POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Analysis of WWE Raw’s TV rights

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11 p.m. ET on POST YouTube)
Wednesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & John Siino (1 p.m. ET)
Wednesday: Pollock & Thurston – TKO Q3 Earnings (3 p.m.)
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite
Thursday: Pollock & Ting – TALK (POST Wrestling Café)

My audio news update for Monday, November 6 is available for Double Double & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. If you sign up for the Café, you receive your won custom RSS feed and will have the updates sent directly to your listening device.

WRESTLING NEWS

**J.P. Morgan has an extensive analysis of the TKO stock prior to its third-quarter earnings results, which will be released on Tuesday. The analysts at the group believe the stock is undervalued and have set a price target of $100 for December 2024 (TKO stock is currently trading at around $84) with its belief that WWE Raw is well positioned for a healthy increase in its next contract cycle with a 1.42x estimated increase (from an AAV of $265 million per year to $375 million). They feel the concerns of the Saudi Arabian investment in the PFL are overblown (something we have noted since the stock dropped after that news) and that WWE and UFC have many revenue and cost synergies that have yet to be tapped into including combining weekends in a host city for a major WWE and UFC event with the ability to attract site fees from governments and find additional sponsorships.

They cite optimism for the Raw rights based on the belief some networks/streamers may have been more interested in bidding for its rights over SmackDown, along with the fact it’s a year-round programming, and a lower cost per viewer hour than many sports at $0.97 per viewer compared to $2.78 for the NFL on Amazon Prime, $2.33 for College Football Playoffs on ESPN, and $2.31 for MLB on ESPN.  The new SmackDown deal on USA will jump to $1.35 per viewer while AEW remains a giant bargain at $0.37 per viewer. It sees four potential bidders for Raw in the next cycle with Disney, Amazon, WBD, and NBC Universal while not completely ruling out Netflix or Apple. On the Disney end, they believe FX would be the landing spot for Raw with the possibility of the third hour airing on Hulu (which Disney is buying out Comcast for complete control of) and leveraging Raw to acquire larger subscription fees for FX. They see WBD as more of a longshot due to the AEW relationship but in its report, don’t rule out the possibility of Fox Sports bidding for AEW after losing SmackDown and freeing up WBD to pursue Raw. J.P. Morgan sees NBC Universal as the insurance for Raw if they don’t see a meaningful increase elsewhere.

The report also states an enthusiasm behind UFC’s rights with ESPN expiring at the end of 2025 with the note that it is possible negotiations begin next year. The contract with ESPN+ to become the exclusive domestic distributor of the UFC’s pay-per-views began at the start of 2019 with the pay-per-views costing $59.99 and have jumped to $79.99 during the life of the deal and doesn’t include the monthly ESPN+ subscription. Disney will hold its earnings call this Wednesday and we’ll see an updated amount of ESPN+ subscribers and whether they are higher than Peacock’s latest number of 28 million subscribers.

**The TKO earnings reports for Q3 will be released on Tuesday with a call with analysts to follow at 5 p.m. ET.

**Entertainment Weekly has a story on “The Iron Claw” with interviews involving the principal actors and director Sean Durkin. In the piece, Durkin notes the omission of Chris Adkisson from the film was a decision that was made for time management. They credited Chavo Guerrero, Jr. with handling the wrestling scenes in the movie as Chavo’s resume in film and television continues to grow after holding previous roles on the GLOW series on Netflix and Young Rock. Due to A24’s interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA, those involved with the film are able to promote it prior to the release on December 22.

**WWE Raw is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania with just over 7,200 tickets distributed at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, per WrestleTix. For the post-PLE edition of Raw, there is very little announced in advance beyond the four-way match to determine Gunther’s next challenger and a throwaway match involving Akira Tozawa. The Monday Night Football game on ABC & ESPN features the L.A. Chargers and New York Jets but they do not have the MLB playoffs to contend with any longer. Below are the announced matches:
*#1 Contenders Match: The Miz vs. Ricochet vs. Bronson Reed vs. Ivar
*Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Akira Tozawa

**In Canada, Friday Night SmackDown was the #1 sports program for the night with 235,400 viewers and 76,800 in the 25-54 demographic on Sportsnet 360 as it topped the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres and F1 Qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

**After NJPW Power Struggle, there are five matches officially set for Wrestle Kingdom 18 on January 4. The card will see SANADA defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito, the rematch between Kazuchika Okada and Bryan Danielson, Will Ospreay vs. Jon Moxley vs. David Finlay for a new title, Hiromu Takahashi defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title against El Desperado, and Catch 2/2 challenging Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag titles. The World Tag League tournament begins November 20 with the winners challenging Bishamon for the IWGP tag titles.

**With NJPW confident that Danielson will be ready to wrestle by January 4, it will be interesting to see what Danielson’s status is for the Worlds End pay-per-view on December 30 or if he’ll be held off until the Tokyo Dome.

**Katsuhiko Nakajima won the Triple Crown on Sunday by beating Yuma Aoyagi in a spectacular match, which I would peg as the second-best match of the weekend behind Will Ospreay and Shota Umino. There were a lot of scary-looking suplexes in the Triple Crown match and Nakajima’s offense had a different edge than most. The match escalated into a crazy exchange of German suplexes before Aoyagi kicked out at one and returned fire with a brainbuster. Nakajima was destroying him with kicks until a PK was blocked and Aoyagi hit a Uranage and was dealt a brutal-looking slap that would make KENTA blush. That led to the Northern Lights Bomb and Nakajima won the match in 24 minutes and 17 seconds. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for the type of hard-hitting, break-neck pace of a big Nakahima match, this was tremendous. Nakajima will defend the title against Kento Miyahara on December 31 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium in a rematch from July, which Nakajima won.

**AJPW drew 596 fans for the afternoon show and 797 for the evening card that included the Triple Crown match. The afternoon show was headlined by Jun & Rei Saito retaining the Tag Titles against Minoru Suzuki & Hokuto Omori and El Lindaman beating Jonathan Gresham to retain the Junior Heavyweight Championship.

**Yuki Yoshioka & Dragon Dia won the Open the Twin Gate titles on Sunday’s Dragon Gate “Gate of Destiny” card in front of 2,408 at EDION Arena in Osaka. Yoshioka & Dia beat M3K of Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda, who held the titles since June. The new champions previously held the titles for four months in 2022. The show was headlined by Masoka Kikuta retaining the Open the Dream Gate title against Big Boss Shimizu, YAMATO & Dragon Kid & Punch Tominaga retained the Open the Triangle Gate titles against Don Fujii & Takashi Yoshida & The Bodyguard, and ISHIN kept the Open the Brave Gate title beating Ryoya Tanaka. (Purolove.com)

**Colin Hunter, who runs the excellent Kayfabe News blog, is raising funds on Kickstarter for a documentary on the history of wrestling referees. The doc is titled The Ref Didn’t See It and is aiming to raise $46,000 CDN (they are at approximately $8,300) with just over two weeks remaining in the campaign. The premise is Hunter seeking to learn how to become a pro wrestling referee while speaking to veterans of the industry including Earl Hebner, Bill Alfonso, Kevin Sullivan, Colt Cabana, Tommy Dreamer, and many others as seen in the trailer.

**Afa Anoai’s World Xtreme Wrestling has signed with the Premier Streaming Network with the deal going into effect in 2024.

**WaleMania has been announced for April 4 at the Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia during WrestleMania Week. Tickets for the event go on sale this Friday with pre-sales beginning on Wednesday.

**NXT on Tuesday has announced two Iron Survivor Challenge Qualifying matches with Fallon Henley vs. Tiffany Stratton (originally advertised for last week and moved after an attack angle on the show) and Tyler Bate vs. Dijak, Noam Dar defends the Heritage Cup against Akira Tozawa and Bron Breakker vs. Von Wagner.

**The updated lineup for Wednesday’s edition of Dynamite at the Moda Center in Portland has MJF vs. Daniel Garcia for the AEW Championship, Samoa Joe vs. Keith Lee for the ROH Television Title, Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Swerve Strickland, Mark Briscoe vs. Jay White, and Julia Hart vs. Red Velvet (Velvet’s first match since February).

MMA NEWS

**UFC CEO Dana White announced several headline fights for the promotion’s pay-per-views in the first quarter of 2024. White announced that Sean Strickland will defend the Middleweight Championship against Dricus du Plessis in January (expected to be on January 20), in February it will be Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria for the Featherweight Championship, and March will see a rematch between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera for the Bantamweight title. White did not confirm specific dates for the three cards. Dricus du Plessis was in line for a title fight after beating Robert Whittaker last July but couldn’t turn around quickly enough for a September fight with then-champion Israel Adesanya, opening the door for Strickland to get the fight and win the title. Volkanovski is coming off an extremely short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev where he was stopped in the first round of their lightweight title affair. It seemed very concerning when Volkanovski wanted to return in January so quickly after a stoppage like that. February is at least one month extra but is still a very fast turnaround and these types of decisions tend to add up for fighters over the long haul. O’Malley’s TKO loss to Vera in August 2020 is the only loss of his career and has clearly leveled up over the past three years with wins against Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling in his last two fights to become the 135-pound champion.

**Jorge Masvidal appeared in court on Monday to plead guilty to one misdemeanor battery count over the incident with Colby Covington last year. Masvidal took a plea deal with the state of Florida and in turn, two felony charges for criminal mischief have been dropped. In March 2022, weeks after their fight at UFC 272, Masvidal attacked Covington as he was leaving a restaurant in Miami with Covington reportedly suffering a concussion and broken teeth. Masvidal was credited with previous time served and will cover the court fees. Masvidal’s attorney Brad Cohen posted the following message:

End result time served on. Misdemeanor. Although any atty would be happy, having 2nd degree felonies dismissed for a time served Misdemeanor, this case was bullshit. Colby threatens to kill my client on sight. Instead of living up to that threat, he runs and hides behind a hostess stand. Then files criminal charges. Colby is a real millennial

Masvidal posted the following video message alongside Cohen:

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Jorge Masvidal (@gamebredfighter)

 

**The vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship will be decided in January at UFC 297. Ag.Fight first reported that Raquel Pennington (15-8) and Marya Bueno Silva (10-2-1, 1 NC) will fight for the title, which has been vacant since the retirement of Amanda Nunes. Pennington previously challenged Nunes for the title at UFC 224 in May 20178 and lost by TKO. Pennington has won her last five fights and last competed this past January where she beat Ketlen Vieira by split decision. Silva came off the Contender Series in 2018 and since returning to bantamweight last year, she has gone 3-0 with one no-contest. Silva submitted former champion Holly Holm this past July but it was changed to a no-contest after Silva tested positive for Ritalinic acid, which she said was a result of taking medication for ADHD and is technically under suspension until the end of November.

**Episode 1 of UFC Embedded for UFC 295 this Saturday in New York City.

*****
MCU L8R – Loki Season 2 Ep. 5
This week, Rich Fann and WH Park are joined by Karen Peterson to discuss recent changes in the Hulu/Comcast dynamic, the future of MCU shows pre-showrunner era, and Loki Season 2 Episode 5.
*****
COLLISION COURSE
John Siino and Kate From MTL review AEW Collision featuring Darby Allin vs. Lance Archer, and the Acclaimed’s National 69 Day Celebration.
*****
NJPW POWER STRUGGLE
Bruce Lord and Karen Peterson kick off November with NJPW Power Struggle featuring Will Ospreay defending his IWGP US (UK) Championship against Shota Umino.
*****
WWE CROWN JEWEL
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Crown Jewel 2023 featuring Roman Reigns vs. LA Knight for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN
John Pollock and Wai Ting review Friday Night SmackDown with final confrontations between LA Knight & Roman Reigns, John Cena & Solo Sikoa, and Rey Mysterio & Logan Paul prior to Crown Jewel.
*****
POST PURORESU
WH Park is joined by Karen Peterson to review NJPW Power Struggle & Lonestar Shootout, the future for Katsuhiko Nakajima & more.
*****

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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.