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January 25, 2021

ESPN Is Reportedly Finished With WWE

ESPN has reportedly made the decision to stop airing all WWE content

Dave Meltzer indicated that there are issues between WWE and ESPN as it’s believed that ESPN was a significant part of the WWE Network talks before WWE decided on a deal with NBCU for Peacock. Disney is the parent company of ESPN, and there were rumors at one point of Disney/ESPN potentially being interest in buying WWE. Apparently ESPN found out three weeks ago that they were not getting the WWE Network deal. Meltzer then reported that ESPN has “pretty much shut down” any WWE coverage, and right now no more WWE content is to air on ESPN.

ESPN started airing classic WWE content back in 2020, and often covers significant stories for the company. ESPN launched a WWE subsite in 2016, but it looks like that site is no longer being regularly updated. It was also reported back in February 2020 that WWE and ESPN had talks about potentially moving WWE pay-per-view events to the ESPN+ platform.

WWE Network – Peacock Deal Reportedly Worth More Than $1 Billion

The new WWE Network – Peacock deal is reportedly worth more than $1 billion.

As noted, WWE announced today that NBCUniversal’s Peacock will become the exclusive new home for the WWE Network in the United States on Thursday, March 18. You can click here for full details on the announcement, including price points.

In an update, the Wall Street Journal reports that a person familiar with the deal says it runs for 5 years, and is valued at more than $1 billion. WWE and NBCU did not officially disclose terms of the multi-year agreement.

It’s also been noted that WWE and NBCU will share details on how existing WWE Network subscribers in the United States will be switched to the Peacock platform in the next few weeks. It remains to be seen if current subscribers will be automatically subscribed to Peacock, or how they will do it.

WWE Network will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity outside of the United States and nothing will change for international users.

WSJ also reported that Alan Gold, a partner at Creative Artists Agency’s advisory and investment Evolution Media, served as an adviser on the new WWE – Peacock deal.

NBCU’s Peacock Pins WWE Network Exclusive U.S. Streaming Rights

NBCUniversal’s Peacock soon will be the only place to watch WWE Network in the U.S. WWE and NBCU reached a multiyear agreement giving Peacock exclusive streaming rights to WWE Network for American viewers. The over-the-top wrestling entertainment service’s existing U.S. subscribers (about 1.1 million in total) will be migrated over to Peacock Premium, where they’ll continue to get access to WWE Network but will pay 50% less per month while getting full access to the version of the Peacock Premium tier with ads. Peacock will launch WWE Network on March 18, 2021, when Peacock will begin the rollout of more than 17,000 hours of WWE Network new, original, and library programming (both on-demand and on a new 24-hour channel). The NBCU streamer will have all WWE live events — for no additional charge — including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, with Fastlane the first event to stream on Peacock on Sunday, March 21. (WWE fans who would prefer to order events via traditional pay-per-view will still have that option.) WWE Network will be available on Peacock Premium (which includes ads) for $4.99 per month, half the price of WWE Network’s current $9.99/month pricing. The no-commercials Peacock Premium Plus plan, which costs $9.99/month, also will include WWE Network. The companies plans to share details of how existing WWE Network subscribers in the U.S. will be switched to Peacock (e.g., whether they will be automatically subscribed to Peacock) in the next few weeks. Nothing will change for WWE Network subscribers outside the U.S. Financial terms of the Peacock-WWE Network pact were not disclosed. “We feel great about the financials. Otherwise we wouldn’t have done the deal,” said Nick Khan, WWE’s president and chief revenue officer, who joined the company last August from CAA. “To have WrestleMania in particular — which is our Super Bowl — available [for no extra cost] on Peacock is quite different from other models you’re seeing.” For Peacock, the WWE Network is “a transformative addition,” said Rick Cordella, Peacock’s EVP and chief revenue officer. “We have a lot of data that shows live events and sports drives a lot of user acquisition,” he said. “The bet is that there exists a much larger total available audience [for WWE programming] than is on WWE Network today.” WWE and NBCU (and its predecessors) have been partners for more than 30 years. “Monday Night Raw” on USA, the first regular cable program from the wrestling-entertainment company, debuted in 1993. “WWE has always tapped into the cultural zeitgeist with spectacular live events and larger-than-life characters, and we are thrilled to be the exclusive home for WWE Network and its millions of fans across the country,” said Cordella. In the third quarter of 2020, WWE Network had average paid subscribers of 1.6 million, down about 60,000 from the prior quarter but an increase of 6% year over year — marking the service’s first annual growth since Q1 of 2019. The entertainment company originally launched WWE Network in February 2014, when it ended its traditional pay-per-view events business. Starting in 2022, WWE will produce “one signature documentary annually” for the WWE Network on Peacock. Also available on WWE Network are about 100 hours of original series like “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions,” “Undertaker: The Last Ride” and the recently premiered “WWE Icons”; in-ring shows like NXT, NXT UK and WWE 205 Live, as well as replays of “Raw” and “SmackDown”; WWE Network archives, including every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view event in history; and documentaries including “WWE 24,” “WWE Untold” and “WWE 365.” Peacock, which NBCU launched nationwide in July 2020, attracted nearly 22 million user “sign-ups” in its first six months of wide release, according to the company. Eligible customers of Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex and Cox’s Contour — a total of about 24 million households — get Peacock Premium included at no additional cost. Peacock’s content lineup includes a slate of originals, libraries of TV shows — including all episodes of “The Office” and “Yellowstone” — and films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination, and other studios. In addition, the OTT service provides news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language, and reality from across NBCUniversal. Peacock Premium now offers more than 47,000 hours of programming. NBCU also offers a free, ad-supported version of Peacock with a trimmed-down bucket of content. source: variety.com

January 22, 2021

The Undertaker Talks About WWE's Drug Testing Protocol

During an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience, The Undertaker revealed he is currently working for WWE under a legends contract like that of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan etc. He revealed the news wh talking about drug testing in WWE.

"Before I switched my contract — now I’m not a Talent, I’m a Legend — I only worked two or three times a year, but I was under a regular contract. Under a regular contract, and this is if you tested clean, you had to have four mandatory piss tests and two blood tests every year. They’d get to the end of the year and I’d get a call, ‘Go to the lab and do a piss test.’ I hadn’t been in the ring in 6 or 7 months, but they’d look at the book and say ‘oh, we forgot about him.’ So you get the piss test done, but that was only three. Sure enough, next day, another phone call, ‘go back to the lab.’ 

They’re totally random, they just show up. I was home, that’s why I didn’t get tested until the end. I know what the protocol is and if anyone could get out of it, it would be me, and I couldn’t get out of it."

The Undertaker signed a contract recently until 2035.

January 21, 2021

Triple H Asked If He Will Eventually Run WWE

Triple H appeared on ESPN’s The Michael Kay Show this week. The Game spoke with Michael Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg about any plans he may have to take over WWE one day.

“Look, for me, all of this comes down to the success of WWE. I never started doing this from any standpoint. When I first got into this, I just wanted to do it because I thought it was the greatest form of entertainment in the world and you just want to be great at it and whatever comes along with it. As my career wound down, I realized that I was just as fascinated with the behind-the-scenes of it.”

“It’s irrelevant to me who is steering the ship, who is doing what, there is plenty of work for everybody here. For me, it’s just about ensuring that like the tagline says, ‘Then, Now and Forever,’ that this brand of entertainment that I personally consider the greatest blended form of entertainment in the world, that it continues. So to me, it’s irrelevant, any of it, just as long as it continues.”

You can listen to the full Triple H appearance on the The Michael Kay Show at ESPN.

January 19, 2021

WWE Plans To Have Fans In Attendance At WrestleMania 37

TMZSports.com WWE hasn't had a live audience since March ... but that's about to change, 'cause Stephanie McMahon tells TMZ Sports WWE plans to have fans in attendance at WrestleMania 37!! McMahon joined the "TMZ Sports" TV show (airs nightly on FS1) ... where she announced WWE's gunning to have an audience at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa at WM on April 10 and 11. “I’m thrilled and excited because, hopefully, this will be the first opportunity for us to have our fans back in attendance," McMahon says. "That’s the current plan. Of course, ticket information is not available yet cause we’re still trying to figure out all the machinations.” McMahon tells us WWE is keeping an eye on the Super Bowl (Feb. 7, also at RJS in Tampa) ... for tips on how to make sure the massive event goes off without a hitch. "We're going to learn a lot from [the NFL] logistically, etc., and really best practices, what works, what doesn't work. But man, we can't wait to come in and for 2 nights, really rock that pirate ship." FYI, it's been 316 days (March 9th's Monday Night Raw) since the wrestling organization had live fans in the building. Still, plans can change ... and McMahon stressed WWE's top priority is the health of everyone involved. "Working with the local organizing committee, all of the health officials, health and safety is first and foremost, of course," Stephanie says. "For our fans, for our performers, for the employees, for the staff working the building, there's a lot of different logistics that need to determined, but hopefully, it'll all work out, and this will be the first WWE event where we actually bring the WWE Universe back together in person, and I cannot wait." As far as the exact number of fans they plan to admit ... Stephanie says WWE has a plan, but isn't ready to reveal the figure at this time. For comparison's sake, WWE had around 100K fans at WM 33 at AT&T Stadium in 2016 (WWE's going back to Texas for WM 38). Obviously, the number will be way smaller this April. But, bottom line ... humans will be there!

January 18, 2021

Adam Cole Says There Is "No Debate" NXT Is Part Of WWE's Main Roster

Adam Cole believes there is no longer any debate that NXT is a part of WWE's "main roster" and not just a developmental brand to prepare WWE Superstars for RAW or SmackDown. Cole stressed this view while replying to a fan on Twitter, who wrote that the former NXT Champion could advance to the main roster this year. "@WWENXT is main roster. No debate. End of story," wrote Cole in his response to the fan. In his initial tweet, Cole reassured fans that Undisputed ERA will continue to dominate NXT in 2021 like they have since their arrival in August 2017. "#UndisputedERA has run @WWENXT since we've arrived...2021 will be no different. Enjoy the ride boys & girls. @KORcombat @roderickstrong @theBobbyFish," tweeted Cole. In recent years, NXT Superstars have participated in main roster events such as the Royal Rumble match and traditional Survivor Series elimination matches. However, they have never been included in the draft pools for the WWE Draft.

January 11, 2021

Former WWE Co-Presidents George Barrios And Michelle Wilson Launch New Company

Former WWE Co-Presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson have announced their new company, Isos Capital Management. Barrios and Wilson, who were released from their WWE jobs on January 30 of last year, will identify & execute attractive investment opportunities in global media, sports and entertainment industries with the new venture. "Global connectivity has unleashed unprecedented disruption in content creation, distribution and consumption. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these changes and requires a new strategic framework for success," Barrios said in a press release. "Against this backdrop, Michelle and I see unique opportunities for growth and value creation across the media, entertainment and sports ecosystem." Barrios and Wilson both started with WWE in 2008, and worked their ways up to Co-President until their departures in January of last year. The Isos announcement noted how they worked together in WWE, building the company "into one of the most successful multi-platform media businesses in the world across traditional, digital, social and direct-to-consumer media platforms. Working together for more than 11 years, Barrios and Wilson's expertise in strategic transformations and value creation led to record revenue, profit and market capitalization." "There is no better time to invest in the industry and we believe Isos offers a distinct advantage in the marketplace. We are a firm built by operators for operators, and we bring proven strategies and innovative thinking to help media, entertainment and sports companies win in the long term," Wilson said in the press release. "George and I have worked together for more than a decade and have demonstrated how to achieve game-changing results in an evolving landscape. We look forward to utilizing our experience, insights, network and capital to partner with management teams to accelerate growth and better meet consumer needs." Below is the full press release issued today on Isos Capital Management, which is based in Westport, CT, about 20 minutes from WWE HQ in Stamford, CT: Media and Entertainment Executives George Barrios and Michelle Wilson Announce the Formation of Isos Capital Management Firm Uniquely Positioned to Identify and Execute on Attractive Investment Opportunities in the Global Media, Entertainment and Sports Industries WESTPORT, Conn., Jan. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Media and Entertainment executives George Barrios and Michelle Wilson today announced the formation of Isos Capital Management ("Isos" or the "Firm") to identify and execute on attractive investment opportunities leveraging their unique operating experience, insights and network. The Isos Co-Founders plan to invest in businesses that fit their thesis of mega trends shaping the industry and provide value creation through brand growth, digital transformation and globalization. Isos will target early, growth and late stage media, entertainment and sports companies and will consider a variety of investment vehicles. Mr. Barrios and Ms. Wilson bring deep industry experience having worked at leading global companies in the media and sports industries including the National Basketball Association, Time Warner, HBO, The New York Times and the United States Tennis Association. Most recently, they served as Co-Presidents of WWE, Inc. ("WWE") where they co-led the company's day-to-day operations and strategy, building WWE into one of the most successful multi-platform media businesses in the world across traditional, digital, social and direct-to-consumer media platforms. Working together for more than 11 years, Barrios and Wilson's expertise in strategic transformations and value creation led to record revenue, profit and market capitalization. "Global connectivity has unleashed unprecedented disruption in content creation, distribution and consumption. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these changes and requires a new strategic framework for success," said Mr. Barrios. "Against this backdrop, Michelle and I see unique opportunities for growth and value creation across the media, entertainment and sports ecosystem." "There is no better time to invest in the industry and we believe Isos offers a distinct advantage in the marketplace. We are a firm built by operators for operators, and we bring proven strategies and innovative thinking to help media, entertainment and sports companies win in the long term," said Ms. Wilson. "George and I have worked together for more than a decade and have demonstrated how to achieve game-changing results in an evolving landscape. We look forward to utilizing our experience, insights, network and capital to partner with management teams to accelerate growth and better meet consumer needs."

January 10, 2021

Triple H Discusses His Most Challenging Year In WWE

On the latest episode of WWE's The Bump, the panel brought on Triple H to talk about his memories of the Royal Rumble and which moments in those pay-per-views stood out to him. The first Rumble they look back on was his triumphant return back in 2002, when he suffered an eight-month quad injury, which almost cost him his in-ring career. For the former nine-time WWE Champion, this moment 19 years ago solidified where exactly he stood in the company. "It's hard to sort of put into words the journey at that point in time because, you know, there was a high probability I might've not been able to wrestle again," Triple H stated on his 2002 Royal Rumble return. "Coming back and having the return I did at Madison Square Garden, and the reaction I got was great. The challenge was: How do you capitalize on that? So, to come back at the Royal Rumble, there's so much meaning there. Not only from a performer's standpoint but from an athlete's standpoint of the validation to be able to do this still." In this exact match, Triple H recalls the excitement he felt from the crowd when his mentor Mr. Perfect made his entrance at the event. "It was awesome! For me, as a fan, Curt was one of the best in-ring performers ever," he replied. "When I came to WWE at the time, and Curt sort of being in his first management position, [he] helped me get [towards] the Intercontinental title. After leaving WWE to go to WCW and then returning later, it was a weird full-circle moment. To see him in that spot and the reaction he got, that was awesome." Last month, the wrestling community lost one of its influential minds in the business when Pat Patterson passed away at 79 years old. With Patterson's vision of the Royal Rumble living up to the hype since it first started in 1988, Triple H credits the inaugural Intercontinental Champion for his contributions in this annual event. "[The] Rumble is one of those great matches where it can last the length of time that it does. And every couple of minutes, there's this surprise every time. Sometimes, those surprises are underwhelming. Sometimes they're those 'Oh, my God' moments," he began. "They are a lot of fun to put together because of those moments because you're constantly looking at how you can get that excitement level. But that's the genesis thing that Pat Patterson put together. Pat was the concept creator of the Rumble." When he made his return back to being a full-time in-ring performer in 2016, Triple H admits that year was the most challenging part of his overall career. "Absolutely, because it was completely out of the blue and completely unplanned in a way," he noted. "There was a moment in time with injuries and everything that was happening in the company where, you know, I sort of got to a place in my career where Vince [McMahon] would joke that I was the in case of an emergency, break glass [guy]. So, I'd be sitting there with my trunks on. He'd tell me, 'Ok. You're my in case of an emergency guy, we're breaking the glass, and here's what we're going to do.' And you're like, 'Oh, my God.' "I don't believe I've ever done anything harder in my career than have moments where you don't wrestle for an entire year or a long, long period of time. Then you come out and do whatever it is at the highest level, you know, to try to add to the stuff you've done without letting others or yourself down. It's really one of the most difficult challenges I've ever faced. The pressure was immense." Throughout the month, The Bump will ask their guests which moments in Royal Rumble history were their favorites to participate in or to watch. For Triple H, he says the very first Rumble he participated in will forever be his favorite because of the interaction he got to have with Dory Funk Jr. "It's funny. There are moments for me in the Rumble...I'll give you one that was a cool moment for me that nobody else would even remember happened," he opened. "It was my first Royal Rumble, and I was in there for a long period of time, and Dory Funk Jr. came into the ring. I don't remember how long I'd been in there, but I remember Dory just coming and grabbing me in the center of the ring and picking me up and putting me in the corner. He said to me, 'Get yourself a breather, kid.' He just started working with me in the corner. And, you know, that was a guy I grew up watching. For me to have that moment with Dory Jr., it was the coolest thing for me of all time."

January 9, 2021

WWE India Announces "Superstar Spectacle"

Back in October, WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan revealed during an earnings call WWE is teaming with their TV partner in India, Sony, for a 2021 event that will focus on developing new Superstars from India. "To realize greater economics from WWE's international markets, we remain focused on developing localized content, which utilizes local talent and is produced in local language," Khan said. "We're excited to now be working with our content partner in India, Sony, on a 2021 event that will primarily feature our developing Indian superstars. That event will air in India on the Sony platforms and will also be distributed domestically in the United States. We believe partnerships like this are the best way to build engagement and to maximize the value of content for our international distribution partners and our fans." It looks like that series potentially now has a name as WWE India announced earlier today WWE Superstar Spectacle is coming soon. It was reported late last month, filming was expected to begin on Friday, January 22. One source close to the situation indicated that it could begin with a one or two-night event to kick things off. This would be similar to the model for NXT UK, which began with a two-night tournament in January 2017, before the weekly series was rolled out. Still no word on talent that will be used, although it was reported Jinder Mahal, The Bollywod Boyz, Indus Sher, Kavita Devi, and Jeet Rama could be involved. Depending on the current pandemic, a WWE Performance Center in India was also reportedly in play, and could be active by 2022.

January 3, 2021

Triple H wrestled zero matches in 2020

December 29, 2020

Ric Flair Hopes To See Triple H Have "A Huge Retirement Match"

Triple H skipped WrestleMania earlier this year for the first time since WrestleMania 23 when he was out with a torn right quadriceps. The 51-year-old Triple H might still have a few great matches left in him, according to his good friend Ric Flair. In a recent interview with WWE UK to promote next week's RAW Legends Night, Flair discussed Triple's possible retirement down the road and why The Game deserves a huge sendoff from the WWE Universe. "I'm actually hoping to see him have a huge retirement match, if he even elects to retire in the future," said Flair [h/t Inside The Ropes]. He deserves every bit of it and all the recognition to go with it." While admitting that Triple H "probably knows more about the business" than him despite their 20-year age gap, Flair said that The Game exemplifies 'Legend' more than anyone else because he's a student of the game. "He exemplifies 'Legend' more than anybody because he is not only a great performer, he has studied the business, he is a historian," stressed Flair. "He probably knows more about the business than I do and I've been in it 30 years longer than he has." Flair continued, "He [Triple H] came into it with a knowledge of it that I hadn't seen anybody at his age come into the business with. He was respectful every day and it was fun to see someone that just loved to be in the ring and loved the business. He became a great worker and he has also taken that with him and has become an intricate part of the company." The Nature Boy also gave major props to Triple H for building and managing the WWE NXT brand. "He's accomplished all this through his efforts and he has ascended himself to a place of not just being a great worker, he's helped to impact the company with the growth of NXT," said Flair. "Helping to see young guys get the opportunity to make the main roster, working with people on a daily basis. "Plus he's one of my two or three best friends. I just saw him at RAW and at TLC and had a nice talk with him. He basically lives the kind of schedule we did in the old days. He wouldn't have it any other way. He won't miss anything, and he's always wanting to see the company grow."

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Oderint Dum Metuant: Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear