AS I SEE IT Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets PWBTS.com
So how's YOUR summer been?
Many of you read my earlier installments of my medical saga and my hernia surgery. But that was only part 1.
If you read my Facebook or the PWBTS Facebook, you likely saw that my latest surgery was for skin cancers that were fortunately removed, apparently of the most basic kind. I do have one very small one remaining which will get removed (along with apparently a small skin graft to fix the area of one of my lesions). So hopefully the future is to recover, get that one more much more minor surgery and my medical adventures can all be behind me. For the many of you who've sent Facebook posts and personal messages, prayers and thoughts, thank you....they mean more than you can possibly know.
An unsolicited plug: my experience with Our Lady or Lourdes Hospital has been a much better one than the time at Virtua, which in an odd coincidence purchased Lourdes and its affiliated care centers this past week. Let's hope the patient-staff culture at Lourdes doesn't change with this merger for the sake of everyone who needs care.
In a sort of transition to wrestling...sadly this weekend saw what I wrote last week about life and death, and the need to treasure life coming all too true in the world of wrestling.
July 4 weekend has been unofficially cursed in wrestling with the deaths over the years of Adrian Adonis, Dave "Bearman" McKigney, and Pat Kelly in 1988, of Joey Marella in 1994, the near death of Brutus Beefcake in a parasailing accident in 1990. This July 4 weekend alone saw three deaths, as lucha legend Perro Aguayo, Sr. died on July 3 at age 73. Next, Shannon Rose, longtime announcing voice for wrestling, MMA, and boxing , wrestling manager, interviewer, and reporter, and PR executive died on July 5 from the effects of muscular disease. Finally, CMLL owner/president Paco Alonso died on July 6 at age 67.
Condolences to the friends and family of these major figures in the world of professional wrestling/lucha.
Now...to the far more mundane...wrestling wars.
This weekend will see the first real aspects of a WWE-AEW war of sorts. AEW will present Fight for the Fallen in Jacksonville, FL on July 13, which will raise money (through ticket sales) for Jacksonvilles Victim Assistance Advisory Council which works with victims of gun violence "coordinat[ing] cooperative efforts among social service, criminal justice, mental health and other agencies to provide assistance to crime victims and their families." Fight for the Fallen is being offered free in the United States via the B/R Live app (viewers must sign up first) and through FITE TV outside the US. The event features Cody and Dustin Rhodes vs. The Young Bucks; Kenny Omega vs. CIMA; Brandi Rhodes vs. Allie; "Hangman" Adam Page vs. Kip Sabian; MJF, Shawn Spears, and Sammy Guevara vs. Joey Janela, plus Darby Allin, and Jimmy Havoc.
Opposite Fight for the Fallen will be EVOLVE 131, the tenth anniversary show for EVOLVE (and its predecessor Dragon Gate USA) which will stream head to head on WWE Network. EVOLVE is technically the first non-WWE event to air on WWE Network, although functionally EVOLVE serves as the AA farm club to WWE (NXT being the AAA farm club) . The event will feature Matt Riddle, Drew Gulak, Adam Cole, Austin Theory, Eddie Kingston, Joe Gacy, AR Fox, and more.
While Fight for The Fallen will likely sell out regardless of WWE airing EVOLVE 131 and funds will go to Jacksonvilles Victim Assistance Advisory Council, it's the beginning of a pattern of head to head actions by WWE....a pattern at best that will see fans being forced to choose which shows to watch live on PPV or streaming...or which shows to attend outright.
On August 31, there will be a head-to-head-to-head situation that day, as New Japan Pro Wrestling is running London, at the same time as WWEs NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff. These two events run directly head to head. While the two cities are 150 miles apart, this head to head can't help attendance and online viewing.
On top of that, All Elite Wrestling's ALL OUT takes place August 31. Fortunately there's a time difference with the UK and US, so the two won't run DIRECTLY head to head. ALL OUT was a same day sellout. But some people will be forced financially to make choices between buying these shows to view..
When this was first announced, Kenny Omega fired away on Twitter at WWE:
"If lining your pockets with blood money is okay (re: Saudi shows) , then what's wrong with trying to undermine a charity show for victims of gun violence? I hear that healthy competition is supposed to be a good thing and yet I can't help but feel like I'm gonna be sick."
Omega later deleted the tweet, but his point was clearly made. This is TWO examples of WWE running head to head with the two promotions they perceive as competition, and forcing fans to make choices. It won't be the last.
Then, coincidentally or not, EVOLVEs Gabe Sapolsky discussed the situation on a Reddit AMA. Sapolsky said that Omegas tweet was a little disparaging to all the work and sacrifice, and claimed that the date was booked before AEW announced Fight for the Fallen event. That is likely true, but the fact is that the Network airing of the event wasn't announced until after Fight for the Fallen was. Sapolsky stated that the 2300 Arena is "tailor made to go right on the WWE Network" and that "everything just came together to do it on this date".
The question is how predatory WWE will be in doing this. In the 1980s and 1990s, WWE ran PPVs and televised major live events head to head with NWA and WCW events (and WCW responded by running Clash of the Champions shows on TBS) until PPV providers made both sides stop. But 2019 is a different world. There's no one to make WWE stop now. Since WWE's primary big events are primarily streamed on WWE Network, and actual PPV numbers are far smaller than in the past, PPV providers have far less leverage than they once would have.
After that, in a moment of unintentional hilarity, Roman Reigns was trotted out in an interview with The Sportster to make the comment that "saying theres absolutely no comparison between the two."
Ill just say this. Its all so new and it was what it was with Ambrose leaving and popping up over there Competition? No, theres no competition...WWE, we know exactly what were doing. We have the best talent in the world. Theres no comparing, I say that with firm with firm confidence, all the way from the top to the very bottom. We are world class all the way through."
So WWE just HAPPENS to be running head to head twice with shows of a promotion that is "no competition"? Running head to head once is a coincidence. Doing it twice is a business strategy.
Seth Rollins also recently took shots on Twitter at New Japan's Will Ospreay and by implication New Japan itself, before reportedly being told by Paul Heyman that the comments weren't doing anyone any good.
Look, there's no question that WWE is the largest wrestling company on the planet. They will be for the foreseeable future. AEW isn't in a position to change that in the immediate future. Neither is New Japan Pro Wrestling. But between WWE's attempts to say there's no competition with All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the deliberate tactics they're engaging in to force fans to choose between WWE and AEW and/or NJPW, WWE may well create the perception of more competition.