wrestling / Columns

The Hamilton Ave Journal 05.07.09: Volume 2 – Issue 85

May 7, 2009 | Posted by JP Prag

By JP Prag

Volume 2 – Issue 85


The Hamilton Ave Journal is the only wrestling news report focused solely on the business of wrestling. Here in the Journal we not only look at the stories that are important to the investor and business-minded person, but also delve deeper into stories that most fans of wrestling would overlook. That is because the Journal is about getting the heart of the matters that affect the companies and outlooks of the wrestling world.

And where is Hamilton Ave? That is the location of the WWE Production Studio in Stamford, CT, and thus the most powerful place in the wrestling world. Besides, The East Main Street Journal just does not have the right ring to it.

Who am I? I am JP Prag: consultant, entrepreneur, businessman, journalist, and wrestling fan.

Now, ring the bell because the market is open.

The Hamilton Ave Journal


The Journal’s front page area known as What’s News isn’t just about telling you what has happened. The stories in this section are about what will have an effect on the wrestling industry, individual federations, and the wallets of the fans.

LEAD STORY: It’s the law

Being large, multi-million dollar companies, the WWE and TNA have to deal with their fair share of lawsuits. Most recently, the WWE got a favorable ruling in the case of Scott Levy, et al. versus the WWE for employee rights. While it was not an all-out victory for the WWE, they at least got a judgment stating that plaintiffs had filed their case wrong and in the incorrect court, forcing them to go through the appellant process. Although Mr. Levy (AKA Raven) has recently been interviewed for his role in a horror movie, no mention was made of the impending appeal. For now, the paperwork was supposed to have been filed two months ago but there is still no word.

Meanwhile, the WWE also got a favorable result in the companies that sprouting from OTC 360, Inc. OTC 360 was a sponsor the WWE but allegedly failed to make many payments, especially for using WWE logos and tie ins past the terms of the contract. Since then, the company has changed names and been sold several times, but in the end the WWE had settlement agreements with several partners since November 2008. The last holdout—IAHL Corporation—agreed to terms so the judge closed the case. The WWE originally asked for nearly $1.2 million in charges, fees, and damages, but most likely settled for 75% of that. The terms will most likely not be released, but if so will appear in the Q2 report.

Also in the WWE’s favor was game board maker CCP suing over the rights to the name Gangrel. They contend that Gangrel was a copyrighted character of them and WWE violated that right when they brought Gangrel back for one night and when the originally used him. The judge dismissed the case because CCP failed to follow up with the appropriate documentation. The court also found that CCP had not executed their trademark of “Gangrel” and could not prove that the character was used in any of their games. Basically, if CCP had a trademark on “Gangrel”, they have let it fall into disuse and no longer have that trademark anyway.

While these lawsuits may have been pushed aside, former WWE developmental territory Deep South Wrestling has launched another one against their former partner. Although the company is inactive, owner Jody Hamilton is launching the suit. According to some sources, the case will revolve around charges that:

WWE committed breach of contract and intentional interference with contractual & business relations.

When asked to comment on the case, Mr. Hamilton stated:

“Deep South isn’t going to roll over and play dead, and I’m not either. It’s time to fight back.”

Details remained mixed whether there is enough evidence to substantiate these claims. According to Mike Aldren of the Wrestling Globe Newsletter:

The general feeling in talking to friends of Hamilton is that although they feel he has somewhat of a case, based on knowledge of the situation, it’s doubtful there is enough evidence to support his suit, and fight the mighty WWE machine. One friend of Hamilton said: “I get why he’s doing what he’s doing, but as a realist, I am skeptical it will go how he wants it.”

As can be imagined, TNA also has to deal with their share of the suits. One of the standout cases has been with former wrestling Konnan filing charges of racial discrimination, wages owed, and other damages. The judge on that case has been pushing hard for an out-of-court solution and looks to have finally gotten his wish. The two sides have agreed to a settlement in theory, however are reportedly far from coming to terms. According to Jason Powell:

Multiple TNA sources note that the company has agreed to pay Konnan over $500,000 as part of the settlement. There will be a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement.

Mr. Powell then stated that when he contacted Konnan that Konnan declined to comment.

As TNA grows, lawsuits will continue to be more and more common. What they do today will set the precedent for how things will be run in the future. Will they be like the WWE and fight everything with vast resources? Or will they settle just to get cases out of the way and avoid the cost of fights?

More Wrestling?

This past week, Vince McMahon hosted the annual shareholders meting. During the call, a shareholder asked the Chairman of the Board if he felt there was too much WWE on television with addition of SuperStars on Thursday. Quite to the contrary, Mr. McMahon stated that he would like to have a show on Wednesday as well and that the WWE has been perusing avenues to make that happen. When asked for his reasoning, Mr. McMahon stated:

“In the past, back when there were a few channels, there was something thought of as over exposure, and that’s not the case when you have a plethora of channels.”

Henry Jenkins, a staff writer for BuddyTV who attended the conference, had these thoughts:

Vince makes the interesting point that if a viewer is really committed to a different show on a Monday night, having shows on other nights gives them another window to fall in love with the WWE. That may be true for a percentage of the audience but almost the same thing could be accomplished by having one or two weekly shows and making them available for download in their entirety online. It seems hard to argue that’s not the right move creatively but obviously they’re a business and you can’t fault them for that. Presumably their numbers show they can still run in the black for airing more and more WWE content even if the numbers aren’t that special.

This seems to tie in to an issue the Journal has been covering for week: viewers do not want more shows, they want their existing shows available in multiple formats at different times. It is not that the WWE needs to add new programming, but that not everyone is available to watch at the WWE’s schedule and wants their own or alternate time choices.

Still, Mr. Jenkins makes a point in regards to profitability. The WWE sets up all television programming so that they are paid a licensing fee by the networks and that is it. So long as that fee per episode it more than the cost of producing that episode then they are profitable. The WWE would most likely tag team a show into an existing taping, so the additional cost would be minimal compared to a whole separate taping.

Of course, what Mr. McMahon fails to take into consideration is his competition. From the wrestling perspective, there is already TNA iMPACT, AAA, CMLL, NWA Showcase, AWA Classics, and ROH on American television. Already planned for the future are TNA Epix and two newly announced shows: AAA on Canal Sur Mexico and Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) on MAVTV. Wile neither of these are huge, they are just more product flushed in the market. And this does not include similar programming that takes the WWE’s audience; anything from MMA to primetime soap operas.

TNA President Dixie Carter recently sat down with Hermie Sadler for a few business related questions. While Ms. Carter generally spent the interview avoiding actual answers, she did say that she thought it was better to have competition. She stated that having a competitor makes you want to strive to be better and forces you to do so. At the same time, she also complemented the WWE for trying to clean up their image because it helps the industry as a whole, despite the pot shot that Mr. McMahon took at them earlier this year.

Even though there is a desire to have some competition, is all of it warranted? Is their truly a demand for this much of the product or will the continual adding of inventory only shirk the audiences of all shows? In other words, could TNA lose ratings because the WWE floods the market and other move in. It is not a direct competition, but a watering down the industry could lead to less viewers overall.

TNA has made strides to follow Mr. Jenkins points above. The have a replay of the show and make it available for download (for a fee). But TNA does not exist in a vacuum, and a decision by the WWE or another organization to expand programming can hurt them in the long run. Ms. Carter was correct in assuming how the WWE acted as a “family friendly” organization can affect how people view them. But if the WWE acts as complete provider making people see wrestling as too available, TNA could quickly be hit as well.


Some items of note in the rest of the wrestling business world:

  • As expected, the WWE declared their usually quarterly divided of $0.36 a share for Class A stock and $0.24 a share for Class B stock (the stock primarily owned by the McMahon family). The dividend will be paid out on June 25, 2009.
  • The competition in Florida cities for WrestleMania continues to heat up as Jacksonville has joined Tampa and Orlando in an effort to secure an event between 2011 and 2014. 2013 seems off the table as that is WrestleMania 30 and most believe that will be at Madison Square Garden.
  • WrestleMania may be in high demand, but tours of Mexico are not. Due to the continual scare concerning the Swine Flu (re: H1C1), the WWE has cancelled their upcoming tour of Mexico later this month. Meanwhile, Mexico itself appears ready to allow gatherings again, including two professional wrestling events this Friday.
  • While Mexico may be off the books, France is growing. The WWE added a show in Nice for their fall tour due to the location selling out during the winter tour last year. France has been a growth point for the WWE, but a pain point for TNA who just lost their television clearance there.
  • The WWE appears to finally be working on a WCW DVD. Eric Bischoff recently stated on his Twitter account that he, Ted Turner, and Bill Shaw have all been contacted and declined to appear. Says Mr. Bischoff:

    Chose not to participate in WWE’s latest revisionist history initiative for many reasons including the obvious one.

    And earlier:

    They [the WWE] called and asked me to be a part of it [the WCW DVD] and I declined. No desire to give credibility to their revisionist hist.


    In the Marketplace we look at the trends in television ratings. This section is less for critical analysis by the Journal but more for the reader to see what is really going on and to draw their own conclusions.

    As with stocks, here in the Journal we track the progress of television ratings. If ratings are the barometer by which we judge the product, then over the course of 52 weeks we should be able to see patterns, trends, and anomalies.

    For the week ending Wednesday May 6, 2009, here are the current standings of our shows:


    Close (This Week’s Rating): UNAV
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 3.4
    Percentage Change: N/A
    52-Week High: 4.1
    52-Week Low: 2.6
    All Time High: 8.1
    All Time Low: 1.8

    Close (This Week’s Rating): 1.9
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.6
    Percentage Change: ▲ 18.8%
    52-Week High: 2.5
    52-Week Low: 1.6
    All Time High: 5.8
    All Time Low: 1.0

    * SmackDown! ratings may include fast overnight if final ratings are not posted. Also, SmackDown! ratings are for the prior week as overnights are not available before this article goes to print.

    Close (This Week’s Rating): UNAV
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.2
    Percentage Change: N/A
    52-Week High: 1.5
    52-Week Low: 1.0
    All Time High: 2.3
    All Time Low: 0.6

    TNA iMPACT**
    Close (This Week’s Rating): 1.2
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.2
    Percentage Change: ▼ 2.4%
    52-Week High: 1.3
    52-Week Low: 0.9
    All Time High: 1.3
    All Time Low: 0.6

    ** TNA iMPACT’s are for the prior week as ratings may not be available at the time of the Journal’s posting

    Close (This Week’s Rating): 0.9
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 0.9
    Percentage Change: ▲ 2.3%
    52-Week High: 0.9
    52-Week Low: 0.9
    All Time High: 0.9
    All Time Low: 0.9

    *** SuperStars ratings may include fast overnight if final ratings are not posted. Also, SuperStars ratings are for the prior week as overnights are not available before this article goes to print.


    It has thus far been a mild recovery with SmackDown seeing the best gain, but hardly nearing top numbers. RAW and ECW are not available as of print time, so those will be the most interesting to watch for next week. Ratings are covered far more in depth in the Editorials section below.


    We all know that wrestling is a business, but we don’t often pay attention to what sells and makes money. Money and Investing looks into the top selling items in the world of wrestling and any interesting figures that may have come out this week.

    What are the top ten selling items for the WWE? From WWEShopZone.com:

    1. Jeff Hardy Immune to Fear T-Shirt ($25)
    2. Jeff Hardy 3 Armband Package ($60, on sale $20)
    3. Hardys Purple Logo Pendant ($10)
    4. John Cena HLR Academy T-Shirt ($25)
    5. Triple H Eversoris T-Shirt ($28)
    6. Hardys WWE Shop and Jakks Pacific Exclusive Action Figure ($34.99, on sale $24.99)
    7. Hardys Green Pendant ($10)
    8. Legacy Born Better T-Shirt ($25)
    9. WWE Superstars Party Pack ($27.99)
    10. WWE Encyclopedia Hardcover Book ($45, on sale $39)

    The Top Ten was once again Hardy central with the brothers turned adversaries (and mostly Jeff) taking up 50% of the Top Ten. Sprinkling out the rest of the list are the usual suspects of John Cena, Triple H, and Randy Orton (through his Legacy shirt), though there is one other item that deserves to be pointed out. The WWE Encyclopedia has been on the list since WrestleMania and continues to quietly perform well. The WWE could not ask for a better result from a coffee table book and it looks to be doing quite well for them. Also of interest is the WWE Superstars Party Pack, which just goes to show how much the audience has changed to children.

    TNA sometimes releases a list of top selling items on ShopTNA.com. According to the site the top selling items were:

    1. Jeff Jarrett – King Of The Mountain ($29.99)
    2. Cross The Line Triple Pack 2.0 DVD Set ($24.99)
    3. Cross The Line Triple Pack DVD Set ($24.99, on sale $10.88)
    4. Main Event Mafia – Black T-shirt ($19.99)
    5. Best of the X Division Matches DVD ($19.99)

    It was good to change the list for one week. But that is over for a good long while.


    Wrestling isn’t just about watching and reading. The best way to be a wrestling fan is to experience it live. Where is wrestling coming to in the next 2 weeks? The Personal Journal answers that question.

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
    10 (May)

  • RAW Live (Wheeling, WV)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Fort Wayne, IN)
  • 11

  • RAW (Columbus, OH)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Evansville, IN)
  • 12

  • SmackDown / ECW (Dayton, OH)
  • 13 14 15

  • TNA Live (Florence, SC)
  • 16

  • RAW / SmackDown / ECW Live (Bloomington, IL)
  • TNA Live (Greenville, NC)
  • 17

  • WWE Judgment Day (Chicago, IL)
  • TNA Live (Fayetteville, NC)
  • 18

  • RAW (Louisville, KY)
  • 19

  • SmackDown / ECW (Cincinnati, OH)
  • 20 21

  • TNA Live (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • 22

  • RAW Live (Boise, ID)
  • TNA Live (Amarillo, TX)
  • 23

  • RAW Live (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Rio Rancho, NM)
  • Do you know a wrestling event coming up? Send one in to The Hamilton Ave Journal and we’ll be sure to add it to the list.


    The Editorials section is designed for you, the readers, to respond to the views presented in the Journal, send an important news item, or talk about another overlooked business related item in wrestling. Just beware: the Journal reserves the right to respond back.

    From the commentary section last week, ratings were the topic du jour. First up is ScottishDragon:

    Why still no ROH on HD net ratings?

    Bonoto was the one who had the quick answer:

    HDNet is a privately owned station and does not release ratings information.

    Just as ROH has never released their PPV buys that I can find.

    I am an ROH fan, so I wish these were available, but unfortunately they are not.

    Not only that, but according to the New York Times, HDNet has elected not to receive Nielsen ratings. Nielsen is not going to monitor a show for free, so there is not way to know how many (if any) people are watching any program on HDNet.

    Moving on to ratings we do have, Eric L says:

    I think ratings news should take into account that, according to the web site TV by the Numbers ratings on Thursday last week were down huge on every net. NBC’s lineup hit season lows. Hell’s Kitchen was down a million viewers. Survivor was down large, especially in its demo. When taking Smackdown’s rating into account the steep falls across the board should be noted.

    elgrannoche: makes the important point here:

    Wouldn’t that hurt TNA and not SD? This week though, with the barn burner that was the Bulls/Celts game last night, I’d expect TNA to drop below 1.2 for the first time in awhile.

    Well, you did not win that one as TNA just barely maintained their 1.2. However, TNA was only down slightly last week with “all networks dropping” as Eric L said. Even still, we must look at each show as a bubble in to itself. Just because all television ratings were down does not mean the wrestling shows have an excuse. We know what ratings they are capable of and that they are no where near it.

    Carlos: actually gives a more logical reason for SmackDown’s woes last week:

    You forgot to mention that the reason Smackdown did such a horrendous rating was because many of the hot markets, including most of Texas and Portland Oregon, Smackdown was pre-empted because of the NBA Playoffs.

    And Tigerpaw28 added to that:

    You can add Cleveland, OH to the list of markets preempted by the NBA playoffs.

    True, being preempted in any market will hurt SmackDown. The 1.0’s they received included being bumped in New York, LA, Houston, Chicago, and Philadelphia in the same night. That definitely contributed, though SmackDown has been trending downward anyway. Carlos tried to continue with another point:

    The WWE Ratings have also not decreased in the past five years at the rate you say they do. Ratings have pretty much plateud since 2002 with Raw mainly averaging somewhere between the high 3’s and low 4’s.

    Quite the contrary, Carlos. Let’s take a look at RAW’s ratings since 2002:

    RAW Ratings since 2002

    Attached to RAW’s ratings are a polynomial trend curve that clearly shows that RAW’s ratings have decreased on average since 2002. More important than that, the rate at which they have been decreasing has been speeding up. In 2002 the average ratings was in the mid-4’s. In 2008 the average rating was in the low 3’s. That is a significant difference. But the true tell-tale sign is with SmackDown:

    SmackDown Ratings since 2002

    Despite having the same polynomial equation, SmackDown is almost a straight line going down. In 2002 they were in the mid-3’s. In 2008 they were in the mid to low 2’s. Nothing could be clearer than the overall decrease in ratings over the years.

    Of course, this leads to bluesteel‘s question:

    Is Smackdown’s new focus on wrestling and workrate likely to lead to any change in the ratings? Did, for example, the fall 2002/Smackdown Six period – an IWC favourite era – actually mean anything to enough people to affect the ratings in any way?

    As you can see in the chart above, SmackDown’s ratings initially shot up in the summer/fall of 2002 and have been declining since. There was a stabilization for a while after the big boom, but Fall 2004 onward really initiated the slump.

    Also last week, a troll of the Journal tried to stir up hatred against this article. Special thanks to Brett, lilwayne1, Guest#2886, and CanadianCripplet for laying out the facts in a Journal style and putting that guy to rest. Your efforts are noted and appreciated!

    Plenty more was written, so be sure to take a look. And of course, a week would not be complete without a good dose of JP Prag’s own HIDDEN HIGHLIGHTS!!

    If you enjoy the Journal, why not bookmark 411wrestling.com and make it your home page? You can do that by clicking here.


    This concludes Issue #85 (Volume 2) of THE HAMILTON AVE JOURNAL. Join us next week as we get ready to ring the bell again.

    Till then!

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