GFW and wrestling business models


So to date GFW is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a six-sided ring. One thing does seem clear though: Jeff Jarrett is aiming for "number two wrestling promotion" status right off the bat. Everything about his interviews, the marketing of the brand, and the "best free agents available" roster suggest as much.

My question is why take this approach? Haven't TNA definitively proven there's no money to be made in maintaining the illusion you're on the same level as WWE – that it costs too much money and the interest doesn't exist to be a meaningful no. 2? Meanwhile, haven't the likes of ROH and Chikara shown it's possible to build a dedicated fanbase as long as you keep your ambitions realistic? Has Jarrett somehow convinced himself that another boom period is just around the corner?

​This is the same guy who thought that weekly wrestling PPVs would revolutionize the business.  And we still don't know what his supposed 13 weeks of TV tapings are supporting, since he doesn't have a TV deal.  And why associate yourself with a loser brand like TNA that's getting cancelled anyway?  I don't understand a single move he's made so far, to be honest.  ​

Lesnar: best ever businessman in This Business?

Hey Scott,


Is Brock Lesnar the smartest businessman in the history of the industry? Given his current payouts, the way he's always done whatever the hell he want, I think it's a given. Even when it's not been especially good for business (New Japan) he's held the main title and gone over. The argument is made that Lesnar would lay down for anyone, yet he rarely does.

Best,
Ioan Morris

I still feel like Hogan is, for maintaining that level of money day in and day out for nearly a decade even when all he had to offer was smoke and mirrors.  Brock made some really dumb business decisions for a while there, whereas Hulk would still be a multimillionaire many times over if not for his divorce and assorted lawsuit issues.  Hulk managed to convince WCW to pay him 25% of PPVs that he wasn't even on!  You have to respect that a little.  

‘A cyclical business’

Scott,

How responsible do you think 2002-2004 era HHH and Taker are for the state of the product today? I remember that shortly after Austin walked out and The Rock left for Hollywood, the subsequent business slump was explained away as a result of 'cyclical' business and not the fact that the remaining main-eventers didn't have the drawing power of Austin/Rock (to be fair, who did?) I remember it vividly as being the first time Vince seemed complacent about house numbers and buy rates (although I remember some crappy 'shock tv to try to rebuild ratings). It just seems that this is the genesis point of the 'none bigger than the company' philosophy that they have now.

Joe


I think the true genesis point was Brock winning the UFC title after getting out of his non-compete, because Vince was apparently REALLY butthurt about that for a long time.  But yeah, I remember back in 2002 when Austin and Rock both took time off, and the word was that HHH and Taker were going to step up and be the big stars.  And everyone was like "Yeah, OK then, good luck with that."  Thank Jebus that they found John Cena when they did, because can you imagine what the business would have been like without him?  

Lesnar — 10/6 Sports Business Jornal

So I'm looking at the 10/6-12 issue of Sports Business Journal, which has "Who will step up for UFC" as one of its cover stories. Further into the story, they highlight UFC's top draws since January 2006. A quick recap, if I may:
  • Brock Lesnar has the two highest drawing PPVs in UFC history and 3 of the top 5, two of which were against Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. Let me repeat those opponents – Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.
  • Brock Lesnar made 7 appearances in UFC, 5 as headliner (top two matches on the card). As a headliner, Lesnar averaged over 1 million buys. the next highest, GSP (their most consistent draw), averaged more than 300,000 fewer buys. ronda Rousey is averaging 395,000 buys and we think it's a big deal.
  • After re-joining WWE, the company decided to put him in a B-show and then have him LOSE to John Cena.
Shouldn't the investors be filing class-action lawsuits over this and not the network? 

​I'm gonna have to stick up for WWE a bit here, in that it's apples and oranges.  Lesnar had a unique charisma in UFC precisely because he was a "fake pro rassler" who was coming in and daring to beat longtime "real" fighters while cutting WWE-style promos about it.  Hardcore fighting nerds HATED him and gladly paid $70 a pop a million at a time hoping to see him lose.  
The WWE audience dynamic was totally different, in that everyone basically was happy to have him back and didn't really associate him with UFC any longer at the point when he returned.  Yes, it was a fuckup to have him lose to Cena, of course, but his wrestling drawing power was in a totally different league than his UFC drawing power.  He was a giant WWE star, yes, but he was an invading monster in UFC and it was the kind of special magic that probably won't ever be duplicated again.
As for Rousey, 350K is good now because UFC destroyed their own PPV business by oversaturating the market.  Even Brock returning would probably only do 700K at the high end now.​

QOTD 150: Lets Expose The Business!

The coolest thing about wrestling is that even though it’s largely choreographed, a lot of wrestlers do a great job of making things seem real.

Others do not.

So lets expose the business!

What are wrestling ‘things’ you can’t stand because they look fake / stupid? What’s the most ridiculous, fakest thing you’ve seen in your wrestling fandom career? 

I have a few.

I always hated when the wrestlers got standing top rope move spots messed up – resulting in a really awkward moment where the guy about to get hit just stands there waiting to get hit. Generally I think it’s better if the guy gets up AWAY from the turnbuckle with the dude on it, and then turns into the oncoming move or whatnot.

I think it’s neat wrestlers slap their thighs to make that “SLAP” sound on most kicks – feel free to share those kind of things too – stomping your foot with a forearm, slapping your other hand with a punch, etc.

I have a few more that’ll come to me, sure.

Better for Business

I’m going to throw you 2 different ideas.

You gotta give me what you think (or thought) would have been better for (future) business.
Sort of like the Quick N Dirties Scott gets from time to time, but WITH A TWIST!
1. HBK/Bret II @WM13 OR Austin/Bret  @WM13
2. Goldberg/Nash @Starrcade 98 OR Goldberg/Hogan @Starrcade98
3. Raven jobbing at Wrestlepalooza 97 OR Raven going over at Wrestlepalooza 97
4. Jericho winning WWF Ttile in 2000 OR Holding off until Dec ’01
5. Hogan/Koloff WM2 OR Hogan/Bundy WM2
6. Hogan/Piper WM OR Tag Match
7. Slaughter/Hogan @WM7 OR Heel Warrior/Face Hogan @WM7
8. CM Punk returning 3 weeks after leaving with the title OR CM Punk coming back after a Royal Rumble, while Cena is “fake” champ.
9. Taz never signing with WWF OR Taz leaving in ’99
10. Blog Otters OR whatever you can think of in 10 seconds.
1. Austin/Bret
2. Shit, at that point, I guess Hogan/Goldberg. Goldberg didn’t really need the belt.  
3. Dreamer, wasn’t Raven already going to WCW after the match anyway? Gotta try to put the guy over who is staying. My mind is a little foggy about that time period.
4. Holding off until December 2001.
5. This one is tough as the WWF already had Sheik/Volkoff as evil heels but Bundy wasnt exactly the greatest. I guess I will just go Bundy as even in 1986, the evil stuff was starting to become tiresome.
6. The WM tag match. The whole celebrity involvement with Mr. T was money. That nade sure that WrestleMania wasn’t a disaster.
7. Heel Warrior vs. Hogan. Slaughter hadn’t drawn anything since 1984 and him as the Iraqi sympathizer wasn’t going to boost business in 1991.
8. Punk coming back after the Rumble. Stretching the angle out longer would have really worked out better.
9. Taz never signing with the WWF. He was a better fit for ECW.
10. Whatever I can think of in ten seconds. I thought of BoD Nation in three seconds and I would take that, even as lame as that sounds.

The BUSINESS of Kayfabe (sorta)

Heya Scott, Happy Superbowl Sunday! 


Anyway, coupla blog related questions that I think could be mighty interesting.

1. I was watching the rumble BEFORE MY FUCKING FEED CUT OUT RIGHT BEFORE THE MAIN EVENT, and noticed in one of the packages that the WWE is now doing Comic-con esque "Shoot" panels (I can't remember the name). Personally I think this is a great idea, but is also sorta killing Kayfabe (not that it exists that much anymore, anyway). Anyway, what are your thoughts on these sorta panels, and have they been going on for awhile and I've just missed them, or are they new?


I certainly had never heard of doing them before the Rumble ones. It's a great way to undercut the guys who are doing SHOOT INTERVIEWZ on DVD so I'm surprised WWE hasn't tried to get a piece of that pie sooner.  So now of course we'll never get another one.  

2. So it seems like the WWE is doing what it did in the pre-attitude era, trying to indoctrinate kids with cartoons, Saturday morning slam, fucking Scooby Doo(?), and part of me is thinking this is a GREAT idea because it's pretty much how the majority of folks first heard of wrestling, or it became part of their frame of reference.


Yeah, much like comic books, wrestling is a pastime that benefits greatly from forming a positive association at a young age.  If I was trying to get into comics for the first time now, for example, I'd be totally lost as to what I'd even like reading.  Same with wrestling, as obviously my fandom is shaped by years of trying to find another angle as awesome as Roddy Piper smashing the shit out of the Flower Shop on one leg.  

3. How does the WWE typically handle Press access for big events like Wrestlemania? Does pretty much anyone that requests a pass from a popular outlet gain access, and if so, are they given strict rules about what they can and can't discuss in their articles / pieces / etc? I ask, for I applied for a pass! 


I'm betting you didn't get one.  And typically yes, press access is ridiculously strict and childish.  You have a much better shot of getting UFC credentials.  

4. I was pondering the gut-check challenge the other day, and was kind of wondering if in some bizarre world they started rating matches not by winner and loser, but instead by best match, etc etc, sort of legitimizing the art of fake-fighting. You think this sort of thing would go over with hardcore fans who really care most about work-rate and quality match production versus storylines and "I'ma kick you ass bro!" stuff?   


I've long thought that wrestling in the Olympics could work in exactly that manner, as an artistic exhibition ala ballroom dancing or figure skating.  Although you'd run into the problem of the Russian judges being from Minnesota.