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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 6/3/2018

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Well we had our final match vote for the May pool, and this is a little surprising. Winning by a decent margin was, Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan @ SmackDown. So that makes May a very WWE heavy vote, let’s see what we got.

May Pool:

WWE Backlash Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz
205 Live: Buddy Murphy vs Mustafa Ali
NJPW BOSJ 25: Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori
SmackDown: Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan

Out of this pool, it should be a fairly obvious winner, so I’ll pile on. Seth Rollins vs The Miz @ Backlash,  is my vote for May.

So let’s get to the current week, and first matches for June.

5. ROH TV Title Match: Austin Aries vs Silas Young (c)

Silas Young tosses his shirt at Aries, he catches the shirt, says no one wants it and tosses on the outside and starts playing around early. Some nice mat wrestling with headlock take downs and counters out of it, before the pause for the audience to clap spot.

The early portion of this match has a lot of counter wrestling and sweat throwing. Aries lifts up Young by his chest hair, runs him pillar to post a few times on the apron. Ear Claps him to the floor and goes for a dive, but Young counters that with a big right hand.

Silas has a most of the control on the outside, rolls Aries back in and follows up with a Slingshot Foot Stomp. Then there’s a few big strike exchanges before Silas gets a near fall after his Back breaker/Lariat combination. Young holds Aries in a Full Nelson for a while until Aries runs him around and gets enough momentum to dump him out of the ring. Aries then starts picking up some steam after a neck breaker and his Bottom Rope Suicide Dive.

Then we get a kind of redundant spot of Young going for Misery and Aries countering, then immediately trying his Brainbuster about three times. Finally Aries counters Misery by sliding over the top rope, bringing Silas onto the apron and hitting a big Death Valley Driver on the apron.

Silas catches Aries during a dropkick attempt, hits a forward roll Samoan Drop followed by a springboard moonsault but Aries gets a foot on the rope. Young then goes to use the TV belt, the ref stops him and Aries locks in the Last Chancery, but Silas gets to the ropes.

Ref bump during Misery, Aries hits a few of his signature moves. Beer City Bruiser comes down to interfere, Kenny King evens the odds. Silas goes to use the belt, Kenny King stops him and hits him with the belt for Aries to pick up the pinfall.

Aries is assumed to be the new champion until Todd Sinclair comes down and they pull the Dusty Finish. So the senior ref reverses the decision and DQs Aries.

Winner: Silas Young via DQ

Rating: *** 3/4

 

4. NJPW BOSJ 25: Taiji Ishimori vs YOH

After feigning the handshake, the match starts off fast. A few strikes while running the ropes, Ishimori rolls to the outside to compose himself, but YOH hits a gorgeous Tope con Hilo. YOH continues to lay in the boots on the outside, rolls in Taiji and goes for three pin attempts in a row. YOH stays on Ishimori and lands some strikes in the corner. When he tries to whip Taiji across, Ishimori rotates through the ropes to the apron and does his bob and weave through the ropes spot, taking down YOH with a springboard Thesz Press.

Will Ospreay comes out at this point to watch the match since he needs Taiji to lose, to win A Block. It doesn’t seem to rattle Taiji too much, there’s a few words exchanged, but he keeps the advantage until he missed a Double Knee Strike in the corner. YOH manages to sequence a Dragon Screw into a Hip Attack, Enzuigiri, Double Foot Stomp to the back and then a Back breaker/Neck breaker combination for a near fall.

Taiji counters some momentum and puts together a nice Flying Headscissors, to send YOH to the outside, where he follows up with a Golden Triangle Moonsault. Ishimori slides YOH back in at 17 and pins him for a 2 count. After taking a second to think, Ishimori hits a Cartwheel Death Valley Driver into a Shining Wizard for another 2. First attempt for the Crossface from Ishimori but YOH gets to the ropes.

A Dropkick sends YOH out, to do his Rewind Thrust Kick, but Taiji moves out of the way and hits a Lethal Injection. He goes for the pin and on the two count, YOH does the matrix out of the cover and Thrust Kicks Ishimori in the side of the head. After a spot where they’re both down for a while, they get up, start jawing at each other and we get a strikefest. Taiji gets the advantage and starts raining the forearms down while YOH is in the ropes so the referee makes him back off.

It looks like Ishimori starts settig up an Avalanche Frankensteiner, but YOH manages to fight against him and almost get a Powerbomb off. Taiji fights through, YOH steps away and hits a big Enzuigiri. Then YOH pulls off his Seth Rollins impression to do a Superplex into a Falcon Arrow for two. YOH goes for a big Reverse DDT maneuver, but Taiji stops that, hits a Bicycle Knee Strike and manages to pull off his Bloody Cross, for another near fall.

Taiji goes for another, but then we get a very nice roll up sequence for YOH. Cradles, La Magistrals, O’Connor Roll with a bridge, and the crowd erupts for the near falls. Taiji manages to take advantage of the bridge as he kicks out, locking in the Crossface. Will Ospreay is going insane on the outside, urging YOH to fight through it…but to no avail. YOH taps out, and Taiji Ishimori wins A Block.

Winner: Ishimori via Crossface

Rating: ****

 

3. NOAH Navigation with Breeze GHC Heavyweight Championship: Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji

The match starts out how you would expect from two veteran rivals. A lot of feeling out, a few mind games during rope breaks, and then the aggression picks up. Marufuji hits Sugiura with three sets of Kawada Kicks before getting caught by Sugiura and thrown off the apron via Gutwrench Suplex.

From that point, Takashi keeps momentum for a while. A nice Body Scissors submission to weaken Marufuji, followed up by a few power moves, including just throwing him into the top rope and watching him bounce back into the ring. After getting worked over in one corner, Sugiura shoots him into the other, and Naomichi finally finds some offense. A big kick, followed up by a Dropkick, creates a little space for Marufuji to recollect himself.

Marufuji now strings some strikes together, lands a big running kick in the corner and it looks like Sugiura is going to counter the next move, but Naomichi moves out of the way, and Takashi goes shoulder first into the ring post. This opens up a nice opportunity for Marufuji to land his signature strike combination. He tries to continue the advantage but Sugiura counters his suplex attempt with a throw into the corner.

A running big boot and a knee strike later, Takashi has the momentum back. He takes Marufuji to the top corner and hits a big Vertical Suplex that he delayed long enough for the crowd to start clapping in support and anticipation. Takashi sinks in a deep Boston Crab after the big top rope move, but Marufuji manages to hop his way to the ropes off his knuckles.

Another moment of trading strikes and go behind transitions ends up in Marufuji following Sugiura to the ropes, and hitting a beautiful Dropkick. Marufuji then hits his Apron Piledriver and allows the referee to start counting while he tries to recuperate. Sugiura manages to crawl back in at 18, Marufuji tries to hit his Springboard Curb Stomp, but Takashi moves and hits a big Release German suplex, sending Marufuji neck first into the corner.

Sugiura is getting blatantly frustrated as he rains down forearms and pushes the referee away when admonished to stop. Marufuji almost gets the advantage back, but Takashi counters a Standing Body Scissors into a German Suplex Hold for a near fall. A big running knee, and another near fall for Takashi. Sugiura attempts an Olympic Slam, Marufuji slips out, Takashi charges, but Marufuji moves and hits a big Ko-Oh in the corner. He manages to hit a big Shiranui on Sugiura after that, but an exhausted cover leaves Takashi’s leg available to just fall on the bottom rope before the three count.

A big Spanish Fly from Marufuji gets two, so he goes for his Fisherman’s Flowsion, but Sugiura counters it into a Brainbuster. We get the Strong Style strike exchange from these two worn out warriors. It was even for a short while and then turned into Sugiura just rocking Marufuji, all while Marufuji goads him to hit him more. A big Ko-Oh from Marufuji, followed by a Lariat from Takashi, lays both men out.

Marufuji gets a quick spark where he hits a bunch of strikes, two reverse Crescent Kicks and a wrist clutch knee to the head for only two. Naomichi then goes for the Fisherman’s Flowsion one more time, but Sugiura counters it into the Olympic Slam and then hits his Front Necklock submission, where Marufuji eventually taps.

Winner: Sugiura via Front Necklock

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW BOSJ 25: SHO vs Marty Scurll
Rating: *** 1/2
NOAH Navigation with Breeze GHC Heavyweight Tag Match: Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya (c) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya
Rating: *** 1/2
OWE: Cima vs T-Hawk
Rating: *** 1/4
Impact Under Pressure Heavyweight Championship Match: Austin Aries vs Pentagon Jr (c)
Rating: *** 1/4
SmackDown: The Bar & Miz vs The New Day
Rating: *** 1/4
MLW Fusion: Rich Swann vs Kotto Brazil
Rating: ***
OWE: Wang Jin & Monk Zhao Yilong vs Whirlwind Gentlemen
Rating: ***
NJPW BOSJ 25: Will Ospreay vs Flip Gordon
Rating: ***
Impact Under Pressure Knockout’s Championship Match: Allie (c) vs Su Yung
Rating: ***

 

2. 205 Live Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs Buddy Murphy

Early chess game with some chain wrestling and flipping out of initial high flying moves. Wrecking Ball dropkick and Suicide Dive send Buddy Murphy over the announce table for the early advantage. Murphy manages to find an opening when Cedric plays to the crowd and trips him up on the table and drops him onto the apron, followed by throwing him into the barricade.

Murphy continues to hit stiff kicks and knees into Alexander’s back. A lot of back and forth counters through this match. No one keeps momentum for very long and that does help to increase the suspense. After a huge Tope con Hilo by Murphy, he missed a Double Foot Stomp and Alexander hits a big Michinoku Driver for only 2.

The back of Alexander flares up to delay his offense, and Murphy hits a big running Vertical Suplex for another 2 count. They go to the apron to tease a big Suplex from Murphy, but Alexander counters and hits an apron Flatliner of his own. Both men slide in at 9, with Murphy countering the first Neuralyzer into a Stormbreaker style DDT, very cool looking even if the set up was a little sloppy.

We see a big strike exchange that ends in Murphy catching Cedric’s foot and hitting a big running bicycle knee, for a near fall. Cedric counters a Murphy’s Law into a small package, catches Cedric’s foot for a big Power Bomb near fall and Murphy hits a Kamigoye Knee strike, but to no avail.

After a little trash talk, Murphy throws Cedric into the ropes and gets caught with a desperation Neuralyzer. Realizing he has an opening, he hits another and finally finishes the match with a Lumbar Check.

Winner: Cedric Alexander via Lumbar Check

Rating: **** 3/4

 

1. Dragon Gate King of Gate Semi-Finals: YAMATO vs Naruki Doi

Early feeling out process from two former winners. A few should blocks and strikes as Doi goes for a quick crucifix pin for about 1 and a half. Feeling out continues when YAMATO brings it to the ground and tries to apply an Armbar, but Doi fights through it masterfully.

First big spot of the match is a seesaw Brainbuster attempt that YAMATO gets the best of and immediately floats over for a Crossface. Doi goes to the ropes to break the submission. YAMATO breaks the hold then walks over to Doi, now on the apron, as Doi trips up YAMATO and hits a smooth Slingshot Elbow Drop.

YAMATO is on the back foot for a while after that move. He rolls out to try and recollect himself but Doi jumps on him once he comes back in. A few attempts at offense from YAMATO get stifled, and Doi ends up getting YAMATO on the mat and sinking in a nice grounded headlock. Even after the rope break, Doi continues his offense assault as he ties YAMATO up in the ropes, hits a big running missile dropkick followed by a top rope Elbow Drop for 2.

Finally YAMATO gets something going, a small strike exchange and a big drop kick, put Doi on his heels for the first time in a while. Doi tries to break out of an Arm Ringer, but YAMATO grabs him and hits a quick Belly to Belly Suplex for the near fall.

A lot of counter wrestling follows between the two. Doi eventually hits a High Angle Backdrop as both men look exhausted. Strong style strike moment ensues, Doi kicks YAMATO’s leg out from under him to hit a big Snap DDT. Doi attempts his Bakatare Sliding Kick, but YAMATO moves out of the way and counters with a Crossface.

The momentum continues for YAMATO after a few big corner moves and a big dropkick for a near fall. Doi hits a big Avalanche Leg Trap Fisherman’s Buster for another 2 count. The desperation moments kick in so we know we’re getting close to the end. Tombstone Driver from YAMATO, kick out, Doi hits Noshigami and his Bakatare Sliding Kick…for a near fall. Multiple attempts at Gallaria and YAMATO finally hits it for 2, after a little more fight from Doi, YAMATO manages to hit Ragnarok, for the pinfall victory.

YAMATO will now face Masato Yoshino in the King of Gate Finals.

Winner: YAMATO via Ragnarok

Rating: *****

 

So much like Eric Ames and Christopher Platt guessed, on the Top of the Morning Podcast, I found a slightly better Japanese match for number 1. So even though, I’m expecting Murphy vs Alexander to be the shoe in, I’m voting for, YAMATO vs Naruki Doi. A rather disappointing tournament, put the two favorites against each other in the Semi-Finals and they showed up. King of Gate 2018 is still mostly a waste of time, but this match alone is at least worth watching.

Always Use Your Head and make your opinions known in regard to the Top 5.


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Opinion

Greg DeMarco’s 2024 WWE Royal Rumble Reaction

It’s the Royal Rumble! A favorite of many fans, the Rumble kicks off the Road To WrestleMania. Greg DeMarco is here with his live reactions to the event!

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WWE Royal Rumble 2024 Results

It’s the Royal Rumble! A favorite of many fans, the Rumble kicks off the Road To WrestleMania. Greg DeMarco is here with his live reactions to the event!

The WWE Royal Rumble is upon us, and while the Men’s Royal Rumble Match isn’t for the World Heavyweight Championship like I suggested, it’s still the most anticipated event of the year.

Why? The Unknown.

That’s right–in this age of the internet (usually incorrectly) telling us everything it possibly can about what is going to happen in the world of wrestling, the Royal Rumble stands out because despite what we’re told (or, more importantly, what we choose to listen to), the event is always full of fun and surprises.


Check out Steven Mitchell’s 2024 WWE Royal Rumble Results & Review!


Women’s Royal Rumble Match

  • They really are driving home the “main event WrestleMania” point this year–strengthens my thought that women will main event Night 1. Triple H would catch a ton of heat if he keeps women out for the third straight year.
  • NAOMI! Good to see her back, and the emotional response she had.
  • Love Michael Cole calling out Naomi’s time in TNA, and recognizing her as a former Knockouts Champion.
  • Entering #3 doesn’t bode well for Bayley. I honestly don’t think she is gonna win.
  • JORDYNNE GRACE! I saw the reports earlier today. This is a much bigger deal than Mickie James, because Mickie was a returning legend.
  • “TNA HAS A WEAPON!” So glad to have Pat McAfee on the call.
  • Honestly, Jordynne Grace belongs in WWE.

  • Asuka comes in, and they sell the surprise of Bayley. STORYTELLING, people!
  • Something tells me when we get Kairi Sane in there, The Kabuki Warriors will eliminate Bayley.
  • Ivy Nile enters, and I immediately want to see her go toe-to-toe with Jordynne Grace.
  • What if they pulled some crazy sh*t and had Jordynne Grace win???
  • Just step through the ropes next time, Bianca.
  • When I first saw the C4 clock, I thought I would get tired of it But I am already used to it.
  • Here’s Kairi Sane, time to set the plan into motion!
  • This crowd does not appear to like Tegan Nox.
  • Welp, there goes my idea o Asuka and Kairi eliminating Bayley.
  • That was a hell of a way for Jordynne Grace to go out.

  • I think Michael Cole secretly loves to call a Meteora.
  • There’s a reason Maxxine Dupri doesn’t wrestle much.
  • That tandem Code Red was very Young Buckish. And that’s not a compliment.
  • Hair,…gear…this might be the messiest Royal Rumble yet.
  • Ah, here comes the winner, Becky Lynch (I am calling Becky eliminates Bayley to win her second Royal Rumble).
  • LOVE the scoreboard of time in the Rumble for selected wrestlers.

  • R-TRUTH?!?! (Funny story, it was Truth’s spot that Nia Jax took in 2019.)
  • If you push Mia Yim, she’ll take it further than you could imagine.
  • “How is everybody the most athletic person on Earth?” – Pat McAfee
  • Surprising that Roxanne Perez, at #27, is the first NXT entrant. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Tiffany Stratton of Blair Davenport since we only have 3 more to come.
  • Amazing reaction for Jade Cargill. Give her time, she’s definitely going to be a huge star.
  • JUST GIVE HER TIME.
  • Seriously, Nia Jax had to help Jade eliminate her–A LOT.

  • Greg Was Wrong: It is indeed Tiffy Time in the Royal Rumble.
  • Back to Jade–she is insanely over.
  • I know it won’t be, but this should be Tiffany Stratton’s official main roster call-up.
  • Liv Morgan returns at #30, and good for Liv. She nearly went wire-to-wire last year.
  • Liv Morgan: “Thank you!” Pat McAfee: “No problem.”
  • Tiffany Stratton eliminating Roxanne Perez is, to me, an invitation for a match with them on Raw this Monday.
  • Still love the scoreboard as Naomi passes an hour.
  • The camera is catching a lot of in-ring communications right now.
  • And Jade Cargill eliminates my pick to win. Bye Becky.
  • Jade Cargill in the final three of the Royal Rumble (with Liv Morgan and Bayley) is huge for her.
  • Hell of a debut for Jade Cargill.
  • And a huge win for Bayley.

Winner of the 2024 Women’s Royal Rumble Match: Bayley (eliminating Liv Morgan to win)

Fatal 4-Way Match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Randy Orton vs AJ Styles vs. LA Knight vs. Roman Reigns (champion, with Paul Heyman)

  • Glad to see AJ Styles got his tights back. Pants AJ Styles (but still with the football gloves) was not working. Not just bring the beard back to your face Allen–the think beard also ain’t working.

  • Pat McAfee campaigning for Roman Reigns to be given at least a 26% chance is amazing.
  • Say what you want about LA Knight, he’s a damn star and totally belongs in this match.
  • Roman completely sandbagged Randy on the table drop. I don’t think it was on purpose, but he definitely didn’t jump.
  • Roman Reigns is very much like Gunther in that he does the simple things SO WELL, like a jumping clothesline. That’s how you do it.
  • Yes, I compared Roman Reigns to Gunther. Don’t @ me, I’m right.

  • RKO City, Bitch.
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here’s Solo! (At some point, Solo will get tired of saving Roman’s ass.)
  • Solo ’bout to go through that barricade.
  • Solo indeed went through that barricade.

  • Yes, we had the Solo interference mid-match, but honestly in the end Roman won that clean.

Winner, #ANDSTILL your Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns

WWE United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Logan Paul (champion)

  • Kevin Owens wearing Zubaz shorts in the Performance Center fight makes me very happy.
  • Logan Paul talking about a full time run, and now he’s putting on size.
  • Logan’s headband didn’t list very long.
  • I honestly hate it when modern-day wrestlers bust out a crotch chop.
  • If you were watching the Royal Rumble and didn’t know who Logan Paul was, you’d just assume he was a pro wrestler. That says everything you need to know about how good he is at this.
  • ANOTHER crotch chop. Now we’re at 2 too many.

  • Cue the “Better Buckshot Than Hangman” tweets. But they might be right.
  • I love the idea of a Logan Paul, Austin Theory, and Grayson Waller stable.
  • C’mon, there’s NO WAY Ryan Tran could see the knucks on Kevin Owens’ hand given his placement. It’s the little things.
  • Finish here tells me we’ll see KO vs. Logan Paul again. I’d guess on TV, if not in Australia.

Winner by disqualification, #ANDSTILL WWE United States Champion: Logan Paul

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

  • Jey Uso coming at #1 was expected thanks to the internet reports. But I still think Jimmy should be #1 and Jey #2, for the reaction shots on Jimmy.
  • Grayson Waller talking himself to the ring is perfect.
  • “No Yeet!” Grayson is a brilliant performer. I’d make a Roddy Piper comparison here, but y’all would get at mad at me.
  • Good to have Andrade back in WWE. Great reaction for him when the mask came off.

  • SmackDown superstar Carmelo Hayes! I really really really hope Trick is also in this match, just for the chants.
  • Melo pointed to the sign, C’mon, man.
  • Do you send Andrade to Smackdown, or do you send him to Raw and let him do his own thing?
  • Oh goody, Karrion Kross is here. Yay.
  • (Yes, that’s sarcasm you read.)
  • Dominik Mysterio is so good. Give him time, he’s going to be a huge star.

  • The Royal Rumble was a great place for the Apple Spot.
  • Here comes Bob Lashley–please just eliminate Karrion Kross.
  • Lashley wearing the WrestleMania white gear more than 2 months early.
  • Austin Theory still gets his concussion effect entrance, despite it being the Rumble.
  • What if–hear me out now–Finn Balor wins the Royal Rumble to get the shot at Seth Rollins, and Priest uses his briefcase to make that match a triple threat at ‘Mania?
  • I know he didn’t, but it sure looked like Jimmy was swerving while he drives in that interaction with Gunther.
  • Kofi did tell us the Rumble Magic wasn’t happening anymore.
  • Give me Ivar vs Gunther!
  • Bron Breakker is a star. It’s inevitable.
  • Of course Omos would be in the Rumble. Good to see MVP on my TV as well.
  • “I didn’t know humans came that big!” – Pat McAfee
  • I half think Pat McAfee didn’t know he was entering the Rumble.
  • Nice moment for Bron Breakker eliminating Omos. WrestleMania match?
  • R-Truth trying to get Dominik (Tom or Nick?) Mysterio to tag him in is brilliant.
  • DOM MADE THE TAG!!!
  • “And now R-Truth is the legal man.” – thank you Michael Cole.
  • Michael Cole delivers multiple TNA references tonight, along with a Dolph Ziggler reference. God Bless Michael Cole.
  • Imagine for a second that this was CM Punk’s actual WWE return.
  • The reaction to Drew McIntyre’s entrance is a reminder that they don’t actually need him.
  • Sami Zayn enters at #30, also known as “Not The Rock.”

  • In the ring, Drew McIntyre is amazing. Just keep the microphone away from him. (And stop the damn counting!)
  • And there goes my choice for the Men’s Rumble!
  • Love having both Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in the press boxes watching to see who wins.
  • Punk kinda looks like Chris Jericho in there. Seriously.
  • Between Punk and Cody, Cody is the right choice. I really don’t want to watch Punk right now–he needs to hit the cardio, and hard. Given Seth Rollins’ injury and Punk’s conditioning, WWE would be smart to make the World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 40 a multi-man match.

Winner of the 2024 Men’s Royal Rumble: Cody Rhodes


Overall thoughts on the 2024 WWE Royal Rumble

For at least the second straight year, the Men’s Royal Rumble Match was kinda disappointing. Not the result–that’s fine. But the match itself. It just wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Women’s. Of the four matches, I would place it 4th in terms of enjoyment.

Great moments for both Bayley and Cody Rhodes. Logan Paul continually shows that he deserves to be considered a pro wrestler, not a celebrity who is wrestling. Pat McAfee is a joy on commentary. Jordynne Grace is a WWE Superstar, regardless of what company she is signed to. Bron Breakker is a star.CM Punk is very out of shape. Cody Rhodes is about to become THE guy, and he deserves it.

Overall I give the event a thumbs up, but they have to do something about the Men’s Royal Rumble Match moving forward.


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Opinion

WWE Raw Heads To Netflix: What Does It Mean?

Monumental news drops as WWE RAW is moving to Netflix. Is it truly a game changing move? Greg DeMarco analyzes this shift for the TV wrestling business.

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WWE Logo Metalic

Monumental news drops as WWE RAW is moving to Netflix. Is it truly a game changing move? Greg DeMarco analyzes this shift for the TV wrestling business.

Being a wee little kid in the 80s, I am “lucky enough” to remember having 3 TV channels, and my dad explaining what an 8-track is, how shocked I was when I say a laser disc for the first time, when I bought a 6 CD changer, installed my own car stereo, and all the way up to the fact that I have now been watching WWE pay-per-view/premium live events on the WWE Network and Peacock for 10 years. Hell, in the same month (February 2014) I signed up for the WWE Network, cut the cord to drop cable and got Sling TV. I have since moved onto YouTube TV which is highly recommended.

Over the last two years the NFL has put Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, simulcast to various streaming services, and less than 2 weeks ago put a playoff game exclusively on streaming when a Wildcard Weekend showdown between the Chiefs and Dolphins was only shown on Peacock.

And now it’s fully permeated into pro wrestling.

WWE and AEW are both in the midst of a very important time on the business side, with all of their TV rights up for grabs. The first domino fell when SmackDown On FOX became SmackDown on USA Network, and soon after we learned that WWE NXT was moving to broadcast television and joining The CW (which is also rebranding, but just to CW).

The AEW suite of programming that includes Collision, Rampage, and their most successful show Dynamite is up for renewal with Warner Bros/Discovery, and Tony Khan has been optimistic about the relationship and potentially an increase in rights fees.

That brings us to Tuesday morning, and the likely groundbreaking WWE announcement that Raw is moving to Netflix, starting in January 2025. Triple H tweeted that they’re changing the game, and TKO President and COO Mark Shapiro (who knows a thing or two about shifts in media consumption) used the word “transformative” in his statement, and I really think he couldn’t be more right.

But what does it all mean?

Wrestling Remains A Strong Media Product

I have been claiming this for over a year now. As many online will cite a decline in TV viewership for both WWE and AEW, the TV product has been a strong value to networks. Even in dropping SmackDown, FOX themselves said they didn’t pump enough resources into the show, and that the advertising return wasn’t what they wanted. That doesn’t mean the product (TV value, we’re not talking about creative here) isn’t strong. It’s so strong that USA Network picked up SmackDown for $280 million per year, giving WWE an increase over the FOX deal. CW is paying $20-$25 million annually for NXT, and now Netflix is paying $500 million for RAW.

Why? Because wrestling isn’t just a strong media product, it’s consistent. And that is key.

Look at this quote from Netflix Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria:

“Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.”

Now cross reference that with a comment from CW President Dennis Miller from back when the CW/NXT deal was announced:

“We are thrilled to welcome the WWE brand into the CW Sports portfolio as they play an integral role in our mission to bring live sporting events to the network year-round.”

What do those statements have in common? The year-round, 52-week nature of wrestling programming. It’s an unbeatable value for networks. It’s cheaper than a deal with a major sports league, and it’s not finite. Wrestling joins news, talk, and sports talk as the only year-round programming available to networks. And WWE and AEW have shows that essentially always land in the Top 5 after you factor out live sports. You can’t beat it.

What Does This Mean for Netflix?

Don’t get it twisted, this is also a huge leap for Netflix. Prior to the WWE Raw deal, Netflix has only experimented with live events, streaming the live Chris Rock “Selective Outrage” special, and showing The Netflix Cup live (a golf event featuring athletes from their F1 series “Drive To Survive” and their golf series “Full Swing).

WWE is the perfect partner for Netflix as it gets into live programming. It’s sports entertainment: sports like programming (which Netflix has done) that focuses on storytelling (which Netflix has obviously done). And no one does it better than WWE. It’s essentially plug-and-play for Netflix, the perfect solution for their live programming aspirations.

The perfect solution that they were willing to pay $5 billion for.

What Does This Mean for AEW?

The biggest risk to an AEW renewal with Warner Bros Discovery was WBD picking up WWE Raw–and that risk has been eliminated by Netflix. Don’t discount that fact–Netflix did Tony Khan a huge favor by throwing $500 million per at WWE. The path is clear for AEW to remain on the Turner networks.

But at what price?

I know I usually write as if I have all the answers, but I have zero idea either way on this one. WBD no longer has any other options if it wants to keep wrestling (except for TNA, who recently expressed a desire to be on a bigger network), and AEW (at least, Dynamite) is a weekly Top 5 program for them on Wednesdays, on cable.

On the other hand, AEW doesn’t exactly have another network begging for their services. The reason WWE could get a yearly increase for Raw, SmackDown, and NXT is because it was truly a bidding war. Unless Tony Khan gets another network involved, any threat of walking away from a deal doesn’t really hold water.

So if I were a betting man (and who would ever bet on this) I would expect an announcement of a renewal for AEW and WBD relatively soon. We may not know the terms of the deal, I will take a shot in the dark and say that AEW gets a small increase (not the “nearly double” that had been reported last year).

Regardless of the increase (or not), given AEW’s recent attendance challenges, this likely renewal would have to be viewed as a win for the company.


Personally, this is simply an amazing time to be a fan. We’ve seen WWE go from one live TV show per week with Monday Night Raw, through the Monday Night Wars, the addition of SmackDown and later NXT, to being this global juggernaut that is commanding half-a-billion dollars per year for Raw. I also think this makes Raw the flagship once again. All of this comes after Vince McMahon is largely out of power, Triple H has taken over creative (and holds a pretty good success rate so far), and the company was sold to Endeavor, and merged with the UFC as a business entity under the TKO banner.

If you know me, you know I am a huge follower of the business side of the wrestling business. I often care less about WHAT wrestling companies do, but HOW they do it. I have always gravitated towards that, since middle school. And for the past near 24 months, I have been like a kid in a candy store.

The Peacock deal for the WWE Network runs out in 2026, right? The fun never stops!


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