WWE Network: The Death of Pay-Per-View?

Nick Paglino

WWE NetworkFrom all accounts, the WWE is going to move its non-core pay-per-view events to the WWE Network. Mark Madden talked about it here and there are many plusses and minuses with what is on the table.

But could this hurt the whole industry?

Even in a down business cycle, the WWE generates lots of revenue for the cable industry. With UFC at the saturation point already and boxing on life support, how will the industry recoup the revenue? If the same cable companies that have significant skin in the game let the WWE take eight moneymakers off their books, will they bend over backwards for the new WWE Network?

The thought process for the cable companies could be “some is better than none” but they also could be rude hosts, wanting a bigger cut than Vince is prepared to pay. Never before has a PPV content provider gone into business for themselves like this and as such, I bet the negotiations will be quite interesting as they move forward.

But in many ways, the PPV industry owes their existence to VKM and the WWE so I’m willing to bet this gets done.

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The Brutal Reality Behind the Prodigy

Several weeks ago, I compared John Cena to Tim Tebow. A more accurate comparison would be Tebow to Ring of Honor’s Mike Bennett. Since signing with ROH in late 2010, Bennett has been booed by fans and scoffed at by many of his peers. It’s rumored that Bennett has been spending quality time with WWE alum and Playboy cover model Maria.

Keep booing… Bennett loves the hate.

It’s taken a while but only now is the ROH Locker Room starting to recognize how good Bennett is. A recent match in Spartanburg, SC, showed me a glimpse of the future of Ring of Honor. The Prodigy’s match with Adam Cole was a good as it gets… both guys are great and are future World Championship contenders. Cole, who is well-liked among fellow wrestlers, admitted to me afterward that Bennett is great in the ring and looks forward to seeing him down the road.

So if everyone hates him, how does Bennett block out the distractions? While Tebow relies on his faith, the Prodigy relies on Brutal Bob Evans, the hard-scrabble trainer that has seen it all in his 18 year career.

When I was in Talent Development in the WWE, Bob Evans was one of the guys I regularly called on… he was always good in the ring but never was right for the “next level”. Now, pushing 40, Evans not only is guiding Bennett, leading the Prodigy to the World Television title Triple Threat Match against champion Jay Lethal and El Generico at Final Battle on Friday December 23rd but he also wants to compete in Ring of Honor.

“I tell anyone who’ll listen… put me in there and let me show you what I can do”, said Evans, in a recent phone interview. Evans plans on walking out of Final Battle and the Hammerstein Ballroom as the manager of the next World TV Champ but he looks at 2012 as his final chance to compete on the big stage.

“I look at a guy like (William) Regal and see someone in common with me. Not a style you see every day, we both create a matchup nightmare for an opponent because it’s a fight from the bell. I’d like to wrestle Jay Lethal and show him that Bennett is no fluke. (Bennett)’s the best guy I ever trained and I could teach Lethal some things as well. I’m not as young as I used to be but I’m better than ever”, said Brutal Bob.

Listen, every washed up fighter or wrestler says the same thing but Art of Strength Trainer, Sean St. Onge said the old-school training at Punch Kettlebell Gym is leading both Bennett and Evans to a brighter future. St. Onge, who spent several years in pro wrestling as well, said of Evans, “He went from 280 lbs. to 230 but gained amazing strength. He’s improved his flexibility and is better than ever in the ring.” Of Bennett, St. Onge says, “He’s one of those guys that never has to try very hard to be very good. But he trains harder than ever now. It’s like he has a chip on his shoulder and wants to silence the critics.”

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper and former NY Knicks guard Chauncey Billups are some of the many pro athletes using this training discipline as well. While strength training has been around for hundreds of years, it is coming back into focus, as athletes look for a competitive advantage and elongate careers.

What’s old is new again…

Will the same be said of Brutal Bob Evans? Very few think Bennett wins at Final Battle but I wouldn’t bet against The Prodigy or Tim Tebow.

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I know this is “old news” but, on December 4th, when ROH World Television Champion Jay Lethal (TheLethalJay) said on Twitter, “Today just Proved that more people recognize me from family feud, than my 6+ year run in TNA.”, I couldn’t help but laugh.

When TNA employee Bob Ryder chimed in that it was a TNA-themed week and Jeff Jarrett added “moronic”, I couldn’t help but laugh.

While it’s been said that people in the Federal Witness Protection program are better known than TNA wrestlers, it’s sad that a shill like Ryder would completely miss the point. Bob’s not a dumb guy…

Something tells me that Ryder didn’t respond when Chris Jericho said “Who’s James Storm?” when he was asked on Twitter about Storm allegedly stealing one of Jericho’s moves.

If Storm could ever just get on Family Feud…

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To learn more about the Art of Strength go here, to Tweet your thoughts to me go to @RealKevinKelly.

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