wrestling / Columns

The Hamilton Ave Journal 11.01.08: Volume 1 – Issue 58

November 1, 2008 | Posted by JP Prag

By JP Prag

Volume 1 – Issue 58


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: Lawsuits galore!

The WWE is a place with many hotly contested law suits. Although the most high profile cases involve Scot Levy, et al. fighting to be recognized as employees and the WWE appealing the decision that JAKKs Pacific did not engage in racketeering, there are cases and suits popping up and being worked through all the time.

This week, the WWE won a long running case against AWA Superstars promoter Dale Gagner. According to the WWE and the judgment, Mr. Gagner has been illegally using the trademarks and copyrights of the AWA that the WWE owns and linking his new organization to the AWA history that the WWE also owns. The judgment came about in quite an interesting way, though, as it was not so much the WWE compelling arguments but that Mr. Gagner refused to follow court instructions during the discovery phase. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Gagner will appeal the decision, but considering he could not follow court procedure for the discovery he may not be inclined to follow up on court order anyway.

Although no terms on damages won by the WWE have been released, it must be imagined that Mr. Gagner was order to cease and desist use of the AWA trademarks. Despite this, the AWAStars.com page is still up, although it now points “Dale Gagne Presents Wrestling Superstars Live”. And even within the “WSL” page are several AWA logos, references, and direct quotes to the history of the organization that the WWE owns. How the WWE and the courts will respond to this usage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, despite having this victory in their pocket, the WWE also had a new lawsuit filed against them. The allegations, which also name John Cena, Sony Music, and Stephanie Music (WWE’s label), say that the parties illegally sampled from the song “Ante Up” by hip hop group The M.O.P. for the Cena song “My Time is Now”. Two members of M.O.P. are the ones who have filed the case saying they did not allow it while a third member of the group did. According to them, since they have a 66% say in the songs use, they would not have allowed the sample and are seeking damages. The WWE believed they got permission to use the song properly and has nothing to prove here.

This case will be a tough one to prove as it involved members of The M.O.P. going against each other and the WWE while the WWE has its lawyers and paperwork trail to show they had what they thought was the proper requirements. Also, The M.O.P. members will have to prove what damage they have suffered in the interim, especially since the album “You Can’t See Me” was released over three years ago. Whatever the case, it will be years until any result is seen from this one.

CMLL loss is WWE’s gain

The battle for wrestling dominance worldwide took another interesting twist this week in the hotly contested battle ground of Mexico. Mexico has been home to its own form of professional wrestling for the better part of the last century and its local organization like Triple A have—relatively—thrived. In recent years, the battles between the domestic organizations have come to a head when much of their talent was taken to higher paying jobs in the United States and Japan. Still, overall the organizations prospered and continued to grow. Triple A has even begun airing PPV programming in the United States while the growing population of Latinos within the United States itself has only helped expand exposure.

During that time, though, the American companies have viewed the Mexican market as one they can reap and grow. In the past few months alone, the WWE has moved SmackDown and RAW to better time slots and networks and TNA filled the WWE’s old timeslots with iMPACT. Both companies are using a large amount of resources to gain market share south of the border, and their efforts have been succeeding.

Mexico-based wrestling organization CMLL has been hit hardest by domestic and foreign competition, among other factors. Recent shows have been having significantly depressed attendance. A show at Arena Mexico—which can hold 16,500 for wrestling—only drew 5,000 fans. TV tapings around the Arena Mexico show had 1,000 and 1,500 in attendance a piece. With dwindling attendance, the increased foreign competition could not have come at a worse time for CMLL.

But where CMLL is faltering, the WWE is gaining ground. RAW in its new timeslot is drawing between 0.8 to 1.0 million viewers a week (roughly 6.9% to 8.2% of the viewing audience). Bigger than RAW, though, is the traditionally more Latino friendly SmackDown seeing 1.1 to 1.2 million viewers per week (roughly 9.3% to 10.2% of the viewing audience). Says WWE Executive Vice President of Global Media Shane McMahon who set up the deal for the new networks:

“We are ecstatic with the TV ratings for the debuts of WWE RAW and Friday Night SmackDown since we launched on open TV in Mexico… I would like to thank our TV distribution partners, TV Azteca and Televisa. These partnerships allow WWE the maximum TV household penetration in Mexico. More importantly, I’d like to thank our fans in Mexico for consistently showing such enthusiasm and support for the WWE brand and our Superstars”.

Although no ratings information has been released for TNA, iMPACT airs four times a week and could be building an audience slowly. The question remains then, is there too much wrestling in Mexico? Will overexposure cause a loss of total audience for all brands, or will the competition from the United States be what finally ends the runs of many Mexican promotions?


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

  • The upcoming video game SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 will release a special collectors edition for the Playstation 3. According to the press release:

    The WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 collector’s edition for the PLAYSTATION 3 system features a copy of the game and a disc with exclusive Blu-ray content. Included on the disc is a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the videogame, as well as more than two hours of WWE footage from a variety of popular SmackDown vs. Raw cross-brand matches from 2008. The content is delivered in a unique steel cage package for North America, while fans in Europe and Asia Pacific regions will see their items encased within a miniature ring.

  • TNA’s heavily advertised Bound for Glory IV in Chicago is said to have had a pain attendance of 4,500 and a total attendance of 5,500. This would be one of TNA’s largest paid crowds in the company’s history, but coming short of LockDown’s total in Lowell, MA. Despite these numbers, TNA continues to book large arena, most notably several 12,000 to 16,000 seat arenas for a tour of the UK in January. The WWE is spending the better part of the next two weeks in Europe so the market may be a bit worn out before TNA gets there.
  • CMT’s Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling continues to struggle in the ratings, not finding much of a footing. The show did the following ratings in various timeslots:

    * Saturday 2PM – 0.3
    * Saturday 8PM – 0.3
    * Saturday 10PM – 0.2
    * Sunday 12:30AM – 0.1

    Though these ratings are decent for CMT, they hardly match the success of Hogan Knows Best on VH1 or its spinoff series Brooke Knows Best.

  • ROH’s head booker Gabe Sapolsky left the company this week and was replaced with former NWA Champion Adam Pearce. No reason was given for Mr. Sapolsky’s resignation or why it was so sudden, but ROH has been actively trying to change the product to cut costs and grow more internationally. Mr. Sapolsky’s vision may no longer have fit with the company and he was asked to move on.


    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 Thursday October 30, 2008, here are the current standings of our shows:


    Close (This Week’s Rating): 2.9
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 2.9
    Percentage Change: ▼ 0.3%
    52-Week High: 4.1
    52-Week Low: 2.5
    All Time High: 8.1
    All Time Low: 1.8

    Close (This Week’s Rating): 2.1
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 2.0
    Percentage Change: ▲ 5.0%
    52-Week High: 2.9
    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): 1.2
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.3
    Percentage Change: ▼ 7.7%
    52-Week High: 1.5
    52-Week Low: 0.6
    All Time High: 2.3
    All Time Low: 0.6

    TNA iMPACT**
    Close (This Week’s Rating): 1.1
    Open (Last Week’s Rating): 1.1
    Percentage Change: ▲ 2.7%
    52-Week High: 1.2
    52-Week Low: 0.9
    All Time High: 1.2
    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


    Again RAW disappoints with a slight drop just below 2.9. Despite coming off of a PPV and crowning a new champion, RAW actually lost viewers. Not only is that trouble with the USA network and their advertisers, but it does not bode well for the buyrate of Cyber Sunday. Although the WWE has been up in buyrates for the year in total, recent figures (and especially those for big events like SummerSlam) have been disappointing.

    Meanwhile, ECW, SmackDown, and iMPACT are once again in their new normal ranges (SmackDown lost quite a few viewers when moving to MyNetwork TV, so we can consider a 2.0 rating their new mean rating). With no momentum for RAW, there seems little hope of moving the other shows. And since TNA has not been successful in differentiating their product and having a unique value position, they will fall to the same winds of the WWE. Should the day come in the next few months where TNA is getting higher ratings than ECW, it won’t be because TNA has grown tremendously but that ECW has fallen along with RAW and SmackDown.


    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. Stone Cold Steve Austin Since 1989 T-Shirt ($25)
    2. Stone Cold Steve Austin Destroyed That T-Shirt ($25, on sale $9.98)
    3. WWE Black Gift Bag ($3)
    4. Batista What You See T-Shirt ($25)
    5. Triple H Grey Skull Sweatshirt ($40, on sale $12.98)
    6. Triple H Hammer T-Shirt ($25)
    7. Hardys Dream 2 Defy T-Shirt ($25)
    8. Hardys Purple Logo Pendant ($10)
    9. WWE Red Gift Bag ($3)
    10. Triple H Hammer Muscle Tank Top ($25, on sale $9.98)

    After one appearance, Stone Cold Steve Austin was able to rocket to the heights of the Top Ten with his new shirt, as well as an old shirt that is on clearance. Interestingly enough, this week saw a large gain in full priced items, especially for Triple H, Jeff Hardy, and the surprise appearance by Batista. Batista does not often show up in the Top Ten, so his title win may have sparked some interest in sales, although apparently not in ratings as seen above.

    TNA releases a weekly Top Seven list on ShopTNA.com. According to the site the top selling items were:

    1. Jeff Jarrett Autographed Laser Engraved Guitar ($299, on sale $199)
    2. Autographed Sting Baseball Bat ($149)
    3. TNA iMPACT Video Game ($39.99 to $59.99)
    4. Knocked Out DVD ($14.99)
    5. TNA Global iMPACT DVD ($19.99)
    6. Post Yard Sale DVD Special ($29.99)
    7. Post Yard Sale T-Shirt Special ($39.99)

    TNA has not bothered to update their list again this week, therefore these items cannot be valid.


    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
    2 (Nov)

  • TNA Live (Bakersfield, CA)
  • 3

  • RAW (Tampa, FL)
  • 4

  • SmackDown / ECW (Orlando, FL)
  • 5

  • RAW Live (Mannheim, Germany)
  • 6

  • RAW Live (Milan, Italy)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Nice, France)
  • 7

  • RAW Live (Rome, Italy)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Brussels, Belgium)
  • ROH Live (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
  • 8

  • RAW Live (Butlins, Minehead, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Luxembourg City, Luxembourg)
  • ROH Live (Markham, Ontario, Canada)

  • 9

  • TNA Turning Point (Orlando, FL)
  • RAW Live (Sheffield, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Cardiff, Wales, UK)
  • 10

  • RAW (Manchester, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (London, UK)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 11

  • SmackDown / ECW (Manchester, UK)
  • RAW Live (Birmingham, UK)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 12

  • RAW Live (Newcastle, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Nottingham, UK)
  • 13

  • RAW Live (Belfast, Ireland)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Zurich, Switzerland)
  • 14

  • RAW Live (Glasgow, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Nurnberg, Germany)
  • 15

  • RAW Live (Aberdeen, UK)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Berlin, Germany)
  • TNA Live (Corinth, MI)
  • 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, chris pontificated:

    ROH takes a month off touring? Since when? They’ve been running 4 shows a month now for as long as I can remember!

    Then, chris, you need to check back to ROH’s website because they are running an average of two show a month. Over the summer, ROH admitted to financial difficulties and began many measures to contain costs. They included:

  • Limiting the touring schedule to mostly markets in which they have a presence
  • Using local talent to that event and not flying in as many people from the west coast or Japan
  • Allowing wrestlers to leave their contracts to pursue other opportunities
  • Having longer stretched between shows.

    At one time, that latter one caused a month to go by without a show from ROH. Right now they have a lot of holes in their future schedule and there are several shows with a month gap. These will most likely be filled in with at least one show, but don’t expect ROH to be running six to eight shows a month anytime soon.

    Moving on to merchandise, Trashy says:

    In regards to the YOUTH size Jeff Hardy shirt; be aware that such sized t-shirts are very popular with females who wouldn’t exactly fall into the “youth” demographic. If you look at a rock related web or mall outlet like Hot Topic (who also sell a good deal of WWE shirts) you’ll see a ton of youth sized shirts that aren’t aimed at 9 year olds. Having toured with bands and dealing with merch I know a lot of gals who are proud of their bodies usually look for something snug, and in many cases those youth sizes work best.

    This is a very good point and something the Journal had not considered before. If this is the case, the WWE may be less successful with their Kidz Initiative then believed but more successful with gaining female viewership. Now if they could combine the two (as mentioned last week), there would be a large market to grab.

    Speaking of Hardy related merchandise, Howard wonders:

    Why do you think that Jeff is the reason for everything Hardyz related selling well? I mean sure the top 2 items are Jeff alone, Matt is ECW Champion and is right behind Jeff in terms of popularity.

    Well, we have covered this in the Journal in the past, but the topic can be revisited. At first, the Journal agreed with the point that Matt is a pivotal part of Hardy sales. But there are plenty of weeks with only Jeff Hardy related items and not as much Matt. Even in the team items, Jeff is the one usually pictured in advertisement. While Matt does play a factor into Hardy related sales, he does not have as big of an influence as you have listed. Matt is not number two in popularity behind Jeff; they are leagues apart in marketability with several other wrestlers in between. There was a time when they were closer, but for whatever reason Jeff has become the breakout with the crowd more than Jeff. How many individual items does Matt even have? Jeff has a dozen and they have all made appearances in the Top Ten. Jeff Hardy approaches Cena levels in sales by himself, and that cannot be said for Matt Hardy.

    Also, when Matt was out with injury, the Hardy related items continued to sell extremely high (no pun intended) without his presence. On the other hand, when Jeff was not working for the WWE but Matt was, Hardy items were not regularly in the Top Ten. Matt is important, is popular, and does sell, just not to the level of Jeff at this moment. Can that all change? Of course! But right now, Jeff is the driving force on ratings, dollars, and tickets.

    Still on merchandise, Big Daddy Matty ponders:

    I’d have to go back to prior issues of the Journal, which I’m far too lazy to do at the moment, to test this hunch, but the presence of the Jarrett guitar and the Sting bat at the top of TNA’s merch list leads me to believe that they might sort their Top Seven list by dollar sales volume.

    There actually isn’t that far to go back since the new format of the Top Seven is only four weeks old. Although what they did before that is also a mystery. All-in-all, TNA is not that good at financial reporting and consistently delivering valuable information.

    Following up on the topic of making women into role models, eRIC has more questions:

    Another thing, with all the different ways to watch wrestling, do you think the slip in ratings is due to the product or to the means in which people watch TV now (internet, phones, etc…)? With all the different methods, people don’t HAVE to watch RAW on Monday, yet they CAN watch RAW whenever.

    Currently, we do know that RAW is consistently in the top ten time shifted shows, so that does amount to an additional 0.2 to 0.4 ratings points. As far as downloading, phones, etc…, they do not have that large of an influence yet. More than likely, there are enough other entertainment options that the audience is divisively split. When there are so many personalize choices out there and the WWE’s product is not holding interest, people have been more and more likely to move on to a variety of other entertainment sources rather than watch WWE programming through any of the other means available.

    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!!


    This concludes Issue #58 (Volume 1) of THE HAMILTON AVE JOURNAL. Join us next week as we get ready to ring the bell again.

    Till then!

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