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News From Cook’s Corner 12.28.20: Brodie Lee

It’s Monday. You know what that means.



It’s Monday. You know what that means.

Another edition of News From Cook’s Corner! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas & some Happy Holidays, even though, as usual, we have a lot of death & despair to talk about here. I’d like to talk about other things too, but I am not the one that makes the news. Not high up enough on the totem pole to do that.

We can talk about some of the positive things going on in life before collapsing into death & despair. My Bengals have won two straight games since the last edition of the Corner, more games in a week than they managed in the four months prior. Hey, you take them when you can get them, especially when one is against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some will say they should be tanking for draft position this time of year, but I figure if you’re Zac Taylor and your coaching record through two seasons is what is, you’re probably better off having the team show some level of improvement than getting a higher draft pick.

Not that the Brown family has ever made a habit of firing coaches early in their reign, but you never know! I know if I was an older NFL owner and I had the feeling I might not have many years left to win something important, I’d be more likely to give up on a struggling coach early. Just saying!

In more positive news, the Louisville Cardinals got their one victory they get over the Kentucky Wildcats in men’s basketball every ten years or so. I swear this rivalry seemed to feel a little bit closer, but maybe I was drinking more when I was kid. Not that it was a terribly impressive showing to beat a 1-6 team by three points, but you take these wins over UK when you can get them. Bragging rights the next 365 days, and since there wasn’t a football game this year they can’t lord that over us either.

You know what? 2021 might end up being all right.

And now, our last News From Cook’s Corner of 2020.

My Next Move

Let’s start off with some personal news this week. We all like personal news, right? Ok, here’s the deal. There’s a pretty good chance I won’t be doing this whole wrestling writing thing much longer.

You might be asking why. The answer is pretty simple. I need to pay the bills. Granted, my largest bills these days are to the liquor store, but I still need to pay them. Writing about wrestling on the Internet doesn’t pay the bills, unless you’re Jeremy Lambert or Jeff Harris or somebody like that.

So, I have a regular job. I don’t want to divulge too much information there, but the bottom line is that my professional situation doesn’t bring me the personal happiness I desire, and there’s little evidence that it ever will. See, old people told me that you weren’t supposed to like work. I’m starting to think they’re wrong.

What makes me happy? Wrestling, and kinda writing. The writing thing is difficult, but it’s a challenge I often enjoy. Unfortunately, as I already stated, writing about wrestling on the Internet doesn’t pay the bills. Luckily, I have found a job that can combine my passions, pay the bills, and extricate me from my current situation.

That’s right, WWE is looking for a lead writer! I believe I am just the man for the job, as a look at the posting on LinkedIn will prove…

* Manage a team of Writers/Producers to build compelling stories that capture a global audience fitting multiple demographics

I know I have a solid fanbase in countries across the globe. Britain, Finland, Turkey, the Philippines. Men, women & children love my work. I think I’ve got this part down.

* Lead writing team discussions in brainstorming and laying out weekly episodes and long-term storylines

You guys have heard me lead discussions before. Who betta?

* Responsible for the development of clearly defined yet emotionally sophisticated characters for a diverse group of WWE Superstars through thought provoking, captivating, and creative storylines

Do you know anybody more emotionally sophisticated than me? I’ve got so many issues I should be writing a magazine. Got so much baggage I need a porter to help carry it. Not to mention, I’ve provoked all kinds of thoughts from people over the years.

* Edit in-ring promos and backstage segments submitted by writing team members for continuity, character consistency, storyline progression and final punch-ups

My middle name is Continuity. I’m also a pretty darn good speller.

* Compile, write, edit, and take ownership of the drafts for their respective shows weekly, including all promotions, graphics, replays and pop culture references

Easy peezy lemon breezy. I’ve been taking credit for other peoples’ work for years!

* Constructively mentor and critique individual writers to help develop growth and foster a positive team environment

Ask Tony Acero what a mentor I’ve been to him. Or, maybe just assume I’ve been a good one and don’t ask him about it.

* Incorporate consumer insights and social media to deliver impactful storylines that are consistent with the WWE and Talent Brands

Does anybody know the consumer better than me? I’ve been consuming way too much WWE product for like thirty years now.

* Deftly pitch ideas and stories to executives in weekly creative meetings

If my middle name wasn’t already Continuity, it would be Deftly.

* Produce and direct Talent in a live television environment on a weekly basis

That can’t be too hard. WWE independent contractors take direction pretty well. Or else they’re gone!

* Collaborate with internal WWE departments as liaisons for the Creative Writing Team

There’s something I’ve always wanted to be: A liaison. Its always sounded fun to me. I don’t really care what I’d be liaisoning for, I just want to be one.

* Travel weekly to live taping of RAW or SmackDown as well as Pay-Per View events.

I haven’t properly traveled anywhere terribly interesting in years, so this sounds like fun!

So that’s what I would be doing. Now, what kind of qualifications do I need to meet?

* 5+ years of TV/Film writing and production experience

I’ve always thought of my columns like movies. Like how Vince & Dusty always saw wrestling. “We making movies, daddy!”

* Experience supervising a writing team and leading a writer’s room

I think most writers feel like they’re in a room full of writers when they’re by themselves. Or is that just me? Do I need to see somebody about this?

* Experience in all aspects of Live TV production a plus

I was part of my elementary school’s news broadcast in the fifth grade. That should cover me, right?

* Knowledge of WWE shows, talent, storylines, and audience demographic/psychographic

Come on now!

* BA/BS in Film, TV, Drama, Media Studies, Communications or similar field of study or proven experience in lieu of degree

I think we can all agree that Political Science & Drama might as well be the same thing these days.

* Located in NYC/Stamford, CT area OR open/able to relocate

So you’re asking me to move out of Kentucky. WHERE DO I SIGN?

Hate to say it, but it looks like you guys won’t have me around here much longer. Once I remember my LinkedIn password, this job is as good as mine. It’s been nice knowing most of you, and I wish a few of you luck!

NXT Going Patless

The Wrestling Observer reported that Pat McAfee won’t be seen on NXT for quite awhile, possibly not until Spring 2021. WWE made the call on this one, and although a reason isn’t cited in the report, I am making the wild-ass guess that they’re trying to make his appearances special. Which makes sense, but he’s also the best talker they have on the show. As much as we like Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, none of those guys have ever been in conversation for best talker in their own residence, much less NXT. It’d be a lot easier for them with Pat by their side.

Who would have thought a few months ago that I would be griping about the lack of Pat McAfee on NXT? 2020 has been weird, y’all.

Kylie Returns…to Cameo

We all know that Kylie Rae officially stepped away from pro wrestling a couple of weeks after no-showing Impact Wrestling’s Bound For Glory event. She stated that she was currently unwell and needed some time away. Hopefully it’s a good sign that she returned to Cameo this week and is offering video messages for $55. Maybe it’s just a sign that she needs some money.

Either way, it’s nice to see Kylie doing something in the public eye and hopefully it goes well for her. Like I said back when this went down, her mental health is more important than her wrestling career.

Danny Hodge

The man that most old-timers would tell you was the greatest pure wrestler to ever step in a ring passed away last week at the age of 88. Danny Hodge was never defeated while competing at the University of Oklahoma, in fact he was never taken off of his feet. A three-time NCAA Champion and silver medalist at the 1956 Summer Olympics, Hodge was trained in the professional style by Ed “Strangler” Lewis & Leroy McGuirk, and immediately became the top junior heavyweight in the business.

He spent most of his career as the NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion in the days when the ability to work in the ring was more important than having a fireball personality. Obviously, most of Hodge’s career wasn’t captured on film, but there are some clips you can find on YouTube. While he did some touring as champion, Hodge spent most of his life in Oklahoma and held his greatest number of championships in McGuirk’s promotion.

Hodge’s strength was attributed to having double tendons in his hands. He was known for being able to crush apples with one hand, a feat he was still showing off in his eighties.

Angle is the one guy old-timers think could have hung with Hodge in his prime, which is certainly saying something.

Mr. Brodie Lee

This isn’t how things were supposed to end.

The man known as Brodie Lee early in his wrestling career showed so much potential as he drove through the Northeastern independent wrestling scene like a big rig. Whether it was CHIKARA, CZW, Dragon Gate USA, ROH or any other fed he worked, Brodie Lee showed he had the potential to make it to the top of the wrestling industry. He stood out from the pack. Not just because he was 6’5 & 275 pounds, but that sure helped his chances.

WWE signed him, sent him to FCW for development. Luke Harper became Bray Wyatt’s right-hand man in the Wyatt Family. He didn’t have to change his look, in fact I’m pretty sure he wore the same tank top for most of his wrestling career. The Wyatt Family took WWE by storm early on, and wasn’t quite like anything people had seen before.

“Send us someone, just don’t send anyone you want back.”

Of course, these groups don’t last. They always split up. Fans hoped that Luke Harper would get a chance to be a singles star. Many saw the potential…but they didn’t have the power to make it happen. The people that did have that power didn’t see it. They didn’t “get” Luke Harper. There were some moments. Harper did hold the Intercontinental Championship for 27 days. He did have a memorable match with Randy Orton on a PPV that people thought might lead to big things. Hell, the Bludgeon Brothers team with Rowan was fun for what it was.

Eventually, it reached a point where we all knew that Luke Harper had reached his ceiling in WWE. We had faith that he could bust through that ceiling somewhere else.

“You are not the first out of touch old man to not believe in me. But I will make damn sure you are the last.”

The Dark Order was a concept that AEW really wanted to work, but really wasn’t working. Evil Uno & Stu Grayson were/are a great tag team. Alex Reynolds & John Silver were fine additions to their group. It wasn’t clicking. The final AEW show of 2019 ended with the Dark Order doing one of the least convincing beatdowns of babyfaces anybody had ever seen. They became a meme. Most wrestling feds would have given up on those boys & either disbanded the faction or given them the heave-ho down the card to irrelevancy.

Instead, AEW decided that Brodie Lee needed to be the Dark Order’s Exalted One. Many of us thought it could be Matt Hardy. There was a time where Marty Scrull could have been the leader, which would have worked given his history with the Elite. Instead, it was Mr. Brodie Lee.

To be honest, some of the Dynamite sketches fell a bit flat. A little too on the nose with the comparison to another Mr. that runs another company. Mr. Brodie really found his place on Being The Elite. That was where Mr. Brodie’s minions acted like complete idiots, and Mr. Brodie had to punish them for being complete idiots. Most of my biggest fits of laughter in 2020 came when Brodie would have to react to stupid things that John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Evil Uno or other members of the group did.

Good shit, pal. I couldn’t wait until Brodie came back from his recent absence and punished his minions for all the stupid things they’d been doing lately. I mean, these Dark Order folks been acting silly ever since Brodie lost the dog collar match & the TNT Championship to Cody. Surely, Mr. Brodie would have plenty of papers to throw at them once he returned.

The only problem is, he’s not going to return. A non-Covid related lung issue led to Jon Huber’s death at the age of 41. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons, which is a greater tragedy than anything we can talk about in a wrestling column. In wrestling columns, we talk about things like how Brodie Lee passed just when he was about to reach his full potential. When he was about to become one of those “Legends” that we talk about forevermore.

The more I read on Twitter, the more I realize that people within the wrestling business were already going to talk about Brodie Lee forevermore. Even if he didn’t reach certain kayfabe levels that wrestling fans thought he deserved to reach, most people in wrestling already thought of Brodie as a legend. He was just one of those guys that people loved. Even if an office didn’t get him, even if he didn’t have multiple world championship reigns, he was still a guy that brought a lot of emotion out of people.

Whether you’re a WWE or AEW supporter, or you’re a fan of a certain brand of indy wrestling here in the USA, you probably got something out of Jon Huber. Whether you were a fan of the Big Rig, or Luke Harper, or Mr. Brodie Lee, you got the best he could give you. The shame of it all is that he had so much more to give. As a wrestler, a husband, a father, a human being.

You never know when it’s your time. When Brodie had that dog collar match with Cody, nobody watching had any idea it’d be the last time they’d see Brodie Lee wrestle.

My response when I heard the news was “What. The. Fuck.”, and that’s still my take on the whole matter.

Thanks for reading. Until next week, keep your stick on the ice.

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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!



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.
  • 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.
  • “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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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.



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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