POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Why WWE & UFC are considered viable purchases

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 11:05 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and Kate from Montreal for members of the POST Wrestling Café as they review Friday Night SmackDown, AEW Rampage, and take your calls to close a super busy week in the industry.

**On Saturday night, Phil Chertok and Eric Marcotte will be live immediately after UFC 273 on the POST YouTube channel to go through all the fights including the championship bouts with Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung, and Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan.

**At some point this weekend, I’ll be doing a bonus show for POST Wrestling Café members covering the NJPW Hyper Battle card from Sumo Hall with Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. It’s one of the deeper New Japan cards in some time with six title matches and follows Zack’s terrific performances in the New Japan Cup.

**Mark Buckeldee will have a review of the NJPW Hyper Battle event on Saturday, and Jon Pine will have coverage of both GCW events this weekend on the site. Eric Marcotte will have a report on UFC 273 late Saturday night.

**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics chats the numbers for Raw After WrestleMania and Wednesday’s edition of Dynamite from Boston.

POST DAILY NEWS SHOW

Wai Ting and I are joined by Phil Chertok to preview UFC 273 on Saturday with two title fights, a discussion on the CNBC article on the viability of a streamer buying the UFC, WWE, or Formula One, plus a preview of SmackDown in Milwaukee, AEW’s deal with New Japan World & more.

Audio version for POST Wrestling Café members.

WRESTLING NEWS

**An important series of U.S. television rights negotiations to pay attention to this year are those for Formula One. John Ourand at Sports Business Journal wrote about the negotiations with Formula One signing a three-year deal worth approximately $5 million per year with ESPN in 2019. Since then, numbers have jumped and Formula One is reportedly seeking a massive increase in the range of $75 million, which some sports executives tell Ourand is “fantasy”. The deal with ESPN ends after the 2022 season and comes as Formula One has grown significantly in popularity with many pointing to the Netflix series “Drive to Survive”, which was just renewed for a fourth season. While not the same model as UFC using its television to sell pay-per-view events, “Drive to Survive” has appeared to have a similar effect as “Ultimate Fighter” did in 2005 where it is creating new fans through the marketing of the drivers and teams through the series.

From the SBJ article:

Currently, sources say that ESPN is paying in the neighborhood of $5 million per year for the rights. ESPN signed a three-year deal worth $15 million in 2019 and holds F1’s U.S. media rights through this current season.

F1 has told executives that it wants its U.S. media rights to be more in line with international soccer rights. By comparison, ESPN pays the Spanish soccer league La Liga around $175 million for rights and the German soccer league Bundesliga around $40 million per year for its rights.

Most sports business executives contacted for this story believe F1 will get a substantial increase, but view the $75 million figure — 15 times higher than they currently get — as fantasy.

**On a similar note, Alex Sherman of CNBC wrote an interesting piece grouping Formula One with the UFC and WWE as attractive purchases for a large streaming company. The idea is that television and streaming rights are not slowing down and have gotten to a point where it’s a greater value for a company to buy the league or promotion outright rather than continue to play the escalating rights game.

This calculus has made professional sports and entertainment leagues such as UFC, NASCAR, Formula One and WWE potentially appealing targets for streaming companies as a way to control ever-increasing rights fees for valuable live programming that still commands advertising dollars.

Formula One, WWE, and UFC are all language-independent properties with global appeal. Formula One, in particular, prides itself on being an international sport, with races across the globe. The league announced last week it has added a third U.S. grand prix, in Las Vegas, beginning in 2023.

In the CNBC piece, it mentions that Disney was in talks to buy the UFC in 2016 prior to the Endeavor-led purchasing the promotion in July 2016. Sherman reports that it was former Disney CEO Bob Iger who ultimately nixed the deal believing the UFC conflicted with the Disney image. Fast forward several years and Disney acquired the U.S. television rights for the UFC with a five-year deal worth $1.5 billion and then made a separate deal for the domestic rights to its pay-per-view content worth a reported $150 million per year over five years, which has more than paid for itself. The success of ESPN+ has depended greatly on the success of the UFC events, which took off when Conor McGregor fought Donald Cerrone in January 2019 and has continued to expand its subscriber base, which was also assisted by the service being bundled with Disney+ and Hulu.

A major theme of the article is the intellectual property that one of these media companies would be acquiring and follows Nick Khan’s interview on The Town last week. Khan outlined Comcast and NBC Universal’s need for strong IP to compete with giants like Disney with Khan stating WWE has a lot of IP and now is the time to monetize it.

From the CNBC piece:

WWE, which has a market capitalization of $4.6 billion, stands out as a potential takeover candidate because it’s a publicly traded company with an aging controlling shareholder. Vince McMahon owns more than 80% of voting power and is 76 years old. At some point, he and his family will have to decide whether to keep control of the company or sell it to the highest bidder. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, also works at the company as chief brand officer.

It also noted that there are not any sales talks they are aware of involving UFC, WWE, or Formula One.

**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin tonight coming off WrestleMania 38. Roman Reigns is set to appear on the show and reveal what is next for him. PWinsider.com has reported that Cody Rhodes is scheduled to be in Milwaukee tonight, although didn’t state in what capacity (UPDATE: On Friday, the site issued an update that Rhodes was no longer scheduled to appear in Milwaukee). It is a debatable point if you save Rhodes chasing the title for a bigger show or strike when the iron is hottest when he is fresh and presented as the company outsider. By process of elimination, the options for a Reigns opponent are down to Rhodes and Drew McIntyre due to Bobby Lashley tied up with Omos and no other strong babyfaces at that level. Brock Lesnar is advertised for WrestleMania Backlash next month but the match on Sunday felt like the end of the road for that program and it would be hard to extend another one after Lesnar has lost twice.

**WWE has announced a segment involving Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss hosting “Happy Talk” for tonight’s show.

**WWE will be holding its annual stockholder’s meeting on Thursday, May 19th at 1 p.m. ET. Once again, it will be held virtually with an audio webcast but is only open to stockholders.

**Tony Khan issued several statements on Friday claiming that an independent study has confirmed that a lot of the anti-AEW sentiment online has been a product of thousands of fake accounts being run by a staff and using “an army of bots to signal boost them”. He added, “who’d pay for such a wildly expensive thing?” without stating anyone by name but leading everyone to the obvious conclusion of who he is referencing. Khan didn’t provide any additional details regarding the study or who conducted it beyond the findings presented to him.

After the initial tweets, Khan was contacted by Wrestling Inc. and stated he was still awaiting the final study but elaborated on what was found:

It’s people with real live accounts making posts and then using their bots to manipulate the social channel algorithm by backing them up with engagement from a made-up Twitter identity. Social media teams will often fight on this. Bots are great for numbers and when they’re gone, you’ll see a dip in digital conversation impressions – both those were either negative sentiment or not real anyway.

For example, I tweet Megha only eats rotten bananas. I throw say 18 bots behind it (which takes about 5 minutes to do) Twitter security can’t differentiate when done well (neither can most social teams). The problem becomes, every time people type Megha into the search bar, because of a real account supported by bots- the first suggested result would be tweets about Megha eating rotten bananas. I’m oversimplifying, but that’s the 5 cent version of what’s happening.

**Below is the lineup of matches for AEW Rampage tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and TSN Direct in Canada. The show was taped on Wednesday in Boston and there was a ton of buzz coming out of the match between Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta.
*Jon Moxley vs. Wheeler Yuta
*QT Marshall vs. Swerve Strickland
*Owen Hart Qualifying Match: Red Velvet vs. Willow Nightingale
*Bryan Danielson vs. Trent Beretta

**Next week’s episode of AEW Rampage will air live at 7 p.m. ET from the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas featuring the Texas Death Match between Hangman Page and Adam Cole for the AEW title. The time change is due to TNT’s commitments with the NBA. AEW is also taping Battle of the Belts II that night to air the following night.

**Here is the lineup for NJPW’s Hyper Battle event on Saturday at 4 a.m. ET on New Japan World from Sumo Hall:
*IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (champion) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (champion) vs. SHO
*IWGP Tag Team Championships: Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (champions) vs. Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan
*NEVER Openweight Championship: EVIL (champion) vs. Hiromu Takahashi
*KOPW 2022 Championship: Toru Yano (holder) vs. Taichi
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championships: Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
*Will Ospreay & Aaron Henare vs. Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Yujiro & Gedo

**GCW has shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco beginning Saturday night at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. The “Paranoid” card in L.A. airs at 11 p.m. ET on FITE TV with AJ Gray vs. Swerve Strickland for the GCW Extreme title, Minoru Suzuki vs. Blake Christian, The Briscoes vs. Effy & Allie Katch, Joey Janela vs. Gringo Loco, Nick Wayne vs. ACH, Gray vs. Kevin Blackwood, Chris Bey vs. Jack Cartwheel, and Chris Dickinson vs. Masha Slamovich.

**It was reported in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and confirmed to us that MLW has fired Los Parks over an incident last Thursday at Intimidation Games. During a post-match attack on Jacob Fatu, Los Parks was alleged to have gone into business for themselves and started landing legitimate strikes to Fatu, and later with Alex Hammerstone that included several reckless chair shots. L.A Park, El Hijo del L.A. Park, and L.A. Park Jr. were fired by the company for the incident and removed from Friday’s Azteca Underground event, which was scheduled to feature L.A. Park against Fatu.

**WWE performers Corey Graves (Matthew Polinsky) and Carmella (Leah Van Dale) were married on Thursday. Graves is going to be off the show for several weeks and will be replaced by Jerry Lawler until he returns.

**The Briscoes are returning to IMPACT Wrestling for the television tapings on Sunday, April 24th in Poughkeepsie, New York the day after the Rebellion pay-per-view. The Briscoes wrestled The Good Brothers last Friday at the Multiverse of Matches event immediately after their classic with FTR the same night in Garland.

**Ring of Honor continues to air old footage for its syndicated program. This weekend’s show will feature AJ Styles against CM Punk on Feb. 14, 2004, Bryan Danielson defending the ROH title against Delirious on May 13, 2006, and Austin Aries against Tyler Black from Feb. 2010.

**On the latest Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, Hardy and co-host Jon Alba wrap up the final part of their “Becoming Broken” series chronicling The Hardy’s return to WWE in 2017 at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida. The Hardys worked The Young Bucks night before at Supercard of Honor and it was the largest attendance in the company’s history up to that point with The Bucks beating The Hardys in a ladder match.

**Tony Khan speaks to Brandon Walker of Barstool Sports.

**The WWE stock closed at $61.49 on Friday.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC 273 weigh-ins took place on Friday with two fighters missing weight, but both are still going to fight. Kay Hansen missed weight for her strawweight fight against Peira Rodriguez and came in at 118.5 pounds. Julio Arce weighed 136.5 pounds for his bantamweight fight against Daniel Santos. Both are being fined 20 percent of their purse, according to MMA Junkie.

Below is the card and the results from the weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski (144.5) vs. Chan Sung Jung (144.5)
*UFC Bantamweight Championship: Aljamain Sterling (134.5) vs. Petr Yan (134)
*Khamzat Chimaev (170) vs. Gilbert Burns (170)
*Mackenzie Dern (115.5) vs. Tecia Torres (115.5)
*Mark Madsen (155) vs. Vinc Pichel (155.5)

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Ian Garry (170.5) vs. Darian Weeks (170.5)
*Aspen Ladd (136) vs. Raquel Pennington (134.5)
*Mickey Gall (170.5) vs. Mike Malott (170.5)

EARLY PRELIMS (6 p.m. on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass)
*Aleksei Oleinik (244) vs. Jared Vanderaa (266)
*Anthony Hernandez (186) vs. Josh Fremd (185.5)
*Kay Hansen (118.5) vs. Peira Rodriguez (115)
*Julio Arce (136.5) vs. Daniel Santos (135.5)

**After weighing in successfully, heavyweight Marcin Tybura fell ill and his fight with Jairzinho Rozenstruik is off the card for Saturday night. The two were scheduled to fight on the televised prelims and one of the early prelims will be moved up.

**The rematch between Sterling and Yan has been over a year in the making. In March 2021, Sterling won the title after Yan was disqualified when it was ruled, that he intentionally landed a knee while Sterling was grounded. The illegal blow came late in the fourth round when Yan was ahead on the scorecards and many criticized Sterling for winning the title that way, although there was no way he should have been able to continue fighting. The rematch was delayed when Sterling had neck surgery and an interim title was introduced, which Yan won by defeating Cory Sandhagen last October. In going back to watch the first fight, it was closer than many remember it. Sterling was definitely winning the first round until he was knocked down but came back with a strong performance in the second round before, he began to tire, and Yan took over. The major statistical imbalance was in takedowns where Yan was 7/7 while Sterling was 1/17 and likely contributed to his conditioning after working for so many takedowns unsuccessfully (the one takedown occurred in the first round). The unknown is how Sterling has recovered from neck surgery and his stamina in a five-round fight. If it’s the Sterling of old, he should be very competitive early and did well for the first ten minutes of the fight minus the knockdown. Yan is justifiably a sizable favorite in the fight.

**Of all the fighters, the biggest spotlight is on 27-year old Khamzat Chimaev. He stormed onto the scene in the UFC during the pandemic and won back-to-back fights within ten days in July 2020. After a lengthy absence, he returned last October and submitted Li Jingliang at UFC 267 but is fighting someone at a completely different level in Gilbert Burns. Chimaev’s longest fight went 1:12 of round two, so there are obvious questions when someone has not gone the distance, but everything he has done so far has been spectacular. Chimaev is a heavy betting favorite despite Burns fighting for the title a year ago and being among the elite welterweights in the division. It’s either going to be a reality check and set Chimaev back, or he’s going to explode into a superstar after this fight and be thrust into the top of the division because of the buzz surrounding his performances.

**In addition, as Chimaev’s star continues to grow, there is added attention to his relationship with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. Journalist Karim Zidan has documented this as closely as anyone and has a large piece on their connection on the Bloody Elbow site. Kadyrov has been accused of human rights abuses, assassinations and abductions, torture, and playing a part in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

**Episode 5 of UFC Embedded going into UFC 273.

**Dana White was on with Pat McAfee to promote the show on Saturday.

ON THIS DATE

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa have their empty arena match in 2020:

WrestleMania 34 took place from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a quick turnaround after the venue and city hosted the event four years prior. For the show, the WWE Network hit 2,124,000 total subscribers with 1,808,000 paid that year, which would drop to 2,000,000 and 1,767,000 paid for the next year’s event. The show in New Orleans featured a main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns that the audience turned on and ended the show on a down note. The big story of that event was Ronda Rousey’s performance where she made her debut teaming with Kurt Angle against Triple H & Stephanie McMahon.

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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.