Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Long Road: When a Roster Falls

When a Roster FallsThe Long Road: When a Roster Falls by Jerry Whitworth

 

Looking at the WWE’s roster right now is like that scene in Gone with the Wind (1939) with the train yard where hundreds of injured soldiers from the Battle of Atlanta are sprawled out on the ground. While certainly not that dramatic, the likes of John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sting, Wade Barrett, and more are out with far reaching consequences in any of WWE’s long term narratives. Likely there is no time in WWE’s history where the company has experienced such loss coming at a time when WWE is in such dire straights (as TV ratings continue to fall, attendance for live events declines, and the WWE Network may still cost more to produce than what it earns back). There may even be a good chance some of the injuries could have arose over talent trying to help turn the company around or try to ascend in status within the WWE as company head Vince McMahon perceives the roster lacks ambition (or, a desire to grab the “brass ring”). However, this isn’t the first time WWE’s head was on the chopping block. In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the company saw a similar decline as rival WCW tried to take over the number one position in the industry with the so-called Monday Night Wars only to inspire and motivate WWE to improve and overcome. While certainly there were injuries (the company’s star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had his neck broken taking him out of the game for three months near the height of his career and ultimately led to his early retirement), there’s been no where near the degree experienced today. Such begs the question, what’s changed?

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Wrestling Streaming: The World in the Comfort of Your Home

WWE NetworkWrestling Streaming: The World in the Comfort of Your Home by Jerry Whitworth

 

In 2014, the wrestling world took a major step into the future. WWE, the world leader in professional wrestling entertainment with a library including the likes of WCW, ECW, AWA, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Stampede, and more founded the WWE Network. A streaming service for $9.99 a month that will gradually make its vast intellectually owned content available instantly anywhere in the world with an internet connection, the Network was a major undertaking that has placed a great financial burden on the company already undergoing tough times in recent years. Of course, this advent in technology has inspired other companies to follow suit although, interestingly enough, the company’s closest North American competitors have yet to get in line. TNA, formed to fill the vacuum left by the loss of WCW, tried to dip its toe into streaming in an arrangement with YouTube in 2013 with TNA Wrestling Plus for $4.99 a month only to be all but abandoned within two months. Today, TNA has started posting its earliest pay-per-view programs as the Asylum Years for free on YouTube Thursday nights (which started December of last year). It should be noted, WWE entered into a similar agreement to that between TNA and YouTube with the latter’s competitor Hulu Plus in 2012 which continues today despite the formation of the WWE Network (likely, some contractual obligation exists necessitating this duality though Hulu Plus does not air WWE events which are included as part of membership of the Network). As for the United States’ third largest promotion Ring of Honor, for some time they’ve offered their latest weekly television episode streaming for free online and made a portion of their library available on demand on their website for $7.99 a month. Although TNA and ROH at this point don’t seem to be trying to offer their own version of the WWE Network, independent US promotions have been more accepting of the transition.

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A Brief Biography

Salutations readers. My name is Bobby Fisher, one of the hosts, and founders of the Nerdfect Strangers podcast. This is my first real post on our new website, and it felt only appropriate that it should feel like a first date, a get-to-know-you profile, if you will.

SteveMartinBlack

Pictured: Me, Currently.

It was never easy for me, I was born a poor, black child. No, that’s not right. When it comes to my nerd-dom, my geeknicity, as it were, I got an early start. Some of my earliest memories include the original Burton Batman films, the 1960s Batman series in syndication, the celebrated classic Bruce  Timm Batman: The Animated Series, etc. My early years featured appearances by Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. I can distinctly remember having the old, non-articulated wrestling action figures including a wrestling ring.

A stiff, rubber man in brightly colored skivvies? Hours of formative fun for a toddler!

A stiff, rubber man in brightly colored skivvies? Hours of formative fun for a toddler!

Said wrestling ring would prove to be my downfall, however. In 1993 An ill-fated attempt at recreating a top-rope, high-risk maneuver, or just a clumsy five year old falling (depending on who you ask), led to a wrestling ban that was put into effect until roughly about 2000. I missed out on the Attitude Era, and thanks to the WWE Network, that’s been the impetus behind my Wrestling Time Machine project. When I was reintroduced to wrestling, I quickly gravitated to the Undertaker, and have been a fan ever since.

Growing up, I was always into comics, toys, etc. Toyfare and Wizard were my extracurricular textbooks, and Mego Spidey was a damn fine teacher.

TwistToyfTheat

Pictured:  Professor Tobey Maguire, and several unpaid Hugh Jackman interns.

I spent two years in college, pursuing my interests of paying to fail at math, which no man or woman was meant to understand. Devouring comics, video games and wrestling in between all that. My heart became set on writing on my own comics, and before you know it, this podcast sprang up, so I and others could have an outlet to discuss our interests.

 

Mirror, Mirror: What If WWE Didn’t Win?

WrestlingMirror, Mirror: What If WWE Didn’t Win? by Jerry Whitworth

 

About a week ago, I discussed in detail my history with pro wrestling. Therein, I spoke on 2001 being a terrible year for wrestling fans. AOL Time Warner had sold WCW to WWE as ECW, after losing its TV deal with TNN, would likewise sell out to WWE. What’s interesting about these events is that TV deals were at the root of both downfalls. For WCW, Eric Bischoff had secured funding to buy the company but wouldn’t sign the deal unless TNT and TBS agreed to continue airing Nitro and Thunder, respectively. Reportedly, that sticking point lead AOL Time Warner to sell WCW to WWE for a ridiculously low price (as several WCW personalities claimed they could have bought it themselves for the price sold). As for ECW, it was a company on the rise that was abandoned by TNN after airing the promotion for a year and that was troubled by its past use of adult content to find another network. Now, it’s important to note, neither WCW or ECW had bad ratings. At the height of Nitro, it was one of the highest rated shows on TV and even when it fell, it was still a huge draw for TNT. It just lost money because of poor management within the company (part of which stemmed from its parent company being unfamiliar with the industry it was invested into). All of these details considered, if some circumstances would have been amended, both companies could have easily survived and likely thrived. For example, if Bischoff won his battle to buy WCW, it either could have had the arrangement to remain on the AOL Time Warner channels or he could have moved to another station (like, perhaps, TNN which was looking to drop ECW when it saw how much wrestling could draw for the station). Also, what if ECW either remained on TNN or moved to another network (say, perhaps, MTV, which got into the wrestling game in 2001 with WWF Tough Enough and later Wrestling Society X). Lets take a look at what could have been.

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