POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE’s stadium strategy, per report

WWE expected to expand stadium events, Toro Bill Jr. passes away, update on Jimmy Uso case, Formula One ratings growth, Dynamite in Philly.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-Dynamite is live at 10 p.m. ET immediately following AEW Dynamite. Wai Ting and I will cover the show with our thoughts and take your feedback from the POST Wrestling Forum. The show will be live-streamed on the POST YouTube channel.

**The April 2022 edition of the ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show is available for POST Wrestling Café members. There were some interesting questions posed on this month’s show including a reflection on the Speaking Out Movement and what the impact has been, the state of The Briscoes and how people view the 2013 tweet this many years later, and many other wrestling and MMA-related questions from Café members. You can always submit questions for the show on the thread in the POST Wrestling Forum.

**upNXT will be released on Thursday as Davie Portman returns to Canada and will be reviewing this week’s NXT 2.0 and Dynamite shows with Braden Herrington.

**Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure comes out Thursday on The British Wrestling Experience feed looking back at WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic in 2016 featuring TJP, Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr., Mascara Dorada, Cedric Alexander, and more.

POST DAILY NEWS SHOW

– COVID-19 affects Pro Wrestling NOAH & AEW
– NXT 2.0 recap and thoughts
– WWE Raw ratings
– Impact of Raw moving to OLN in Canada
– Brandon Thurston looks at F1’s numbers
– ONE Championship on Amazon Prime
– The IInfluence taking an indefinite leave
– AEW Dynamite tonight

Audio version for POST Wrestling Café members.

WRESTLING NEWS

**We want to send our condolences to the family and friends of Lucha talent Toro Bill Jr. (Roberto Rosete), who died this past Monday following a CMLL card at Arena Puebla (one of the venues that CMLL owns and runs on Mondays) in Mexico. El Sol de Puebla reported that the performer went down on the canvas during a tag match on Monday night and was taken on a stretcher with the promotion announcing his passing after the event. Toro Bill Jr. is the son of Toro Bill, who trained his son and debuted in 2005 and was a native of Puebla. In 2014, he began teaming with Rey Apocalypsis as the La Batallion de la Muerte (Death Battalion) which lasted until 2017. On Monday, he was teaming with Prayer as the duo was known as Compadres del Diablo and was taking on Asturiano & Millennium on the second match of the card. Thecubsfan at Lucha Blog has an obit on Toro Bill Jr. and noted that there have been differing reports on his age, but that his Facebook profile listed a birth date of May 29, 1986, which would have made him 35. Others, including Super Luchas state the performer was 41.

CMLL issued the following statement on Monday night:

**AEW Dynamite takes place from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania tonight at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and TSN 2 in Canada. Hangman Page will miss the show after announcing this morning that it’s COVID-related. Page had not been announced for anything on the show, although you would have assumed some type of follow-up to the stare-down with CM Punk last week and the expected announcement of those two meeting at Double or Nothing next month.

WrestleTix reported on Wednesday morning that over 6,000 tickets are out for the show. The last time AEW ran the arena was October 6th last year when they drew 7,100 and 6,800 paid, per The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The following matches and segments have been announced:
*TNT Championship, Ladder Match:
Sammy Guevara (champion) vs. Scorpio Sky
*Owen Hart Qualifying Match: Dax Harwood vs. Cash Wheeler w/ CM Punk on commentary
*Philadelphia Street Fight: Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb
*Adam Cole, The Young Bucks & reDRagon vs. Dante Martin, Varsity Blonds, Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson
*Wardlow vs. Lance Archer
*Jericho Appreciation Society calls out Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz

The match between Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler has a lot of intrigue and might be the only time the two ever have a match together. The “Road to Philadelphia” feature was excellent and I wish more of it could have aired on Rampage last Friday, but it made this match feel like the main event tonight. There are high expectations for this one and comes after the biggest month of FTR’s careers with matches against The Briscoes, The Young Bucks, and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.

For Deeb and Shida, it’s their fifth singles match in AEW with the series 2-2 going back to their first match that took place in Philadelphia last October. Deeb has submitted Shida twice and Shida has pinned Deeb in her two wins.

**TMZ Sports obtained footage involving Jonathan Fatu a.k.a. Jimmy Uso when he was pulled over last July and led to a DUI charge after the performance failed a sobriety test. The video includes the exchange between Fatu and the officer with the Pensacola Police Department, who pulled him over, alleging that Fatu had been speeding and ran a red light. There was an exchange between the two where the officer is heard stating he hopes Fatu beats the test and Fatu was offended by the comment and called the officer an “asshole”. The officer believed he was misunderstood and apologized and said, “I was actually trying to be nice.”

Fatu was charged with a misdemeanor DUI after his breathalyzer test registered .202 and .205. TMZ added that a deal was struck with prosecutors earlier this month to close the case with Fatu sent to several courses regarding the incident and the outlet reported that he has completed those classes.

**Andrew Zarian is reporting that WWE is expected to expand its number of stadium events even further in 2023. Zarian, in speaking with a source, stated “the goal is to make this the new norm” and that it’s a Nick Khan approach to the promotion’s premium live events. He added that once live attendance exceeds 15,000 it becomes beneficial for running the stadium, even if they are only putting in 35,000 or less rather than selling out the stadium – which is going to be dependent on various rates from different stadia across the country and internationally.

The move to stadiums has expanded since the return of live fans last year and a strong performance with 41,000 paid and over 45,000 at Allegiant Stadium with SummerSlam last August in Las Vegas that coincided with more Saturday night events for the promotion. This year, the company stands to run eight stadium shows if you include both events in Saudi Arabia (there is no location announced yet for the second Saudi Arabia card that is earmarked for the third quarter) including a return to Allegiant Stadium on July 2nd for Money in the Bank, Nissan Stadium in Nashville for SummerSlam, and Principality Stadium on September 2nd in Cardiff.

For both WWE and AEW, as they approach “contract season”, perception is going to be a component from both sides and WWE has the resources to ensure it’s seen as the major league of professional wrestling and presentation is a factor. When AEW sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium, the venue took out an ad in Sports Business Journal to thank AEW for the sellout and that’s the type of press AEW should covet with people in the decision-making areas of sports media being aware of their business markers.

On the international front, I believe WWE is just scratching the surface with the card in Wales, which should produce one of the hottest atmospheres for a company event in years and appears to be set for an immediate sell-out. The European market is starved for major events whether they be WWE or AEW and there are enough markets to hit if stadium-level events become a desire with boxing proving how effective shows of that scale can perform when you have the right fight.

It is interesting to see how UFC is operating post-pandemic with a conservative approach to its live events. They are taking their pay-per-views on the road and selling out arenas wherever they go while keeping the Fight Night events to the Apex with a small number of fans. The positive is that you can stack your pay-per-view cards with the biggest fights while the Fight Night formula consists of the main event with two names and rounding out the cards with lower or non-ranked fighters, which has not had any ill effect on ESPN’s numbers. This allows UFC to save on marketing costs by going to different cities around the country and loading up television cards in order to sell tickets. It’s hard to argue because the UFC’s business is on fire but it does feel antiquated seeing the Fight Night cards in that small setting when everyone else has moved back to the pre-pandemic touring model.

**Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana will be reuniting on commentary for the DEFY Wrestling card this Saturday, which airs on Pluto TV on channel 732 at 11 p.m. ET. This Saturday’s card will feature Jon Moxley taking on Tom Lawlor at Washington Hall in Seattle.

**Cabana has also announced that a new batch of ‘Art of Wrestling’ podcasts will be coming soon and there will be a theme to the series of shows.

**NJPW Strong returns to The Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 19th for ‘Ignition’ with tickets going on sale this Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

**WWE had two videos from Raw crack one million views from this past Monday. The highest performing video was highlights of the eight-man tag main event at 1.4 million while Asuka’s return and confronting Becky Lynch has 1.1 million views. The arm-wrestling contest between Bobby Lashley and Omos is just below that figure at approximately 966,000.

**WWE stock closed at $59.59 on Wednesday. The stock is down just over three percent over the last five days of trading.

**Glory Pro has announced Eddie Kingston vs. Davey Richards for its ‘Massive Aggression’ card on Sunday, May 22nd in St. Louis at the South Broadway Athletic Club.

**WWE has posted the full match from Backlash 2007 with John Cena vs. Edge vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton, which was a fantastic main event from that show.

**BetOnline has released odds for WrestleMania Backlash with the following lines for the matches on the card:
*Charlotte Flair (+360) vs. Ronda Rousey (-700)
*The Usos (-500) vs. RK-Bro (+300)
*Cody Rhodes (-325) vs. Seth Rollins (+220)
*Edge (-150) vs. AJ Styles (+110)
*Omos (-300) vs. Bobby Lashley (+200)
*Madcap Moss (-180) vs. Happy Corbin (+125)

**I wanted to make mention of the C*4 Wrestling Time and Tide card from Ottawa, Ontario last Friday as I was sent a screener of the show. The big match I would recommend is the one between Jonathan Gresham and Kevin Blackwood. The went around twenty minutes and had a mixture of intense striking exchanges and grappling that the audience was engaged with throughout the contest. Blackwood has elevated himself a lot over the past year and is working with some of the big names out there and is one to keep your eyes on. Coming out of the show, some were saying it was among the top matches in the promotion’s history, which I can’t speak to, but it was a thrilling match and the audience treated it like a big-time match. The show also featured the main event of Biff Busick against Kevin Ku, which was a short sprint of a match that included the usage of a door that led to the finish and Busick working on Ku’s hand after he chopped the post. From a presentation standpoint, I think there’s a lot of value in mixing up the formula for your main event and doing a 10-12 minute fast-paced affair and teaching your audience that big matches can end at any time and it’s a not a requisite to go over twenty minutes, in some times, it’s preferable. The company stated that there were approximately 450 fans in attendance at St. Anthony’s Hall.

**C*4 Wrestling returns on Friday, May 13th in Ottawa with Joey Janela on the card.

FORMULA 1 RATINGS, U.S. MEDIA RIGHTS

One of the subjects we have been covering over the past few weeks is Formula 1, mainly because Wai Ting and I have both become fans through the “Drive to Survive” series that is four seasons deep on Netflix. Like “Ultimate Fighter” seventeen years ago, it’s been an entryway in creating new fans of the sport while its U.S. domestic rights deal with ESPN comes due after the current season. For many reasons, it’s a unique comparison when studying WWE and AEW given that Formula 1 is closer to professional wrestling than it is traditional stick-and-ball sports and like AEW, has shown growth at a time when younger audiences are falling on television.

It was stunning to learn that the existing U.S. deal that Formula 1 has with ESPN is merely “in the neighborhood” of $5 million per year, according to Sports Business Journal.

This past weekend, F1 held its Italian Grand Prix on Sunday morning with the race beginning at 8:55 a.m. ET on ESPN and beat everything on cable that day except the NBA Playoffs and an episode of 90 Day Fiance on TLC. The race averaged 1,003,000 viewers and 0.39 in 18-49 and 0.53 in 18-34. Keep in mind, this was 9 a.m. eastern time meaning your west coast viewership was either watching this at 6 a.m. or not watching at all. The race beat out Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, Premier League soccer on the USA Network, and MLS on ESPN. The race also topped the last four weeks of AEW Dynamite airing in primetime.

Brandon Thurston researched the numbers for F1 going back to 2016 and it outlines the growth through the Netflix series, which debuted in early 2019 but it’s the last two years where numbers have dramatically grown.

Prior to the ESPN deal, F1 was airing on NBC Sports Network and CNBC before moving to ESPN in 2018.

The 2019 F1 season consisted of eighteen races over the year with a 50 percent increase in the 18-49 demographic and a 21 percent gain in overall viewership coinciding with the first season streaming on Netflix. There was a drop in 2020, which saw 22 Grand Prix races with that figure jumping to 27 in 2021.

After five Grand Prix races in 2022, F1 is averaging 918,000 viewers and 0.34 in 18-49, which is up 28 and 42 percent from 2021. Since 2018 (pre-Netflix), ESPN has seen overall viewership grow 90 percent while the 18-49 demo has increased from 0.12 to 0.34 or 183 percent.

What I see as the ultimate value is that the co-production between Netflix and F1 has perfectly married television with streaming. The Netflix series has created new F1 fans that have watched the series and are now regular viewers of the races on television and the two serve one another. If Netflix is looking to expand into live sports, F1 would seem like a paltry investment compared to the content budget they earmark each year and would retain a fan throughout the season to watch on the service rather than binge through a season, or cancel your subscription and be sent to ESPN.

At present, UFC is a much more valuable property given its pay-per-view component that has assisted ESPN+ in growing itself in a crowded market. Unlike F1, the UFC and WWE/AEW provide weekly programming with no off-season and a model where the weekly television (Raw, SmackDown, Dynamite, Rampage, Fight Night cards) also serve as promotional vehicles for an audience that is educated to pay for the larger events. For Comcast-NBC Universal and ESPN, they have become the domestic pay-per-view carrier, so it’s one hand serving the other compared to AEW that operates in the traditional pay-per-view environment rather than placing its events on HBO Max.

It’s the opposite of the F1 model where you pay for the series on Netflix and the big events take place on cable.

Logic would dictate that F1 is due for a large increase in rights but it’s contingent on interest from multiple networks. Nick Khan theorized over the past year that the large sports leagues will be unaffected by the fallout of the pandemic and land big media rights deals and that has played out with the deals for the NFL and NHL and most certainly will when the NBA rights are up for grabs. He believes that it’s the “middle class” that would be hurt and I would put both AEW and F1 into that category – so, the question is whether the growth shown by each is seen as an investment towards continued growth or that it’s less essential and networks are going to be conservative knowing the major rights they will want to bid on. It’s a reason to watch this story this year regarding F1’s rights and if they get a large increase, it would be a point in favor of those believing AEW stands to receive a major upgrade in several years.

ON THIS DATE

A very big angle in Memphis Wrestling in 1987 where Austin Idol defeated Jerry Lawler in a Hair vs. Hair match at the Mid-South Coliseum with the help of Tommy Rich. The added stipulation to the match was that Idol would refund all of the ticket money to the fans if he failed to shave Lawler’s head which added to the incredible heat when Idol won the match.

A famous segment during the Monday Night War where DX was sent to the Norfolk Scope, the site of an edition of WCW Monday Nitro, and aired the footage on that night’s Raw. This included a doctored sign outside of the Norfolk Scope indicating that tickets were still available, which led to TBS filing a complaint about the WWF’s edit. This began a series of back-and-forth tactics as WWF followed this segment by sending DX to CNN Center and eventually, Eric Bischoff responded on WCW programming by challenging Vince McMahon to a fight at the Slamboree pay-per-view. The timing came as WWF was experiencing a full burst of momentum coming out of a successful WrestleMania and huge expansion due to Mike Tyson, and Steve Austin taking off as the company’s top star. Despite WWF taking over the ratings battle on Monday nights, WCW had its most successful year ever and would draw some gigantic crowds throughout 1998 and into 1999.

The lone match between The Rock and Bill Goldberg took place at Backlash in 2003 from Worcester, Massachusetts. It was The Rock’s last match with WWE until the following year’s WrestleMania with Goldberg winning the match but falling short of expectations. One month in, you had a sense that it was not going to be a seamless transition for Goldberg inside the WWE environment with a lot of factors at play. It is fascinating how they programmed Goldberg so well during his 2016 return against Brock Lesnar but when they had Goldberg in his prime at the age of 36, he was totally squandered that year with few highs and many lows that left both sides at odds and calling it a day when his one-year deal expired.

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John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss COVID-19 affecting AEW & Pro Wrestling NOAH’s world champions, NXT 2.0, Raw & F1 ratings, and AEW Dynamite tonight.
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John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions about anything and everything in the April 2022 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
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Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo talk about the week’s wrestling business news, including a look at various consumer-driven metrics for AEW and WWE over time.
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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.