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WWE On FOX? It Could Happen, And It Could Work

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The WWE TV deal is up for grabs in 2019, and FOX is already showing love for Raw & Smackdown. Could WWE have a new TV home?

There’s something comforting about knowing when & where Monday Night Raw is going to be on every single week.

For most of the past twenty-five years, American viewers could find WWE’s flagship show on the USA Network. WWE’s relationship with USA goes back to 1983, when All American Wrestling replaced Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling. With the exception of five years where WWE took their programming to Spike TV, the company & USA have had a long & seemingly happy marriage.

The current deal expires in the fall of 2019. It might feel early to talk about it. You know that WWE’s already thinking about it. They’d be crazy not to be. If they can’t come to an arrangement with NBCUniversal, they need to have some backup options.

That’s why it made all of the sense in the world to have a meeting with some high-ranking Fox executives when SmackDown was in Los Angeles Tuesday night. No wonder John Cena was there, right? The common sentiment is that Fox is interested in having either UFC or WWE programming, and will be tremendously interested in WWE programming IF they lose UFC when that company’s deal expires at the end of this year.

The Fox effect?

When I first heard about Fox’s interest in WWE, the first thing that popped in my head was the idea that every WWE show would start with this theme:

It’s a good theme. I don’t like hearing it on every single sport Fox covers, but it’s one of those iconic sports themes. Wouldn’t you rather hear something like this leading into Raw than the latest generic pop/rock song Kevin Dunn felt like dishing out money for?

Speaking of Kevin Dunn, I wouldn’t mind seeing Fox employees take a crack at directing WWE programming. It’s gotten to the point where the camera cuts are literally making viewers sick. WWE production is one of the biggest problems the company faces right now.

How can people watch this without getting motion sickness? Fox loves to have input on their productions. Old-school wrestling fans complain about networks getting too involved, but I feel like Fox getting involved here could only be a good thing.

And if the workers have to tighten things up a bit so their stuff doesn’t look terrible on camera, that’s good for the product & good for the fans.

Would the product change in other ways?

Some will point out that Fox is the “edgy” network, and speculate that a move by Raw to the Fox Network would lead to more adult-oriented storylines. Maybe that would be the case if Fox outright bought WWE. WWE didn’t go PG because of pressure from USA. It was Vince McMahon’s choice to tone things down and focus on drawing younger viewers. As long as Vince owns WWE, I don’t see things going back to the days of Attitude.

I can see other changes, though. Should WWE programming make it on FS1, I wouldn’t be shocked if it had more of a sports feel. The matches themselves could be hyped more. Instead of Raw being hyped on “ROMAN REIGNS RESPONDS TO BROCK LESNAR”, the advertising could focus more on a match. “ALEXA BLISS DEFENDS THE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP AGAINST SASHA BANKS” or something along those lines.

By the way, you better be ready for a lot of Ronda Rousey advertising if they get on Fox/FS1/FS2 or whatever channel. Rousey’s an established commodity with Fox viewers, and she’ll draw more interest from a non-wrestling fan that happens to have Fox on while watching the NFL than anybody else on WWE’s roster.

Well, except Brock Lesnar, but it’s not like he’s going to be on the show.

Fox would be more open to cross-promotion & airing WWE on different networks. Remember when NBC was going to air WWE programming? Yeah, that didn’t last long. John Cena occasionally hosting the 9AM hour of Today is the most exposure WWE gets on NBC. The speculation is that Raw would air weekly on Monday nights on Fox. That would be big time if it actually happened, as it’d be WWE’s best network slot ever.

It could also answer our longtime complaints about Raw lasting three hours. Most Fox affiliates have news at 10PM, and that’s not changing for anything less than Thursday Night Football. Maybe the third hour moves to FS1 after a Big East basketball game or whatever else finishes, which would be kinda novel. UFC has prelims on different channels than main shows all the time, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

WWE enters The Herd.

Here’s an unexpected side effect of all this WWE/Fox talk. I must admit I was surprised to hear that one noted wrestling hater was part of this summit.

Cowherd has offered some commentary on pro wrestling in the past. Back in 2005, he reacted to the death of Eddie Guerrero by asking who cared, and stating that his obituary didn’t belong in the sports page. Wrestling fans were not pleased, to which Cowherd replied by calling them booger-eaters. It’s a term he’s gone back to at times over the years.

Times change, however. Cowherd seemed impressed with what he saw on Tuesday night, and our Publisher Greg DeMarco tells me that WWE was repeatedly mentioned during his radio show on Wednesday. Like him or not, the guy’s show airs on over a hundred radio affiliates across the nation & is shown on FS1. He knows how to work an angle as well as anybody, and ir’s made him a lot of money.

I’m calling it right now: Should WWE take its programming to Fox, you’ll see Colin Cowherd involved in some capacity. I’m not his biggest fan by any means, but I’d take Cowherd over Peter Rosenberg on a Kickoff Show panel in a heartbeat. He’s got a personality that would work in wrestling. He’s already got a lot of fans mad at him, so he’d be ideal as a heel analyst.

If Cowherd isn’t available, there’s another Fox stalwart that happens to have some wrestling experience:

You know darn well that Homer would fit right in on the creative team.

I think I like it.

Yup, I’m talking myself into this WWE on Fox thing. I haven’t even gotten into the potential crossover opportunities with Fox News. Self-styled political guru Dolph Ziggler would be all about it, and Kane would have something to do if the whole mayor thing doesn’t work out. And who wouldn’t be down with Braun Strowman beating the hell out of Sean Hannity?

As much as the idea of WWE being on USA Network forever warms my traditionalist heart, sometimes you have to change things up. USA has been a fine partner, but it feels like the urgency isn’t there anymore. Things are too complacent. Perhaps WWE getting Foxy is just what the doctor ordered.


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Opinion

Rob: Has Pro Wrestling Become Too Soft?

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

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The Undertaker WWE WrestleMania Boneyard Match

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

So……the Undertaker had some things to say about how the kids today just aren’t doing it the way they did back in his day, and that it’s hurting the product.  In short he said it was harder to watch now because it was soft, and the guys weren’t real enough men – they spend too much time trying to look good and do things like play video games instead of packing heat.  Uhh………yeah………ok, Mr Callaway.

Now look, we can talk about the ring work – I for one think that there are way too many matches that look more like a gymnastics floor routine than what’s supposed to be a fight, from the indies all the way up to the WWE.  If he wants to stick to that than I think he’s worth listening to.  But that’s not what he focused on.  No, he spoke about how guys used to carry guns and knives in their bags, and that guys ‘handled stuff’ back in the day, and weren’t so occupied with grooming or playing video games with each other.  And that the changed behavior over the last few years has made the overall wrestling product harder to enjoy.  Help me out here but I don’t see how playing video games with each other and paying more attention to how you look, smell, etc makes for a worse wrestling product.  The ring action, sure.  The promos, which I didn’t see mentioned in the quotes I saw, sure.  Whether or not you do your hair…..really?  Does he not remember the many male wrestlers of days gone by who were sold to women fans as good looking men they’d want to go home with?  The Von Erich boys, the Rock on Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, the Fantastics, Magnum TA?  Does he not remember commentary damn near yelling out loud ‘HEY LADIES, AREN”T THESE DUDES HOT?’ when those guys and many others were in the ring?  Does he not remember guys like ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, who was a proverbial man’s man but also had his valet (his real life wife Precious) spraying his hair while he was cutting promos?

But I got another question:

What kind of locker room does he think should exist? 

One where guys are dropping dead before the age of 50 or are concussed into oblivion?  Or one where they can work longer and not look pathetic if they so chose, or move on early if they want?

One where guys like Darren Young and Jake Atlas have to stay in the closet or where they can be out and accepted, where a guy like Randy Orton with his own checkered history will come up to them and say ‘if anyone gives you any crap, let me know?’

One where guys mostly keep each other out of trouble by doing things like……playing video games together or one where they’re out closing down the bar every night, getting into it with the police, etc.?

One where the men engage in all kinds of trifling behavior towards the women on the roster or one where they get along well enough for there to be genuine friendships where people look out for each other and even form some lasting romantic relationships?

And lastly in regards to guys carrying knives and guns instead of video games, do you want a locker room where guys work things out in a more civilized manner or one like where Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death?

Now he’s not the only one who says this kind of stuff.  A lot of guys from his generation have offered similar sentiments and there are a lot of podcasters who pine for the days when things felt more real and what not.  Well if we’re gonna keep it 100 a lot of those gave off more gravitas and sounded more real because they were legit living hard, messed up lives.  Drug problems.  Alcoholism.  Multiple marriages and divorces.  Bad relationships with their children.  Broken homes and childhoods that they were still traumatized over.  Failed careers in other professions.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s a plus that more of the guys seem to be living and working in such a way that they’re able to avoid those things.  I’ll take hearing Kofi and Xavier talk about their kids on the New Day Pod than a bunch of stories about how they were out boozing and cheating on their spouses in between shows.  The latter can be romanticized by guys who tell good stories and all, but the reality is a lot more grim (for good reference take a look at the ESPN documentary on Ric Flair).

And this goes beyond pro wrestling.  A lot of those old guys in our lives who say the same kind of things have suffered the same fates as their counterparts in the wrestling business.  It’s not healthy, full stop.  Just because you can’t relate with the guys who aren’t living and playing like you did 10, 20 years ago doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong.  As for the guys being ‘too pretty’ now…..it’s a lot easier to get opportunities to do things outside of wrestling if you look good, are well groomed, etc.  Acting gigs, TV gigs, magazine covers….you think Xavier Woods would have gotten a hosting job on the relaunched G4 network if he looked and groomed himself like Abdullah the Butcher?  Do you honestly think New Day would be more popular if they looked and acted more like what you consider to be real men?  I don’t see it.  And in an entertainment industry where women have to look damn near perfect just to get an interview I don’t think that men choosing to look as good as they possibly can is a negative.  And let’s not pretend that any of New Day can’t put their ring work alongside any guys from any era.  The video games, the gear colors and everything else don’t mean a damn thing as far as their abilities go.

Look man, time stops for no one.  Things change, and in this case I think they’ve changed for the better.  That he can’t see a trail several miles long of broken families, broken bodies, and premature death behind the ‘right way’ that he speaks of is kinda sad.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: Anatomy of a Wrestling Match

Bradley Jay digs into the HISTORY MAKING night of WWE NXT. HISTORY! (And Timothy Thatcher is the only person to ever win in Fight Pit.)

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WWE NXT Fight Pit

Bradley Jay digs into the HISTORY MAKING night of WWE NXT. HISTORY! (And Timothy Thatcher is the only person to ever win in Fight Pit.)

Other than in-ring action, there are a lot of factors that can make or break a match.

House Number Numerology: Meaning of House Number 3

6. I’m running a new feature for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: the History-O-Meter! How many times can lazy announcers reference making history in one show? This week, TWELVE!!! Every ten minutes that gaggle of human of microphone stands reminded us we are witnessing HISTORY MAKERS MAKING HISTORY EXCLAMATION POINT!!!

7 Ups And 1 Down For WWE NXT (Jan 20) – Page 3

5. I have dubbed this year’s DRTTC “3.5 Live.” Most of the matches have been solid, nothing great. The best so far? The Way versus KUSHIDA and Leon Ruff. KUSHIDA gets an extra ½ star by himself. He hits an armbar suplex into a bridge for the 1-2-3. I’ve never seen that. It’s too much fun watching him figure out how to twist his opponent into a pretzel. 

Pete Dunne looks to take the torch from Finn Bálor: WWE NXT, Jan. 20, 2021 - YouTube

4. Pete Dunne cut a scorching promo this week. Clearly the Bruiserweight didn’t spend all his time away getting shredded beyond belief. Finn Balor isn’t going to pass the torch so much as Dunne will break his fingers and rip it out of his hand. Speaking of Balor…

3. The Prince needs a tag team partner to face the Brit-Am Brawlers. Of course he calls in a favor from Kyle O’Reilly. Everybody’s favorite Canadian accepts but clearly isn’t excited about it. Are they letting bygones be bygones? Oh Hell no. I’ve never been so happy to see two guys not shake hands. Gonna be some tense teammates Wednesday night. The little details take it from good to great. Balor and O’Reilly are two of the best. 

WWE NXT Results: Timothy Thatcher vs. Tommaso Ciampa [Fight Pit Match] - The Overtimer

2. First and foremost, wrestling is about the story being told in the ring. However, it takes more than that to create a great match. One of those elements is production. We’re having a nice Fight Pit match. Tommaso Ciampa is whomping Timothy Thatcher on the platform above the ring. Then we go to a commercial. When we get back, the two men are in the ring?!?! No explanation. No split screen with “Here’s what happened during the break.” The production crew could not have screwed that up any worse. It was like reading a 10-chapter book that’s missing chapters 3-6. Awful.

WWE News: Timothy Thatcher Beats Tommaso Ciampa in Fight Pit, Beth Phoenix Returns to Announce Table | 411MANIA

1. Announcing is another element that can make or break a match. I can almost forgive Wade Barrett for screaming like he’s watching his mom die in a house fire. Here’s what I won’t forgive. Did you know there’s only been one other Fight Pit in history? And Timothy Thatcher is undefeated in the Fight Pit?? Did I mention that this was only the second Fight Pit in history? The second one! In history! And Thatcher is undefeated in the Fight Pit? Because this is only the second one in history! AND THATCHER WON THE FIRST AND ONLY OTHER FIGHT PIT!!!  I spent half the match wishing Ciampa and Thatcher would join forces to kick the crap out of the announce team. Better announcing and better production could have made this the match it deserved to be.


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