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News From Cook’s Corner 1.17.22: Gory Self-Mutilation

AEW tried to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time. Did it work? What other news struck last week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! We’ve got a short column for you this week, which most of you were probably expecting when the Cincinnati Bengals actually on a playoff game. Nah, I didn’t party too much, just had an allergic reaction with my eye again. We’ve done this before. This time I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning my bookshelf and rearranging my books. Hadn’t done that in awhile, so there was a ton of duct. Sitting down and looking at a computer screen sucks, so we have to limit it as much as possible.

There’s still a couple things that warrant discussion though, so let’s get to it.

WWE On The Offensive

Looks like this week’s top stories are about WWE trying to do things to undermine wrestling promotions. We start with Major League Wrestling, who has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against WWE claiming that WWE has interfered with their ability to make various media rights deals.

Some of the highlights:

-Former WWE executive Susan Levison allegedly warned an executive from VICE that Vince McMahon was “pissed” they were airing MLW programming. MLW claims that WWE had leverage over VICE due to the Dark Side of the Ring series often being focused on WWE subject matter.

-MLW alleges that when WWE found out about their agreement with Tubi, WWE threatened to stop doing business with Fox. The fallout from the Tubi agreement falling through led to a drop in ticket sales & event cancellations & delays.

-As an example of WWE’s anticompetitive behavior, MLW cited AEW being held out of two arenas in the Cincinnati market due to pressure from WWE. Jon Moxley wrote in his book that the Heritage Bank Center on Cincy’s riverfront refused to book AEW due to WWE influence. I don’t know the other, could be the BB&T Arena across the river on the campus of Northern Kentucky University where WWE has held house shows. AEW wound up running the Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and outdrew the Raw taping held at the HBC just prior.

-Apparently starting in early 2020, WWE started trying to poach MLW wrestlers that were under contract, and aired footage of an MLW wrestler without MLW’s consent. (Somebody would have to fill me in on this one, I haven’t the slightest idea who this would be.) MLW also claims that WWE sought to prevent wrestlers from working with MLW by refusing to hire wrestlers that had worked there, and that one MLW wrestler demanded to be released early from his contract so he could join WWE.

Do I think that at least some of these allegations are true? Having followed pro wrestling for over thirty years and having read up on the history of WWE…you betcha!

I don’t think there’s a question that WWE has resorted to any means necessary to drive potential competitors out of their market. They’ve been doing this since taking most of the territories’ top stars back in the mid-1980s. It’s been a monopoly for nearly two decades for a reason. The main question I have: Will a judge actually care, or will they throw it out of court because it’s silly pro wrestling?

How do you think WWE slips under the radar on things that other media companies & sports leagues actually have to deal with? People have been trained to not take WWE seriously. As much as people like us obsess over the rasslin’ business, people that don’t “get it” are happy to ignore it. Vince McMahon can do any darn thing he wants, and the reaction from folks outside the wrestling bubble will be non-existent. It’s wrestling! To outsiders, the whole damn thing is an outlaw mudshow.

AEW = Gory Self-Mutilation

The Toronto Sun did an article on All Elite Wrestling over the weekend, talking about their status as a competitor to WWE. They asked WWE for comment & got one:

“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the `Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”

A few notes here:

1. I’ve been doing this stuff longer than I care to admit, and I never thought of asking WWE for comment on something. Should I start asking people for comments on topics I’m writing about? I doubt I’d get any answers, but it might be worth a shot.

2. This has been WWE’s strategy when asked about AEW for some time now. We remember Vince McMahon using the phrase “Blood & Guts” to describe the promotion on a conference call. They know that people get squeamish about blood, especially when it comes to blood coming from women. The Fabulous Moolah never busted anybody open on television, and she trained most of the women for years. People aren’t used to seeing it, and they often get uncomfortable with things they aren’t used to seeing.

3. Most people find other people bleeding pretty gross. There’s a reason why deathmatch wrestling is a niche produxct. People that love it really, really love it, but it’s a very small percentage of the marketplace.

4. WWE’s belief is that advertisers & media companies aren’t big on blood, so they make sure to mention AEW’s apparent lust for the red stuff whenever the subject comes up. Their hope is that advertisers will shy away from advertising with AEW, and media companies won’t give AEW big money when their current deal with WarnerMedia is up.

5. Thus far, whenever Tony Khan is criticized on something, he doubles down on it. So there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see even more matches with female bleeding. AEW’s female workers seem happy to do it.

6. WWE could be called out as being hypocritical on this front, but there aren’t many people that will hold them accountable.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. All I know for sure is that the smack talk between these two promotions and their fans is just beginning. Think it’s tocic now? Wait a couple of years.

Welp, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week for some Divisional Round picks. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

In Memoriam: Pete was a longtime reader from back in the day. From my dealings with him he was a kind person that knew how to use his head. When you’ve written things on the Internet as long as I have, you learn that’s a rare thing. From what I’ve read from people that knew him in real life, he was the same way off the computer. Sadly he passed away from cancer on Friday night. Pete was always about serving others, as he was a U.S. Air Force veteran & a regular blood donor. He will be missed.


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Greg DeMarco’s Ratings Analysis for WWE Monday Night Raw (5/23/2022): All About The Top 5 On Cable

Greg DeMarco has your May 23 WWE Monday Night Raw ratings–and more importantly analysis. What does it really mean? Read and see!

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WWE Raw Logo

Greg DeMarco has your May 23 WWE Monday Night Raw ratings–and more importantly analysis. What does it really mean? Read and see!

We now have your ratings for the May 23 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw, and it’s a good look for WWE. Net’s start with the specifics:

  • Hour #1 – 1.846 million viewers, .42 in the all important 18-49 demographic, ranked #4 among all shows for the night on cable
  • Hour #2 – 1.821 million viewers, .43 demo, ranked #2 for cable
  • Hour #3 – 1.530 million viewers, .38 demo, ranked #5 for cable

(Available via ShowbuzzDaily)

WWE Monday Night Raw Numbers for Nerds (like me)…

Here are your averages for Raw:

  • 1.732 million viewers per hour
  • .41 demo rating
  • 3.6 ranking average (occupying 3 of the Top 5 spots for the night)

Let’s take a look at the change over last week, shall we?

  • -71k average viewers over last week’s average of1.803 million (-3.93%)
  • -.20 in the demo rating over last week’s .61 average (-.2)
  • average ranking of #2 among all cable shows for the night last Monday (#1, #2, and #3)

What does it all mean, Greg?

It has to be terrible, right? a perceived 33% drop in the demo? That’s TERRIBLE.

Nope. Not at all. Factors to consider:

  • Last Monday Raw was not opposed by NBA basketball or NHL hockey–and it finished #1 through #3
  • This Monday saw the NBA playoffs on ABC (while on network, would still grab viewers and share from Raw), and the NHL playoffs on Turner (the NHL is doing amazing playoff numbers since moving to Turner).
  • The only programming to beat WWE Monday Night Raw was live sports. They beat everything else.

While I always preach that we cannot compare network numbers to cable numbers (we can’t), it’s important to remember that live sports will still pull eyeballs from Raw

One thing to consider for next week: Memorial Day Weekend, where people are headed out of town. We might get a Shark Tank rerun, and I can expect a dip in viewership. But given the loyalty of wrestling fans, the holiday weekend might actually cause WWE Smackdown On FOX to finish #1 for the night on the network.

Another thing to consider is that when I was looking at r

Why is the ranking the most important stat to consider?

For WWE Monday Night Raw, advertisers are going to primarily look at one thing (this applies to all TV show ratings, outside of live sports): how did you finish against your competition on the same night, on the same medium. For Raw, this means all other network shows on Friday night. What you can’t do is compare to last year, or decades ago during the Monday Night Wars. No one with any actual decision making powers cares about that, so why should we?


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Greg DeMarco’s Ratings Analysis for WWE Smackdown On FOX (5/20/2022): #2 Among Network Shows

Greg DeMarco chimes in with your May 20 WWE Smackdown ratings. What does it really tell us? Greg tells you!

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WWE Smackdown On Fox

Greg DeMarco chimes in with your May 20 WWE Smackdown ratings. What does it really tell us? Greg tells you!

We now have your April 30 edition of WWE Smackdown ratings, and it’s not the best news. Let’s start with the breakdown:

  • 2.031 million viewers
  • .45 rating in the all important 18-49 demographic
  • ranked #2 among all network shows for the night (behind ABC’s Shark Tank)

(Available via ShowbuzzDaily)

WWE Smackdown On FOX Numbers for Nerds (like me)…

Let’s take a look at the change over last week, shall we?

  • +138k viewers over last week’s 1.893 million (+7.29%)
  • +.5 in the demo rating over last week’s .40
  • ranked #2 among all network shows for the night last Friday (behind ABC’s Shark Tank)

What does it all mean, Greg?

What does it mean? It means it was a good week! Positive change in the viewership and demo rating, but most importantly finishing #2 in the demo for the week.

Any other factors to consider:

  • ESPN had two NBA Conference Semifinal games on Friday night, one of which overlapped WWE Smackdown On FOX
  • Turner had three NHL Conference Quarterfinal games on Friday night, two of which overlapped WWE Smackdown On FOX
  • All of the above listed games finished in the top ten, but for cable

While it’s not the same medium (cable instead of network), it’s going to pull viewers from Smackdown due to the nature of the populations that watch. They are not directly competition, but something to be considered when looking at the results. Keep in mind that Smackdown improved those metrics week over week, against that competition.

One thing to consider for next week: Memorial Day Weekend, where people are headed out of town. We might get a Shark Tank rerun, and I can expect a dip in viewership. But given the loyalty of wrestling fans, the holiday weekend might actually cause WWE Smackdown On FOX to finish #1 for the night on the network.

Why is the ranking the most important stat to consider?

For WWE Smackdown On FOX, advertisers are going to primarily look at one thing (this applies to all TV show ratings, outside of live sports*): how did you finish against your competition on the same night, on the same medium. For Smackdown, this means all other network shows on Friday night. What you can’t do is compare to last year, or decades ago during the Monday Night Wars. No one with any actual decision making powers cares about that, so why should we?

*Yes, WWE Smackdown On Fox (and Monday Night Raw) is live, but it’s not a sport. At least not for the networks, who are provided with 52 weeks of episodic programming that consistently delivers. Live sporting leagues don’t run 52 weeks/year, and more of a special event than RAW or Smackdown.


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