Jump to content

Today's Observer: WWE vs ITV / possibility of UK-only Network show


Maikeru

Recommended Posts

What could be a major promotional war is brewing behind the scenes, and the battleground looks to be the U.K.

 

The recent television pilot that was taped for a revival of ITV’s World of Sport is scheduled to air at the end of the month. While ITV has not officially announced a pick-up of the series, there have been moves made behind-the-scenes which indicate such a thing is strongly being considered, with the idea of a massive taping in a few months where they may do as many as ten weeks worth of shows at once, somewhat similar to how TNA has been doing.

 

The difference between this project and TNA ends there. ITV is the No. 2 network in the U.K., and the World of Sport pilot will likely be viewed by millions of people. Keep in mind that Raw on Sky may do 150,000 viewers.

 

While WWE has nearly three decades as the dominant pro wrestling organization in that country, and even with television being limited to a subscription channel as opposed to a major free station, they are far more popular than in the U.S. and in general, draw bigger crowds at far higher ticket prices. The idea that ratings in and of themselves are a predictor of a level of business success has always been a fallacy in pro wrestling, and even if the ITV show does 20 times the number of viewers, that doesn’t mean the wrestlers pushed on those shows will have the marketability to pull numbers at house shows or sell merchandise.

 

However, WWE is hardly going to sit back as the business changes in 2017, whether it’s an ITV-led promotion, or a FloSlam streaming service, or even a rise in underground promotions in the U.S. that are garnering cult followings. It’s not a secret that WWE is going to be more aggressive in signing talent, whether it be it sees things in that talent, or, as some have said in the U.K. scene based on recent deals offered, just to keep talent away from potential competitors and building up smaller companies.

 

WWE vs. ITV is already brewing behind-the-scenes. ITV has recently sent all their talent amendment to their contracts that wouldn’t allow anyone appearing on those shows to do television on major stations. Those contracts would not prevent the ITV talent from appearing for other companies, nor from appearing on iPPV or streaming services for other companies. However, the contracts would give ITV first dibs on the talent, similar to TNA. There is already talk of doing house shows if the first season is a success. If that’s the case, they would have the right to book the talent on their shows, and if the talent would have made other bookings on those dates, they would have to cancel.

 

WWE at the same time is starting to offer unique contracts to the key U.K. wrestlers who are marketable or have some name value that don’t already have deals. The deals were described as different from anything they’ve done in the past. These are not main roster deals, nor developmental deals. Those in the U.K., and for that matter even some in WWE who are friends with talent that have been offered the deals, have termed then “competition-killer” deals. They are low dollar guarantees, the talent would stay in the U.K. and be allowed to continue to work indies, but now would have a small cushion. The key would be in locking the talent down to where they can’t go to the ITV promotion, but would also not be allowed to appear for promotions like WCPW (a group that spends big money for foreign talent and does its own Internet weekly television show and iPPV shows), or with promotions that have streaming services. The contracts would give WWE the right to approve or not approve of their indie dates.

 

Some of the names offered deals are fairly well known in the U.K. hardcore community, while others really have no name value at all. Many had prior tryouts with WWE and they weren’t at the time interested in picking them up. A major percentage of those who tried out a few weeks ago at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow were offered these type of deals. It would enable the talent involved that is struggling to make a living in wrestling, most having other jobs, to have a little big of a cushion to pursue their wrestling, and since the dream of most is WWE since that is what they grew up on, there is that emotional leverage of a WWE offer as opposed to going with a small company with no stability or a newer company that may or may not have longevity.

 

The WWE has already asked for everyone’s names and started to do background checks, and have told people to clean up their social media accounts, but haven’t offered the actual physical contracts yet.

 

There are ideas hinted around, perhaps another television show featuring the contracted U.K. talent for that market only. The idea is that just being associated with a WWE product would increase the marketability of such talent on the U.K. scene.

 

At the same time, several of the key U.K. promotions have had contact from both FloSlam and WWE regarding being part of their streaming services. The key promotions, Revolution Pro, Progress, ICW and WCPW have their own streaming service. WCPW is backed by the What Culture site and thus has strong financial backing and thus would be unlikely to sign up with either side. Revolution Pro, which has some of the hottest and best action at its big shows, and uses top American indie wrestlers as well as stars from New Japan, would have at least some international appeal as a streaming show given both the names and in time, potential due to show quality. The thing working against anyone new getting past a certain level of exposure is that with the amount of product that WWE puts out, and it being the major league group, unless it’s someone who has no interest in WWE or lives and dies with pro wrestling, there aren’t enough hours in the day for even following another strong product.

 

At this point, neither the WWE Network nor FloSlam have reached a deal with any of the key U.K. groups. WWE did work with both Progress and Revolution Pro in qualifying matches for the Cruiserweight Classic.

 

At the ICW show in Glasgow, the WWE contracts were major talk, and the peer group pressure was to not sign with people calling them “mark deals,” with the idea that “They don’t want you, they just don’t want anyone else to have you.”

 

 

Is this for real? The ITV pilot's barely been shot and all of a sudden they're a major potential threat necessitating the paying off of talent to stop them from signing with them? 

 

A weekly 205 Live-style network broadcast featuring exclusively UK talent under a WWE banner sounds fabulous though. A sub brand touring the country monthly in between the two big annual tours would surely do good business at medium-sized venues. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 956
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Apparently Vince is actually considering having indies on the network. It was bounded around a couple of months back with that proposed tiered new pricing structure for the network. This comes from Wrestling Obsever Radio via PWInsider-

There's been a lot of speculation on WWE possibly bringing indie wrestling content to the WWE Network after a few Fan Council surveys were issued this year to gauge interest, specifically mentioning promotions like Ring of Honor, EVOLVE, CZW and several others.

 

It looks like indies will be coming to the WWE Network soon as Vince McMahon has decided that he does want at least some "hot indies" on the Network, according to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio.

 

WWE issued a survey earlier this fall that included potential price points of $4.99, $9.99 and $14.99. Promotions listed in that survey were TNA and ROH. They issued another survey this fall that asked fans which promotions they were watching - PWG, CHIKARA, EVOLVE, DGUSA, OVW, AAW, CZW, Shimmer, SCW, ROH and FIP.

 

No word yet on when we may see indies on the Network or which promotions may sign deals with WWE but Meltzer believes the next few months will be very interesting for the business with potential changes. He also speculated on WWE forming alliances with other promotions, similar to what they have done with WWN Live over the past year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is that actually from Meltzer? Seems highly dubious. Why would ITV be looking to run house shows for a TV show that doesn't exist yet off the back off a pilot that hasn't aired yet? Why would a TV company waste the time and effort organising and running non-televised shows in front of, what would ultimately be, a few hundred people? Just sounds highly unlikely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is that actually from Meltzer? Seems highly dubious. Why would ITV be looking to run house shows for a TV show that doesn't exist yet off the back off a pilot that hasn't aired yet? Why would a TV company waste the time and effort organising and running non-televised shows in front of, what would ultimately be, a few hundred people? Just sounds highly unlikely.

 

You'd need to subscribe to see for yourself but yes it is - made little sense to me either; not sure who fed him the info. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not outside the realms of possibility that ITV have looked at the amount of tickets they could have shifted to the taping of a pilot, the amount of views WCPW are getting/tickets they're selling, ICW's recent Hydro show, the relatively low cost of producing a wrestling show compared to how much they'd spend on a drama series or whatever, and decided to go ahead with a full series. Not saying that's the case, but it's definitely possible.

 

The casting lad has been asking on social media for people to suggest wrestlers they'd like to see if WOS became a regulag thing. That could totally just be a ploy to keep people talking about the show, but it's going to add to speculation that there might be something else happening down the line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

I heard WWE were offering those contracts to UK Talent from a couple of people the last few weeks - that's definitely true. That's massive and it has to be tempting, there's more and more full time workers in the UK and this supplements that, but it really could hurt as more companies move into IPPV and the like and these wrestlers won't be available.

 

The ITV people do seem confident this is going somewhere, I got that impression at the taping myself, so we will see. Like Meltzer says, WWE doesn't take this type of competition lightly and short term it may already be effecting the WWE prospects of some of the people who signed ITV deals that WWE were interested in.

 

I'd question the viability of the WOS show as a long term thing. The whole setup feels very naive with their TV actor playing authority figure and lots of Butlins style work that I'm not sure people would come back for, past a one off that your Dad might watch for 5 minutes on New Year's Day because he recognised the World Of Sport name while channel surfing. There's lots of room for improvement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

The wos tapings were a little on the overly theatrical side, but they have exposure. Not sure about house shows, but would they maybe go after the holiday camp market as a lot of x factor singers etc get gigs there due to tv exposure. Can't see this retainer coming to much

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

The contracts, or offers at least, are definitely real.  I don't see it necessarily as a bad thing.

 

I just see it as WWE keeping guys that they 'might' potentially be interested in picking up over the next year or so (either for NXT, Network specials, streaming 'indy' affiliates, whatever) from tieing themselves up to multi-year deals elsewhere with the likes of WCPW, WOS, TNA, ROH, NJPW, etc. that would then make them unavailable if/when WWE wanted them - something they've experienced with Ricochet, Adam Cole, Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll etc.

 

Obviously gives the guys involved a bit of income too to compensate for not having those potential WCPW/WOS/TNA/ROH/NJPW bookings too.

 

If anything, their need to offer this it is an acknowledgement from WWE that there are now potentially other very viable places available for people to go to work where they could make just as decent a living as they would in signing with the 'E.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

Perennial in the know Internet man Rovert's take on this is interesting over on the VOW forum:

 

http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=44393#p44393

Meltzer's story was a butchering of the actual story due to his lack of UK knowledge and protecting sources.

 

The streaming services thing is largely wrong. There would be an overnight change or ban. It is largely insurance for WWE that WWE can yank talent from promotions they feel uncomfortable whether politically or in terms of them growing to level they are uncomfortable with - x amount of attendance or a strong TV deal.

 

WCPW are also offer deals with restrictions too.

 

The era of everyone working everyone's shows is likely over.

 

WWE are trying a bunch of strategies to scuttle ITV Wrestling everything you could brainstorm. Offering WWE content to ITV, doing a UK centric WWE Network show, possibly adding PROGRESS and Rev Pro to the WWE Network. WWE is VERY shook.

 

Floslam is still pursuing big name UK promotions.

 

Equity is trying to sign up Wrestlers to their actor & stuntman union predominantly recruiting Wrestlers at recent PROGRESS and ATTACK shows. Outside of that there's other talks about unionisation.

 

Hit on this point several times but a lot of WWE's actions this year have brought down talent leverage & cost - it has to be a concerted strategy. Ellsworth, Spirit Squad, the CWC guys etc are all effectively cheap labour. Bucks; Ricochet got low balled by WWE this year as talent leverage has been lowered a lot this year. Simply the lower wrestlers sign on with WWE for the lower the leverage others will have.

 

There's a lot of things going on all at once.

Also says a couple of people have signed the WWE deals already.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...