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February 26, 2021

 WWE Network To Air First Non-Sports Entertainment Documentary 'HEAVEN'

WWE announced their first-ever non-sports entertainment documentary "Heaven" will air on the WWE Network on Sunday, March 7, 2021.


For the first time, WWE Network Documentaries will expand its award-winning storytelling beyond the world of sports-entertainment when it presents HEAVEN, a new documentary premiering Sunday, March 7.

HEAVEN tells the story of a trailblazing high school wrestler named Heaven Fitch. In 2020, as a junior, Fitch became the first female athlete to win a boy’s state wrestling championship in North Carolina, claiming the top spot in the 106-pound weight class. The film documents her inspiring journey up the ranks and the challenges she faced along the way, from proving doubters wrong to defying the odds and making history.

The trailer for HEAVEN, available to watch above, was first revealed by Sports Business Journal.

Narrating the documentary is WWE Hall of Famer and fellow North Carolina resident Beth Phoenix, who, like Fitch, often competed against boys during her amateur wrestling career. WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon provides the film’s introduction.

HEAVEN, which premieres during Women’s History Month, marks a departure from WWE Network Documentaries’ typical subject matter focusing on the squared circle.

“The story of Heaven Fitch is the beginning of a new genre of storytelling for WWE Network Documentaries. She has inspired so many with her elite athleticism as well as her numerous accomplishments. We are excited to share Heaven’s championship story with the WWE Universe,” says Ben Houser, VP & Executive Producer, WWE Network Documentaries.

Don’t miss the world premiere of HEAVEN on March 7. The film will be available to stream on demand starting at 10 a.m. ET on the Free Version of WWE Network and across WWE social channels, including YouTube and Facebook.

Source: wwe.com

February 25, 2021

WWE NXT Draws Best Viewership Of The Year, AEW Dynamite Also Up This Week

Week 72 of the Wednesday Night War saw AEW Dynamite defeat WWE NXT in viewership and ratings.

Wednesday’s live edition of Dynamite drew 831,000 viewers (+11% from last week) on TNT, topping the 734,000 viewers (+3%) garnered by the live NXT show on the USA Network by 13%, according to Nielsen via Showbuzz Daily.

AEW ranked #5 in the Cable Top 150, while NXT ranked #24. AEW ranked #60 in viewership, while NXT ranked #66 in viewership.

Last week’s Dynamite show drew 747,000 viewers and ranked #4 on the Cable Top 150, and #69 in viewership. Last week’s NXT show drew 713,000 viewers and ranked #39 on the Cable Top 150, and #70 in viewership.

AEW drew a 0.35 rating in the 18-49 demographic (+13%) while NXT drew a 0.18 in the same demo (+13%) this week. Last week’s AEW show drew a 0.31 rating while the NXT episode drew a 0.16 in that demographic.

NXT drew their best audience of the year this week, and their best key demo rating of 2021. This week’s NXT viewership was up 2.95% from last week, while the key demo rating was up 2%. NXT viewership for this week was down 7.56% from the same week in 2020, and the key demo rating was down 7% from the same week last year.

February 24, 2021

Tony Khan Comments On New AEW Monday Night Show

AEW officially announced their third show today – AEW Dark: Elevation.

AEW President & CEO Tony Khan noted on Twitter that Elevation will begin streaming on YouTube soon, but no date has been confirmed as of this writing. The show will air every Monday night at 7pm ET on the official AEW YouTube channel.

As noted earlier, AEW announced that veteran pro wrestler Paul Wight (fka Big Show in WWE) has signed with the company. He has signed a long-term deal to be a commentator on Elevation, and will also be wrestling at some point. Khan commented on Elevation and welcomed Wight to the company in a tweet.

“Welcome to @AEW, @PaulWight! Watch #AEWDynamite tonight for more info on Paul’s arrival here, and for more info on our new show AEW Dark: Elevation! It will be streaming soon every Monday night on AEW YouTube!,” he wrote.

Elevation will compliment the main AEW Dark series that airs every Tuesday night at 7pm ET on the AEW YouTube channel. Elevation will showcase AEW’s established and rising wrestlers, and top indie wrestlers from around the industry.

AEW also noted that Elevation will maintain continuity with Dynamite, Dark, pay-per-view shows and other streaming events, with wins and losses factoring into each wrestler’s ranking in the company.

AEW will be revealing more details on Elevation and Wight’s signing during tonight’s Dynamite.

Big Show Leaves WWE And Joins AEW

AEW announced today that Paul Wight has joined the company, signing a long-term contract.

Wight will wrestle and serve as a commentator for AEW’s newest show on YouTube, AEW Dark: Elevation. Elevation will air on Mondays at 7pm ET, complimenting the weekly AEW Dark show that airs on Tuesdays at 7pm ET. Elevation will showcase AEW’s established and rising talent, as well as top indie talents.

Wight said it’s been amazing to watch what AEW has done in a few years since launching.

“It’s been amazing to watch what AEW has built in just a couple of years,” Wight said in a press release. “AEW Dark is an incredible platform to hone the skills of up-and-coming wrestlers, but I also love that established AEW talent can build out their personalities and showcase themselves in new ways on Dark. It’s no exaggeration when they say that AEW is boundless.”

AEW CEO, General Manager and Head of Creative Tony Khan also commented on why Wight wanted to come to AEW.

“Paul Wight is one of the most recognizable and impressive professional athletes in the world,” said Tony Khan, CEO, GM and Head of Creative of AEW. “He wanted to come to AEW because he believes that we’re the best promotion in wrestling, and we believe that he has a lot to offer us, both in the ring as a wrestler, and also outside the ring as a commentator, host and ambassador for AEW.”

“Paul is one of the most experienced stars in all of wrestling, and he’s eager to work with our diverse roster,” added Khan. “He can benefit and guide our young talent with his mentorship, and his expert commentary on AEW Dark: Elevation will educate and entertain our fans, and also educate the younger wrestlers on the roster. Furthermore, Paul enters AEW as a licensed wrestler, and he’s very much looking forward to studying our talent firsthand from the commentary desk in preparation for his return to the ring!”

AEW is promising more details on Wight’s signing during tonight’s Dynamite show on TNT.

February 23, 2021

A&E And WWE Give Fans The Ultimate Ringside Seat In New Original Programming Partnership

A&E Network and WWE Studios are giving fans an exclusive look behind the curtain in an all-new Sunday night programming partnership. With unprecedented access to WWE’s archive, the ten-week programming block features eight original two-hour documentaries under the award-winning “Biography” banner showcasing the stories behind some of the most memorable WWE Superstars of all time including “Stone Cold” Steve Austin®, “Macho Man” Randy Savage®, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper™, Booker T®, Shawn Michaels®, Bret Hart, Mick Foley and Ultimate Warrior. The new “Biography” specials are helmed by some of the industry’s top directors and storytellers to chronicle the success of these WWE Legends and their lasting mark on both sports entertainment and popular culture. Each special will air weekly at 8pm ET/PT beginning Sunday, April 18. 

Following at 10pm ET/PT, the brand-new series “WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures,” led by WWE’s Stephanie McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque launches a hunt for some of WWE’s most iconic missing memorabilia including Kane’s original mask, Ric Flair’s Butterfly Robe, Andy Kaufman’s neckbrace, Andre The Giant’s passport and more. In order to find these quintessential relics, the team will join forces with WWE Legends including Undertaker, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Booker T and more to bring these items home to the WWE Archives.

Biography Lineup – Premieres Sunday, April 18 at 8pm ET/PT

“Biography: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin”

“Biography: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper”

“Biography: “Macho Man” Randy Savage”

“Biography: Booker T”

“Biography: Shawn Michaels”

“Biography: Ultimate Warrior”

“Biography: Mick Foley”

“Biography: Bret “Hitman” Hart”

“WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures” – Premieres Sunday, April 18 at 10pm ET/PT

“WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures” takes viewers on a journey to find some of WWE’s most iconic, lost memorabilia. In each of the nine episodes, WWE’s Stephanie McMahon anl “Triple H” Levesque lead a team of collectors, WWE Superstars and Legends as they investigate, negotiate, bid and travel across the country to hunt down and reclaim some of the most elusive WWE collectibles. Throughout history, WWE’s action-packed storylines have spawned iconic, one-of-a-kind memorabilia, most of which have gone missing. Superstar in training, AJ Francis will head out on the road alongside some of the most famous WWE Legends of all time including The Undertaker, Ric Flair, Charlotte Flair, Mick Foley, Kane, Big Show, Mark Henry, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Booker T, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Sgt. Slaughter. The series will unearth these rare items in the hopes of preserving and sharing the legacy behind the memorable moments in WWE history. 

“WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures” is produced by WWE Studios for A&E Network with Susan Levison, Ben Zierten, David Carr, Stephanie McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque serving as executive producers. Elaine Frontain Bryant, Dolores Gavin and Jonathan Partridge serve as executive producers for A&E Network. A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights for “WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures.” 

Pro wrestling isn't just body slams and violence -- it's also art

Professional wrestling has historically gotten a bad rap as neither being a respected sport nor form of entertainment. To most, the pervading image of wrestling may still be beefed-up, baby-oiled behemoths like Hulk Hogan or John Cena competing in staged fights, or the over-the-top, spandex-clad comedy theatrics seen in Netflix's hit series "Glow." Pro wrestling's merits as a legitimate sport have long been debated, but can this curious confluence of kitsch characters and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics be considered art? In the 1950s, French philosopher Roland Barthes wrote an essay likening wrestling to theater -- the staged spectacles acted out in the ring presenting an allegory for good versus evil. In modern day, critics have compared wrestling's dramatic storylines to the televised soap opera, itself an extension of theater. Adam Abdalla, the lead creative behind art and wrestling journal Orange Crush, said that in the past, he's brought visual artist friends to watch wrestling shows with him. "(They) have told me, 'This is better than any performance art that I've been to,' because of just how visceral it is, the way wrestlers put their bodies on the line and just the choreography of it,"...More?

source: cnn.com

February 22, 2021

WWE NXT To Begin Airing Live In Canada

WWE NXT will begin airing live in Canada on Sportsnet 360 and SN NOW this Wednesday at 8pm ET.

WWE and Sportsnet announced a new programming agreement today, which will include weekly live NXT broadcasts. Sportsnet 360 will also continue to air the weekly RAW, SmackDown, Main Event, and This Week In WWE broadcasts. Sportsnet is also the exclusive distribution partner for the WWE Network in Canada.

“Our fans in Canada have been all in on NXT since day one,” said WWE’s Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy & Development, Triple H, in a press release. “We’re thrilled about this expanded partnership with Sportsnet which will help us grow NXT’s reach throughout the country and introduce even more fans to the newest generation of WWE Superstars.”

Triple H tweeted on the new deal today and wrote, “Bringing #WWENXT LIVE to fans across Canada every week. An exciting partnership for the entire @WWE Universe. #WeAreNXT @WWENXT @Sportsnet”

WWE and Sportsnet originally signed a historic 10-year broadcast agreement back in 2014, making Sportsnet the exclusive distributor of WWE programming in Canada through 2024.

“WWE provides some of the most electrifying entertainment in all of sports, and the passion of their fanbase in Canada is second to none,” said Sportsnet’s Vice-President of Programming Greg Sansone in the press release. “Reinforcing our already robust slate of live WWE programming with NXT was an easy choice and one our audiences have been asking for. We can’t wait to see the newest generation of Superstars live in action every Wednesday night.”

February 18, 2021

WWE Attorney Issues Statement On Attempt To Bring Concussion Lawsuit To The Supreme Court

Longtime WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt has issued a statement on the recent filing by attorney Konstantine Kyros to have one of the WWE concussion lawsuits, which has already been dismissed by lower courts, resurrected and taken to the Supreme Court of the United States:

“[Konstantine Kyros] has no automatic right to appeal to the Supreme Court. He has to ask them to accept an appeal, and that is what he filed. The large majority of requests are denied, and the Supreme Court typically takes cases presenting some issue of national import where the courts in the various federal circuits differ on some specific issue of federal law.

Here, Kyros is asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Second Circuit decision that he filed an appeal too late in the cases of Billy Jack Haynes, Russ McCullough, Matthew Wiese, Ryan Sakoda and Nelson Frazier.

He is not attempting to have them hear the dismissals of all the other cases, which are now over for good. The lower courts threw those cases out on the basis of state law, which the Supreme Court would not touch.

It is an exercise in futility, because even the Supreme Court were to hear his request and find that his appeal on behalf of those five was timely, he would still lose on the merits because their claims are all barred by statute of limitations. In short, a waste of time and money which we don’t think will go anywhere.

He will, however, have to face a sanctions hearing next month on how much he has to pay WWE.”

Former WWE wrestlers take brain damage case to Supreme Court

Dozens of former pro wrestlers who have claimed in lawsuits that World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head injuries are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A lawyer for the former wrestlers, most of them stars in the 1980s and 1990s, filed a request late Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to hear appeals of lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits. Lower courts said the suits were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired.

Among the plaintiffs were Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, Chris "King Kong Bundy" Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji.

The wrestlers said they suffered repeated head injuries, including concussions that led to long-term brain damage, and accused the WWE of knowing of the risks of head injuries but not warning its wrestlers.

The WWE, based in Stamford, Connecticut, continues to deny the allegations and says the lawsuits are without merit, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and both were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after their deaths, according to their lawyer. Pallies and Laurinaitis died in 2019 and 2020, respectively, of undisclosed causes. Other plaintiffs have dementia and other illnesses, the lawsuit said.

More than 50 former wrestlers have filed lawsuits against the WWE. In September, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City dismissed the litigation. The court upheld 2018 rulings by federal judge Vanessa Bryant in Connecticut, who said there was no evidence the WWE knew concussions or head blows during wrestling matches caused CTE.

The lawyer for the former wrestlers, Konstantine Kyros, who is based in Hingham, Massachusetts, criticized the rulings and said the former wrestlers have been "deprived of their fundamental rights as U.S. citizens, including their right to appeal."

Kyros said the 2nd Circuit court rejected earlier appeals because final rulings had not been made in all the lawsuits. After Bryant made those final rulings in 2018, Kyros appealed again. But he said the 2nd Circuit also rejected those appeals, saying they were filed too late according to a new legal precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In her 2018 ruling, Bryant also criticized Kyros for repeatedly failing to comply with court rules and orders and ordered him to pay WWE's legal fees -- more than $500,000.

Unlike football and hockey, in which players have suffered similar injuries, WWE matches involve moves scripted and choreographed by the WWE, thus making the company directly responsible for wrestlers' injuries, the lawsuits said.

The National Football League and National Hockey League also were sued by former players who suffered concussions and other head injuries. The NFL settled for $1 billion, and the NHL settled for $18.9 million.

source:  ESPN.com

NXT Sees Sizable Viewership Increase, Still Behind AEW Dynamite

NXT saw a major increase, but AEW Dynamite still won in terms of ratings and viewership.

AEW Dynamite drew 747,000 viewers overall, which is slightly up from last week’s 741,000. The show also drew a .31 rating in people 18-49 (up from a .29 last week).

Per PW Torch, NXT viewership was up to 713,000 viewers (from 558,000) and came in with a .16 rating in the 18-49 demographic. NXT previously had a .12 in the 18-49 demographic.


Jan. 6 – 659,000 – 2021 HighJan. 14 – 551,000 – 2021 LowFeb. 17 – 713,000 – This Week


Jan. 20 – 854,000 – 2021 HighJan. 6 – 662,000 – 2021 LowFeb. 17 – 747,000 – This Week

February 17, 2021

Update On Triple H Creating A Second WWE NXT Show

It was originally reported back in December, exclusively here at Wrestling Inc, that Triple H created a team to oversee a new NXT show, which would apparently be a minor leagues system for the NXT brand. It was reported then that Gabe Sapolsky was leading the team, and that he had been given several agents and writers to help him get more comfortable with writing TV. This was seen as a case of Triple H giving “the ball” to Sapolsky as he is a big believer in his abilities. The idea behind this new show was described as a “NXT for NXT.”

The original idea was for the show to be akin to another promotion running in some of the smaller tier markets that NXT serviced, but with live events likely to not return, the new idea was to just make a TV series. The goal then was to launch the show in early 2021, but the concept was delayed and will likely face more delays.

In an update, Fightful Select has revealed new details on the second NXT show. The working title is “NXT EVOLVE” and there have already been graphics created with that branding, and a new title belt created with that name. Plans can always change but “NXT EVOLVE” is the tentative name of the project.

Sapolsky and Jeremy Borash are both heavily involved in the production, which is said to be noting like anything else WWE is producing. The tapings for the concept took place at the warehouse that WWE briefly used for as a makeshift Performance Center during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

WWE has already filmed some content for the show, using several of the newer talent acquisitions that were signed since the summer of 2020. NXT’s Josiah Williams, who just did the hip-hop intro for the “Takeover: Vengeance Day” event, was the host of the “NXT EVOLVE” show.

It was noted that the new NXT show had more of a “fight” feel to it. There was no live commentary, so anything that would be added would be done in post-production.

It was also said that planning for this new NXT project goes back as far as two years ago with various versions of the show being pitched and thrown around. Different names had also been discussed for the title of the show, starting with “NXT Underground” a few years ago. It was reiterated that plans for the new show could change as the platform and solid plans are not set in stone.

February 16, 2021

WWE Clarifies New Policy Regarding Ban On Third-Party Mentions On Twitter And Instagram

e record straight on their new policy restricting talent from profiting off of mentions of third-party brands on social media.

On Monday, Wrestling Inc reported WWE had instituted a new policy in regards to mentions of third-party brand on Superstar social media accounts. According to the report, the company would start cracking down on talent that use their WWE social media accounts to promote third-party businesses, people, brands, and charities. The initial report claimed WWE is issuing a warning to first-time offenders of new restrictions, which would be followed by a fine and even a suspension for subsequent infractions.

Since then, WWE has clarified that report to F4WOnline.com and said that the new restrictions only apply to the monetization of WWE Superstar Twitter and Instagram accounts by working with third parties. It was noted that the new policy is “not dissimilar” to existing policies where they had banned talent from monetizing apps like Twitch and Cameo, but didn’t specifically include Twitter and Instagram at the time.

According to F4WOnline, the company stance is that they maintain contractual ownership of the likeness of its performers on all social media accounts regardless of whether they are listed under their stage names or real names.

Back in September, the promotion issued the following announcement about the decision to ban performers from monetizing platforms like Twitch and Cameo:

Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes, and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E, and Braun Strowman. It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved.

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