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Korey: Will The WWE & FOX Deal Be The Ultimate Sell-Out Of The Wrestling Business?

Is WWE selling out its own business with the FOX deal?

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Korey Gunz wonders out loud if WWE is selling out their own business by heading to FOX.

I was driving in my car last Saturday, listening to the Fox Sports Radio Network, when a certain commercial caught my attention. It was an ad for Fox, marketing some of its various radio and TV offerings, with a lot of noise going on in the background. The announcer then remarks alluding that the noise is two of its premier radio hosts “practicing for WrestleMania.” The spot ended with the tagline “we cover all the sports, even the fake ones.”

Did I just hear that correctly? Did the Fox network, who has made a billion dollar deal with the WWE, just run an ad that openly called its newest acquisition “fake?” And on WrestleMania weekend no less?

Wrestling is not “fake.” Though the WWE is obviously comfortable being “sports entertainment,” it still pushes (and rightfully so) that its superstars are true athletes that put their bodies on the line for the viewers’ sake every time they get in the ring. What they do is just as athletic and physically taxing as any other feat a professional athlete might perform. You may characterize wrestling as “predetermined” or “choreographed,” but it is definitely not fake (unless you are at Joey Ryan’s Penis Party). Physically, what you see is what you are getting. Of course kayfabe has long been dead in professional wrestling, and I’m not here to give a “it’s still real to me” speech, but the ad I heard last week was still a little jarring and, as a wrestling fan, gave me cause for concern. Even in today’s era, the “F Word” strikes a chord in both those in and outside of the business.


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We have heard reports that Fox plans to really push WWE programming on its channels, even including a studio-based show on Fox Sports Network, and Triple H has gone on record as recently as this week that Smackdown will be a “reimagined version.” What that might mean is yet to be determined. The worry, as perhaps evidenced by this recent radio ad, is that the Fox network is only quasi-embracing professional wrestling with a tongue in cheek approach. I could not imagine ESPN, by comparison, running an advertisement like the one I heard on FSN. And if this is the approach being taken, and if the WWE plays along, it would be the ultimate disrespect to the wrestling business and the people in it. Not only that, but think of the damage the WWE could do to its own brand by allowing Fox to control its message. Do you think a Rhonda Rousey or even a Brock Lesnar, athletes that pride themselves on their reputations and accomplishments in the UFC, would allow themselves to be associated with a company that is openly mocked by its TV partners? And ultimately, who has benefited more from these types of associations- the WWE or the individuals themselves? I would argue the WWE has. A “fake wrestling promotion” has no chance of fostering these types of relationships in the future if that is the road they allow themselves to be thrown down.


Must Listen:
The Outsider’s Edge Wraps Up WrestleMania Week!


Yes, being on Fox might have its benefits, and we have seen numerous examples that the WWE is not above compromising itself or its “values” for the sake of a huge payday. But one would hope that the intent of partnering with a major network television company would be to expand your product, establish its worth, and legitimize it to the masses, not to reduce it back to a weekly punchline for “real” sports broadcasters. And maybe I am overreacting or reaching a bit here. As a fan, I hope that I am.

@KoreyGunz

@KYWrestleReport


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Week in Review Superstar Shake Up Edition:

Tiffany gives her thoughts on the WWE shakeups of last week!

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Tiffany gives her thoughts on the WWE shakeups of last week!

RAW And SmackDown –  Superstar Shakeup Edition:

 It’s that time of year again! It’s time for the Superstar Shakeup and time to see who will be finding a new show to hang their boots at for the next year, at least.

Top Guys: RAW got AJ Styles in exchange for Roman Reigns, which is a pretty fair trade, IMO. Styles had been feeling a little…directionless after losing the WWE Championship back in November, so putting him in a bigger pond with new foes makes the most sense. I wasn’t happy about how Styles was introduced because I felt that his spot in the six-man tag belonged to Dean Ambrose, all things considered, but it was a good match and I look forward to the inevitable match between Styles and Rollins.

Reigns going to SmackDown also makes a ton of sense. SmackDown is going to Fox in the fall and they need a big name to bring in viewers and Reigns is definitely that. Him debuting by knocking Vince McMahon on his ass, albeit very gently, definitely insures that he’ll be a hero on SmackDown and he’ll also get a lot of new opponents to deal with, though it’s premature to say he’ll be the man to beat Kofi Kingston for the title. Reigns has been blunt about the fact that he doesn’t feel ready to be the Champ right now, which is understandable; but even when he is ready, I don’t think WWE will have him beat Kofi, that ticket to Heelville will be given to someone else, who will be beaten by Reigns.

Intercontinental/US Titles: Most of the titles on RAW and SmackDown are fixed because they are brand-specific, but the Intercontinental and US Titles are not, so having them switch every year is fine. Finn Balor has been needing a change of scenery from RAW and given his amazing match against Mustafa Ali on Tuesday, I think he’ll be a perfect fit for the Blue Brand.

Samoa Joe was supposed to make his return to RAW on Monday, but he was out sick with the flu, so we got the stinkfest that was Braun Strowman vs EC3, but Strowman vs Joe should still be interesting.

Women’s Division: This was the most interesting part of the Shakeup, in my opinion. WWE split up Sasha Banks and Bayley as a tag team among rumors that Sasha became angry with the booking and tried to quit at WrestleMania, which I don’t fully believe, but that’s a different article.

The amount of women on RAW has been trimmed down considerably, but it looks like Lacey Evans is going to be Becky’s first RAW feud, after beating Nattie on Monday. However, Naomi made her debut on Monday and you know she’s going to be hunting for that title too.

It may seem like SmackDown got a lot of RAW’s…leftovers, but what they got was pretty good: Mickie James, Ember Moon, Bayley, and Liv Morgan. I’m not happy that the Riott Squad got split up but I hope Liv gets a chance to shine on her own as part of the SmackDown brand. And if she and Carmella should form a tag team called ‘The Jersey/Staten Island Connection’ I’ll be a happy girl.

The Women’s Tag Team Division situation is odd. With Boss-Hug being split up and Samoan Dynasty being sidelined due to Nia Jax being injured, the Women’s Tag Titles seem to be a SmackDown exclusive title, signified by the introduction of a new tag team: Asuka and Kairi Sane. I’m not a fan of this, I would preferred that the Sky Pirates debut together, but Asuka and Sane is what we have and they did really well in their eight-woman tag.

It’s not really clear who will challenge Becky on Smackdown, but I’m going to guess it’ll be Charlotte, who beat Carmella in a fantastic match on Tuesday, but that’s just a guess, but I’m hoping I’m wrong. I did LOVE the tease of a Becky/Bayley feud though. Bayley has been showing some of her inner nasty, especially under Sasha’s ‘influence’, so that would make an interesting feud.

Tag Team Division: This was the one division that I thought SmackDown got a little stiffed on, until the supplemental shake up got released. The Usos FINALLY came to RAW and immediately make an impact on Glorious Duo, who have since been separated. RAW also got War Machine, who got their names changed to ‘Viking Experience’, which sounds like a museum exhibit. However, War Machine made a HUGE impact in their first match and the crowd seems to be behind them, stupid name or not.

It looks like Black and Ricochet will be staying on RAW, presumably as a tag team, but that could change, I’m just glad they’re sticking around.

SmackDown got Heavy Machinery, which seems like a bit of a letdown since RAW got TWO big tag teams, but SmackDown still has several great tag teams for Otis and Tucker to play with, so we’ll see.

I can’t say I’m sorry that Glorious Duo got split up, but they were’t exactly setting the world on fire, even with a heel turn.

Cruiserweights: I’m getting very frustrated with the Cruiserweight situation. When 205 was launched in 2016, it sound like the Cruiserweights were getting their own separate platform, so they wouldn’t get lost on RAW or SmackDown and it was going to be its own separate thing, but now WWE has turned 205 Live into another developmental territory for RAW and SmackDown and taking their best talents. Cedric Alexander is heading to RAW and Buddy Murphy is going to SmackDown, which leaves 205 with its two top stars and I’m not sure there’s enough guys there to keep it going at top speed, which is sad.

Mid And Low Card: Okay, I feel really bad for lumping everyone else in this category, but it sounds better than ‘Everyone Else’. I was a little perplexed by the decision to put Miz on RAW since he’s feuding with Shane, but someone pointed out that ‘Miz and Mrs.’ is going to be on USA, which means Miz needs to stay on USA to promote his show, which works, though he did get the last laugh on Shane, at least for now.

I don’t like Lars Sullivan, but at least they’ve decided where he’s going and it looks like his first feud will be R-Truth, though what Carmella has to do with it is a mystery that, hopefully, won’t go the way I think it will.

Andrade and Zelina Vega going to RAW is HUGE for them as a pair and individually. I’m already looking forward to Andrade vs Seth Rollins. Plus, if Sasha Banks comes back, she and Vega are a feud waiting to happen.

Rey Mysterio coming to RAW, and probably feuding with Andrade, is nice, but it felt a little flat since Mysterio’s return to WWE hasn’t been as great as I think we all wish it was, but that’s another match for Seth that could be AMAZING.

Elias as the ‘Big Acquisition’ was a rib we all saw through, I think, but him being on SmackDown could be the making of him with a smaller roster so he can shine more.

Chad Gable and Apollo Crews going back to SmackDown is the right move for both of them, but I am surprised that Glorious Duo was split up. Crews hasn’t done a whole lot since the end of Titus Worldwide, so hopefully, this will help him…maybe.

I have no idea why EC3 was brought back to RAW, he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his debut, but maybe they’re hoping he’ll show more life than he has so far.

I’m very sad to see that SAniTy has been split up, since they seemed so promising when they debuted. I’m not sure why they never got a real chance on SmackDown, but Eric Young is a great athlete, so hopefully he’ll come out ahead after this, but it’s still very sad and frustrating.

Non-Shakeup Things

Moment of Bliss: I was actually ready to throw my support behind Sami Zayn this week, but then found myself wanting to grab him by the scruff of the shirt and demand that he sit up and act like an adult, so I think I’ll hold off.

In all seriousness, the segment was great for Zayn in establishing himself as a heel with a grudge, even if his heel persona is pretty obnoxious.

The Kevin Owens Show: If I never see Kevin Owens try to swivel his hips like New Day again, it’ll be too soon. That said, that was a great segment and to see how Kingston and Woods would go on without Big E, who is out with a knee injury. It also opens a possibility for a Big E heel turn since he didn’t seem happy about being replaced.

Six-Man Tag Match: It’s weird to see Cesaro without Sheamus, but he did pretty good teaming with Rusev and Nakamura against New Day and Owens, though it kind of sucked that it wasn’t the main event, but Roman making his debut was enough of a main event for me.

Becky Lynch vs Ruby Riott: This was a last stand for the Riott Squad, though we didn’t know that during RAW, but it was a great match for Lynch and Riott, who has been needing to pick up some steam after getting squashed a lot lately.

Charlotte vs Carmella: Can we talk about how far Carmella has come in terms of wrestling skill since she debuted on SmackDown in 2016? She’s become such a good talent that it’s like night and day. The fact that she was able to hang with Charlotte has been extremely impressive. The sad part about this match was that it did more for other people than it did Carmella. She was used to make Charlotte look good in the match and then seems to be becoming an object of fascination for Lars Sullivan, which is a disservice to her on both counts.

Thoughts: WWE definitely seems to have learned from the issues they had with the Shakeup in 2017 and 2018 with doing the Shakeup and building a PPV card. Except for Andrade pinning Balor, they made no real effort to build any feuds until AFTER the Shakeup to avoid having to scramble to redo things or building big matches that ultimately serve no purpose.

Separating Reigns and Rollins hammers home that the Shield is done for now, but Ambrose’s farewell tour leaves the door open for a return down the road. However, this is also a win/win for WWE and the fans. With SmackDown going to Fox this fall and they want a big name and Reigns has more name recognition than AJ Styles, no shade to Styles. Having Rollins stay on RAW without his Shield brothers is going to force him to prove that he has what it takes to carry RAW on his own.

Outside of the tag team division, the rosters got a pretty even division of talent, but what SmackDown didn’t get with tag teams, it definitely got with an expanded Women’s Division and the Women’s Tag Team Titles, but we’ll have to see how that does with a two-hour timeslot.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: Moving Forward

What does the next era of NXT hold?

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Io Shirai WWE NXT

It’s WWE NXT: We’re moving on. We’re not bitter. We’re happy with what we have.

6. The WWE reeeeeally loves to screw with us. They spend weeks dumping on NXT then kick off a show with a 4.7 star banger?!?!?! Buddy Murphy is a big league striker. He packs a punch far above his weight class. Meanwhile, Velveteen Dream steals another victory. I like where they’re going with him. Shades of the Ultimate Opportunist. Living on the Edge of a Dream?

Image result for velveteen dream vs buddy murphy nxt

5. “Charlie Brown finally kicked the football.” Oh Mauro, sometimes you are just too good.

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4. Dominik Dijakovic is in desperate need of a save. I have no idea what that promo was. Ancient Wicca prayer? Medieval magnet poetry? He is world class in ring and absolutely floundering on the mic. He’s so bad, it would be an upgrade if Io Shirai was his manager.

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3. Speaking of promos, Johnny Champion adds another layer to his story. Johnny Smartass absolutely crushed Adam Cole on the mic. I know they said 2-out-of-3 would be definitive, but if we get Johnny Gargano-Adam Cole part 2 in HIAC or falls count anywhere, I’d find it in my heart to forgive them.

Image result for johnny gargano adam cole nxt

2. Shayna Baszler watches Dark Side of the Ring. She thinks it’s a comedy. She is PURE EVIL. She is as pure of a heel as there is. She is the anti-Ricky Steamboat.

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1. I’m trying to overlook how poorly WWE handled Kairi Sane’s last NXT match. Instead, I am focusing on how much it adds to the inevitable Baszler-Io Shirai matchup. Shirai has improved in ring every time out, but she’s still anime nicey nice. It will be exciting to see her turn up the emotion and intensity and really look to hurt Baszler as payback for her best friend. This one could steal the show at the next Takeover.

WWE NXT 01/30/19 Recap - Io Shirai, Kairi Sane

That’s right…I said it.        


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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