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Hello and welcome to the WrestleTalk MIDWEEK MECHA NEWS! I am Luke Owen. Give us a thumbs up, give us a subscribe, and support WrestleTalk.
We’re going to kick this show off today talking about numbers, which I know all of you love. Because this is the Christmas season, and the Christmas season means you will love… BUSINESS.
2019 has not been the best year for WWE in terms of their ratings. While it has had its ups and downs, it’s had more downs than ups. The truth is the three hour format of Raw may have improved lining the pockets of the McMahon family, but it’s hampered the show’s watchability.
Looking back at Raw’s ratings from ten years ago – which terrifyingly wasn’t 1999 and is actually 2009 I am so bloody old now – Raw was drawing over 4 million viewers on a weekly basis, which – amazingly in hindsight – was considered bad because they’d previously drawn way more. And if you might think going back to 2009 is too far, then the average viewership of Raw in 2017 was 3 million.
This week’s episode of Raw – which saw Viking Raiders take on The OC, a gauntlet match for a new #1 contender to Rey Mysterio, AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton – A MAIN EVENT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD – and the fallout of Seth Rollins’ heel turn – drew the lowest non-holiday rating for Raw in history, with an average of just over 2 million viewers. This comes one year removed from when The McMahons came out on TV to say – SORRY – which drew 2.1 million viewers. Maybe we need more superstar shake-ups, NXT call-ups, Raw reunions, new titles, and wild cards! That should fix things!
What’s worrying is this episode also came 24 hours after a PPV, which historically means Raw gets a bump in the ratings as there will be something people want to see a follow-up to. But that wasn’t the case here. The show starting with 2.20 million viewers suggests there was little interest coming out of TLC.
The previous all-time low for Raw happened just last month on November 11th when it went up against the NFL touchdown tussel of the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Seattle Seahawks which drew nearly 16 million viewers. This week’s Raw was up against the Saints vs. the Colts in the battle of the balls, which drew 11 million – so the usual football excuse can’t be used here either.
The final hour of Raw dropped below the 2 million mark, drawing 1.86 million for the main event of Styles vs. Orton, Asuka vs. Deonna Purrazo, and Becky Lynch’s interview.
This also comes off the back of TLC tickets not selling like hot cakes, with WrestlingInc reporting that there were around 9,000 people in attendance, for a building that is usually set up for 19,000. As we’ve discussed previously on the WrestleTalk News, this was partly by design – with WWE not announcing any matches for the show until the week of the show, with the penultimate episode of Smackdown announcing Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin and Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz, and the go-home edition of Raw adding Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs. Kabuki Warriors, Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy, and Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley. The WWE mindset, according to several reports, is that WWE Network subscriptions see an increase on the days leading up to the show, so the idea is to announce all the matches as late as possible to increase that number. Which may be a successful tactic, but it could also hurt live ticket sales.
Thankfully for WWE, we’re about to head into Royal Rumble season, which means we’re also going to soon be in WrestleMania season. And that historically sees a bump in viewership as interest in the product begins to come back.
One of the sadder stories of 2019 was the lack of use of Luke Harper in WWE. After publically complaining about his lack of push in WWE and asking for his release after WrestleMania, Harper was only brought back one time outside of battle royals, where he teamed with Erick Rowan to take on Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, where it was clear he was only there to be the fall guy. While it was rumoured he’d be with the company until the summer of 2020 – due to his contract being extended from an injury he suffered in 2018 – Harper trademarked his old indie name of Brodie Lee, and was granted his release from WWE on the 8th of December. You know what that means.
It means that Cody Rhodes is going to talk about working with someone openly in the hopes they come to his promotion. It worked so well for their relationship with CM Punk.
In fairness to Cody, he was asked specifically about Brodie Lee by TalkSport’s Alex McCarthy, with Cody saying: “He would be great as part of AEW. He’s a name that when you hear they’ve asked for their release, you definitely think about that and the next steps, for sure. I think he’s going to flourish with what he does next, he’s very special.”
It’s been reported that Harper has a 90-day non compete clause – like everyone who leaves WWE – and therefore won’t be available to join AEW until March next year. Or he could pull a Sin Cara and do whatever the F you like.
Interestingly though, Mike Johnson of PWInsider is reporting that Sin Cara – who is now going by the name Cinta de Oro – which I have undoubtedly said wrong – has been telling people booking him that he doesn’t have a 90-day non compete clause, which is why he’s been allowed to head straight to AAA following his release from WWE.
If the former Sin Cara is telling the truth, that means that Lee wouldn’t have to wait until the new year to join AEW, or even show up at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom in January 2020.
However it should be noted that the other two men released on the same day as them – former NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension – have booked their first dates outside of WWE, and they are for March next year. Konnor and Viktor were announced for a meet and greet at WrestleFest 2 on March 8th, and their first non-WWE match on March 21st for Xtreme Wrestling Alliance in what is being billed as a Smackdown rematch.
So it is either March that Lee is a free bird to do what he wants, or the former Sin Cara is on the level and he’s free to join anywhere now. But bear in mind that Sin Cara is also showing up in AAA wearing a mask and using a name that is trademarked by WWE, so that would lead to me to believe that Lee is tied up until early next year.
Where would you like to see Brodie Lee end up? Let me know in the comments down below because I’ll be replying to as many as I can FROM MY DESK WHERE I DO MY WORK.
Someone who isn’t tied up in legal jargon however is Marty Scurll.
It was reported that the leader of Villain Enterprises was set to leave Ring of Honor when his contract ended at the end of November. Through a handshake agreement, Scurll agreed to work one more show for the promotion, where he teamed with Flip, Flip, Flip Gordan to take on Bandido and Flamita at Final Battle, and the following night he appeared at the end of NWA’s Into the Fire PPV, setting up a feud with Worlds Champion Nick Aldis which was continued on last night’s episode of Powerrrr.
Rovert had reported on Twitter that ROH were offering “insane” deals to get Scurll to stay, while Dave Meltzer reported that he was likely heading to All Elite Wrestling to join his former Bullet Club cohorts. When asked about Scurll debuting for NWA over the weekend, AEW’s Cody Rhodes seemingly told Alex McCarthy that it was just a phase that won’t last forever. “Marty is going to do what Marty is going to do. We all love Marty. Anything he does in the next few weeks or months, I wouldn’t look at as permanent for him. He’s very much testing the waters here and there and that’s pretty much all I can say on Marty.”
Marty Scurll to AEW confirmed.
And that’s not all that is seemingly confirmed.
AEW have grown massively since their launch at the start of the year – selling out PPVs like Double or Nothing and All Out, launching a YouTube series called Dark, and exceeding TV ratings on TNT with Dynamite.
And according to Cody, next year will see a global expansion as All Elite Wrestling will be coming to United Kingdom shores. Cody told Alex McCarthy, “We are coming to the UK in 2020 and we’ve got some tentative dates circled, but it’s a matter of where you’re going to hit. Are you going to hit as many markets as possible or are you just going to do London & Manchester? I can’t be sure if we’re coming for Dynamite, a PPV or a rare live event tour, but everyone is on-board with us coming in 2020 and if I’m incorrect with that statement, I will give you $500.”
AEW to the UK confirmed.
Speaking of things yet to be confirmed however, and there still hasn’t been official word on the severity of the injuries suffered by Kairi Sane during the TLC main event of Kabuki Warriors vs. Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch. Oof that was a wild and rough change of gear.
The initial reports suggest that Sane suffered a concussion during the early portion of the match, likely from an exploder suplex into the guardrail by Flair. Mike Johnson of PWInsider reported that Sane was kept away from ringside during Asuka’s match against Purazzo on Raw as a “precaution”, and he’s now reporting that The Pirate Princess has been removed from upcoming live shows.
lthough Sane has tweeted that she’s fine, Mike Johnson is reporting that Madison Square Garden were informed by WWE that the Women’s Tag Champ will not be wrestling on the show. PWInsider say that WWE is, “acting out of caution.”
The originally advertised match was a TLC tag team rematch only this time inside a steel cage, but that match has now been changed to a triple threat between Flair, Lynch and Asuka. We here at WrestleTalk wish Kairi Sane the speediest of recoveries, and hope that this is nothing too serious.
Another awkward gear change now, and I personally wanted to extend a huge thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday over the weekend – where my family and I took in a sing-a-long screening of Muppet Christmas Carol. A big thank you to Oli Davis for buying me this most excellent clock, and to Randy Andy Datson who got me this:
Tom Phillips? We all know you’re name is really Todd. And you’re right Todd Phillips, I can beat CastleVania! Todd Phillips to WrestleTalk confirmed.
And Christmas has come early for our Patreon Pledge Hammers, as our 2.5 hour review of WWE TLC 2011 has now gone live for Patreon backers! The show features an excellent triple threat main event between CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and The Miz, Zack Ryder finally winning the United States Championship, and the slowest ladder match I’ve ever seen between Triple H and Kevin Nash. Yeah, that happened in 2011. Head on over to Patreon.com/WrestleTalk for more information.
Find out more about the backstage reaction to this year’s TLC and the disastrous main event by clicking the video on screen right now, and find out who got their main roster debut on Raw by watching the latest WrestleTalk Live! Thank you for watching, and a special thank you to our Patreon Pledge Hammers some of which you can see scrolling their way into my stomach. I’ve been Luke Owen and that was wrestling.