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Observer notes June 16
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Old 14 Jun 2008, 10:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Observer notes June 16

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WWE

Things like this really sadden me. The Sports Illustrated web site, in doing a list of the highest paid athletes in sports, noted Floyd Mayweather Jr. at No. 4, citing the $20 million one-night payoff for Wrestlemania. Okay, that figure did get reported everywhere, and as noted, when it came out the number wasn’t true, that didn’t get reported much of anywhere outside of the pro wrestling world. So as far as making the mistake, they shouldn’t have, but everyone makes mistakes. The point is, after printing the list, obviously they knew very quickly they had made the mistake, and didn’t feel it was important enough to correct.

D-Lo Brown (Accie Connor), who worked for the company from 1997-2003 (although he was largely kicked to the curb by 2001 as far as being on the regular roster), was signed this past week. Most likely this is part of Vince's wanting African-Americans on television. Part of it is because of a decrease in that demo in the ratings and part with Booker and Lashley leaving and any racism controversy stemming from having Hayes on the creative team makes them a sitting duck for future controversy if they don't push African-Americans. Whether justified or not, WCW was taken to the cleaners and it wasn’t justified there any more or less than it would be justified here now that Hayes is a public target and is being brought back.

Undertaker had been working through all sorts of nagging injuries, most notably his hip (which has been bad forever) and back. As noted, the plan right now is Undertaker returning against Edge, probably for SummerSlam. The angle was both something to come out of a storyline, but also a way to freshen up Undertaker vs. Edge which has been done to death. Plus, it gives Undertaker down time to heal up.

Vince, who almost never misses TVs, wasn’t in Fresno or San Jose this past week. No answers were given as to why but everyone was figuring something big must be up. Stephanie, the second in command, also wasn’t there, but she stopped going to TV’s a few weeks ago because she’s in her third trimester of pregnancy and isn’t traveling much. She’s due next month, but still works from home.

The update on Orton is that his broken collarbone was worse than originally thought and he’s now not due back until October.

Ed Kaufman, the head of legal as a Senior Vice President, is leaving the company imminently. Not sure of the reasons or whose choice it was. He was one of those guys who showed up in the office at 7 a.m., was still in the office at 7 p.m., and was on call constantly on weekends since the company always has some kind of a legal issue.

Jimmy Wang Yang (James Yun) failed a drug test and was announced on 6/9 as having been suspended for 30 days. The belief is that it was not for steroids, although WWE doesn’t release that information. It was not a major topic of conversation as compared to Regal’s suspension or Jeff Hardy’s when they went down. When the word got out on 6/9, guys were fearing a drug test and when the Raw crew got to Oakland, what do you know, there it was.

Show did suffer a fractured left orbital bone and will be out of action until the PPV, but is scheduled to work against Kane in what at this point will be his first match back.

The WWE’s settlement to Cory Maclin in the lawsuit against WWE for pulling Jerry Lawler from the Memphis show and pulling all talent at the last minute from his others shows was sealed and neither side is allowed to talk about it. The figure was said to be fairly significant. WWE evidently realized they would look bad in a court case where you had a small local business owner in court in Memphis against an out of town Goliath, who basically by pulling talent from the Sam’s Town show at the last minute, cost Maclin his sold show deal, not to mention the pulling of Lawler from the match with Hulk Hogan after they had spent months building it up which WWE was fully aware of. It was all done because Vince McMahon was mad at Hogan at the time, which is ironic since Hogan appeared on the 15th anniversary show later. There’s nothing new this week on Maclin reopening his promotion on a new station using the money he received in the settlement. Ch. 30, like Ch. 5 before, decided against taping any new shows due to the cost of hiring a crew on Saturday morning (in Memphis, because of the history of ratings, the station had always paid for production) and liability issues.

Now that Torrie Wilson has retired, she had major back surgery this past week.

Ted DiBiase Jr. will be okay because he toured Japan several times so has experience in working before crowds and in more than one style, but for most of the guys there, they don’t have that. It’s been described to that the ones who came from Louisville, where they did television every week and did a fairly full schedule of house shows, are bored and aren’t making any progress.

WWE is allowing Flair to do independent autograph shows, which he probably can make a killing off. They just won’t allow him to appear at non-WWE pro wrestling shows doing autograph appearances although he’s still advertised for a show in Oakwood, VA, which supposedly has a huge advance.

The Boston Red Sox this season are the Flair team. Sean Casey of the Red Sox gave every player on the team a T-shirt that reads “Wooooo!!” on the front and “Diamonds Are Forever, And So is El Alcalde!!” El Alcalde is Casey’s nickname, which means The Mayor in Spanish. Casey and Flair are friends, and “Diamonds Are Forever, and So is Ric Flair,” was one of his 80s catch phrases. Ever since meeting Flair, Casey does the “Woooo!” constantly in the clubhouse and did a guest ref spot on an indie show which the team has watched together. Casey said “If you love wrestling, Ric Flair is wrestling.” Flair is now popular with others on the team for leaving voice messages encouraging the team.

The best selling DVDs so far this year are the Steve Austin DVD, which has shipped 177,000 units, and the new HHH: King of Kings, which has shipped 202,000. Shows what not being on television means although Austin’s numbers are still high-end for WWE DVDs. What’s interesting is that this indicates most stores ordered heavy for Austin and haven’t reordered (only 2,000 units were shipped in April). For HHH, they thought the demand would be slightly higher than Austin. For Mania, particularly due to Ric Flair and the Hall of Fame ceremony a lot more then Floyd Mayweather, I expect this to be the best selling wrestling DVD in history. The current record holder is the 2006 Mania, which shipped about 415,000 units.

The web site did 15.8 million unique viewers in April, so the new news feature really didn’t seem to make a big difference. One would think the June number should be up due to the $1 million giveaway. Still, online merchandise sales were up from last year as they averaged 900 orders daily, as compared with 756 at this point last year.

A lot of the booking of Smackdown in recent weeks, besides the Undertaker angle, has been in a holding pattern with Michael Hayes gone. Hayes is expected back to work in the next week or two. He may be at the 6/16 Raw tapings, but if not, will be at the 6/24 Smackdown tapings.

He got a lot more than just a slap on the wrist and two months off. Besides losing two months of salary, he had to go to sensitivity training and to alcohol recovery classes. He is being brought back as a writer, but has been demoted from being a company Vice President, probably due to how it would look to the outside world that you have a Vice President who it is now well known to the outside world used racial remarks in 2008. This means he won’t be eligible for the stock grants and performance bonuses, which can be worth well into the six figures if profit goals are reached, so he took a huge financial hit. He also has to undergo a complete lifestyle change as to get his job back, he had to agree to not drink alcohol while doing anything associated with the company, which means on the job in Stamford, or on the road, even after shows and at parties involving talent. There was at least talk of him having to take antibuse, which is medication that makes one vomit if touching alcohol. Hayes’ drinking is legendary, but it’s his behavior after drinking heavily that gets him in trouble. He also had to sit down to Mark Henry to clear everything up and may also have to meet with all of the company’s African-American wrestlers. Henry’s renewed push at the ECW title level will undoubtedly continue. Alcohol has been a huge part of Hayes’ life for more than 30 years, and nobody is making any bets as to if his return will or won’t be successful. It may be for the best because Hayes is 49 and has high blood pressure, and heavy drinking wasn’t in the long run going to do his health any favors.

The company is going with the mentality that Hayes is a strong part of the creative team, but that the company can live without him if he repeats transgressions, and as a publicly traded company, one more screw up and he becomes more of a liability than he’s worth
TT
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