wrestling / Columns

The Hamilton Ave Journal 07.16.09: Volume 2 – Issue 95

July 16, 2009 | Posted by JP Prag

By JP Prag

Volume 2 – Issue 95


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: WWE vs. TNA in unexpected places

While the WWE and TNA can be considered competition in the wrestling and entertainment market, they rarely have to go head-to-head in any situations. In general, the two stay far away from each other physically in their shows, both live and on PPV. Yet, they have crossed paths in the past and are poised to do so again.

The most famous time when they met was at WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, FL during March/April 2008. Because the WWE came to town, TNA decided to have a live episode of iMPACT on the Thursday night before WrestleMania. WWE employees were given strict instructions to stay away from TNA, but former WWE wrestler Russell Murray (Rory McCallister) ended up being shown on camera in the audience.

Prior to this, the most contentious incident was in 2005 when the WWE was filming their Royal Rumble commercial at Universal Studios and TNA personalities showed up with balloons. The WWE threatened in injunction against TNA showing any film of WWE wrestlers, but TNA ended up blurring out their faces and disguising voices.

Now, there are two events that could surpass both. First up is the San Diego Comic Con from July 23 to July 26, 2009. On all of those days, the WWE is sending “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, The Honky Tonk Man, Bushwacker Luke, and Virgil to sign autographs. No other talent is expected, but plans have been known to change.

While the WWE is an exhibitor, TNA is actually a sponsor. As previously covered in the Journal, TNA will be hosting the “Wrath of Con” party at the Hard Rock Care on July 24, 2009. Scheduled to appear are Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, Suicide and the Motor City Machine Guns.

This hardly seems like quite a match-up, but TNA and WWE contracted persons could run into and interact with each other. But this is only the prelude to the main event.

On Sunday December 20, 2009, TNA is scheduled to hold their Final Resolution PPV at the iMPACT Zone in Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. On the same night, the WWE has scheduled a SmackDown/ECW television taping (for airing later in the week so that the workers have the rest of the week off) in Orlando, FL. TNA and WWE have had live events within 50 miles of each other before, but this is the first time they are going against each other in the same town, nonetheless on television.

The WWE can be expected to not do much with this since official policy is to not acknowledge TNA, but TNA’s policy is quite the opposite. With a live PPV in their home environment, TNA may try to pull something off, like their balloon stunt.

Of course, this could all change if TNA changes dates, location or both, or if the WWE moves the show as well. Right now, this is still a situation 5 months away, but it will interesting to watch as it gets closer.


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

  • Most sources are reporting the USA President Bonnie Hammer sits on the phone and controls WWE programming. This is actually a misconstrue of when Ms. Hammer was a program executive from 1989 onwards. She later inherited the managing role of the WWE shows and took a more active role than her predecessor. She uses the same mentality today for all shows, having corporate executives be involved in the creative and production process. While Ms. Hunt does not always personally work with WWE, she does have a tremendous influence and has people on her staff that do work with the WWE in the same way she used to.
  • While ECW was moved to a Thursday night timeslot last week, its replacement “Warehouse 13” scored a 2.5 rating, over double what ECW did the prior week. It should be noted that ECW scored a similar number when it premiered, so ratings can decline over time.
  • The WWE will release second quarter results on Thursday August 6, 2009. The Journal will have a complete analysis of the results on August 13, 2009.
  • As part of those results, the WWE will officially release PPV buyrates for the quarter. Here are the currently reported numbers, down from the last two years:

    * WrestleMania – 970,000
    * Backlash – 185,000
    * Judgment Day – 235,000

    Again, the Journal will cover these more in depth when they are officially released by the WWE in the Q2 report.


    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 July 15, 2009, here are the current standings of our shows:


    Close (This Week’s Rating): 3.5
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 3.6
    Percentage Change: ▼ 2.8%
    52-Week High: 4.5
    52-Week Low: 2.6
    All Time High: 8.1
    All Time Low: 1.8

    Close (This Week’s Rating): 1.7
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.6
    Percentage Change: ▲ 6.2%
    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): 1.3
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 0.7
    Percentage Change: ▲ 85.7%
    52-Week High: 1.5
    52-Week Low: 0.7
    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: UNCH
    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): 0.8
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 0.9
    Percentage Change: ▼ 11.1%
    52-Week High: 1.0
    52-Week Low: 0.8
    All Time High: 1.0
    All Time Low: 0.8

    *** 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.


    After that big boost from commercial free, RAW proved the one thing that seems to be true: they cannot maintain additional audience. Yes, they are plenty of spiking the ratings at certain times, but keeping those additional people week after week is RAW’s main hindrance. These one-time stunts may make USA and the advertisers happy, but they do little for long term growth. Still, the WWE is a phase of rebuilding, so lower ratings are expected. But the message is mixed: are they in slow growth or are they trying to spike the audience?

    ECW also recovered from their week in an odd spot, reaching a 1.3 rating, the highest since April 14, 2009. This was the first week ECW was in its regular spot since SciFi rebranded to SyFy (in part due to ECW’s presence on the network) and they look to be benefiting from the marketing effort of the new station.


    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. Hardys Green Pendant ($10)
    2. John Cena Attitude Adjustment T-Shirt ($25)
    3. WWE Superstars Party Pack ($27.99)
    4. Jeff Hardy 2 Armband Package ($40, on sale $14.99)
    5. WWE White Gift Bag ($3)
    6. D Generation X – DXMas T-shirt ($25, on sale $5.98)
    7. Jeff Hardy PPV #20 Action Figure/Basics YOUTH T-Shirt Package ($23.99)
    8. John Cena Attitude Adjustment YOUTH T-Shirt ($22)
    9. Triple H Eversoris T-Shirt ($28)
    10. John Cena Attitude Adjustment Baseball Cap ($20)

    Amazingly, the partypack continues to survive among the John Cena, Jeff Hardy, and Triple H merchandise. Triple H got a little extra boost this week, as well, when his Degeneration X shirt from last Christmas went on sale for less than $6. Believe it or not, but that still means the shirt is profitable! Given the WWE’s run of shirts, it most likely cost them $3-4 per shirt to produce, so the t-shirt is still making a decent showing even at severe price cuts. The volume in this case, too, really pushed the total over the edge. Do not expect this one to last on the top ten, otherwise there are larger issues to contend with (see: Christian Cage being a top selling item in TNA).

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

    1. Destination X 2009 DVD ($14.99, on sale $11.99)
    2. Lockdown – 2009 DVD ($19.99)
    3. Cross The Line Triple Pack 2.0 DVD Set ($24.99, on sale $14.99)
    4. July Holiday Sale – Mix package ($250, on sale $49.99)
    5. Against All Odds 2009 PPV DVD ($14.99, on sale $9.99)
    6. Beer Money T-shirt ($19.99)
    7. Jeff Jarrett – King Of The Mountain DVD Autographed ($29.99)
    8. Sting – “Crawl” T-shirt ($19.99)
    9. Knockouts Blaster Pack ($19.99)
    10. Kurt Angle – Champion DVD ($19.99, on sale $17.99)

    TNA decided to update their list late on the day yesterday, so there was already something written here about them not updating. Instead, we get to talk about moving inventory! TNA has come to realize that sitting on inventory does them no good. It cost money to leave items sitting on the shelf, and many items have a limited shelf life to begin with. In response, they start cutting price early and often to move product, and this week demonstrates the effectiveness of that strategy. 50% of the top ten are for items that have been discounted. Unfortunately, that also means 50% of the items have lower margins. TNA needs to get much better at initial inventory order to make sure they don’t get into situations like this.

    The main holdovers from last week include Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, and—of course—Beer Money. The tag team champions have been consistently near the top of TNA’s selling list, and TNA would be wise to feature them more. Also, Sting’s leaving the Main Event Mafia has appeared to spike his sales as well, while the Main Even Mafia T-shirt itself (a long staple of this list) is missing.


    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
    19 (Jul)

  • RAW Live (Florence, SC)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Greenville, SC)
  • 20

  • RAW (Raleigh, NC)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 21

  • SmackDown / ECW (Richmond, VA)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 22

  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 23

  • TNA Live (Bossier-Shreveport, LA)
  • 24

  • WWE SuperShow (Salisbury, MD)
  • TNA Live (Monroe, LA)
  • ROH Live (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • 25

  • WWE SuperShow (Wildwood, NJ)
  • TNA Live (Southaven, MS)
  • ROH Live (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • 26

  • WWE Night of Champions (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 27

  • RAW (Washington, DC)
  • 28

  • SmackDown / ECW (Baltimore, MD)
  • 29 30 31

  • RAW Live (Newark, DE)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Hampton Beach, NH)
  • 1 (Aug)

  • RAW Live (Bethlehem, PA)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Manchester, NH)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Cohasset, MA)
  • 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, Guest#4753 wants to talk about the WWE’s PPV policy and how they view competition:

    lol, why improve quality when you can just change the names? There are degrees of survival, and that seems to be the WWE’s goal. They’re not actually looking to succeed.

    I like how she claims that UFC is not competition because fighters get injured and you can’t build superstars, and then now whines that UFC is taking PPV dollars away. Because they’re not competition and all that.

    I also find it amusing that Boxing took the top spot, and was involved in the third spot. So much for boxing being dead. MMA is better marketed and has more buzz with a younger crowd right now, but boxing still has a solid following and isn’t about to simply die out. I tend to lean towards MMA myself, but I respect boxing.

    Absolutely. Ignoring MMA and boxing and saying you are not in competition with them is a big mistake. The WWE is competition with anything that takes people’s money, and especially something that takes their demographic. The one thing is that WWE may not longer be the leader in PPV, they are the leader in original programming and consumer products compared to these two. The WWE has a lot of other revenue streams, though this one is quite important.

    Solid article, although I’d prefer more Goldsmith bashing.

    Do not worry; she’ll give some other quote soon!

    I don’t know if this has any effect on anything, but it always seems like WWE has a lot of women in high level positions, whereas I thought in general in the business world women were actually underrepresented. I wonder if that has anything to do with the direction the company is taking, as it could be changing the target audience from I believe what was primarily male oriented programming to a more diverse brand of programming. I’d think this could be counterproductive, but I wonder what others think.

    Good question. Audience, this is your debate question for the week: Is having so many women in high positions in the WWE causing them to shift focus and miss out on their core demographic?

    Sticking with PPVs, SU_RKO is not impressed with the WWE’s attempts to increase buyrates:

    “Consumers buying the Night of Champions and SummerSlam event will get a wrist watch that replicates a WWE championship belt.”

    WOW, a replica WWE championship wrist watch! Sounds like a piece of crap toy usually found in a cereal box.

    How about, I don’t know, maybe slashing the price a little for one of the shows if you buy both? Sure, it’d be taking a little money away from WWE, but maybe more people would pounce on that deal and be more inclined to order those two shows back-to-back? Thus turning the losses into gains and turning a bigger profit and bigger buyrates from them.

    That does seem like a better idea. Send in your receipts for the two PPV’s and get $10 back. Please wait 6-8 weeks for processing and delivery. Given that timeframe, the WWE could sit on the cash for a bit and earn some interest. Also, manufacturers that do rebate coupons count on the fact that people get lazy and do not send them in. Around 75% of manufacturer coupons are never cashed in, so the WWE may benefit from a similar phenomenon. Though people will order with the intention to get the rebate, they may never send it in.

    Guest#4345 has a different idea:

    The WWE’s biggest & most profitable pay per view is Wrestlemania, right?

    Then just name all the PPV’s, WRESTLEMANIA. That way, the WWE can sell out 70,000 twice/month.

    Just think of all that extra scratch!

    Somehow, it seems doubtful that it would do so well!

    Of course, there was a much more deriding comment made by WWE representatives, courtesy of Brett:

    “One of the great things about the WWE is that our fanbase moves wherever we tell them to go.”

    That is so insulting. Not only because he assumes WWE fans are essentially drones, but because he obviously believes it because if the fans weren’t drones they’d be offended… right?

    Do the people that WWE employ actually prepare themselves before they are interviewed or just wing it? Maybe this is why Vince always thinks he’s being attacked in interviews, because he doesn’t prepare.

    This was one of the more insulting comments about customers that the WWE has said. Amazingly, there does not seem to be any repercussions for this because it is an accepted way to talk about the audience. Unfortunately, the Journal disagrees with this and believes the WWE needs to start treating their customers a little more seriously and listen to them, not tell them what to do.

    Then again, the WWE is not the only company to be questioned. Gangsta wants to talk about TNA:

    TNA spending must be terrible if they make 50 million in revenue and still struggling like the stupid taping schedule.

    Not sure what TNA’s revenue has to do with their taping schedule. They save a lot of money by taping the way they do, and they don’t seem to have any problems making their schedules and getting shows out on time.

    I give you TNA is the second biggest company in the world by those standards but am sure companies like CMLL, AAA, New Japan (to a lesser extent) are more happy with their position. CMLL own their own building and gets 100% profits off all their shows in Arena Mexico (they rent the building to other events as well to make money off other people shows), not to mention being the OLDEST PROMOTION IN THE WORLD and out living everybody from WCW, ECW, WCCW, Mid South, etc. It’s impossible for them to go out of business, LITERALLY.

    It is not “impossible” as people could stop showing up, they could lose a major lawsuit, or the company could just decide to fold. If anything the last year should have taught everyone is that even if you have $10 billion in revenue, you could still go out of business tomorrow. That said, there are plenty of companies happy with their positions that are not world powers. There is nothing wrong with being just a regional power if that is your goal. CMLL and New Japan are quite fine with owning their piece of the world. TNA is not and wants to own it all and have made significant strides to get there. AAA, on the other hand, has similar plans.

    AAA (only because Konnan is in their ears) is trying to branch off in the US but they don’t need to. TNA will never have an event as big as Triplemania or even shows like Rey De Reyes. Hell, AAA US house shows numbers from this year did better than TNA PPV events this year.

    “Never” is a word that does not work. TNA has the potential to hold a large event like Triplemania. Today could they do it? Of course not! They are a seven year old company that is slowly growing. But in ten years is it possible? Absolutely that is a possibility which depends on a large number of factors. Also, not all of AAA’s house shows did well. A few attracted a couple of thousand people, but other did not. The same for TNA: sometimes they attract 6,000 people, sometimes they attract 500. If AAA tried to run Syracuse, NY they would probably have much worse numbers than TNA. However, of TNA ran San Diego, CA, AAA would probably do better. It is all about demographics and reach.

    They can take being the second biggest in the World, I don’t think other companies envy them except maybe Ring of Honor.

    It depends on what they want. As noted above, some are quite happy with being a regional power while others are not. There have been plenty of other organizations that have tried to go national and international and failed, so TNA would certainly be the envy of those companies as well.

    Plenty more was written, so be sure to take a look. And 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 #95 (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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