POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Conor McGregor fuels latest season of TUF, WWE Raw numbers against NBA

Photo Courtesy: UFC

POST IT NOTES

**We will be live with Rewind-A-Dynamite at 10 p.m. ET tonight immediately after AEW Dynamite. For Café members, we will continue immediately after Rewind-A-Dynamite with a review of the season premiere of Dark Side of the Ring covering Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch.

**On Thursday, Rewind-A-Wai #131 will be released with a review of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II feat. Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka vs. Bayley, The Revival vs. DIY, and more from the Barclays Center. This show will be exclusive to POST Café members.

**Brandon Thurston and I will be speaking with Dark Side of the Ring’s Evan Husney on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET and going over the latest news on the POST YouTube channel. Brandon will also be the guest on The Long & Winding Royal Road this Saturday to discuss Toshiaki Kawada vs. Gary Albright from October 1995.

**There will be a Watch Along next Thursday, June 8 for POST Café members.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John & Wai (10 p.m. ET)
Tonight: Dark Side of the Ring – “Chris & Tammy” (Patreon)
Thursday: Pollock & Thurston – Evan Husney, Dark Side of the Ring
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDownw with John & Wai (Patreon)
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & Brandon Thurston (Kawada vs. Albright, Oct. 1995)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
Sunday: NJPW Dominion Review with Karen Peterson & Bruce Lord (Patreon)

WRESTLING NEWS

**WWE Raw averaged 1,611,000 viewers and 683,000 (0.52) in the 18-48 demographic on Monday, which ranked fourth behind the NBA coverage of Game 7 between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. The NBA game drew 12 million viewers and an astonishing 4.24 rating in the key demo. Raw did beat the NHL playoff game between Las Vegas and Dallas, which averaged 1,584,000 and 0.44 on ESPN.

The fact that Raw only fell by two percent in viewers and three percent in the demo is not bad even though it was Raw’s third-lowest audience of 2023. Compared to last week’s NBA playoff competition, viewership as up 46 percent, and 18-49 was up 50 percent for the Heat vs. Celtics this week. Raw was affected by the game as the first hour did 1,642,000 (0.53 in the demo) and increased to 1,696,000 (0.54) in the second hour and dropped to its third lowest final hour of the year with 1,495,000 (0.50), which ended with Seth Rollins & AJ Styles against Judgment Day. Females 18-49 grew by 12 percent throughout the show and didn’t decline week over week. Males 18-49 were down by three percent this week and declined 14 percent throughout the show. (Showbuzz Daily, Wrestlenomics)

**In Canada, Raw averaged 228,400 viewers and 97,800 in the 25-54 demographic on Sportsnet 360 with viewership up by 1.5 percent but the demo fell by 17 percent from last week. Raw ranked fourth among sports programs on Monday behind the NHL and NBA coverage.

**AEW Dynamite is at the Viejas Arena in San Diego, California following Double or Nothing and built around another Tony Khan announcement regarding the first episode of Collision. It is an advantageous week to make a major announcement as Dynamite will not have NBA or NHL competition tonight. Vanderpump Rules airs at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo with the second part of the series’ three-part reunion special. This is expected to generate a massive audience with the show doing tremendously well throughout this season. Bravo is stretching this series for all it is worth with part three of the reunion next week, and then a “Secrets Revealed” episode on 6/14. AEW Dynamite has announced the following matches and segments for tonight:
*Tony Khan’s announcement regarding Collision on 6/14
*Konosuke Takeshita and Don Callis to appear
*Chris Jericho & Saraya vs. Adam Cole & Dr. Britt Baker
*Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta vs. Lucha Bros. & Bandido
*Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin vs. Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona
*TBS Championship: Kris Statlander © vs. Nyla Rose

**The season premiere of Dark Side of the Ring focused on Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch, although was a closer look at the former than the latter. Sytch did not participate in the episode on advice from her legal counsel and realistically, you could do a singular episode on Sytch. A strong companion to this episode is No Gimmicks Needed, which is the book by John Cosper and Johnny Candido (Chris’ half-brother, who is interviewed on Dark Side). In the book, Sytch comes off much more negatively than the Dark Side episode. Chris’ family outright blames Sytch for the many problems that Chris had with Chris’ father flat out believing that Chris would have lived if he had never met Tammy. Dark Side certainly chose some great subjects for interviews including Tom Prichard and Lance Evers among those close to Chris. We will discuss this episode further tonight on the POST Café immediately after Rewind-A-Dynamite.

**Tickets for AEW Collision at the United Center in Chicago are continuing to move. The latest update has the number of distributed tickets approaching 7,000, so that is a healthy bump since the initial number reported last Friday when tickets went on sale for the 6/17 premiere episode. While a sell-out seems ambitious, as the date draws nearer and anticipation of CM Punk grows, it would suggest a very healthy number by show time. (WrestleTix)

**Pat McAfee’s new deal with ESPN is reportedly worth in the neighborhood of $85 million over four years, which would work out to approximately $17 million per year. The financial terms were reported by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, who spoke with McAfee on the record with the personality not confirming nor denying that amount:

Interesting number. I don’t talk about the business side of it all, the actual numbers and such.

McAfee is exiting a deal FanDuel that was reportedly worth $120 million over four years, but the deal with ESPN takes a significant amount off the shoulders of McAfee and his team to producer their daily show. McAfee is paying his production and on-air staff, so the figure is more of a licensing deal than a straight salary for McAfee.

I will be paying my people and we will be producing the show fully. [ESPN] will be handling a lot more of the backend stuff, while also providing a platform that is incomparable linear wise with a network of talent that is deep and awesome.

Marchand adds that the amount will also compensate McAfee for his work on College GameDay, which he joined last fall and took McAfee from his weekly WWE duties on Friday Night SmackDown. Since joining College GameDay, McAfee made a pair of appearances for WWE when he called the Royal Rumble this past January and appeared as a surprise at WrestleMania 39, and had an impromptu match with The Miz.

Sticking with McAfee, he took a shot at AEW during his show on Tuesday and criticized the attendance at Double or Nothing. McAfee made a note of showing the crowd where the hard camera is stationed and “you can see a lot of things”, noting AEW found that out this past weekend and claimed that AEW had an arena that was “three-quarters empty”. For context, WrestleTix reported a final count of 10,550 tickets distributed for Double or Nothing.

**The NBA Finals involving the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets begin on Thursday and will air on ABC and streaming on ESPN+. There will be at least two games that collide with WWE and AEW programming. Game 3 will air against Dynamite next Wednesday and Game 4 airs next Friday against SmackDown. If there is a Game 5, it would air on 6/15 against Raw. Analysts are expecting a smaller audience for the final as compared to expectations if the L.A. Lakers and/or Boston Celtics had made it to the final.

**The Stanley Cup Final between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers will be airing on cable on WBD-owned stations. The series will air all its games of the final on TNT and will be simulcast on at least one other WBD property. TruTV is set to simulcast all the games and TBS will also simulcast on nights where there are no conflicts. The series begins Saturday night with Game 2 on Monday, Game 3 next Thursday 6/8, and Game 4 on Saturday 6/10 with possible games on Tuesday 6/13, Friday 6/16, and Monday 6/19. The only possible issue for AEW is if the series goes to a sixth game which would likely affect Rampage that night. The Stanley Cup Finals will be alternating between ABC and TNT each year throughout the life of their existing deals with the NHL.

**The WWE stock closed at $101.32 on Wednesday.

**AEW has released an 18-minute video on Kris Statlander’s return from injury and winning the TBS Championship at Double or Nothing.

MMA NEWS

TUF 31 kicked off Tuesday night and despite the show being exceptionally long in the tooth, it’s the most attention the series has received in years due to the coaches involved. Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are the focal points and reason for the show airing on ESPN and thus, giving the show its largest window since the glory days of its run.

While not shocking, it is still amazing that despite the litany of allegations and legal issues surrounding McGregor that he is so openly embraced and therefore, endorsed by ESPN. Now, one can state that he is innocent until proven guilty and has not been convicted of anything, but it’s not even a debate or issue that has been raised. He has a level of influence and power that far exceeds the standards that would be applied to most others. The last serious accusation was regarding an alleged incident on McGregor’s yacht in the summer of 2022 where a woman claimed to be assaulted by McGregor and eventually, jumped off the yacht for her safety and was rescued by the coast guard. She did not file a statement with authorities until January – and later, the woman’s car was set on fire after filing the statement and she has since discontinued her civil suit for unknown reasons.

McGregor is undergoing an image enhancement through a recent Netflix series detailing his comeback from his broken leg after the last fight against Dustin Poirier in 2021, and the ESPN exposure he will receive over the next two months. McGregor and Chandler are set to fight but no date has been confirmed. USADA has stated that McGregor would have to undergo six months of testing before a fight could occur since he withdrew from the testing pool and there is no confirmation he has returned to the pool. The UFC does have the power to override USADA’s guidelines but the statement by the testing body made its stance clear and would not be their call. This was a controversial subject in the wake of Brock Lesnar’s positive drug tests in the summer of 2016 after he bypassed any pre-fight testing window to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200.

The series itself consists of former UFC fighters and prospects in the lightweight and bantamweight divisions. McGregor’s team consists of all the prospects with Chandler coaching the vets. The first fight saw Roosevelt Roberts (12-3, 1 NC) starch Nate Jennerman (16-5) with a pair of straight right hands to drop him and finish with hammer fists in about ten seconds and getting the season off to an intense start. Roberts fought for the UFC from 2018-2021 and went 4-3 with 1 NC and was cut after being knocked out by Ignacio Bahamondes. Since he was cut, he won two fights outside the promotion and fought for Eagle FC in his last outing last year.

They announced all the fights for the first round of the tournaments with Trevor Wells taking on Timur Valiev next week. The other UFC veterans on the show include Austin Hubbard, Cody Gibson, Brad Katona (who trains at SBG Ireland with McGregor but is on Chandler’s team), Kurt Holobaugh, Jason Knight, and Hunter Azure. The prospects are Jennerman, Wells, Aaron McKenzie, Mando Gutierrez, Carlos Vera, Lee Hammond, Landon Quinones, and Rico DiSciullo.

*****
upNXT
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from May 30th, 2023 featuring Gigi Dolin vs Jacy Jayne inside a Weaponized Steel Cage and Carmelo Hayes vs Noam Dar for the NXT Championship.
*****
WRESTLENOMICS RADIO
Brandon Thurston and Jesse Collings talk about AEW Double or Nothing, another WWE event in Saudi Arabia, and Nick Khan’s talk at the JPMorgan TMT conference.
*****
REWIND-A-RAW
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw with new champ Seth Rollins teaming with SmackDown’s AJ Styles, a Fatal 4-Way for the vacant Women’s Tag Titles, and Men’s MITB Qualifiers.
*****
NXT Battleground Review
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT Battleground from May 28th, 2023 headlined by Carmelo Hayes vs Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship
*****
AEW Double or Nothing Review
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Double or Nothing 2023 from Las Vegas with MJF vs. Darby Allin vs. Jack Perry vs. Sammy Guevara for the AEW Championship and The Elite vs. Blackpool Combat Club in “Anarchy In The Arena”.
*****
WWE Night of Champions Review
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Night of Champions 2023 from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship.
*****

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About John Pollock 5574 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.