Thursday Sports Entertainment News Report 01.24.13
Greetings, folks, and welcome to another edition of Thursday Sports Entertainment! We’ve got an OVERSTUFFED column for you this week. Lots and lots to talk about. Aren’t you lucky to have me? Let’s get to it!
WORLD (WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT) NEWS TONIGHT
At this time, WWE wants to sign Brock Lesnar for another year after WrestleMania in April. Lesnar reportedly wants to wait until the last possible moment to negotiate and decide whether he wants to return for another year. He is expected back on WWE TV in February to begin his WrestleMania program.
If Lesnar signs for another year, the new deal would essentially be the same as his current one; a handful of TV appearances and big PPV matches. If he signs, two big matches being talked about are Lesnar vs. C.M. Punk and Lesnar vs. The Undertaker.
The feeling is that the match with Undertaker could be a big PPV draw, especially after their infamous run-in at UFC 121 in October 2010 that could be incorporated into the feud. But the match actually happening all depends on Taker’s physical condition. Undertaker’s reportedly hurting really bad, and Lesnar’s very physical style might not work for Taker at this stage of his career.
I don’t get the math behind the Brock Lesnar deal. Let’s look at the numbers:
Extreme Rules 2012 saw an increase of 35,000 buys over the 2011 numbers. Let’s assume WWE pockets like $30 out of every buy, so that’s about $1 million in increased revenue right there
Summerslam 2012 saw an increase of 49,000 buys over the 2011 numbers, an increase of just under $1.5 million in revenue
So as far as PPV goes, assuming Brock Lensar was solely responsible for the spike in orders (and let’s face it, he probably was), then he’s earned back about $2.5M of the rumored $5 million deal he got.
His last PPV under his one year contract will be WrestleMania 29, and I doubt his presence will significantly increase the already high buyrate that WrestleMania enjoys just by being WrestleMania. So what’s left?
Merchandise, sure. But I don’t think he is selling $2.5 million in T-shirts. Maybe I’m wrong, but that number seems awfully high.
There are also intangible benefits to consider. The Brock Lobster generates buzz, and his cachet can be used to increase the cachet of the guys he faces in the ring. But the problem there is that his two matches were against John Cena – the man who is the top draw anyway, and Triple H, a part-timer that who’s enormously popular in his own right. We can’t say that “wow, Lesnar sure made (insert name here) a star!” So the intangible benefits of having him around are essentially nil. For the life of me, I just can’t figure out how spending $5 million on Brock Lesnar would create any kind of positive return for the company, both on a qualitative and quantitative basis. If he wrestled in 4-5 non-WrestleMania PPVs per year, then yeah, he’d pay for himself and then some. But at his current schedule? No way.
Can any of you figure it out for me? I’m scratching my head with this one. When a company makes an investment, they expect that investment to make them a profit in some way. Can you present a scenario where Brock Lesnar’s run from April 2012-April 2013 makes them at least $5 million? I sure can’t…
WWE has announced the prices for their VIP tickets that were previously covered. The prices for the Providence, Rhode Island show on Saturday, March 16 are able to be found on Ticketmaster. The Superstar VIP package (which includes a ringside seat, meet-and-greet, photo with the WWE title and limited edition chair) will cost $599. The Enhanced VIP seat (with a center-ring lower-bowl seat and none of the other extras in the Superstar VIP that both don’t share) will cost $249. The highest cost of a regular ticket is $110.
Unless you’re meeting every Superstar in the main event, that number seems awfully high to me. The price difference between a top-tier ticket and a VIP experience is almost $500! Let’s see what you get for that $500:
A limited edition chair (approximate retail value: $25)
A photo with the WWE Title (approximate retail value: nada. You’re basically taking a photo with a replica belt.)
That leaves the meet and greet, which had damn well better be worth $475. For that kind of money, I’d want to meet Cena, HHH, The Rock, CM Punk, Vince McMahon, Randy Orton, Sheamus and the Undertaker all together. Odds are you’ll be glad handing with Zack Ryder, Santino and Christian instead.
Here’s a funny little story for ya. Many moons ago, my wife (then girlfriend) got me tickets to a WWE House Show at Madison Square Garden, main evented by a match between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. No, this wasn’t 1991, it was when Hogan made his comeback as a babyface in the mid-2000s. Anyway, she won them through a charity auction, so the seats were dynamite (2nd row) and included a meet-and-greet with “several WWE Superstars.”
During the intermission, we were whisked away backstage to a small room with three seats and a table. In walk the meet-and-greet superstars: Bubba Ray Dudley, Matt Hardy, and Tommy Dreamer. Bubba Ray and Matt Hardy were friendly enough, offering a handshake, about 20 seconds of conversation, and an autograph. But Tommy Dreamer was the best. He was VERY under-utilized in those days, to the point where most people didn’t know he was even with the company. It was obvious from his demeanor that Dreamer was not a happy camper at this phase of his life.
This little boy ahead of me clearly had no idea who Dreamer was, and was frantically thumbing through his Official WWE Program to try and find out. As expected, Dreamer was nowhere to be found in said program. Then the following exchange happened:
Little Boy: I’m sorry mister, I can’t find you in here. (Holds up the program. Dreamer angrily SNATCHES it from the kid’s hands).
Dreamer: Just give me that, kid.
Dreamer signs his name and drops the program on the table, looking miserable the entire time. HA! Meanwhile, the boy tries his best not to cry. Lighten up, Tommy!
So yeah. VIP sounds like a huge ripoff to me.
There is talk in WWE about eventually turning Dolph Ziggler face. As a heel, he has been getting over with his in-ring work and strong promos. Vince McMahon has been hesitant to make the turn because there’s several people who think his heel character has life in it.
Since he’s on the verge of becoming a main eventer, there’s talk that cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase as a face would create bigger impact in strengthening his perception with fans. This would also result in him getting away from AJ Lee and Big E Langston.
I think Ziggler should turn face…in like 6-8 months, if at all. He’s been slowly but surely making his way to the top of the card. He’s been inserted into top level storylines and having great matches with top level talent. Forget about his win/loss record – wins and losses in wrestling don’t matter. Some of the biggest “star-making” matches resulted in the newly minted star LOSING. For example:
(winner) Bret Hart vs. (loser) Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII
(winner) Undertaker vs. (loser) Mankind (Hell in a Cell)
(winner) Stamboat vs. (loser) Randy Savage at WrestleMania III
(winner) Kurt Angle vs. (loser) John Cena (Cena’s debut match)
Yeah, yeah, you can argue that their “star making” matches were at other times, but the point is that these matches were significant, memorable milestones that helped advance the loser’s career. Ziggler can lose the next 100 matches as long as he looks good doing it and creates memorable moments for the fans. THAT’S IT. THAT’S WHAT MATTERS. Brodus Clay has won nearly every match he’s been in, but that doesn’t make him a Main Event star.
Besides, the stars are aligning for Mr. Ziggler:
– He still has the Money in the Bank briefcase
– He has been feuding with the top star in the company, putting on great matches with him
– He’ll put on a helluva performance as the Iron Man in the 2013 Royal Rumble.
– His YouTube show got cancelled. Sure, they SAY it’s because of a contract running out. I think it’s to clear time in his schedule because he’ll be busy doing promotional work with a big, gold belt
– WrestleMania season is upon us, traditionally a time for making new stars
– He has the vocal support of hardcore fans
– He cannot please a girl
Just wait. He’s on his way.
Big E. Langston posted the following to Twitter after fans were calling him RyBlack:
“People, “RyBlack” is unimaginative & dull. On the other hand, “Choc Lesnar” made me audibly laugh.”
He also retweeted a fan’s post calling him “Soulberg.”
You know what I liked about Big E. Langston’s tweet? It could have easily devolved into a criticism of the racial elements of the nickname, but he instead took the higher road and went with the “it’s neither original nor funny” approach. And he’s right. The fact that he was amused by the creativity of the “Choc Lesnar” nickname shows he has a sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Now if only we could get that personality translated onto our TV screens, Mr. Langston would have a bright future. But I can understand why people would compare him to someone like Brock Lesnar. I’m just glad no one was insensitive enough to tweet him the suggestion of “The Best Nig Thing” as a moniker. I mean, who thinks like that?
EXCLUSIVE! THE SHEAMUS CONTROVERSY
There was an occurrence last week that went largely unnoticed by online wrestling sites. As some of you may know, WWE went to the great state of Alaska as part of their SmackDown World Tour.
Winter in Alaska can be very bleak. Due to its proximity to the North Pole, Alaska gets little to no daylight during the winter months. This can cause different effects on different people. Add to that the fact that it’s extremely cold and covered in snow and you’ll get some otherwise normal people to do some crazy things.
Sheamus is no exception to this phenomenon. Details are sketchy, but apparently Sheamus went a little wild while up in The Last Frontier. No one knows whether he was enjoying too much of the craic, or if he was unwittingly slipped some hallucinogens, but Sheamus, according to unconfirmed, very untrustworthy sources, decided to strip nude and run into the heart of a severe snowstorm. One bystander managed to snap a picture of the naked Superstar in the snowstorm in mid-“FELLA!” pose, and I’m posting it here as an EXCLUSIVE to Thursday Sports Entertainment. Mind you, despite the limited visibility, this is a very graphic shot of a male Superstar in the buff. This should NOT be viewed by kids and is NOT safe for work. For those of you brave enough to gaze upon the Celtic Warrior’s Irish Curse (and let’s cut him some slack, the man is in his birthday suit in the middle of a freakin’ blizzard), look down below for the picture in question:
CONTINUE ONLY IF YOU WANT TO SEE SHEAMUS YELLING “FELLA!” IN A BLIZZARD IN ALL HIS UNCLOTHED GLORY!!!
THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING! IT CANNOT BE UNSEEN!!!! IT’S NUDE SHEAMUS IN A SNOWSTORM, PEOPLE!!!!
No word on how this will affect his status with the company.
THE OLD GUARD IS NEW AGAIN
This past Friday, The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (age 65), opened in theaters. Next week, Bullet to the Head, starring Sylvester Stallone (age 66), debuts at a movie screen near you. Two weeks later, A Good Day to Die Hard , starring Bruce Willis (age 57), arrives in cinemas. The old guard is holding strong at the box office. Our action stars of 20-30 years ago are still our action stars of today. Many people will argue that no one has stepped up to the plate to replace them in the testosterone-fueled epics that dominated the 80’s and early 90’s. And for the most part, they’re right. Sure, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel are some noteworthy action stars, but do any of them really stack up against guys like Arnold, Sly and Bruce? Not in my opinion.
I think the problem is that, as a culture, we have accepted a new kind of action hero. Cinematic action heroes used to be badass, muscular tough guys that could wield a massive machine gun like it was a toy. They could knock out a guy with one punch to the head, leaving a trail of oversized explosions in their wake. Now, we accept guys like Matt Damon, Jeremy Renner and Christian Bale as our action heroes. They usually play flawed/damaged characters, smaller in size and more realistic in their approach. These guys engage in intricate martial arts action in tight spaces – no more single punches to the face, thankyouverymuch. They’re more likely to brood in a dark corner than kick open a door, guns blazing. Stallone has said that the traditional action hero died as soon as Michael Keaton was able to don a Batman suit with muscles built into it. If a regular guy like Keaton could pass for a superhero, then anybody could. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Everyman action heroes have made some unbelievably great films, arguably much better than their predecessors.
But the contrast in style is striking. It’s a new era in action films, whether we like it or not. Smaller guys dominate the scene, and the days of brainless badassery are quickly fading away. Sound familiar? In today’s wrestling scene, smaller guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler are considered the top stars of tomorrow, if not today. Sure, Cena is a muscular guy and is the face of the company, but he’s not a testosterone-fueled ass-kicker. He’s Dwayne Johnson in the Tooth Fairy – safe, predictable and appealing to kids.
What wrestling needs is someone less like Dwayne Johnson as the Tooth Fairy, but more like Dwayne Johnson as the Rock. They need performers more like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, etc. Not so much in size but in attitude. No one in the company today is an alpha male, take no prisoners BADASS. Ryback kinda comes close, but he’s just not hitting the mark, in my opinion. Yes, there’s a correlation with size, but strictly in terms of personality, Terry Funk would scare me in real life more than Ryback.
Audiences love guys who do what they want when they want and are unapologetic about it. Piss me off? I’ll kick your teeth in. Where’s the unpredictability? Where’s the “screw you” mentality? There’s not a lot of that going on today. Which is why WWE keeps bringing back the part-timers to fill that gap, the same way Hollywood keeps making Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies. They’re a link to that fun, popcorn time when things were cooler and much more macho. I’m telling ya, if I’m a young pro wrestler looking to make a mark, I’d turn the testosterone up to 11 and showcase my rugged instability. The wrestling world is sorely lacking full-timers with those traits right now.
One problem is that these days the character attitudes are cookie cutter. Heels are either cowards or cocky. Faces are either happy-go-lucky jokers or honor-bound boy scouts. There are very few Superstars that don’t fall into any of those categories.
People, the Attitude era wasn’t great because of cursing, scantily clad women, blood or lewd jokes. It was great because the characters had…wait for it…ATTITUDE! Alpha males like Stone Cold, The Rock, Taker, HHH, and Mr. McMahon dominated the scene. They were all legit, ego-driven badasses that would kick your ass in a bar fight. Not because they were muscular, but because they were TOUGH. They had MACHISMO. Other guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels brought athleticism to the mix, and Mick Foley made hardcore mainstream. You had the best of everything, all under one roof.
So we can only hope that WWE decides to bring back the Attitude (but not the Attitude Era – big difference). The smartest thing, in my opinion, is to allow John Cena enough slack to act more like a badass. Not a heel turn, mind you, but more of an adjustment of his character to be less 1980’s Hulk Hogan and more 1990’s Steve Austin. His goofy jokes and insecure smile should fade, replaced by more hard hitting insults and a sneer. Strip away his need to be friendly and make him more of a loner. Do it slowly. He can still be a fan favorite, but his personality doesn’t have to be so vanilla. It would freshen up his character but still keep him a fan favorite. Why not give it a try?
OR — keep Cena the way he is and let someone else do it. Then BOOM! Instant feud between the hero and the anti-hero.
PROUD PAUL’S TRAVELS
It seems that Proud Paul’s Travels was a hit. I’m glad that many of you found those pictures of Paul E. in historical/pop cultural situations as amusing as I did. I figure it can become something of a regular feature of the column. Instead of posting 5 pictures though, I’ll just post one (so I can make it last longer). Again, if any of you amateur PhotoShoppers want to contribute, hit me up at [email protected]
Let’s see where the Godfather of Extreme traveled to this week…
Well…if anyone can cut a promo on the devil himself, it’s Paul Heyman.
HALL OF FAME
There was lots of great feedback last week on the WWE Body Parts Hall of Fame. Some of my favorites included Scott Hall’s liver, Rikishi’s butt dimples, Kurt Angle’s (broken freakin’) neck, Big Daddy V’s t*ts, Brock Lesnar’s colon, Jim Ross’ facial muscles, and Val Venis’ pee-pee.
This week, I was thinking about a catchphrase wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Wrestling is filled with numerous catchphrases, and what better way of honoring the great ones than by inducting them into their own wing of the Hall of Fame? The ones that come to mind immediately are:
“If ya smell what the Rock is cooking”
“Have a nice day!”
“Best there is, best there was, best there ever will be”
Those are all Main Event Level catchphrases. Every Hall of Fame class usually has a few top-level inductees, a few midcarders, and a few lower level guys. So what I would like you to do is pick:
Two MAIN EVENT level catchphrases (e.g. “If ya smell what the Rock is cookin”)
Two MIDCARD Catchphrases (“Oooooh what a rush!”) and
Two LOWER LEVEL Catchphrases (“For the benefit of those with flash photography…”)
To make your very first class in the Catchphrase wing of the Hall of Fame! Let’s see what ya’ll can come up with. Bonus points for the less obvious ones.
HUSTLE, LOYALTY, POON
While working around the house this past weekend, I decided to listen to some Howard Stern interviews from years past on YouTube. Despite his raunchiness and over-the-top personality, what’s little known about Howard is that he gives one of the best interviews in the business. Seriously. The man can engage in compelling, personal, and of course – raunchy – interviews with almost anybody. It’s a real skill that I don’t think most people recognize he has.
Anyway, one interview I listened to was Howard interviewing John Cena. This was right before The Marine hit theaters, so we’re talking October 2006. To set the context – John Cena was WWE Champion and single at the time, so keep that in mind when reading the highlights.
Cena was smart – he knew Howard could smell B.S. from a mile away, so he walked into the interview completely open and honest about all of his answers, especially the ones regarding the ladies. You have to admire his honesty in that area, especially since WWE was making the push to be more family friendly. Below is the YouTube clip of the entire interview. For those of you who can’t watch it at this time, I’ve included some highlights for ya:
Highlights From the Howard Stern Interview of John Cena
– The biggest *ahem* “adult experience” he ever had was six girls and him, all at the same time
– The best “experience” was him and two…let’s call them… “professional dancers.” He says that they were the best because they understood the entertainment aspect of what they were doing
– He’ll basically do anything but go in the back door
– He once banged a 280 lb chick because other wrestlers essentially dared him to
– Cena will just about go to bed with anyone. His mentality is that he’s a grown man with urges and he’s looking for new experiences
– While filming The Marine in Australia, he visited “the land down under” several times (ifyaknowwhatImean).
I always suspected that Cena was a horndog, but this about proves it. And good for him! He’s young, single, famous and attractive. (what?) Why not have some fun if that’s what he’s into?
So for all you ladies out there, if you have a pulse and are willing to share, John Cena can be all yours for one special night! But be warned, once he’s had his way with you, he’s all like “you can’t see me!”
Maybe wrestling win/loss records are directly tied to the performer’s prowess in the bedroom. Explains why Cena owns Ziggler every time.
NON-SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT THING OF THE WEEK
After a very long hiatus, the Non-Sports Entertainment Thing of the Week is back, baby! Yessssss! Lucky you! I haven’t done this in a while because I wanted to keep it fresh. It’s best to rotate features in and out of the column to avoid overexposure, y’know? It’s NOT because I keep forgetting about it. It’s not that at all.
This week’s non-wrasslin’ goodie is a very creative and funny video featuring classic Darth Vader scenes re-dubbed with classic Arnold Schwarzenegger lines. I don’t know about you, but after seeing this video I’m all like “James Earl WHO??” Disney, give the Austrian Oak a few mil and the tickets will sell themselves! I guarantees it!
YOU’RE IN FOR A REAL TWEET
And of course, follow all the 411 stuff on Twitter! #spon
Thank you for making Thursday Sports Entertainment your go-to destination for Wrestling News, Opinions, etc. Make sure to send in your thoughts on TNA, ROH, etc. to [email protected] What a column this week, eh? Next week, provided she remains a babyface, the plan is to have Awesome Ladybug Girl recap her first ever Royal Rumble! So tune in – same Sports Entertainment Time, same Sports Entertainment website!
This is Sean.