The Wrestling News Experience: 05.19.14
Posted by Stephen Randle on 05.19.2014
News and thoughts on how Daniel Bryan's injury will affect WWE going forward, a look at WWE's stock market problems, a preview for tonight's Raw and more!
Monday May 19th, 2014
From 411Mania's Canadian offices in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
Recently Lost 350 Million Dollars At Monopoly
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I am Stephen Randle, and thanks to Valve starting to run International qualifiers this week, I may have watched far more DOTA than any person who doesn't actually play the game should at any time. Also, I caught up on the trailers for every new show that's coming out in the fall, and I have to say, if you can't get behind Galavant, then we have nothing to discuss.
See? How can you not want to see more of that? It has everything I ever wanted!
Selfie, on the other hand, should be cancelled before it airs a single episode and in doing so, destroys humanity. I have seen Pygmalion, and that, my friends, is no Pygmalion.
Tonight's Raw will be live from the UK, which means taped from the UK, because time zones! Also, as always, it means the return of that silly red phone booth, which might possibly be the only one left in all of England!
And last week, we learned that Daniel Bryan will be undergoing surgery to repair a neck injury, leaving the fate of the WWE World Championship up in the air. WWE has promised to address the future of the title tonight, but until then, all we can do is speculate. More on that later.
Meanwhile, John Cena continues to be adept at beating up members of the Wyatt Family, but can't seem to slow down the leader, Bray Wyatt himself. With things looking to be headed for a reckoning with a Last Man Standing match at Payback, I see more obstacles between Cena and Bray in the lead-up to the PPV.
Plus, The Shield put Evolution on its heels last week on Raw, but when Triple H is involved, any momentum is usually short-lived. Can The Hounds of Justice continue their guerrilla tactics, or will Triple H manage to up the stakes even further before these six men face off in a rematch at Payback?
And you know IC Champion Bad News Barrett and US Champion Sheamus will be enjoying their reaction from hometown fans, but I really just made this statement so that I could annoy Irish people by pretending that Ireland is part of England. I know it isn't, by the way. But WWE's going to pretend that it's close enough where Sheamus is concerned, so you might as well roll with it.
Also, Cody Rhodes continues to have issues with his brother Goldust for some reason, Fandango continues to have strong feelings for his dance partner Layla, and we will continue to read something into the fact that Rusev only beats up black people! And we've also been promised that Adam Rose and the Exotic Express will make a special appearance, tonight on Raw!
You know what? We're beyond Threatdowns here, people. What we have after the last week is a serious goddamned situation. There's only one way to talk about the events of the past seven days in WWE. Garrett?
Yes, that will do nicely.
THE TV DEAL WAS FOR LESS MONEY THAN PREVIOUSLY INDICATED! THE WWE STOCK HAS LOST 2/3rd OF IT'S VALUE! VINCE LOST 350 MILLION DOLLARS! WWE IS DOOMED! DOOMED, I SAY!
Yes, after many, many people who actually know when Vince is talking out of his ass in order to cover up bad news (i.e. any wrestling fan who's ever watched his program), including myself, predicted that WWE would not manage to bring home a TV deal that at least doubled their previous one, it turns out that WWE did not, in fact, manage to bring home a TV deal that came even close to doubling their previous one. Although it was a significant percentage higher than the last deal, but that kind of got swept under the rug in the face of massive Wall Street disappointment. Oh, and WWE's staying with NBC Universal, by the way, which means Raw will continue to air on USA, Smackdown will be on SyFy (and won't be going live), and Total Divas will continue to air on E!, because once you're into that level of channels, there are no standards of what constitutes "programming fit for human consumption".
Anyway, after already suffering significant losses when WWE Network came in under the million subscriber wire (which, as you may recall, was the number they need by the end of the year and not necessarily what they thought they'd get right out of the gate), and poised to take another fall after WWE failed to provide any news on their TV deal at the last quarterly shareholder meeting, the news that WWE had once again failed to deliver on perceived numbers with their new TV contract hit the stock market like a large incendiary device, and when the smoke cleared the next day, WWE's stock sat at roughly around ten dollars, a massive drop in anyone's eyes. At last report, thanks to being the man who owns a lot of WWE stock, Vince McMahon did indeed lose 350 million dollars, and is once again, simply a millionaire who should be a billionaire.
In the fallout from all this, a group of individuals managed to get their hands on a whole bunch of stock at its new, budget-sized value, and immediately started issuing public statements about how they would be calling for a change of WWE management when next they speak with the Board of Directors, which apparently is a real thing and not just a shadowy group that gets used on WWE TV to randomly overrule authority figures. In addition, a law firm has stated that they plan to investigate WWE for knowingly providing misleading numbers in an effort to inflate the stock price. Hell, at this point, the federal government might as well consider attempting to get Vince for steroid distribution again, that's how bad the past week has gone for WWE financially.
Now, before we go on, I want you to look at the following statement and do what it says.
All right, let's go through some facts that should stop you from running out into the street and screaming that WWE is headed for bankruptcy and somehow Global Force Wrestling will become the #1 wrestling promotion in North America by default.
1. Buying WWE Stock in order to get Vince kicked out would be roughly as effective as buying shares in the Green Bay Packers and trying to use them have the GM fired. - As I said last week, the stock that you and I can purchase that says "WWE" on it, the stock that crashed last week and is currently valued at about ten bucks? Each share of that stock confers 1 vote, and there are roughly 4 million shares of it available. However, there's another kind of stock, which confers 10 votes for every share, of which there are also nearly four million shares in circulation, and (here's the important part) every one of those shares are owned by members of the McMahon family, with roughly 80% of them owned by Vince himself. I don't know the exact math, but when it's all said and done, the McMahon family owns roughly 90-93% of the voting power of WWE stock, and even if someone managed to buy all the rest of the common stock, they would be hopelessly and hilariously outgunned in any attempt to oust Vince from his position as guy in charge. In the entire world, only one man who has the power to take Vince's job, and, you guessed it, he's the guy married to Vince's daughter, and even he's going to have to wait until Vince is six feet underground.
2. Vince lost 350 million dollars on paper, but not actual money - Basically, Vince lost money that he never had, and could never have, because it's locked up in, you know, the shares that allow him to continue owning WWE. When the stock was thirty bucks, Vince didn't suddenly get a visit from a dump truck full of money, and now that it's back at ten, there isn't a guy from the bank waiting outside WWE Headquarters looking to get it back. What that means is that, while people may very well be fired over this, and some of them may even be wrestlers, the reason they're being fired is to show stockholders that they're being fiscally responsible so that they'll stop driving the value of the stock into the ground, and not because Vince needs to cut costs because his piggy bank's a little lighter this week. In other words, WWE is not going bankrupt today, and probably not tomorrow or the next day.
3. Lawyers say lots of things that aren't true - That last part about someone claiming they're going to investigate WWE for actively misleading stockholders? Yeah, they're doing that for a publicity stunt to get attention and maybe pick up some clients who are easily influenced by showmanship. If the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) was investigating WWE for fraud, then we'd be correct to panic, because they're a federal institution that actually could get WWE in a lot of hot water and have Vince thrown in jail (or at least mildly inconvenienced by a federal trial, similar to the steroids thing in the '90s). But this ain't the SEC, this is somebody cashing in on shareholder fears by telling them what they want to hear.
4. WWE is actually doing better financially as a result of this "disappointing" TV deal - Lost in all this is the fact that, while WWE didn't double the value of their contract with NBC Universal, they did negotiate an increase over their old deal, which is still a big chunk of money going into their coffers. The stock dropped because they didn't get the jackpot price they were promising, but they still have a lucrative TV deal, and considering wrestling is still in a down period, that's not a bad thing at all. Now, we still don't know about how this new deal affects Raw and Smackdown replays on WWE Network, but that's a whole other thing.
5. WWE Stock is not worth thirty bucks - In fact, more often than not, since WWE went public way back when, WWE's stock value has been worth about...well...ten bucks, with fluctuations upwards happening every time they negotiate a TV deal, and also just before WrestleMania, which is their biggest financial windfall of every year. The stock inflating to thirty dollars was the result of a lot of financial "experts" predicting things that had no basis in reality, such as the idea that Vince would sell the company, which spiked interest in the stock, especially when combined with people actually believing all the smoke Vince was spinning about WWE Network's potential subscriber base and the possibilities of a massive TV deal that was realistically never happening. Now it's back at...surprise, surprise...ten bucks, and likely to stay there.
6. Nothing is really going to change - I mean, Vince might bring Mike Rotunda out of retirement just to have the announce team make tired financial jokes, and like I said, some people might get fired and some expiring contracts won't get picked up, but the on-screen product will probably remain pretty much exactly the same. WWE is not going to fold, no matter what the stock price is, because (and thanks to a reader last week for confirming this) if it ever became basically worthless, Vince would probably just buy it back and breathe a sigh of relief at not having the have quarterly meetings where he lies to shareholders anymore.
Okay, so, you're all calmed down now, right? Good. Now, let's try and enjoy the rest of the...oh, goddammit.
DANIEL BRYAN BROKE HIS NECK! HE'LL BE OUT AT LEAST TWO MONTHS, PROBABLY MORE! THE WWE WORLD TITLE SITUATION IS VAGUE AND UNCERTAIN! WWE IS DOOMED! DOOMED, I SAY!
So, it turns out that achieving the highest heights in professional wrestling may very well have been the worst thing to ever happen to Daniel Bryan. Since his incredible WrestleMania victory, his father has unexpectedly passed away, he's been stuck in a terrible B movie-based feud with Kane, and he had to marry his supermodel girlfriend in a magical ceremony. Okay, maybe not the last one, but now, when everything seemed settled, disaster has struck again. Last Monday, word erupted that according to WWE, D-Bry had a mild case of broken neck, and was headed for immediate surgery. The immediate reaction of everyone was...well, you can guess.
Well, there's at least some sort of good news, as Bryan's surgery was minimally invasive and went off without a hitch on Thursday. Plus, at the moment, he's still WWE World Heavyweight Champion, because WWE (rightly so) wanted to see exactly how bad things were before making any rash decisions on the future of the title and their champion that they carefully nurtured over the past year were forced by general acclaim to crown at WrestleMania after messing up spectacularly with his push over the past year.
The bad news is, at best, it seems like we'll be without the services of Daniel Bryan inside a WWE ring for a minimum of two months, and more likely three, setting his return most likely somewhere around SummerSlam. By any estimation, that is a long time (and at least three PPVs) to have a champion that can't defend his title, especially the biggest one in WWE. As mentioned, we'll hear a statement on the future of the WWE World Title tonight on Raw from the UK, and if I were a betting man, I would almost certainly take the odds that by the end of Raw, Daniel Bryan will once again be a former champion. Whether the belt stays vacant or gets a new owner immediately will be in the allegedly capable hands of WWE Creative, but I'd hope we'd see something resembling a decent and lengthy Plan B (i.e. not a one-night battle royal, although I'd be okay if we ended up with, say, a big MITB match for the vacant title down the road) that could be an interesting storyline and provide options until Bryan returns and, obviously (well, obvious for us), slide into a feud with the new champion for the belt he didn't lose in the ring.
And assuming that is the case, rather than a standard Hot or Not this week, let's take a look at ten guys who just might end up with the WWE World Title after all is said and done.
He's an incredible longshot, and I wouldn't personally put the strap on him at this point, but Bray is clearly one of the hottest heel acts on Raw, and since he's currently embroiled in a feud with that other top guy who usually circles back to the WWE World title scene sooner or later, you could see WWE transitioning their top title into one of their top feuds pretty easily. Again, though, Bray's fairly unlikely, and fortunately, that means the same is true of our next guy...
It'd be silly to have a discussion of top contenders for the WWE World title and not immediately invoke Cena's name, but like Bray, and because of Bray, in this case, I don't see it happening. Their feud doesn't need to shoehorn the title into it, and besides, it's probably set to resolve at Payback anyway. I mean, unless WWE just blows up all storylines in service of having everyone available for a big tournament of some sort...which I would completely be on board with.
This name's probably the one you'll see floated around the Internet the most, and if the end goal is a Bryan-Cesaro feud, I can't see many people having a problem with that. Plus, it would pretty much instantly skyrocket Cesaro into a solid main event position, which is supposed to be his eventual destination anyway, by all accounts, so why not hurry things along a bit? Cesaro would be credible enough with the fans to instantly become WWE World Champion, but I suspect his time is still scheduled for the future.
Another guy who we know is headed to the main event as surely as there are stars in the sky, and the only thing making him possibly less desirable than Cesaro in the same role is that we're still not sure Reigns can really carry his end of longer, PPV-level singles matches. In addition, with The Shield break-up postponed already, there's no sense in breaking up such a strong unit that is just coming into their own as faces, especially without plans for all three members.
The easiest answer in the book is to simply award the title to Bryan's opponent, and that would be the Big Red Insurance Agent, but it would be a terrible idea, because nobody wants to see Kane as champion, even if they promised us ahead of time that it was just a "thanks for years of service before retirement" reign. I'm only including him as an option because you know, in the minds of the writing tea, he is.
If he weren't almost surely going away to do Guardians of the Galaxy PR following Payback, Big Dave would probably be the next best thing to a sure thing, but he is and thus he won't be. Plus, his role has kind of receded with the reformation of Evolution, but that's not the largest road block to overcome. Still, if they could convince him to stay around another couple of months, you have to believe they'd gift-wrap the title reign for him right now, just for a chance of sniffing some Hollywood mainstream publicity.
With Dave out, Orton may well be the guy who gets the belt simply by being the guy who's left behind. Sure, we might not want to see Bryan-Orton again, but he's there, he's basically reliable, he's part of a big main event stable, and hell, it wouldn't be the worst justification they've used to give him the belt before.
On the other hand, you know in his dreams, this is who Triple H would really like to justify putting the belt on. I don't think he's really that ridiculous, because he's not full time and he knows that it would go over like a fart in church, but in the back of everyone's mind, you know that we're worried that there are booking meetings going on right now where, during a silent moment of contemplation, he suddenly leans forward and says "Hell, why not just give me the belt?"
Yeah, this one's pretty unlikely, but if WWE could somehow work a deal with Brock that could get him to work some more dates, I'd put the belt on him tomorrow and have him beat the crap out of some guys in the main event before putting over a returning Bryan at SummerSlam (or whenever). Again, though, they're not going to waste his limited dates on this.
I'm being deliberately cruel here, and I want you to know before I go off into Fantasyland, that I'm fully aware that this will not happen. However, a returning CM Punk capturing the WWE World Title would probably create a pop so massive that it could be measured on the Richter scale. And if you want to go a different direction than "returning saviour", you can even have him come back as the newest member of Evolution, betraying all his fan goodwill to side with the Authority because it's the only way he'd ever get the title again. There are so many options and possibilities and great moments that we could get from this one, which is too bad, because like I said, this one is entirely, totally, and 100% not going to happen.
Besides, he's getting married in a month. He's got a lot of stuff on his mind right now.
WWE Inactive List as of 05.12.14
- AJ Lee, out indefinitely as of April 14th (R&R)
- Christian, out indefinitely as of March 25th (concussion)
- Darren Young, out 4-6 months as of April 13th (ACL)
- Evan Bourne, out indefinitely as of March 19th, 2012 (foot)
- Rey Mysterio, out indefinitely as of April 15th (hand)
- Daniel Bryan, out 2-3 months as of May 12th (neck surgery)
WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan
- 43 day reign, defeated Randy Orton and Batista in a Triple Threat match on April 6th (WrestleMania XXX)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett
- 15 day reign, defeated Big E on May 4th (WWE Extreme Rules)
WWE United States Champion: Sheamus
- 14 day reign, won a battle royal that included former champion Dean Ambrose on May 5th (Raw)
WWE Tag Team Champions: The Usos
- 77 day reign, defeated The New Age Outlaws on March 3rd (Raw)
WWE Divas' Champion: Paige
- 42 day reign, defeated AJ Lee on April 7th (Raw)
WWE NXT Champion: Adrian Neville
- 81 day reign, defeated Bo Dallas in a Ladder Match on February 27th (NXT ArRIVAL PPV)
- Next title defense: vs Tyson Kidd, NXT Takeover
WWE NXT Tag Team Champions: The Ascension
- 222 day reign, defeated Corey Graves and Adrian Neville on October 2nd NXT
WWE NXT Women's Champion: VACANT
- former champion Paige vacated the championship on April 24th NXT
- Next title match: Tournament Finals, NXT Takeover
On the latest After Dark, I speculated on WWE's TV deal and Bryan's injury the day before we got confirmation of the specifics of both. How closely did I hit the mark? Listen to the audio proof that occasionally, I might possibly know what I'm talking about!
And here's one for a reader in last week's Comments who deserves a plug for his new wrestling podcast on Kings of Cast, called Raising The Briefcase. I haven't had time to listen to the whole thing, but what I have heard is definitely worth your time! You know, after you listen to my show first.
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Here it is, your Moment of Buddy.
I Sold My WWE Stock Before The Crash.
Let's Go To Vegas!