that struggled with distribution including the international touring WWA, which found some success, Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart attempted to launch the XWF, a group like MECW attempted to start in 2001 and was largely a money pit that was quickly gone among the many trying aimlessly to find the “lost audience”. Then, you had players like TNA and ROH that stuck around for the long-haul. For TNA, it was nearly D.O.A. by the end of the summer of 2002 but found the most unlikely lifeline in their publicist being the daughter of a power plant magnate that would buy and run the company for years in losses. With ROH, it was salvaged through Cary Silkin’s willingness to keep the ship running at a loss and providing incomes for the next generation of talent that was defining the level of quality fans could expect, before selling in 2011.

The fallout of the purchase of WCW has been covered extensively, but I’m left with this quote from Bob Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime, as the former Disney chairman described its purchase of Pixar in 2006:

A lot of companies acquire others without much sensitivity regarding what they’re really buying. They think they’re getting physical assets or manufacturing assets or intellectual property. In most cases, what they’re really acquiring is people. In a creative business, that’s where the value truly lies.

I took pains to assure John (former Pixar executive John Lasseter) that the only way it made sense for Disney to buy Pixar was if we protected whatever it was that made their culture so unique. Bringing Pixar into our company would be a mammoth transfusion of leadership and talent, and we’d need to do it right. “Pixar needs to be Pixar”, I said. “If we don’t protect the culture you’ve created, we’ll be destroying the thing that makes you valuable.”

Behind-the-scenes, WCW did not present an appealing culture worth salvaging, but to its fanbase that left after its demise, the on-screen product and presentation were still attached to a culture with lineage to WTBS and Saturday nights at 6:05. It was the wrestling they grew up with and WWF never acquired that aspect of the WCW product in the sale nor did they seek to find it.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown is being promoted around Roman Reigns and Edge, which is publicly being advertised as the match for WrestleMania but the expectation is that Daniel Bryan will be inserted into the match, and would make sense for that to occur tonight.

**SmackDown will also feature The Kevin Owens Show with guest Sami Zayn. There have been several messages back-and-forth between Zayn and Logan Paul regarding Zayn’s documentary and Paul appearing to back Zayn’s theories.

**AEW has announced the following for their first non-televised event on Friday, April 9th at Daily’s Place (the weekend of WrestleMania in Tampa).
*Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa vs. Matt & Mike Sydal
*Cody Rhodes vs. Ethan Page
*The Young Bucks & Brandon Cutler vs. PAC, Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix
*Darby Allin defends the TNT Championship
*Plus: The Pinnacle, Jade Cargill, Orange Cassidy, Eddie Kingston, and Dr. Britt Baker

**The Hollywood Reporter has a story on the edits to the WWE Network on Peacock and added that the entirety of the network content is under review:

According to sources familiar with the situation, the NBCUniversal-owned streaming service is reviewing all 17,000 hours of WWE content to ensure it aligns with Peacock’s standards and practices. WWE is also being made aware of any edits.

**The non-U.S. version of the WWE Network has also reflected the Peacock edits with the elimination of Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown from WrestleMania 6, and Vince McMahon using the n-word at the Survivor Series in 2005. In checking this morning, the June 22, 2009, edition of Raw where Donald Trump buys the company is still not on Peacock with the other 2009 episodes, however, it is on the international version of the network.

**Ring of Honor presents its 19th Anniversary pay-per-view tonight with a free hour from 8-9 pm ET and the pay-per-view begins at 9. It’s a taped show from their recent empty arena tapings in Baltimore and below is the card:
*ROH Championship: Rush (champion) vs. Jay Lethal
*Grudge Match: Jay Briscoe vs. EC3
*ROH Television Championship: Kenny King (champion) vs. Tracy Williams
*ROH Six-Man Championship: Shane Taylor, Kaun & Moses vs. Bandido, Rey Horus & Flamita
*Unsanctioned Match: Matt Taven vs. Vincent
*ROH Pure Championship: Jonathan Gresham (champion) vs. Dak Draper
*ROH World Tag Team Championship: Kenny King & Bestia del Ring (subbing for Dragon Lee) vs. Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus
*Mark Briscoe vs. Flip Gordon
*Dalton Castle vs. Josh Woods
*Brian Johnson vs. Eli Isom vs. LSG vs. Danhausen

**205 Live will feature The Bollywood Boyz vs. Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari, and Ashante Thee Adonis vs. August Grey streaming at 10 pm ET on the WWE Network.

**Here are the matches for NJPW Strong tonight at 10 pm ET on New Japan World:
*New Japan Cup USA Qualifier: TJP vs. Clark Connors
*Blake Christian vs. Chris Dickinson
*David Finlay & Karl Fredericks vs. Tom Lawlor & Danny Limelight

**Tony Khan spoke with Pitchfork about their recent licensing of “Where is My Mind?” by The Pixies for Orange Cassidy. Khan stated they signed a multi-year agreement to use the song and will be available in perpetuity in their library. Cassidy came out to the song this past Wednesday for the AEW Dark: Elevation tapings with the entrance airing on this Monday’s show.

**One of the questions I’m asked most often is a recommendation of the best wrestling books to seek out. PW Torch’s Todd Martin has been doing excellent book reviews for years on his shows and along the way has developed a tiered system ranking each one. On Friday, he put out a thread of some of the standout books that he’s elevated to his top tier and is a great resource of books to read. His recommendations in the thread include Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson’s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series, Rocks Rims’ book covering Los Angeles, Liam O’Rourke’s biography of Brian Pillman, Mick Foley’s first book from 1999 that broke down the barrier for publishers to invest in the genre, “Mad Dogs, Midgets & Screwjobs” by Pat Laprade & Bertrand Hebert on the history of wrestling in Montreal, Pain and Passion by Heath McCoy on the history of Stampede Wrestling, and the autobiographies by Bret Hart, Lou Thesz, and Gary Hart.

**Limitless Wrestling is introducing a unique promotional tool by opening a public Dropbox folder for fans to access high-resolution GIFs, and 1080p highlight clips of each wrestler from their shows. It serves multiple functions as it encourages fans to use their footage and promote the company by extension, while also providing the talent with easy-to-access highlight reels and creates an added incentive when working for the company.

**The WWE stock closed at $55.00 on Friday.

**New Japan resumes Sunday with the beginning of its “Road to Sakura Genesis” tour as they run a card in Gunma headlined by Kota Ibushi, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & The Great O-Khan. Monday & Tuesday’s shows from Korakuen Hall will be streaming on New Japan World at 5:30 am ET each day.

**Freelance Wrestling is running a card from an undisclosed location in Chicago on Friday, April 9th and it will stream at 4 pm ET on IWTV. They have announced a Six-Man Scramble Match involving Danger Mask, Chico Suave, Jackson P. Larkin, Sean Galway, Torero & Sage Philips.

**IMPACT Wrestling’s Rohit Raju recently spoke with Joey G. of Wrestling Headlines and discussed his run as X Division Champion:

I think it was an eye-opener for a lot of people. I was already ready to be in that position, I wanted to be in that position, I wanted that smoke, I wanted that pressure. So me being able to cut promos go out there and have these matches. That’s what I wanted. So I was in my comfort zone, I was ready to show them and everybody else that I deserve to be able to have a seat at the big table. I loved it. I thought it like I said, I thought I proved a lot of people wrong. I thought I opened a lot of eyes. I showed the world that I can be a player and I am a player at Impact Wrestling, especially on the mic. There’s not anybody… I’m gonna say.. there’s not anybody on the roster that is touching on that microphone. And I think a lot of in the world of professional wrestling, there’s not too many people that are touching me on that microphone. Does the rest of the world see that? No, I still think there’s a lot of people sleeping on me. And they’ll continuously sleep on me until there’s a huge wake-up call.

MMA NEWS

**Tickets for UFC 261 next month at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Center in Jacksonville, Florida are sold-out with the UFC issuing an announcement on Friday morning. The company is also stating that the event has set a new gate record for the arena. The next card that will operate at full capacity is the UFC 262 event on Saturday, May 15th at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas with Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight title.

**The UFC 260 pay-per-view is Saturday night with ten fights remaining on the card after a slew of fights were removed due to COVID-19 protocols. The main event is intact with the rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou for the heavyweight championship.

I re-watched their first fight earlier in the week and I don’t know if the circumstances are any different three years later. In that fight, Miocic did eat strikes from Ngannou, who was his most effective in the first round but threw everything he had and was missing a lot of shots while Miocic connected plenty and executed his takedowns to thoroughly win the round. Ngannou was spent throughout the rest of the fight, although landed a big shot in round two, Miocic didn’t tire until the fifth round. In re-watching it, I scored the fight 50-44 for Miocic with a 10-8 in round four.

Miocic is three years older and has spent those years preparing for one fighter in Daniel Cormier for their trilogy. Everyone knows Ngannou has the power to end any fight he is part of and then it becomes a question if Miocic can absorb less at age 38 than he could at 35? The best Ngannou can prepare is having competent takedown defense to keep the fight at his strength on the feet. Ngannou has a wild striking game where it’s often throwing with the intention of something landing without any ability to telegraph and my assumption is that there is too much in Miocic’s favor as he is clearly the better all-around fighter. Ngannou is always dangerous in the first two rounds but his conditioning needs to be ready if this fight goes longer and every additional minute swings it in Miocic’s favor.

At 34, Ngannou will be at a crossroads if he loses his second championship fight. His highlight reel will always benefit his chances much like Vitor Belfort but if the second fight with Miocic goes like the first, the blueprint is there to beat him. Jon Jones is expected to fight the winner and while Jones moving to heavyweight and challenging for a title is going to be big regardless, a highlight-reel knockout by Ngannou of Miocic will create a big-time fight if Ngannou fights Jones. For Miocic, he is already considered by some as the greatest heavyweight ever and at the very least, on a very shortlist of the best, and fighting Jones would be an incredible way to end his career if he is looking to wind down and would be a legacy fight for his resume.

**Below is the full card for Saturday’s UFC 260 card and the results from Friday’s weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (10 pm ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (234) vs. Francis Ngannou (263)
*Tyron Woodley (171) vs. Vicente Luque (170.5)
*Thomas Almeida (136) vs. Sean O’Malley (136)
*Miranda Maverick (126) vs. Gillian Robertson (125.5)
*Khama Worthy (155.5) vs. Jamie Mullarkey (155.5)

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm ET on ESPN)
*Alonzo Menifield (205) vs. Fabio Cherant (206.5*) – Cherant took this fight on several days’ notice and was fined 20 percent for missing weight by half a pound.
*Jared Gooden (171) vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov (170.5)
*Michal Oleksiejczuk (206) vs. Modestas Bukauskas (205.5)
*Shane Young (145.5) vs. Omar Morales (146)

EARLY PRELIMS (7:30 pm ET on ESPN+, Fight Pass)

*Abu Azaitar (185.5) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (185)

**UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has lost an ambassador position with BMW over comments made on Instagram last week toward fellow fighter Kevin Holland. In an Instagram story, Adesanya was trash-talking Holland and threatened to “rape” him, which was later deleted with the champion issuing an apology:

Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line. I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention. I am still to growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure.

BMW has issued the following statement explaining its decision to end its relationship with Adesanya, which was expected to be revealed this week:

Due to the comments made by an athlete online, we have reviewed our pending association with said athlete and we have decided not to push forward with a specific ambassador for the brand at this time in New Zealand.

**LFA has a show tonight at 9 pm ET on Fight Pass from Shawnee, Oklahoma headlined by Spike Caryle vs. Batsumberel Dagvadorj.

**Episode five of UFC Embedded for UFC 260:

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Randy Brown vs. Alex Oliveira at UFC 261 on April 24 (UFC)

James Gallagher vs. Patchy Mix at Bellator 258 on May 7 (Bellator)

Patricky Freire vs. Peter Queally at Bellator 258 on May 7 (MMA Fighting)

Bryce Logan vs. Alan Omer at Bellator 258 on May 7 (MMA Junkie)

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Andre Muniz at UFC 262 on May 15 (Combate)

Matheus Mattos vs. Brett Johns at Bellator 259 on May 21 (MMA DNA)

Tyson Nam vs. Tagir Ulanbekov at UFC Fight Night on June 19 (MMA Junkie)

Jessica Eye vs. Jennifer Maia on July 10 (MMA Fighting)

Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria on July 10 (Adjara Sport)

ON THIS DATE

 

*****
POST PURORESU Bonus: New Japan Cup Finals, AJPW, GLEAT (w/ Joey Bay)
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UFC 260 PREVIEW SHOW
John Pollock is joined by James Lynch and Cody Saftic to preview the UFC 260 card and the latest news in the industry.
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Martin Bushby & Andrew Thompson are back with another round of Wrestling Adventure. This month, they are joined by Omar Pleya to look back at NXT TakeOver: Dallas from 2016.
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Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the March 24th 2021, episode of WWE NXT featuring KUSHIDA vs Jordan Devlin and a contract signing between Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole!
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REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 3/24/21: Darby Allin vs. John Silver, WWE-Peacock edits
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DEEP IMPACT 3/23/21: “Better Than Ibushi”
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POST MOVIE REVIEW: Creed (2015)
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*****

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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.