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July 2, 2020

WWE Purchases EVOLVE Wrestling

WWE has officially purchased EVOLVE Wrestling, PWInsider reports.

The deal was recently finalized after several months of negotiations. WWE now has the complete right to use the EVOLVE brand name and produce EVOLVE events.

WWE has also acquired the EVOLVE video library.

As we noted in June, EVOLVE had been going through some financial issues and the COVID-19 pandemic made it worse. The cancellation of WrestleMania 36 Week in Tampa was catastrophic for the promotion.

EVOLVE was founded in 2010 by Gabe Sapolsky. Since 2015, the promotion has had a working relationship with WWE. When they signed that deal, EVOLVE created a new LLC, which is the company WWE has acquired. WWE has not purchased WWNLive, which will still reportedly go on.

As for talent, PWInsider reports that the existing EVOLVE/WWN talent contracts are not part of the sale. Though there is an expectation of at least four talents that will be signed and go to WWE NXT.

Apollo Crews, Austin Theory, Drew Gulak, Keith Lee, Johnny Gargano, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, and Oney Lorcan are just a few who used the promotion as a stepping stone to get to WWE.

WWE NXT Great American Bash Beats AEW Dynamite Fyter Fest In Total Viewers

Week 38 of the Wednesday Night War saw the Great American Bash edition of WWE NXT beat the Fyter Fest edition of AEW Dynamite in total viewership for the second week in a row, but Dynamite won in the ratings for the key demographic once again. This is how last week's numbers went.

Wednesday's NXT drew 792,000 viewers (+1% from last week) on the USA Network, topping the 748,000 viewers (+18%) scored by Dynamite on TNT by 6%, according to Showbuzz Daily.

AEW ranked #6 in the Cable Top 150 for the 18-49 demo, while NXT ranked #13. AEW ranked #61 in viewership, while NXT ranked #60 in viewership.

Last week's Dynamite episode drew 633,000 viewers and ranked #17 in the Cable Top 150, and #66 in viewership. Last week's NXT episode drew 786,000 viewers and ranked #26 in the Cable Top 150, and #63 in viewership.

AEW drew a 0.29 rating (+32% from last week) in the 18-49 demographic while NXT drew a 0.22 (+16%) in the same demo this week. Last week's AEW show drew a 0.22 rating while the NXT episode drew a 0.19 in that demographic.

This is the second-highest NXT viewership of 2020, the best since the February 19 episode, which was the first episode after the "Takeover: Portland" event. That episode drew 794,000 viewers. It was the best number that NXT has garnered in the demo since they started running empty arena shows in March. For AEW, it was the most viewers for an episode of Dynamite since the June 3rd episode.

June 29, 2020

Shane McMahon's Ideanomics fights back against accusations of fraud

NXT Beats AEW Dynamite In Viewership, Dynamite Garners Lowest Numbers In Show Histor

Week 37 of the Wednesday Night War saw WWE NXT beat AEW Dynamite in viewership, but Dynamite won in the ratings for the key demographic.

NXT drew 786,000 viewers (+5.4% from last week) on the USA Network, topping the 633,000 viewers (-18%) garnered by Dynamite on TNT by 24%, according to Showbuzz Daily.

AEW ranked #17 in the Cable Top 150 for the 18-49 demographic, while NXT ranked #26. AEW ranked #66 in viewership, while NXT ranked #63 in viewership.

Last week's Dynamite episode drew 772,000 viewers and ranked #8 in the Cable Top 150, and #62 in viewership. Last week's NXT episode drew 746,000 viewers and ranked #25 in the Cable Top 150, and #65 in viewership.

Dynamite still beat NXT in the 18-49 demo, although by the smallest margin so far this year. Dynamite drew a 0.22 rating (-21%) in the 18-49 demographic, topping the 0.19 rating (-5%) garnered by NXT in the same demo by 15.8% this week. Last week's AEW show drew a 0.28 rating while the NXT episode drew a 0.20 in that demographic.

This is the lowest AEW viewership in the history of the show, and their lowest rating in the key 18-49 demographic. This is the second-highest NXT viewership of the year, next to the February 19 episode, which drew 794,000 viewers. This week's NXT 18-49 demographic is in the higher range of what NXT has been drawing in the coronavirus era.

MTV's Challenge topped the night in the 18-49 demographic on the Cable Top 150, with a 0.55 rating, with just 941,000 viewers. Hannity on FOX News topped the night on cable in viewership with 4.374 million viewers, ranking #3 on the Cable Top 150 with a 0.34 rating in the key demo.

Based on overnight numbers, Chicago Med on NBC topped the night on network TV in viewership, with an average of 3.855 million viewers. Taking The Stage, Game On!, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, MasterChef and Ultimate Tag all tied for the night in the 18-49 demographic.

June 26, 2020

Paul Levesque's Updated Corporate Bio

Paul “Triple H” Levesque is WWE’s Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy & Development. In this role, he oversees the Company’s Talent Development department, serves as a senior advisor to the CEO for talent strategy and is the Executive Producer of NXT, WWE’s third global touring brand, which airs live every Wednesday night on USA Network and NXT UK, a weekly one-hour series airing Wednesdays on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland.

Levesque is revolutionizing the business with his global recruiting strategy and developmental training processes. In order to create a platform for future success, he established the Company’s state-of-the-art training facility, the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida and last year opened the UK Performance Center, the first world-class WWE training facility outside of the United States. In addition to strength, conditioning, in-ring training and character development, recruits participate in development programs focusing on life skills, continuing education, health and wellness and career planning. Building off this success, Levesque remains focused on the development and implementation of WWE’s Performance Center/Global Localization strategy.

Prior to his current role, Levesque oversaw WWE’s Talent Relations and Live Events departments. He also played an integral part in the Company’s creative process, helping to shape the creative direction and storylines of WWE’s programming.

Levesque debuted as a WWE Superstar, “Triple H,” in 1995 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019. He has held the WWE Heavyweight Championship title 14 times, captured every major championship, headlined thousands of WWE events and entertained millions around the world. Levesque is married to Stephanie McMahon and together in 2014 they established Connor’s Cure, a fund dedicated to furthering pediatric cancer research. He was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame in 2017 and is a board member for the Concussion Legacy Foundation. He has served on both WWE’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors since 2015.

He is a father of three daughters ages 13, 11 and 9.

June 24, 2020

Mike Quackenbush Issues Statement On CHIKARA Shutting Down After "#SpeakingOut" Accusations

CHIKARA founder and pro wrestling veteran Mike Quackenbush has officially announced the end of his CHIKARA promotion. He has also stepped down as the head trainer of the WrestleFactory school.

As noted earlier, CHIKARA was set to shut down after several allegations against the promotion in the current "#SpeakingOut" movement, which we noted before at this link. Quackenbush confirmed the end of the promotion tonight and issued a statement on the accusations. His statement is as follows:

"I have been made aware of recent allegations about myself, and people in my employ.
I take all allegations seriously - whether they are about me, or members of my team.
Addressing these with openness and transparency is of the utmost importance to me. So these matters can be given the proper time and attention, I am discontinuing CHIKARA and resigning as head trainer at the Wrestle Factory.
I'll make a full statement on these matters in the near future."

Quackenbush launched CHIKARA back in 2002.

Multiple WWE Personnel Reportedly Test Positive For COVID-19, Including In-Ring Talent

As first reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet, we can add WWE to the shortlist of sports organizations affected by COVID-19. After last week’s first case of confirmed COVID-19 caused a delay in their taping and their first mass testing for the illness, inside sources are saying that at least three others who have been in the Performance Center during tapings have received positive test results. It’s unknown the exact number of positive results and how many of them are in-ring performers.

Sources also say that WWE will now be running more tests before this week’s TV tapings in order to ensure that the disease hasn’t spread into the locker room or backstage. The Performance Center is located in Orlando, Florida, right in the middle of a state that’s seen rising infection rates every day since going through with plans to reopen businesses two weeks ago.

June 22, 2020

FOX Sports Issues Statement On WWE Backstage, More Backstage Details On The Future Of The Show

FOX Sports issued the following statement to POST Wrestling on the future of WWE Backstage:

"Today, we announced programming changes designed to better address the needs of our business. As a result, some positions in our production department have been eliminated."

FOX officials reportedly held a meeting earlier today to inform everyone who works on WWE Backstage that the series was done in its current format for now, according to PWInsider. It was also noted that there will not be a new episode of Backstage tomorrow night. WWE Women's Tag Team & SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley had been announced for the new episode but it's likely that a re-run will air instead.

Among those who worked on the show, it's believed that Backstage is completely done beyond the outside change that it could be used for special programming down the line. There is no gameplan for that to happen as of now, but things are being left open with the idea that FS1 could do more if they choose to.

Florida reporter Jon Alba provided more details on what's happening to the show and what FOX had in mind for the WWE product at one point.

He wrote, "Prior to #WWE moving to Fox, there was an entire division being put together dedicated solely to the WWE product. There were feature producers being brought on. They were searching for on-air talent. It certainly seemed like a major investment. Appears today that's mostly over."

Alba wrote in a follow-up tweet, "FS1 will be stripping WWE Backstage back to airing only around PPVs and big shows, but none of the cuts will affect Smackdown's status on Friday nights on Fox, as reported by @Ourand_SBJ. Says around 20 people lost jobs today through boxing and #WWE divisions."

WWE Backstage premiered on November 5, 2019. Last week's show with WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart as the special guest drew 175,000 viewers for the best viewership of the year, and the second-best in show history, going back to the November 19 episode, which drew 180,000 viewers.

June 21, 2020

The Undertaker Claims He Has ‘No Desire To Get Back In The Ring’

The Undertaker saw the last chapter of his ‘Last Ride’ documentary go live on the WWE Network and made some comments that seem to hint that he has wrestled his last WWE match. It appears that the Boneyard match with AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 might have been the perfect ending for The Undertaker.

Speaking on his documentary, Undertaker said, “Here you are, climbing on your motorcycle and taking off. There was a lot of thought and a lot of emotion, one of those being ‘are you happy enough with that?’ It was a powerful moment. You don’t necessarily always get those. If there was ever a perfect ending to a career, that right there was it. If Vince was in a pinch, would I come back? I guess time would only tell there. In case of emergency, break glass, you pull out The Undertaker. I would consider it. At this point in my career, I have no desire to get back in the ring.”

Regardless of The Undertaker not completely closing the door, he ended by saying, “There’s nothing left for me to conquer or accomplish. The game has changed. It’s time for new guys to come up. The time just seems right. This documentary has helped me discover that and opened my eyes to the bigger picture and not judge myself as harshly these last few years.”

June 19, 2020

NXT UK’s Ligero Issues Statement On Recent Allegations, Admits Sending Unwanted Messages

NXT UK wrestler Ligero has responded to several allegations bandied against him. While he denies any assault, he does admit to inappropriate behavior and sending unwanted messages to female talent.

“The current story that has been released by Violet O’Hara/Claire-Michelle Oldfield is neither accurate nor true,” Ligero stated on Twitter. “This is a completely false allegation and whilst I’ve done other things in my life that I deeply regret, this isn’t an accurate or truthful portrayal of events. This is something I strongly deny and is something I’ve been in the process of speaking to a legal team about.”

In a separate statement, Ligero admitted some wrongdoing. “Regarding the other statements from people like Laura, Natalie who have spoken out about the way they were made to feel, and others that have come forward about unwanted messages, I have no excuse,” Ligero admits.”

“It’s inappropriate, it’s an embarrassment and it’s an absolute shameful way to act from someone in a position of trust. I sincerely apologise for my actions and any hurt I’ve caused. I have no justification of my actions in the slightest. In these situations, I have failed people as a friend, as a fiancĂ©e and as a decent human being.”

WWE Releases Jack Gallagher After Rape Allegation

WWE 205 Live Superstar Jake Gallagher has been released from the company. WWE announced the departure this evening.

Gallagher's release comes after he was accused of rape by a woman named Becky this week as the "#SpeakingOut" campaign continues to out several pro wrestlers and other people in the business.

Becky recalled the incident in a tweet and noted that it happened on New Year's Eve in 2014.

Positive Tests Reveal True Depths and Incompetence of WWE

From Deadspin.com:

As “Monday Night Raw” was wrapping up last night, reports started to leak out that a member of WWE’s developmental program had tested positive for COVID-19. While no one would ever look to a wrestling company to be an example or beacon of responsible action and safety, the aftermath has torn off any semblance of cover WWE had that it was taking all of this seriously.

It’s hard to pinpoint which is the more galling aspect: that the talent and crew of WWE found out about the positive test the same way the rest of us did, through social media and the internet last night, or that everyone showed up to work thinking they were safe, or however close to that word they felt by working for WWE, when in fact they weren’t.

Second, last night was the first time WWE let in non-employees into their very limited, encased crowds. Friends of performers and local fans were allowed in, though they had to sign a waiver that they would not hold WWE responsible should they get sick. Real confidence builder, that.

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