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Hello and welcome to the WrestleTalk MECHA NEWS. I am Luke Owen. Have a happy Friday folks by pressing the thumbs up button, sharing this with your friends, and leaving a comment down below to answer our question of the day:
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In among all of that plugging, you may have missed that Hell in a Cell is this Sunday. And it seems that WWE have also forgotten that. With all the hype and promoting the season premiere of Raw, the first NXT show going head-to-head with AEW, Smackdown’s debut on Fox, and now Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia which will be at the end of October, Hell in a Cell has fallen by the wayside in terms of promotion. Despite having the big time main event of The Fiend challenging Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship, the show had virtually no promotion on this past Raw, and at the time of this recording there are only two other matches announced – Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship, and Daniel Bryan teaming with Roman Reigns to take on Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
One match we can likely guess will be added tonight on Smackdown is Bayley defending her Women’s title in a Clash of Champions rematch against Charlotte Flair. But if Bayley gets her way, she has someone else in mind.
With WWE not booking her in Hell in a Cell matches, Bayley instead took to Twitter to challenge NXT’s Candice LaRea, who was unsuccessful in capturing the NXT Women’s Championship from Shayna Baszler. No Bayley, you will face Charlotte Flair again and you will like it.
And it’s not just Bayley using social media to try and get herself booked in matches, with Randy Orton taking to Twitter to call out The Rock of all people.
Rock “The Dwayne” Johnson will return to WWE tonight for the debut episode of Friday Night Smackdown, where he will likely contribute to the huge rating that some industry experts think could be as high as 4.5 million viewers. But Orton has bigger plans, posting to The Rock: “I see you will be at #SmackdownOnFox this Friday. How about you & I have a discussion about who’s the greatest 3rd generation of all time and we answer that question April 5th in Tampa At Wrestlemania 36. A vipers sense of smell is unmatched. I smell what you’re cooking.”
A match between Orton and Rock seems unlikely, due to the various movie projects The Rock has on his plate. The last time Rock had a proper match at WrestleMania – that Erick Rowan one doesn’t count – he picked up an injury that delayed the production of his forgettable Hercules movie, which cost Paramount millions of dollars.
But you never say never in wrestling, and that could also be true of two other huge Attitude Era stars making their in-ring returns.
One of the biggest surprises coming out of Summerslam was an angle between Elias and former World Heavyweight Champion Edge, where the Rated R Soooperstar gave The Drifter a spear – the first bit of in-ring action Edge has done since his retirement in 2011.
This led to a lot of speculation among fans that Edge could be gearing up for an in-ring return, especially with the Saudi Arabia shows centering themselves around nostalgia-based matches and offering big money in order to get them. This speculation was furthered recently when Edge announced he was stepping down as a host on E&C’s Pod of Awesoness. It’s since been reported that Edge has signed a new deal with WWE, a deal which is said to be very good because he negotiated with both WWE and AEW, playing both sides off against each other until he got a “significant offer” by Vince McMahon – which has only furthered the speculation of more wrestling in Edge’s near future.
And Dave Meltzer has now written in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter that while creative have not been told he could be cleared, “the idea of him wrestling again has definitely been talked about very privately.” Edge himself has said that he would wrestle again if he could, saying on an episode his podcast following the Summerslam angle, “I think I could do a match tomorrow. And I might be blown up, but I’d be okay. It’s just from what I know with the WWE medical staff, they won’t allow it.”
And he’s not the only name from the past who has been talked about for a possible in-ring return, with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s name making headlines recently with rumours of him having one more match. This rumour was started when Podcast One released a press statement teasing a possible wrestling return of the Rattlesnake, quoting an episode of his podcast where Austin said he could have one more match, “in theory”.
Austin has been back on WWE TV quite a bit this year – seemingly more than it’s Universal Champion at one point – and he mentioned that he is always asked backstage if he’d do one more match. Dave Meltzer – who has a great friendship with Austin – has reported that Stone Cold is not currently booked for the Crown Jewel show at the end of the month, and that likely isn’t going to change.
Since his quiet retirement in 2003, Austin has had a lot of big money offers from WWE to do one more match, which he has always turned down. However those big money offers will be nothing compared to the price he’d be offered to work a Saudi Arabia show. Goldberg reportedly made $2 million for his disastrous match with The Undertaker at Super Show Down, and Austin would in theory make that sort of money, if not more.
Which brings us to everyone’s favourite segment of the WrestleTalk News – so get your “clickbait” comments at the ready – it’s time for us all to say, CM Punk WWE return confirmed!
Over the last few months, Dave Meltzer has reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that CM Punk has been in talks with Fox to be a host on the WWE Backstage show, which was announced recently to be hosted by Renee Young and Booker T. This was all amidst the talk that Punk had also had talks with All Elite Wrestling about appearing for them – talks with both parties have confirmed.
And while many were quick to say that Meltzer was clickbaiting folks with his Punk Fox reports, the man himself has confirmed that he did have an audition for the show. He told Collider Live that he met with Fox and had a tryout for WWE Backstage, adding that that if he took the job he would be working for Fox and not WWE.
Punk added that he’s not had an offer from Fox as of yet, but Cage Side Seats are reporting that he has been offered a deal to be a host the show.
CM Punk WWE return confirmed… via Fox.
Which certainly ties into AEW’s Nick Jackson’s comments this past week, when he told the New York Post that the “ship has sailed” on CM Punk joining All Elite Wrestling.
CM Punk not to AEW confirmed… unless it’s all a work.
Which means it’s now time to jump into the ratings war between WWE, and AEW.The Wednesday Night War officially kicked off this week, with NXT moving full-time and live to USA Network, and All Elite Wrestling having its debut of Dynamite on TNT. NXT pulled out all the stops to win the first crucial week, having three title matches, a Finn Balor return, and the return of former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, while AEW set out its stall by crowning the first AEW Women’s Champion, and ended the show debuting their new heel stable of Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevarra, Santana, Ortiz and the debuting Jake Hager.
Before the ratings were released, it was reported the morning after the shows that AEW was way ahead of NXT in terms of Google searches and Twitter trends, and the PlayStation VUE numbers for All Elite Wrestling were three times that of NXT.
And it seemed that translated to the ratings, with AEW pulling in 1.4 million viewers, compared to NXT’s 891,000 viewers – which is a drop from their previous two weeks ratings where they drew over 1 million. Very importantly – in terms of advertisers and networks themselves – AEW also won the key 18-49 demographic, losing out to only Major League Baseball. What’s interesting about this is that 18-49 demo was not all just the NXT audience switching over, as their number this week was virtually identical to the one they had last week, which means this is a new audience of wrestling fans. It’s also not lapsed fans from the era of the Monday Night War, as some people figured they would be, as the NXT beat AEW in the over 50 category.
Although unconfirmed at the time of this recording, its believed that the Dynamite replay – which aired directly after the initial airing – did another 650,000 viewers, so the total AEW audience for the debut episode of Dynamite was not too far behind a typical episode of Raw, and pretty much on par with what Smackdown Live was doing on USA Network.
Comparing AEW’s numbers and demos to this past Monday’s Raw – which drew their best rating in months thanks solely to Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair who had the most-watched segment on the show – no really, they drew an extra half a million viewers who all tuned out as soon as the segment ended – All Elite Wrestling did better than Raw in drawing viewers under the age 34. The show also had more women watching, beating Raw by 13.5% and NXT by nearly 50%.
Of course, this is just a first week number. But as several industry experts have noted, if this is a new audience – which numbers would certainly suggest it is – this isn’t a flash in the pan victory over NXT.
WWE released a press statement before the ratings officially came out saying, “Congratulations to AEW on a successful premiere. The real winners of last night’s head-to-head telecasts of NXT on USA Network and AEW on TNT are the fans, who can expect Wednesday nights to be a competitive and wild ride as this is a marathon, not a one-night sprint.”
AEW Champion Chris Jericho responded to this an interview with Complex saying, “Everything that [WWE have] done has been reactionary to us. We’re not in a war with anybody besides ourselves. All that matters is our show. They kinda started this war, and the very first night they got destroyed. Big deal, it’s our first debut, but they have to come back and say ‘it’s a marathon and not a one-night sprint.’ Who’s ever said it’s a one-night sprint? It’s not a war for us. Now, we’re placed in one, and we’re gonna kick ass.” A lot of contradictory comments in that statement there Chris, is it a war or not?
John Pollock on Twitter has also reported that AEW Dynamite on TSN in Canada drew around 109,000 viewers – a number that is said to be very good considering AEW didn’t even announce a Canadian deal until the day of the show, which meant it had literally no promotion. As a comparison, Raw with Hogan and Flair did 227,000 viewers.
Cody posted on Twitter to thank the fans, saying their fandom is real.
What does this mean NXT? Well, as this is only week one it will be far too early to tell, but reports before the Wednesday Night War kicked off was that Vince McMahon would be hands off on NXT until it started losing handedly to AEW – and it lost handedly to AEW this week. On that note, Dave Meltzer notes in the Observer that 71 minutes into the NXT broadcast, he got a text from someone backstage saying, “We’ve got to get out of this building”.
You can watch mine and Oli’s full review of AEW Dynamite by clicking the video on screen right now. And if it tickles your funny bone fancy, Oli and I also reviewed the new Joker movie over on ScreenStalker which is also on screen right now. I’ve been Luke Owen, and that was wrestling.